I'm kind of obsessedwith vintage pinned ornaments. They’re so elaborate and ornate, but they have this great kitschiness that adds a bit of whimsy to any Christmas tree. And, they’re never not sparkly, which is a big plus in my book.
In theory, these ornaments are ridiculously easy to make. You’re pinning beads and sequins to a styrofoam ball. But, there’s one essential ingredient that you have to think about before you start: TIME.
Gather Your Materials
- Styrofoam ball
- Head pins/dressmaker pins (lots of them)
- Sequins (loads of them)
- An assortment of bead- make sure you get ones small enough that the head of the pin doesn’t pass through
Shop Craft Supplies
Time Saver Tips
I’ll be honest. These things can take forever. BUT, there are some things you can do to speed up the process a little bit.
- Use large sequins. If you’re working with a really intricate design, smaller sequins can be nice to work with because you have more control over the design. But big sequins mean you can cover more surface area more quickly, and it will still be beautiful. I promise! I personally like to use a variety of sequin sizes, using the tiny ones to fill in where the styrofoam might show through.
- Use a small styrofoam ball. Giant ornaments are great, but they’re a commitment. I love making mini ornaments that I can scatter all over the tree or give out to friends and family.
- Don’t glue them. Gluing your pins makes your ornaments last longer, but it’s an extra step that takes up some time. If you’re fine with temporary baubles or doing some upkeep when things fall apart, feel free to skip the glue. Keep in mind, you’ll still need a little bit of glue, though. I recommend still using glue for the ribbon and it’s pins because, even though that part’s pretty well protected, you really don’t want the ribbon to fall off.
- Use fabric! This is one of my favorite ways to speed these projects up a little. Incorporating fabric into your design not only looks great, it also limits the amount of space that you actually have to pin. I use fabric scraps in the tutorial below, and it’s really fun and easy to do!
- Put on a movie. Ok, this doesn’t actually speed anything up! If anything, it might slow you down, but it’s fun and will distract you from the time. Once I have my pattern down, I like to throw on a movie in the background. (Making the ornament below, I was watching Rocketman, which I think helps explain my color choices!)
- Keep it simple and don’t overthink it. Sometimes a completely random, patternless ornament is the best! Your designs don’t need to be elaborate (or perfect) to look amazing. The sparkles really hide a multitude of sins, and no one’s going to notice an out of place sequin or a missing bead when these things are catching all the light on your Christmas tree.
Step 1: Ribbon
Cut a ~7 inch piece of ribbon
Attach your ribbon to the styrofoam ball. I like to glue it down while I’m pinning it, piercing the ribbon with a pin (or a few pins), dipping the pin(s) in glue, and then sticking the pin(s) into the styrofoam.
Figure out your pattern, gathering the supplies you will need to decorate and deciding what you need to do first. If there is a specific pattern you want to follow, I’d recommend getting the outlines of that pinned first. In this example, I’m using fabric, so I’m starting with that. You can cut the fabric into any shapes you want, it just depends on your design. I decided to do vertical fabric stripes with alternating sections of sequins.
Step 2: The Fabric
Cut out your fabric - Again, this doesn’t need to be perfect. I didn’t use a template and because of that, my stripes are all slightly different sizes. This was by design, but you can definitely make a quick template with some printer paper and chalk to outline them on the fabric if you’d prefer.
Pin the fabric strips - At this point, you really just need to pin them to keep them in place. I pin them at the top and bottom here because I know I’ll be using sequins to pin the edges later. I don’t glue these pins in because I want to reserve the right to change my mind about placement, but it’s up to you. If you do choose to glue the pins for this step, make sure to pierce the fabric with your pin before dipping it in glue.
Step 3: Time For Sequins!
Once you’re satisfied with your fabric design, it's time to start pinning sequins!
First, pin a few sequins on top of and around the ribbon. I like to do this in a color similar to the ribbon or the fabric I’m using so that I can just blend it in and not worry about it, but you can certainly make it a part of your design if you want.
If you’re gluing your pins in, make sure to get the sequin on your pin, dip it in glue, and then stick it in the styrofoam. (If you’re using beads, the order is bead, sequin, glue, styrofoam!) This is the part where you might not need any more directions, and you can just follow your vintage-ornament-loving heart to guide you. But if you’re using my design, I’ll keep walking you through it.
For my ornament, I pinned flower-shaped sequins along the edges of my fabric pieces to keep the fabric in place and control the size of each section. I used glue, but just a tiny bit.
Since you’re pinning the fabric, you want to keep the messiness at a minimum. The glue will spread but the sequin will hide it as long as you don’t use too much. At the bottom of my ornament, I filled in with pink (similar to the fabric) sequins to hide any remaining gaps or bits of fabric showing through.
I then used a slightly longer pin to make a decoration at the bottom of the ornament, stacking beads and gluing in the same way. After all my sections are outlined, I filled in with green sequins in multiple sizes, tucking them in beneath the flower-shaped sequins as I went.
Liz is a small business owner who spends her free time making colorful things, running book clubs, and shopping entirely too much. You can join a book club and browse the fruits of her shopping habit at her store Perdita.