Recycle gift wrap for New Year’s decor

Before you pack or throw away those leftover pieces of holiday wrapping paper, take a look at this week’s Craft Corner project.

We got the idea from a recent edition of Family Circle magazine’s Home Crafts publication and adapted it to suit our intentions.

Plain masks in various styles

Specialty feathers, faux butterflies and silk-flower leaves

Rhinestones, beads and sequins

Hot-glue gun

The magazine suggested using lengths of velvet or satin ribbon sewn together to make streamers to hang on the Christmas tree.

Why, we thought, not use the same technique to use up leftover pieces of tissue, metallic or holiday wrapping paper?

It’s a good way to make streamers for all kinds of occasions – including the upcoming New Year’s celebration – and is a project that all ages can take part in during the winter school break.

To make the streamers, you’ll need enough paper to cut 10 to 15 pieces measuring at least 1 foot in length and – to -inch in width per streamer.

The paper doesn’t have to be the same kind; you can mix different colors and types. Just make sure that none of the paper is particularly stiff because it won’t drape well.

Lightweight tissue and wrapping paper, as well as the metallic holographic-looking papers, are the best candidates for this project, and of these, the metallics are the best of the best because of the way they hang.

To begin, cut 10 to 15 strips that meet the dimensions above.

You can use straight-edge scissors or pinking shears, whichever you prefer. While the pinking shears add a little pizzazz to the streamers, the straight-edge scissors make the cutting go faster.

Paper trimmers, sold in the scrapbooking section at craft stores, can also be used to cut the strips. They are flat boards with a moveable blade that slides the length of the board and makes very uniform strips.

The trimmers don’t cost a fortune, but if you don’t do a lot of paper cutting or scrapbooking, it’s probably an unnecessary expense.

Once your paper strips are cut, it’s on to step two.

Thread a sturdy, longer but thinner, needle with a long length of clear nylon thread (a little less than a yard will give you a 14- to 16-inch length to work with when doubled) and make a larger-than-usual knot in the end.

These papers, especially the metallics, tear easily and smaller knots can pull through with very little pressure.

Place two or three strips on top of one another and push the needle up through the bottom of the stack, pull gently until the knot holds, then push the needle back down through the paper strips very close to the first stitch and pull until the thread is flat. Gently repeat this step a couple of times so that you have a secure base.

Make your final stitch one that comes from the bottom to the top so that the needle is ready to push through the bottom of the next stack of papers.

Stack two or three more strips of paper together and place them crosswise over the center of the first stack and push the needle through the second stack – up and down a few times – to secure the two stacks together.

Placing the second stack crosswise makes the streamer well rounded and full, rather than having all the strips hanging one way in a bunch.

Again, make your final stitch come from bottom to top.

From here on, you can stack strips of paper onto the needle one at a time in random positions so that the streamer will be well-rounded.

You don’t need to stitch down through the stacks until you feel the need to secure a batch of strips, and, in fact, it’s probably best to add as many strips as you can before stitching back down so that the bottom papers won’t tear because of too many needle holes.

This isn’t as tricky as it sounds. You’ll be able to tell when you need to make a stitch or when the bottom papers are becoming fragile.

If you think the bottom papers are beginning to tear, you can reinforce the base with a small piece of masking tape – it won’t show and will be stronger than clear tape – for a bit more security. Just remember that it will be harder to push the needle through, so you might need to use a thimble.

When all of the strips are added to the streamer, secure them with one or two stitches from bottom to top, ending with the remaining thread coming out the top of the streamer.

Make sure you have a length of thread long enough, at least 2 or 3 inches, to use for attaching the streamer to banners, lengths of ribbon or whatever you desire.

This technique can be used year-round to make streamers for all kinds of festive occasions.

We wanted to add our sample streamers to a Happy New Year banner, but found that the stores hadn’t put the 2005 decorations out when we needed them for this column.

Momentarily stumped, it finally dawned on us that we could make our own by using the numbers from 20th and 50th birthday banners, cutting them apart and taping back together in the proper sequence for the purpose of our photograph.

You won’t need to do this because the 2005 decorations should be out by the time you read this column. We only mention our solution to reiterate that, when crafting, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Contact Jonetta Coffin at jrocoffin@aol.com.

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