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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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!
- 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.
- Repeat steps 6-10 to complete the other two stems.
- 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.
- Insert plant into dirt, bend stems to desired shape,
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?