Sunday, October 22, 2017

DIY: Stitched Felt Sugar Skulls

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a fantastic autumn holiday. If you're not familiar with it, it's a lively celebration and a devotion to the dead, celebrated throughout Latin America and especially in Mexico. It lasts for two days, November 1st and 2nd, and it is full of bright colors, parties to honor deceased family members, and huge handmade ofrendas (altars). These altars are decorated with things like sugar skulls, candles, marigolds, food, drink, and clothing. To learn much more about Dia de los Muertos, click here.

For our most recent craft night at Atlas Pizza, we stitched felt sugar skulls (see below), in honor of this holiday. In the tradition of sugar skulls, the skull represents a departed soul, with a name written on the forehead, and placed on an ofrenda to honor and encourage the return of this deceased spirit. It is a vivid way of celebrating those who have passed on. 

We decided to devote a blog post to these felt sugar skulls, in case you missed craft night. You can find the template and instructions by clicking the jump below. All supplies can be found at collage.

* Sheets of felt in your choice of colors
* Skull template, click here. (File allows you to print 5 skulls onto one sheet of 8.5x11")
* Embroidery needle
* Embroidery floss in your choice of color(s)
* Scissors
* Polyfill
* Pencil

1. Gather supplies (see above)
2. Cut out felt according to the template. You can pin the paper template onto your felt and cut around it, or you can trace the template onto the felt with a pencil.
3. Begin embroidering your facial features to one of your skull-shaped pieces of felt. You can use the basic running stitch to sew on the eyes and nose (click here for a video on how to do the running stitch). However, you may want to stitch the mouth using a backstitch, as we did (click here for  a video on how to backstitch. Begin your stitching by tying a knot at the end of the embroidery floss, to keep the thread from pulling out.
4. Once you are happy with how the facial features look, sew the two skull shapes together. We used a blanket stitch to do this (click here for a video on the blanket stitch). When you get towards the end, leave a gap about 1.5", so you can stuff the skull.
5. Once you have stuffed the skull, you can finish sewing your blanket stitch.
6. With the remainder of your thread, tuck the needle into the skull, catching polyfill, and a little layer of felt. Bring the needle through to the opposite side of the skull, and cut the thread short. You don't necessarily need to knot the thread, since the skull won't be handled very much.
7. Enjoy! There are many festive uses for the skull: you can stitch several and make a garland; use it as table decoration; sew a ribbon on it and make it into an ornament; or you can only sew one side of the skull, and make it into a patch.

Day of the Dead is not to be confused with Halloween, however this particular craft could also easily be modified for Halloween, by making black and white skulls, or orange and black skulls. On that note, if you are looking for more Halloween crafts, check out our new Pinterest board--click here--which we've devoted to a bunch of fun and kid-friendly spooky crafts.

Scene from craft night at Atlas Pizza last Tuesday.

Student samples from craft night on Thursday

Scenes from craft night at Atlas Pizza on Tuesday and Thursday.

Our next free craft night will be November 16th at Atlas Pizza in North Portland, and November 21st at Atlas Pizza on SE Division St. Join us for pizza and a drink, and make pamphlet stitched notebooks with us! Both craft nights run from 6-8pm.