If you’re looking for a great wreath alternative for your door or to hang on your mantle, try making a DIY fall sunflower. Follow the step by step tutorial using a free template, and get ideas to customize your own.
DIY Fall Sunflower – A Wreath Alternative
I love sunflowers! They’re so big, bright and cheery. As well, they’re just so perfect for late summer and fall. That’s why I decided to create a giant piece of sunflower art.
This large DIY fall sunflower is great alternative to a traditional wreath and would look great on a front door or hanging on a fireplace from summer onward.
It takes a little bit of time to make this sunflower, but it uses simple materials and can be customized with several variations. You’ll find a free template at the bottom of the blog post to make your own.
How to Make the DIY Fall Sunflower
Materials to Make the DIY Fall Sunflower
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- Free template, available at the bottom of the blog post, printed at 100% scale
- Brown and black quilting cotton scraps
- Cutting mat
- Quilting ruler
- Rotary cutter
- Sewing machine
- Scissors for paper
- Scissors for fabric
- Pinking shears
- Felt – you can use acrylic felt, but I highly recommend wool-blend felt. I order from Canadian Felt Shop, which you can also find on Etsy. I used most of a 12×18 sheet of Old Gold, and a 9×12 sheet of Mellow Yellow. You will need three 9×12 sheets of felt for the petals. I also used one 9×12 sheet of Kelly Green for the leaves.
- Black Sharpie
- Tacky Craft Glue
- 10 inch embroidery hoop
- Piece of lightweight cotton fabric a few inches larger than the embroidery hoop in all directions, white preferred
- 1 piece of inexpensive acrylic felt in the same colour as your fabric for the hoop, white preferred
- Thread to coordinate with the fabric for the hoop
- Small bit of acrylic craft paint – I used yellow
- Craft varnish
- String and painter’s tape to hang the hoop while painting
- Black and/or brown embroidery floss
- Embroidery/sewing needle
- Optional: buttons
- Optional: ribbon for hanging
Create the Centre of the Sunflower
Find a selection of brown and black quilting cottons. They can be solids or patterns, and as many or as few prints as you like. I edited a couple of these out as I was working on it. (See variations below for other ideas if you don’t want to use quilting cotton) Iron your fabrics.
Using a rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat, cut 1.5″ squares from each of your fabrics so that you have enough to make an 11 x 11 square layout (therefore, 121, or cut a few extras so you have options when laying them out).
Next, layout a random layout of the squares in an 11 x 11 square so that all patterns and colours are somewhat evenly distributed. I laid mine out on foam core so I could then easily move it to my sewing table. A piece of cardboard or even your cutting mat could work.
Finally, sew all the squares together, just like making a quilt, with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. I did horizontal rows and then pieced the rows together. I pressed all seams open with an iron. To speed up the process, you can chain piece pairs of pieces if you can keep the pattern in the proper order.
Prepare the Embroidery Hoop
The embroidery hoop is the structure that supports the whole sunflower, but it is at the back of the work. If you hang it on a door with a window, you will see the back, but if it hangs against the wall, you won’t.
Therefore, painting the hoop is optional, but I like how it gives the piece a finished look.
If you want to paint it, remove the inner hoop. I like to take a piece of string and run it around the clasp of the outer hoop, then use a piece of painter’s tape to tape the string to the edge of a table so that the hoop hangs freely. I place some newspaper or an old sheet underneath.
Using a small brush and acrylic craft paint, paint the outer hoop. It dries quickly, and I like to do 3 coats.
Then repeat with craft varnish if desired and let dry.
When the embroidery hoop is fully dry, cut a piece of cotton fabric a few inches bigger than the embroidery hoop. Place it between the inner and outer hoop. Push the outer hoop back on, pulling the fabric taut in all directions and tightening the clasp. Make any other tugs to the fabric so that it is taut and smooth but not overly stretched.
This fabric won’t be visible from the front, but you will see some of it from the back. If you don’t care about that then it can be any colour. I prefer white.
Make the Petals for the Sunflower
Cut out the sunflower petal template from the free template with paper scissors. I have found that a Sharpie is best for tracing onto felt. Taking the yellow felt, trace around the template 28 times (or a few more) with a black Sharpie. Note how I arranged my template to get them as close together as possible. I used two different shades of yellow for a little bit of variation, but they can be all one shade.
Next, using fabric scissors, carefully cut out the petals to trim off the Sharpie lines completely.
Cut out the smaller circle template (by just making one cut through the larger circle template) and lay it in the middle of the embroidery hoop. Take your felt petals and lay them so that the inner points come to the edge of the circle. Distribute the two colours evenly if you are using two. Switch up the directions that they overlap each other.
When you’re happy with the placement, glue the petals. Using tacky craft glue, lift the inner point of one petal and smear some glue in a small triangle at the tip, and lay it back into place.
