A creative way to recycle wrapping paper

By Kelly Wilkinson
Thursday, December 17, 2009; GZ12

There is something about draping decorations from the ceiling that means it's time to celebrate. Strings of lights, banners, birthday signs -- and now, these festive paper garlands. Not only are they a snap to make, but they're a great project for using the awkward ends of wrapping paper and recycling gift wrap.

I have a thing for paper, so I tend to hang on to wrapping paper I receive, along with other specimens such as maps, creased tissue paper and old sewing patterns. I love their texture as well as the stories and memories they evoke.

Luckily for me, this is a project that looks more interesting if you draw from a variety of papers. And it's a project with a lot of give. Your circles don't have to be exactly the same size, and your sewing can be far from perfect. Using a sewing machine makes this project lightning fast, but if you don't have a machine, you can use glue for the same effect.

(A glue stick works particularly well, as liquid glue can make paper ripple.)

And once the holidays are over, you can re-create this project using papers with different patterns and colors to change the mood of the garlands. They can be used to decorate kids' rooms or for birthday parties or holidays.

Or you may be like me. I hung a string of these for our holiday party last year. Instead of taking them down, I've added more strands throughout the year, lending a corner of our dining room a festive atmosphere even after everyone goes home.

You'll need

- Various kinds of paper

- Scissors and a glass, or a circular craft punch

- Thread

- Sewing machine or glue stick

- Thumbtacks

How to

1. Select a variety of papers. For my strands, I cut circles out of four kinds of paper, about three inches across. Use a glass as a template or a circular craft punch.

2. Fold the circles in half.

3. Thread the sewing machine, then pull both the top thread and bobbin thread to draw out about a foot of thread for a long tail. (If you're using a glue stick, place the thread inside the paper's fold and glue together both halves of the circle. Repeat with the remaining circles, leaving a long tail of thread on each end of the garland.)

4. Place the first half-circle under the presser foot and sew across the straight edge of the fold.

5. Pull the thread a few inches, then repeat with the other half-circles, varying the distance from one half-circle to the next.

6. Repeat to create as long a strand as you want, or several shorter strands, leaving a long tail at the end.

7. Knot the threads at each end and use them to hang the garland in place with thumbtacks.

Wilkinson is a craft designer and journalist. Find more of her projects at http://www.makegrowgather.com.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company