One of my co-workers had a baby shower last month. The decorations were a potluck effort, including my contribution -- a festive garland to swag around the conference room.
I'll admit, it didn't turn out like I expected. But it sure is fun. It was also a great way to use up some of the many hundreds of pre-dyed coffee filters I had left over from Easter and various other craft projects.
And although it took a while to figure out where this was going, this bad boy was surprisingly easy to make. Woot!
And let's talk about cheap. Because Whoa Nelly, this is cheap. My little garland here cost absolutely nothing since I was using up existing materials, but, if I had cause or occasion, it wouldn't take much more than $20 to fill a ballroom with ropes of this stuff. Most grocery stores sell liquid food coloring for $3 a box, and coffee filters are dirt cheap. My dollar store sells 300 for $1, or Costco sells 700 jumbo filters for $2.50. Double woot!
Materials (for 36" of garland)
- 100 Coffee filters
- Food coloring (various shades)
- Sewing machine
Separate filters into short stacks of 10 -20, then dip into dye baths composed of one cup water and 20 drops of food coloring. Most food coloring is sold with color recipes on the box (violet = 5 red + 4 blue), so use according to your personal taste. More water = more pastel colors; more food coloring = more vibrant colors (but if you want rainbow quality saturated color, skip food coloring and use fabric dye).
Keeping them in short stacks, dip coffee filters into the dye bath and gently wring out excess liquid while trying not to wrinkle them too much. Hang over a shower curtain rod or laundry line to dry over night (you do not need to separate the stacks).
After all filters are dry, shuffle them randomly and stack them next to your sewing machine. Using regular poly/cotton thread, sew a straight line using a small stitch, inserting small stacks of filters as you go. I found that my machine struggled to sew more than 6 or 7 filters at a time, but less than five filters looked a little too flopsy. If your machine can handle 10 or 12, go for it.
After all the filters are fringed, the only thing to do is fluff. And fluff. And fluff.
The more horizontal they lay, the more likely they are to lay flat and flopsy. For the record, I sort of like the flopsy ones but it's a personal preference.
This thing is so fun and festive. Just look at it! You would never know it started as coffee filters. Because of this, frankly, I'm still having a hard time deciding what to call it. Coffee Filter Garland just doesn't cut it. The folks on Facebook had a few suggestions;
Caffeinated Christmas - ChristopherHmmm....what say you?
The "don't steal it from my door, please" garland - Kim
Merry Caffeinated Christmahanakwanzika - Shannon
Java Garland - Loren
A rope of fluffy balls - Ann
What, you don't need a whole garland?
Okay, alternative method: After you sew each stack, leave a long thread and snip. Now you can hang the thread from the ceiling/lamp/doorway/etc.. Or, what about hanging on a Christmas tree? Too big? Snip them down. They are just coffee filters. Cut them into smaller circles...or hearts...or stars...or, well crap. Now I have to do another tutorial. This is always how it starts.
These remind me of those beautiful faded honeycomb tissue balls I see at the flea market. I never buy them because 1. I'm already a little too Miss Havisham to be surrounding myself with 50 year old party decorations, and 2. I would probably tear them apart upon opening the box.
It's nice to know a girl has options.