Fabric Lanterns (For Decoration, Not Light)

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Maybe it looks like there’s a bulb inside this charming little lantern, but there’s not. It’s just the light from the fixture it’s hanging from. Even so, I call these lanterns because I can’t think of a better name for them. They were inspired by the Chinese paper lanterns that always show up at parties or on pinterest, but I wanted to do something a little less chinese and more whimsical. Something more me, and as is the pattern, that culminated in a scalloped, hearted, frilly thing.

The lantern pictured above was the first one I made and a little rough around the edges, but I still really love the way it looks. They’ve gotten much easier to make and better looking as I’ve gone on, and also the choice of hoop (metal or wood) really makes a difference with the finesse of the end product. The first one is made out of thin metal hoops I found at Hobby Lobby, while the other two are fashioned with wooden embroider hoops.

As always, choice of fabric is really what makes a difference with these lovely little creations. Be sure to have on hand three hoops of diminishing size, three types of fabric, thread and a sewing machine, string or rope, and a hot glue gun.

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The process is a rather long and arduous one and it took me forever to figure out a good way to do it. No shortcuts on this one, I’m sad to say. I recommend starting with tying the hoops together. Cut three long pieces of string and double knot onto the hoops in a downward fashion with about four inches of space between them, making sure to get each of the three strands even. This is important, as if it does not hang even it will look rather awkward.

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Next, cut out your fabric pieces, making sure to cut them long enough to fit around the entire circumference of your circle.

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Scallop the ends and cut heart patterns out. I’ve also considered cutting out stars, but I will admit that stars seem a lot harder to cut out than hearts. Not to mention, with the fabrics I used hearts are better suited anyway. The cutouts are pretty important for the final product, though. They really add something to the lantern – they make it more a little more light-like and carefree (if a lantern can be carefree).

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When you’ve finished with the cutouts, sew the two ends together with a neutral thread. Finally, hot glue the top of the fabric to the hoop. Glue to the backside and fold the fabric over, making a clean finished product.

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And viola! Two hours later and the lantern is complete! (Maybe it wouldn’t take you two hours, but I guess I’m a slow worker… slash perfectionist?)

I have dreams of making like a thousand of these lanterns and hanging them up at my wedding, but I must admit that the labor- and time-intensive process gets me down at times. To remedy this situation, I’ve created a different lantern of the same shape and spirit but in paper form, which is much quicker and easier, and almost as pretty. It garners the same effect, at least. I will post a tutorial for my paper lanterns later.

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