So, I hadn’t intended on posting this tutorial here. I saw this upcycled reindeer on the Anthropologie website and thought to myself, “That looks so simple a kid could do it! I’ll post it on my kids craft blog!”
I was wrong.
This is not a kid’s craft. Not by a longshot. I almost didn’t even finish it myself! It took me almost 4 hours, 5+ sticks of hot glue, and surprisingly enough about a full yard of fabric scraps. So I couldn’t post it on Craft Jr., lest my readers over there hate me for putting their kids through an excruciatingly long day of fabric tearing and twisting. But the end result turned out so much prettier than I expected it to, so you get the tutorial here!
Upcycled Reindeer Decoration Materials
To make your own Anthro-inspired reindeer, you’ll need:
A resin or carved reindeer – I found mine for 50% off at Hobby Lobby. I had hoped to find one at the dollar store for less, but mine didn’t have any. You could also use an old one you have laying around or from a thrift store. Hindsight being 20/20, I would not use a deer with the carved openings like this one. There were several times when I needed to glue down fabric on a spot where there was nothing to glue onto!
A styrofoam tree form to make the matching wrapped Christmas tree (that is, if by the time you are done with the reindeer, you have patience left to make another one!). Plus you’ll want a small tree topper (star, bird, etc.) for the top – mine was just a dollar store fake bird.
Fabric scraps – you want these to be as long as possible, so don’t use cut up scraps. Tear 1/2 inch strips from selvage to selvage. The Anthropologie reindeer seems to use just about any color – I wanted mine to look more coordinated, so I picked 8 different solid/patterned fabrics in 3 color shades – red, purple and aqua. I think I ended up using about 60 strips in all.
Two beads for the reindeer eyes
Hot glue gun
Making the Reindeer Recyled Christmas Craft
Start by dabbing a tiny bit of glue onto the ends of two fabric strips and folding them together. This will keep them snug while you twist.
Glue the ends onto the end of a reindeer leg, making sure that you can cover up the end when you start wrapping the fabric around the leg. Twist the two strips individually before you twist them together – otherwise one of the strips will completely cover up the other one and you’ll lose the two-toned effect.
Then twist the two together and wrap up the leg. When you run out, simply hot glue the ends down and start again with another two fabric strips.
At some point, you won’t be able to simply ‘wrap’ the reindeer. The butt and chest in particular are areas that are not round, so you can’t wrap the fabric around the form. Instead you will have to fill in these areas by coiling fabric into the shape of your reindeer body like this:
When you do this, use plenty of hot glue, especially in all of the corners or turns when the fabric won’t stay put naturally.
When you get up around the face, leave a small spot to glue beads where the eyes would go. The Anthro original didn’t have that, but I thought it looked much better that way. The Anthro original also had tiny bells on the legs and neck, but I forgot to look for those at the store (pfffftt).
To make the recycled scrap Christmas tree, just use the exact same twisting and wrapping method. I found that the tree required much more glue than the reindeer did, in fact, I had to glue every inch of the fabric down. I don’t know why – it just worked out that way.
So, in the end, even though I whined about how much work this was, I LOVED the end result way more than I thought I would. This reindeer truly looks stunning on my shelf.
It was a great scrap busting project, and I’m already thinking of other things to wrap for other times of the year (I guess I’m a glutton for punishment!).
If you make this project, please post a photo to our Facebook fan page to show off your stuff!