Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Tutorial - Elegant Rag Garland Lights by Ann VanWart

At our recent guild's Christmas social, we were so impressed with Anne's Elegant Rag Garland that she displayed at our Show and Tell.

Ann says to be sure to scour your local fabric store for great deals on remnants of fancy fabrics in any white, off white, cream, taupe and light browns. The more different textures the better. Ann also says that this is a good project to do with a few friends, and everyone contribute to the fabric stash.

Here is a picture tutorial to show how Ann went about making this Elegant Rag Garland.

- A string of Christmas lights, either 35 or 50 lights. Lights with white cord is preferred but green will work as well. The wire will be mostly covered. A 35 light set will give you about 11 feet of garland.

Example of fabrics of various weights from sheer to knitted chenille

- Fabrics - Cream, white, taupe fabrics of many textures. Examples of fabric are: sheer, satin faced, knits, chenilles, burlap, brocades, faux fur knits, cording, draperies, corduroy, chenille. Aim to have many different weights including very light sheer to heavier burlap. Here we are using nine for this tutorial but you can use more.

Example of laces and trims

Laces and trims - Cream, whites, taupes. Anything goes when it comes to trims. Tassels, jute rope, rick rack, laces, ropes, rattail, lace, feathers, fur.

Preparation: Plan on cutting all your fabrics and trims before you begin to assemble your garland.

Some preliminary math to estimate the amount of fabric needed: If you have a set of 35 lights, you will use approximately 5 to 6 strips between any two lights, depending on the weight of the strips used. And you will need strips to cover the 2 foot plug end of the string of lights. So to give good coverage, prepare at least 200 pieces of 2" x 9" strips and the sheer fabrics are used in pairs, so cut more of those than the other heavier fabrics.

Cutting Fabrics and trims:

Fabrics: Cut fabrics into 2" x 9" strips. When cutting sheer, drapery, cottons, or anything that will ravel easily, cut these fabrics on the bias. Knits and chenilles can be cut on the straight of grain.

Laces and Trims: Less bulky laces and trims can be cut to 7 or 8 inches long, but thicker trims should be 9 inches. Cut a minimum of 50 pieces of trim. You'll use at lease one or two pieces per section. Use more if you like. This added texture is wonderful.

Add a thicker strip of fabric first.

With all your fabric strips and trims ready, lay out your set of string lights and tie one piece of heavier fabric in the center of one section. Use just one knot.
Use one knot per strip of fabric.
Use just one knot.

Then add different strips of a lighter weight on either side of the first fabric. Continue tying on strips of fabric taking care to evenly distribute various textures and weights of fabric in each section.

After you have filled many sections, you can start to add the trims over the fabrics evenly to further give your garland texture.

And here is what your garland will look like when you are done!
Be sure to drop us a comment and if there are requests, we'll do another tutorial on how to make a matching Elegant Rag Wreath.

Many thanks to Ann V. for your great tutorial!


  1. It took me an extra try to get it to work right. Just by hitting on tutorial and print, the writing was too small to read. So.. I hit on tutorial then on "reduce size" and hit 100%, then print and I got a good copy. Thanks so much. It's nice to have it all laid out in front of you. I'm more apt to make one now, not just think about it! Lois

  2. Beautiful! I would love to see a a tutorial on the wreath.

  3. Both are beautiful. A tutorial on the wreath to match would be great. The tutorial on the garland is so easy to follow. Thank You.

  4. This is beautiful. And has so many adaptations. You could use all green, all red or a mix. You could use orange and black for Halloween (spray paint branches black and hang a garland on it; make tiny treat bags too!)
    I would love to see the wreath tut; is it a wire frame or styrofoam>?

  5. Georgeous! Thanks fir thevtutorial and sharing your talent!! Merry Christmas.

  6. This is gorgeous & looks relatively easy! Would love to see the tutorial for the wreath as well!
    Thanks for sharing your beautiful work!

  7. This is so cool. Thanks a bunch for the excellent tuturial even I could understand. Demo on making the wreath would be great as well. I think Sandra's idea of changing up the seasons is excellent. Lucy

  8. Be sure to wash your hands after handling lights. They contain heavy amounts of lead.

  9. If you need to purchase new fabric for the 35 light rag garland, how much yardage would you reccomend??
    Tks,,,,,, Looks like fun!

  10. Vneal a wreath would be simple. Use either a wire ring purchased from a craft store ($3 or so) or form a circle from a wire hanger.