I fell in love with Lauren Williams circle tapestries but I couldn’t afford her custom pieces, so I got to daydreaming and thought- why can’t I make my own?? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
I searched for a tutorial and found nothing so I just made it up as I went. Here’s my tutorial of how I made my tapestries. This is a messy and time intensive project but it was really fun. I created several different versions; one is round, one is angled and the other is a simple square. Pick your design and get to work, (wo)man!
Materials Needed (and Where to Purchase Them)
1. Cut Wreath Frame/Dowel
Round- If you’re making the circle you’ll need to take your wire cutters and cut the wreath form in half. So technically you can make two if you want.
Straight- You can purchase small dowel rods at home depot in the lumber/molding section. They come in all shapes and sizes. I chose a round one but it really doesn’t matter. Chose the size based on the space you’ll be hanging it in.
2. Cut Yarn
Different Yarn Types- When choosing yarn I purchased 100% Acrylic the first time and it didn’t hold the dye as well, it makes the colors seem softer and not as vibrant. But a positive is that this yarn is cheaper and lays flatter when hanging.
For the angled tapestry I used dyeable yarn, it’s a little more expensive and I could only find it at hobby lobby or online(Edit: I just realized the dyeable yarn I used has been discontinued L). It does hold dye slightly better but it unravels and doesn’t lay as flat. So if you’re on a budget and don’t care about the vibrance I’d get acrylic yarn. But if you’re wanting something very vibrant but don’t mind the more raw-yarn look then go with the dyeable.
Amount of Yarn-
Depending on your project you may need more yarn but I bought 4 skiens of yarn for the circle tapestry and 3 for the angled one. Always err on the high side, you can always return them if you buy too many!
Round- The length will depend on the size of the wreath frame you bought. They come in 12, 18, 24 and 30” . Take the diameter of the wreath form and double it. So if the wreath form is 30” then you’d want each piece to be 60”.
Straight- You can go as long or short as you want. In my angled tapestry I cut short and longer pieces so I didn’t waste too much yarn when trimming. If you’re tieing them on then you’ll want to double your desired length and add 1-2”. IE- If you want your tapestry to be 30 inches long. Make your yarn pieces 62” if tieing them on.
**If you’re gluing onto a dowel you have the option of not doubling the length but your tapestry won’t look as full. Just add 1-2” onto your desire length.
Measuring and Cutting
The easiest way to measure and cut the yarn was to wrap it around an object in a circle, take it off and then cut it. This way you don’t have to cut every individual piece of yarn. So for instance- I found something that had the same circumference as the length I needed (I used the end of my ladder). I tied one end of the yarn on it and then wrapped the yarn around the end a billion times, took it off and then cut it. So you’ll be left with an extension cord type of bundle when you’re done. Then cut through all of the yarn and you’ll have all your pieces the exact same length. *I really hope that made sense. If it didn’t, figure out a way to cut the yarn that is efficient. You could wrap it around your palm to elbow too, depending if that’s the right length. Just an idea.
3. Hot Glue or Tie Yarn on Frame
Now that you have your yarn cut you’re going to attach it to your dowel or wreath frame. I used a couple different methods so its up to you to decide.
Fold your yarn in half and lay it on the frame exactly how you’re going to glue it on. I did mine in sections, laying them on in groups and then gluing about 10 pieces at a time so that the glue was still hot enough to adhere.
Fold your piece of yarn in half and drape the top over your frame. Once the “u” is draped over the back, pull the loose ends through the hole. So you’re basically tying on two pieces at one time. These will be somewhat loose but not lose enough to fall off since the weight of the yarn will keep them in place.
4. Trim Yarn
Trim the yarn into your desired shape. The yarn will loosen up a bit during the dyeing process so don’t be too meticulous. You will trim it again in the end.
5. Dye, Dry, Repeat
I hung my tapestry over an old laundry sink. This is very messy so if you care about dye staining anything I highly suggest you do this outside or cover everything in plastic. You will need to hang this up as you are dyeing so just keep that in mind.
Read the instructions on your RIt Dye. I used the stove top method of preparing the dye and then poured it into a spray bottle for a more controlled dye. You can also add a bit of vinegar to the solution but I’m not sure this made a difference.
I mixed darker blues and greens with aquamarine to create a more vibrant color. The black fades into grey and darker colors become more faint in general so don’t be afraid to go dark, not all of the dye will absorb.
Pre-wet your tapestry so that the dye can easily penetrate the yarn. Start dyeing at the middle or top most section that you want to dye. The dye will drip down so don’t go to heavy. I would hold my hand around a section, spray the dye and then slightly squeeze it so that it would absorb better.
Don’t be afraid of drippage, this isn’t supposed to be perfect, its ART! If you’re going from a lighter to a darker color, you won’t notice imperfections as much.
You can wait for the first color to dry before applying the next color but I’m impatient. I started the next color leaving a small gap of undyed yarn so that the two colors could slowly bleed together.
For the Bottom color I dipped the yarn in sections into a small container and then tied them in a large lose knot and let the dye soak for a while.
I don’t suggest rinsing the yarn even after it has dried. Since it is acrylic it doesn’t have the ability to hold dye well. The longer you let it sit the more permanent it will become.
6. Straighten and Trim
After your tapestry is fully dried it is time to fluff your piece. Take your fingers and gently comb through the yarn. It is common for the yarn to dry in clumps and get tangled so be gentle and work your fingers through it. If it is really bumpy you can use an iron to get it to lay flat, just don’t press it or it’ll look weird.
Once you have gotten the yarn straightened out it is time for the final trim. I prefer the jagged edges on the square or angled pieces but a nice round, smooth trim on the circles.
You did it! Now it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful master piece you made.