Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How To Make Plants

What you need:
  • Green felt for leaves
  • Green flannel for stem - 1/4 yard, cut into long strips 1 5/8" wide
  • 1/2" piping - about 1 yard for strawberry plant and 1.5 yards for bean plant
  • Florists' wire - I found the 12 gauge was easy to push into the piping.
  • Green velcro (3/4" or 1" wide)
in addition to green sewing thread and a wire cutter/ pair of pliers

The following instructions are for the strawberry plant.

Step 1
  • Cut three 12" pieces of piping. 
  • Wrap each cut end with a narrow strip of sticky tape to prevent fraying. This is important because it will prevent cursing later.

Step 2
  • Straighten a length of wire and poke it into one end of a piece of piping, using a twisting motion to begin, and then just push straight in.

Step 3
  • When the wire has been inserted all through the length of piping and has emerged at the other end, straighten the piping (which usually has become bunched up in the pushing), and
  • cut off the excess wire, so that only half an inch of wire is poking out of each end of the piping. 
  • Make a loop in each end of the wire with pliers and push the loops into the piping so that the wire is completely enclosed in the piping.

  • Set aside (yay).

Step 4
  • Cut leaf shapes out of the green felt -as many as you like. I used about 30. Printable leaf patterns can be found in the Vegetable template in the Pea Pod post.

Step 5
  • Fold the stem of the leaf in half lengthwise and sew along the stem, backstitching at the ends to secure. 
  • Repeat for all the leaves. 
  • Set aside.

We are now going to attach the leaves to the green flannel.

Step 6
  • Cut a strip of flannel 14" long.

  • Mentally mark out a section 1/2" wide along one long edge of this strip and 1/4" wide along the other long edge of the strip - see the shaded portions in the picture above. These are the sections for overlapping when wrapping the stem. Do not sew anything in these sections - sew only in the unshaded section between them.
  • This plant will eventually be "planted" in the foam dirt base which is about 4" deep, so this "underground" portion will not have any leaves on it. Beginning about 4" from one end (let's call this the bottom end), position the leaves at various angles along the flannel strip and machine-stitch the stems on. 

Step 7
  • At the top end, fold the flannel lengthwise 1/2", tuck a leaf or two upside down in the fold and sew as shown in the left picture below. The right picture shows what the top end looks like turned right side out.

Step 8
  • Cut small pieces of the hook velcro (I cut mine in half lengthwise and then cut those further into 1/2" pieces) and sew them onto the flannel strip among the leaf stems. 

The rest of the stem will be completed by hand (sorry).

Step 9
  • Stitch up the end of the piping to prevent the wire from poking out. I sewed through the wire loop and the sticky tape too!

Step 10
  • Insert the piping into the top end of the flannel strip and wrap the flannel tightly around it. Stitch to secure. 

I found that the ladder stitch produced very neat results.

  • Continue stitching to the bottom end of the flannel, ending where the piping ends. Knot to secure. The bottom end of the flannel is still open - don't panic - it will get stitched down in the last step. 

Step 11
  • Repeat steps 6-10 to complete the other two stems.

Step 12
  • To join stems together, fold over the excess fabric at the bottom end of one and stitch it to the other stem. 
  • Stitch around and through the stems to secure them and use whatever stitches you are comfortable with to do this - there are no rules!

  • Join the third stem to the first two in the same way.

The bean plant, was made in a similar way but, not being a creeping vine, with these differences:
  • One stem was much, much longer than the other two.
  • The leaves were a different shape (and color).
  • The leaves started much farther up from the bottom end.

Step 13
  • Insert plant into dirt, bend stems to desired shape,

hang strawberries 

or pea pods

and let the harvest begin!

Some questions I anticipate:

Q: Why not use felt to wrap the stem?
A: Felt was too thick to fold, overlap and stitch down.

Q: What's with all the crazy different shades of green for the velcro, leaves, stem etc?
A: Those were the only shades I could find in the fabric store! I wish the velcro came in a more lime-y shade.

Q: Couldn't I sew a tube of flannel, turn right side out and push the piping in?
A: And attach the leaves and velcro by hand, you mean? Yes. (I tried).

Q: Can I use thinner wire?
A: By all means.

Q: Instead of using piping, could I use polyfill, since the wire will keep the stem rigid anyway?
A: Yes. I was lazy and the piping sped the whole process up. Also, at 29c (regular price) a yard, this piping was hardly expensive.

Q: Just curious - are you insane?
A: Probably.


  1. Fantastic instructions -- this and the previous ones too. And that they are funny to boot -- that's a double portion of talent!!!

    (Heidi's sitting on my lap now, reading with me. She wants me to get started on making these now too. Hmm, I wonder if SHE could help with any of the steps. I bet she could...)

  2. Good grief!!!!!! This is even more insane than your donuts!!!! But I never thought I could be more amazed and yet once again, I am! You are sooooo coool. You think of the most incredible stuff.

  3. These are so lovely! Quite an undertaking to make all the beans and strawberries too!

    I may be able to bring ADD crafterself to make a handfull of strawberries for the kids, but I will never reach your perseverance levels!

    I take my hat off to you and your feltiness!

  4. The level of detail here is INSANE! I found your blog through OhDeeDoh and I am seriously impressed. Great project!

  5. Ok, I don't sew at all. Like..not one single bit.

    and I'm determined to make this.

    It is too cute not to have.

  6. this is so cute, you witty lady you!

  7. absofrigginLOVELY! what a pretty and cute and inspiring and awesome idea. wow!

  8. I am absolutly in love! I am going to make the whole garden for my son for his first birthday. Thanks for the great tutorial. You are awsome

  9. I love your blog and your projects!!!

    Laura from Italy

  10. I have three boys under 10 and work nearly full time, so not a huge amount of time to spare, but my youngest (who is 3 and a half and autistic) loves planting seeds and flowers, and I think he would love this, so I'm determind to try. Thank you for making your lovely ideas available to us less inspired people!

  11. I am going to take this project on this week (I might have to recruit my mom to help). I think you are amazing and your children are blessed with a creative mom. My 2 year old will love this, especially since we are starting to plan our family garden. I will post my pics as soon as I succeed!

  12. Ohhh wowww it is absolutely STUNNING! I would love to make it for my little girl. Could you please advice what else can I use instead of piping? I'm from UK and I can't find it anywhere :(

    1. Anonymous: what about florist's wire wrapped in fabric?


Thank you for talking to me! If you have a question, I might reply to it here in the comments or in an email.