Then lift up the outer edge of the petal and spread glue along the embroidery hoop and just onto any adjacent petals that lay behind that petal. Lay the petal back down in place.
Repeat with gluing inner and outer edges of all petals as you work around the circle until they are all glued. Let dry. Remove the circle template.
Add the Centre to the Sunflower
First, cut out the larger circle template (the inner circle template was already removed from it. I taped the cut ends where I cut through to remove the smaller circle.
Then pin the template to the brown and black fabric, centering it across the grid.
Next, using pinking shears, cut around the template, a little ways from the edge of the template. It is difficult to cut across the bulk of the seams, so move the fabric farther back on the blades to help.
Remove the pins and template.
Here I’ve test laid the centre on top of the petals. It should cover so that you cannot see any white spaces between the petals. Turn it whichever way you like best so that the top is aligned with the clasp at the top of the hoop.
Then flip up one half of the circle and run a little bit of tacky glue across the seams and around the outside of the circle. Press it down. Lastly, flip up the other half and repeat with glue and press it down. Let dry.
Using black or brown embroidery floss – I chose black – stitch the circle down near the edges. I wanted to keep the pinked edges looking sharp so I did a ring of small ‘x’s around the edge.
I also found 3 brownish buttons in three different sizes and sewed them on with an X of stitching in the top right.
To stitch the ‘x’s, I separated two long strands of floss (out of 6 strands), threaded a needle, brought the ends together and knotted them.
I came up from behind and made a diagonal stitch, brought my needle up again and crossed the first diagonal with a second diagonal.
Then I would bring the needle up a short ways away to make the next ‘x’. They are very imperfect, and I don’t mind.
Continue until you’ve made it all the way around the circle, knotting ends and starting new lengths of floss as needed.
How to Finish the Sunflower Backing
First, flip the sunflower over and trim the excess hoop fabric so that there’s approximately 1.5 to 2 inches extra all the way around.
Next, cut a long length of thread and thread a needle, bringing the ends together and knotting them. Make large running stitches above and below the edges of the extra fabric all around the circle, pulling tight to gather it inward as you go. When you get back to where you began, make a few small stitches and knot your thread. If you run out before you get there, just knot it, and start a new thread.
Take your 1 sheet of acrylic felt (it’s not visible so the quality doesn’t matter) and lay out the bigger circle template again. Trace it with a Sharpie. Cut it out with fabric scissors, cutting off the Sharpie line.
Place your circle over the remaining gap on the back. Cut a length of thread, thread your needle, bring the ends together and knot them. Coming from behind the felt circle, make large whipstitches down through the fabric and up through the felt to join the two, working around the circle. Knot the thread when you get back to the beginning.
DIY Fall Sunflower Leaves
Cut out the leaf template with paper scissors. Then take 1 sheet of green felt and trace the leaf template twice with a black Sharpie.
Carefully cut out the green leaves with fabric scissors to remove the Sharpie lines completely.
Finally, decide on your leaf placement and use tacky glue to glue the leaves where they overlap with the back of the hoop.
You can hang the sunflower on a nail or Command Adhesive hook from the hoop clasp, or if you prefer, add a ribbon hanger. First, cut a length of ribbon and feed one of the ends under the clasp. Then tie a knot to the other end and trim the ends so that the knot and ends are hidden behind the sunflower.
Now it’s ready to hang!
Variations Ideas for the DIY Fall Sunflower
There are lots of ways that you can customize this sunflower if you don’t have all these materials on hand, or to make it your own. Here are some ideas I have:
- Skip the pieced sunflower centre and use a solid colour of cotton or felt, cut with pinking shears around the template. This would be a big time saver.
- Instead of felt petals, sewing quilting cotton petals. Add a seam allowance to the petal template, and blunt the inner tip so it’s straight across instead of pointy. Cut out pairs of fabric pieces and put them right sides together. Leaving a gap at the inner end, sew the rest of the way around the petal with a small seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance at the outer tip, and then turn right side out and press. Repeat for 28 petals, or you might need more if they end up being a bit smaller.
- Change up the stitching on the flower centre, adding more or less or different stitches
- Omit the buttons, or add more buttons
- Add more leaves, change their placement, or leave them off altogether
- Add embroidered veins to the leaves
- Omit the hanging ribbon – I decided it looked better hanging on a Command Adhesive hook on my front door without the ribbon.
DIY Fall Sunflower for Door or Wall Decor – Free Template
Get your free template to get started making your own giant DIY fall sunflower.
If you make a DIY Fall Sunflower, share it on social media with #MixMeasureMakeSunflower and don’t forget to tag me @mixmeasuremake so I can see your beautiful creation!
I want to hear from you. Do your prefer typical wreaths for fall, Christmas and other occasions? Or do you like wreath alternatives? Let me know in the comments below.
All the best,