The Squishy Pumpkin: An Autumn Craft Tutorial

Aside from scrapbooking and quilting, I'm not really a crafty sort of person. (And...I'm not even sure quilting and scrapooking count as "crafts.") Every once in awhile, I'll start some sort of crafty project, but unless there's a gift deadline associated with it, I generally don't follow through and actually finish the project. I am quick to admire craftiness, but slow to accomplish it.

In fact, I could say that this autumn craft I'm posting is a quick, easy, and painless one. I'd almost feel certain I could say that, except for the fact that I intended on making these three years ago, when I read about them somewhere onlineā€”I can't find where! I bought the batting and the fabric for them back in 2008. I ended up using the fabric for something else and then being annoyed by the big bag of batting every time I opened up my coat closet. Still, once I finally got around to actually making them, they were really fairly quick, easy, and nearly painless. (Another reason I don't craft very often is I tend to burn myself with my glue gun. Often.) Let me introduce you to the squishy pumpkin:

Squishy pumpkins a

The thing I love about pumpkins and leaves is that, unlike skeletons and witches, they are autumn-long decorations. Put them out in September, put them away to make room for Christmas decorations. Plus I think these are just cute! To make one you'll need:

Squishy Pumpkin Supply List

Squishy pumpkins 01 supplies

  • Autumn-esque fabric. If you are making a pieced pumpkin, you'll need about 1/3 yard of 4-5 different fabrics; for a solid pumpkin, 1/3 - 1/2 yard, or a fat quarter if your fabric store will cut one for you.
  • Stuff to embellish the stems with. I used ribbon, autumn greenery from the craft store, and a little raffia.
  • Wooden stems. I made Kendell cut these with his saw, as a saw and I do not get along. They came from a branch he'd pruned off our apple tree. Cut these about 4" long, one for each of the pumpkins you want to make.
  • Packaged batting. This isn't in the picture because the bag was too tall and it threw off the balance.
  • Something else to fill with. This is so your squishy pumpkin isn't too light and fluffy. I used two bags of beads that were left over from Haley's princess birthday party, the one she had when she turned nine. (Further reinforcement of how often I actually do crafts.) You could also use rice, or beans, or even clean pebbles if that is easy for you.
  • A glue gun.
  • Something to cut with. I used my quilting supplies but you could just as easily use a pair of scissors.

Now for the instructions. There are more steps for the pieced pumpkin, so I'll list those first, and then combine the instructions when they merge with the solid pumpkin.

Pieced Pumpkin:

  1. Decide on the size of pumpkin you want. My pieced pumpkin is about 24".
  2. Cut your fabric into 1 1/2-3" wide x 24" long (or however big your pumpkin is) strips. It's good to have a variety of both widths and fabrics.Squishy pumpkins 02 strips
  3. Piece the strips together so that they make, roughly, a square, alternating sizes and fabrics. It's best to have each end be a wider strip.
  4. Iron open the seams.

Solid Pumpkin:

  1. Decide on the size of pumpkin you want.My solid ones are 18". I wouldn't go much smaller than 10".
  2. Cut a square of fabric to the size you picked. (This is why a fat quarter is perfect: You'd only have to trim off 4" from the wide edge...and you'd only have 4" left over.)

Here's Where the Instructions Merge:

  1. Fold your pieced or solid square in half lengthwise and then in half width-wise, making a smaller, folded squareSquishy pumpkins 03 folded sewn square

  2. Draw a quarter circle against the two raw (NOT FOLDED) sides. This doesn't have to be perfect. If your pumpkin is on the small-ish size you could use a plate or a bit lid for a template. I just freeformed it. Use a thin-tipped Sharpie for this step if you don't have a fabric marker, because the line won't show when you're finished.Squishy pumpkins 05 folded no sew circle
  3. Cut out the quarter circle:Squishy pumpkins 04 folded sewn circle
    (When you open it up, you'll have a circle!)
  4. Take this circle to your sewing machine and stitch a gathering stitch all around the circle. (A gathering stitch just means the widest stitch your machine will sew.) Make sure to leave long tails of thread at both the start and the end of the stitching.
  5. Start gathering the fabric by pulling very gently on one of the sets of threads left over from your gathering stitch. Slide the fabric in bunches towards the other sides of the circle. (I wanted to have a photo of this step, but I learned it's impossible to photograph yourself at 1:00 a.m. gathering a circle. You definitely need a photography assistant for that, and as all mine were gathering-the-circle photo.) Your goal here is to make the opening of the pumpkin, the spot where the stem goes, and the smaller you can make this opening, the easier the gluing will go. If you break one of your gathering threads, use the other set.
  6. Once you've got a good gathering built up, but before the opening is too small, stuff the pumpkin. First put a handful of batting at the bottom. Pour your filling items (beads, beans, rice, pebbles) on top of the first pouf. Then fill the pumpkin the rest of the way with batting. You sort of just have to guess at how much to put in; you might have to take some out or put more in before you do the stem.
  7. Continue gathering until you have just a small opening left.
  8. Adjust the batting as necessary.
  9. Stick the stem into the opening, and then rev up your glue gun. Try not to swear as you glue the gathered edge of fabric to the stem.
  10. Embellish the stem as desired. If you're using floral picks, make sure to stick them between the fabric and the wooden stem while the glue is still hot.
  11. Once the glue is cooled off, scrunch your pumpkin and adjust the fabric as necessary. Then stick your pumpkin(s) in a spot that needs a little cuteness.

And...if you do make a squishy pumpkin or two, link me up! Happy crafting!

PS...this is a good craft to make with a friend, because you'll generally have enough fabric to make two pumpkins from one cut. (Unless, of course, your fabric store will cut fat quarters for you. The ones around here won't.) Split the cost of the fabric and make them together. An added bonus: you'll have someone who can take a picture of you gathering! ;)