Working with 3-D Shapes: The Button Tree

Yes, I know- it’s just past Valentine’s Day, and maybe craft blogs are gearing up for spring and Easter. But here I am posting a tree craft that can be used as a Christmas tree ornament. I’ll add those tags to the post so when you’re hunting around for paper crafts in November, you can find it- and hopefully, I’ll remember to add a darker green variant of my printable.

I’ve previously posted 4 activities that can be used to earn the retired Numbers and Shapes Brownie try-it, but since I’m all about options, I’m going to post this project idea as well. It can actually be used for a couple of different try-it/badge requirements. For example, I planned this project for my girls to use for the Stitching It Together try-it. I used it as a substitute for the Button Collage activity. If that wasn’t enough, it’s a fun math activity for students who are learning about 3 dimensional shapes.

Here are the list of supplies I used to make my button tree ornament:

  • Square pyramid template or printable
  • Buttons- real or paper (this can be a good excuse to explore grandma’s button box, or use those spare buttons that you get with shirts)
  • Embroidery floss or thread
  • Pom-poms
  • Small thread spool- I found packages of these in the wooden shapes section of my local craft store

For the purposes of this tutorial, I’m going to presume that you’ll be grabbing my printable freebie found at the end of this post. It’s given to you as a jpeg file, so all you’ll need to do is open it in your word processing or graphics program, and print it. I’ve included the tree and some paper buttons to add. I have left light fold lines for you to create all of the edges and flaps.

  Square pyramid shapes cut on the Cricut. Scored template ready to fold

Once you have your piece cut out, it will be simplest if you attach the buttons before you assemble the pyramid. For projects like this, I like the effect of the exposed thread tails so I tie them off on the right side of the project and trim.

Setting up button sites

Attach buttons using embroidery floss

Once your buttons are attached, you can assemble your pyramid by adhering the side tab. At this point, do not seal the bottom- it will be easier to pull the whole thing together later, attach the pom-pom, and create a secure hanger.

Adding the spool trunk needs the help of a diagram:

You’ll notice in my examples below that I used yarn for this prototype project. Upon reflection, I’m not going to recommend using yarn- go for a lighter weight fiber, such as embroidery floss or pearl cotton. You’ll end up with much less bulk on your needle and will have a much easier time attaching your pom-pom topper. However, the girls will have an easier time tying floss than a much thinner thread- thread is very slippery in small fingers!

I used a fairly long piece of fiber- long enough to run the height of the tree, allow for a decent hanger loop, and to secure the spool with a button. I took my threaded needle and went through the spool, through two button holes, and back through the spool. I stabbed a small hole in the square bottom of the tree structure and fed the needle and thread up through the center of the tree and out of the top.

To attach the pom-pom, I ran the needle right through the center of it- it will hold without the need for glue. Finally, Tie a knot at the end of the thread to make the hanger.

That’s it! For a troop meeting with younger girls, you’ll want extra hands on deck to help with threading needles, but older girls (Juniors and up) should be capable of doing this themselves. I found the sewing exercises have been wonderful with helping the girls become confident with tying knots!

OK, you’ve been waiting all post for it, so here’s my printable freebie for you! Please enjoy!

(Click on preview to download from 4Shared)


Badge on a Blog- Numbers and Shapes, Activity #4: Try Paper Piecing

If you scroll back into my blog history, I was a Hybrid Template designer not too long ago. What is a Hybrid Template Designer? Essentially, I drew shapes (squares, triangles, hexagons, etc) in Photoshop Elements and merged them into neat designs. Add some fun digital papers and print them out on your printer, or just take the outlines and print them to paper you already have in your stash.

I see the world as merged shapes. Something fun for a girl who liked math.

This may be why I enjoy paper piecing so much. It’s actually a lot of fun to transform those paper circles and squares into something cute- and it helps justify my punch purchases. However, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to buying punches. Like tools in Alton Brown’s kitchen (the Good Eats guy- the only uni-tasker in his kitchen is the fire extinguisher), my punches need to multi-task.

Which brings us to the latest activity for the Numbers and Shapes try-it- give it a go with paper piecing and punch art.

My girls LOVE my punch collection- they’d play with them for hours if I let them. So, I like to give them a purpose for the punches- this past meeting, it was making Valentines to be sent over to troops in Afghanistan. We also made adorable owl paper piecings!

The owls were a last minute addition to the programming. The Sunday before I was in the grocery store and I tripped over the February issue of Scrapbooks, Etc and this great card on the cover designed by Valerie Salmon:

I HAD to replicate  that owl, and immediately my mind was deconstructing all of the shapes involved. It was the perfect project for this try-it. I contacted Valerie, and she gave me permission to mention her work on my blog, and to break down the shape manipulation. Thanks. Valerie!! Go check out her blogРshe has lots of paper piecing patterns to download and try!

So, let’s walk through the process on how you man make an owl out of a rectangle, an oval, a triangle, 2 flowers, 2 hearts, and 4 circles. By the way, this is a great project to do with paper scraps- a fun way to “Reduce Waste” for February’s Forever Green Project. See if you can make these only using paper scraps that you world normally toss in the garbage!

Here’s how you transform the rectangle into an owl body:

The rounded edges can be done either free handed, or with the help of a corner rounder- it really depends on how round you’d like his body to be.

Then, there are the pieces you need to trim:

Now that you have all of your pieces, it’s time to put them all together:

Finally, here are some real examples. My daughter’s is on the left. I gave them pre-cut pieces, but there was no adult assistance for the assembly- my Brownies did a great job! For those of you keeping score, the patterned paper is from the Love Notes Collection by Making Memories, and the various cardstocks (red embossed dots, pink glitz, ivory smoothie) are from Bazzill. My flower, heart, and circle punches are all from Marvy.

Manipulating basic shapes is a common tool for drawing as well. Check out these You Tube videos for drawing cartoon characters:

Drawing Phineas

Drawing Curious George

I think drawing becomes a lot less intimidating when you can see it broken down into simple components of circles, triangles, and squares.

Good luck with paper piecing! This makes 4 activities that would allow completion of the Try-it. However, I have a few more tricks up my sleeve, so I’ll probably add an activity or two, just so you can mix it up a bit or have creative options for other projects. Enjoy!