I have quite a large collection of handmade Christmas ornaments that my mom made over the years. I love opening the ornament boxes after we bring them down from the attic every December to find my favorites safely tucked away. Each one brings my Christmas tree to life each and every year.
If you have ever read the children’s book, “Noel” then you know what I am talking about. It is as if the ornaments come alive and are eager to bring warm and happy memories to the tree each Christmas. My Mom’s ornaments include Miss Pitty Pat, the knitted poncho, hat and gloves, and the toothpick houses. I’ve added to this collection with the memory ornaments that I posted about here, which are all easy to make.
I also have a few favorite ornaments that I bought or that were given to me – It’s a Wonderful Life movie theater with a marquee that lights up, a Hershey Kiss Hot Cocoa elf, a little change purse that my mom would put money in each year for my brother and sisters and I to find on the tree on Christmas morning.
This year I just finished making a new ornament, actually 6 – and one door decoration out of this red velvet shirt.
This was my dad’s Christmas shirt. My mom’s Aunt Beatrice made it for him as a Christmas gift the first year he and my mom were married.
He wore it every Christmas Day since – if my math is right – that would be 59 years. Little did my mom’s Aunt know how much her handmade gift would be loved and cherished. It is not Christmas for my family without my Dad wearing his red velvet Christmas shirt.
I know I have mentioned that my dad has been in hospice the past few weeks and I have been spending my time with him. On Friday, he passed away. My sister was with him and called to tell me right before the gift wrapping contest ( I did not win. Thanks for all of you who have asked )
As sad as I am, I know he is in a better place and out of pain. I like to think he is now happily hanging out with all his family and friends who passed away before him.
A few Christmas’ before my mom passed away, she noticed that the elbows on the shirt were getting worn. She casually mentioned to me that when my dad was no longer with us, I should make heart ornaments out of the shirt for everyone in the family, so that we will always have fond memories of my Dad wearing his Christmas shirt. To help me deal with his loss, I felt I needed to make the memory heart ornaments right away since Christmas is only two weeks away.
Seeing parts of my Dad’s shirt hanging from our trees this year will help my brother, sisters, and I cope and keep his memory alive at Christmastime for many years to come.
Making the first cut into the shirt was the hardest, I cried and held the shirt up to my cheek for awhile, but knew that giving the shirt new life in the way of memory ornaments was a good thing; knowing this made making that first cut a bit easier.
How to Make Memory Heart Ornaments from a Beloved Shirt
- heart pattern
- sewing machine
- pillow stuffing
- sewing needle
Optional: greenery clipping from a fake wreath, red bead, florist wire
I made the hearts using as much of shirt’s details as I could – which included the buttons, button holes, cuffs, and hem.
1. Make a heart template using a piece of cardboard. Place it on the shirt and trace around. Cut two for each ornament.
2. For the loop hanger: Cut the hem as close to the stitching as possible without cutting the stitches open. I made each loop 6-inches long.
3. Place right sides of the heart together. Fold the hanger in half and place the loop inside with ends sticking out the top center about 1/4-inch. Pin together, leaving about a 2-inch opening to turn fabric to right side after sewing.
4. Sew seam, remove pins, and turn fabric so right side of fabric is to the outside.
5. Stuff with batting. Hand stitch the opening closed.
6. Thread a piece of florist wire through bead and wrap around the center of a piece of greenery. Hot glue to heart right under loop hanger. Bend greenery to shape.
I also made a door knob decoration using the shirt’s pocket.
I cut the pocket and shirt backing out as close to the stitching as possible. I knotted ends of decorative cord and hot glued them onto the front.
When I was a teenager, my mom placed a piece of fake holly in the shirt pocket one year. My dad liked it and kept it in the pocket ever since.
A very special decoration that I will cherish forever.
I put the lights on my tree, but we are going to wait until this weekend when my oldest comes home for my Dad’s memorial and life celebration to hang all of our handmade christmas ornaments. For now, I hung the hearts on the tree. I will let my brother and sisters pick out the one they want. Leaving me with one that I will… cherish forever. XO