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Quick Christmas Crafting: Pine Cone Ornaments

Updated: Dec 18, 2022

Looking for a quick Christmas craft to decorate your tree or maybe occupy the kids? Try making your own Pine Cone Ornaments! These are an easy project for almost* any age and a great way to explore patterns and color.

A friend of mine taught me how to make these ornaments back in high school. These were a tradition in her family but completely new to me! It was a lot of fun going to the store to pick out just the right Christmas fabric and ribbons, then put it all together with a cup of hot chocolate nearby and Christmas music in the background. Year after year I have returned to this very same craft!


Reasons I love making pine cone ornaments (and you will too):

  • No sewing, no stitching, no glue, no prior crafting experience.

    • Even if you are someone who says "I'm not crafty!", you can totally do this project! (And PS, you are craftier than you think.)

  • It's fun.

    • While it may not be the loudest or more energetic Christmas activity, it can be fun to pick fabric, try out different patterns, and decorate the top. If you (or the kiddos in your life) are slightly introverted and enjoy the quieter side of things, this is the craft for you.

  • It uses basic craft supplies that are easy to find

    • Felt or fabric, straight pins, and foam balls. These are readily available at most big-box or discount stores. Felt will usually be in the "kids craft" aisle with pipe cleaners and googly eyes, while fabric and pins will be in the sewing section.

  • It's a group project.

    • If you need an activity to occupy your teens and tweens for a few hours, or are looking for something the whole family can unplug and do together, you can all pull up a seat to the table and start making these ornaments together. You'll get some fun family memories and Christmas decorations at the same time!

  • These ornaments are not breakable.

    • If you have cats or little ones who like to re-arrange (ie, knock off and bat around) ornaments, these will not break or shatter!

  • The ornaments turn out wonderful and are long-lasting.

    • It takes just a little effort and a little patience, and at the end, you'll have a great decoration for your tree or something unique and handmade to give as a gift!

*This project does use straight pins, which are quite sharp. If there are little kids around, adult supervision may be needed.


Materials

To make these ornaments, you'll need 3 basic items:

  1. Fabric or Felt

  2. Straight pins

  3. A foam ball

Supplies: Pins, felt, and foam ball
1. Fabric or felt

Pine Cone ornaments are usually made with 100% cotton fabric, such as the type used for quilting. For ease, you can buy "fat quarters" or pre-cut fabric bundles, so that you get several patterns at once.


This year, I was using felt for another project and so decided to try it out for these ornaments. I figured that since felt does not ravel, it might be easier than fabric. Plus, at 33 cents a sheet, it's very affordable! Although felt doesn't come in all the patterns that fabric does, it's really easy to use and has a nice, clean, rustic look to it.


You'll need to cut the felt or fabric into squares. A rotary cutter and mat are really helpful for this! Each ornament takes 60 - 70 squares.

  • If using fabric, you'll need to cut 2" x 2" squares.

  • If using felt, you'll need to cut 1.5" x 1.5" squares.

    • From a 9" x 12" sheet of felt, I was able to cut about 48 squares, so you'll need 2-3 sheets of felt per ornament.


2. Straight pins

When I first started making these, I used whatever sewing pins we had lying around the house. In recent years, I have found that shorter (1" long or less) pins work well, such as sequin or applique pins. I choose pins that do not have a ball on the head, since these are less conspicuous. Longer pins or "super fine" pins - that you may use for pinning patterns and such - tend to bend and may be harder to work with in this project.


3. foam Ball

I used a 3" foam spherical ball for my ornament. There are also egg-shaped foam balls available as well, if you want a truer pine cone shape. If you decide to size up to a larger sphere, be aware that you may need to cut more squares!


Before you get started...

  • If you are using fabric squares, you will need to fold the each square twice: fold it once into a triangle, and then fold it again. This way, the raw edge will only be at the top, and the folded edges will be pointing down.

  • If using felt, you will only need to fold each square once, since it's OK for the raw edges to show. In the photos below, I am using felt.

  • In the example below, I use 2 colors (red and cream), and alternate colors every 2 rows. However, these ornaments are highly customizable! Feel free to use as few or as many different colors as you like! Just have fun!

  • These ornaments can be as uniform or as free-flowing as you like. In the instructions below, I use a more uniform placement. However, you can experiment with placement to create your own patterns and textures!

  • You will be pushing straight pins into foam with your fingers. If you have delicate or sensitive finger tips, this may get painful, so be aware!

  • Straight pins are quite sharp. If there are little ones around, adult supervision may be needed.

Instructions

Base: Choose a spot on the foam ball to be the bottom center. Place a square here, placing a pin in all 4 corners.









Round 1: Fold a square corner to corner, so that it makes a triangle. Place the triangle slightly above one side of the starting square, so that the point is about at the center of the starting square. Stick a pin in each corner. Repeat with the remaining 3 sides, so that there is a triangle along each side of the base. The "points" should meet in the middle of the base square, and the corners of each triangle should also meet. It's OK if the corners of the triangles slightly overlap with each other.


Round 2: In the next round, we want to cover up the pins from the first round (this is the basic objective of this whole project: cover up your pins!). Instead of pinning along the side, now we're going to pin our triangles over the corners, or "meeting points" of the previous round.

Center a triangle slightly above the meeting corner from the last round, so that the "point" reaches about halfway down the previous round. Push a pin in each corner. Repeat around, so that all of the corners from the previous row are covered.


Round 3: Now we're going to cover up the "corners" of Round 2. Center a triangle over each corner of the previous round, so that the point falls about halfway down to the previous row or a bit farther, and push a pin in each triangle corner. Make sure the pins from Round 2 are covered!

Rounds 4 & 5: As you move further towards the middle of the sphere, your triangles will be spaced farther apart, but you'll continue to follow the same pattern.

Center each triangle over each meeting point of the previous row and pin each corner in place. The triangle should be slightly above the previous round, so that the point hits about halfway down the previous round. I've included 2 angles to show my spacing.

You can make your rows closer or farther apart, as long as the spacing is consistent. I usually try to make each point of a triangle hit about 1/4" above the previous point.


Rounds 6 & 7: Continue the pattern!


Just Keep Pinning: Continue the pattern upward. Once you get into the upper half of the sphere, as the sphere starts decreasing, you'll notice you have less and less space. It may become harder to hid pins from previous rounds, as the corners of each triangle start overlapping with each other. As I work into the upper third, I usually start placing my pins more inward, instead of directly in the corners.


At the top: Once you get towards the top, you have some choices, depending how much farther you want to go. You can stop making rounds, and instead, attach greenery, embellishments, or wide ribbon to cover up the rest of the foam.

Finishing: You can also continue following the pattern until there is barely any foam showing through. This will give your ornament a slightly "spiky" look at the top. I experimented with doing a last round where every triangle overlapped - similar to a spiral -- this used a lot of squares, so I probably wouldn't do this again! I usually continue with the regular pattern, until there is barely any foam visible.

Once you are finished pinning all the squares, pin a ribbon or bow to the top for decoration! If you save ribbons from previous Christmas celebrations, this is a great chance to repurpose them!


And voila! You have your very own pine cone ornament!

I hope this craft brings as much joy to your Holiday traditions as it has to mine! Share your pictures below - I would love to see how they turn out!


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