My main issue with loving plants is that I am a notorious plant murderer. I can’t keep plants alive, no matter what! I recently made this trio of immortal cacti and succulents (a moon cactus, small round cactus, and a common succulent) for a gift, and they were a huge hit! Maybe once Christmas stress is over, I’ll have time to make myself a set...we’ll see;) This is a surprisingly simple project, and would make a wonderful Christmas gift (or birthday, Mother's Day, Father's Day....you get the picture!) I will say that having some experience with sewing or embroidery would make this project a little easier, but it is definitely doable for beginners!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 color of felt per type of plant, or the same color for all three!
- brown felt for "dirt" bases
- accent felt for top of moon cactus, and optional flower(s)
- paper to make templates
- white embroidery floss or thread, optional matching threads
- some type of container, pot, or terrarium to "plant" these in!
Your first order of business is creating the templates for your cacti/succulent. Using the container I had chosen to "pot" the finished plants as my guide, I decided approximately how tall I would like each one to be. Here's the breakdown of each shape I drew and cut out, plus how many of each piece to make:
It really depends on how you want your succulent(s) to look, but these are the shapes I used to make mine! You’ll want to make two of each of these pieces (except the largest, you’ll need 4 of this shape, in the large size, and in a slightly smaller size), and make the biggest piece the exact size of the final project. I measured the diameter of the top of my “pot”, then made the base piece slightly larger. I scaled the other pieces down in size based on the size of my base piece. To make the smaller pieces that are the same shape as the base template, I just traced the base template and trimmed the pieces slightly smaller as I cut them out. It might be easier to make a second, smaller template, but I was trying to cut corners a little bit. You can’t really go wrong here, do like I did and wing it!
You’ll need 6 of each of these pattern pieces, to make the body of the cactus and the little colored “ball” part on top. I made the “ball” yellow for mine, but moon cacti come in lots of colors! Any bright, warm color (red, orange, yellow, pink...) would be great here! Decide how tall you want your finished cactus, and create your pattern pieces with an extra 1/2 inch or so at the bottom of each. Think of it as a kind of “seam allowance”.
As you can see, this cactus doesn’t require much by way of an actual template, as you’ll just need to make a rectangle! Here’s how to decide how big of a rectangle to make:
-Decide how tall you want your cactus. Add 1/2 to 1 inch. This is the measurement for your short side.
- Double the measurement for your short side. This is the measurement for your long side.
Here’s what all of your pieces should look like, give or take. Now, let’s get started on putting them all together!
Putting this one together is very simple! Using a blanket stitch, sew each pair of pattern pieces together to create each layer of your succulent. I opted to use contrasting thread here, but matching thread would be great, also! If you need a refresher or a quick tutorial on the blanket stitch, you can find a helpful one here.
Layer the pieces with the largest in the bottom, and tack them all together with a stitch through the middle of all the pieces.
Voila! You’re done!
Using your trusty blanket stitch, sew 6 little “pockets” out of each set of two pieces. You should have three pockets for the cactus body and three for the little colored ball on the top.
Line up the three pockets of each type and sew (I hand stitched) a regular straight stitch down the center of the stack of pockets, leaving the bottoms open. They should look like this from the bottom:
Your next task is to stuff each little compartment! I used a pencil to gently poke the polyfil to the edges of each pocket - just stuff to the desired fluffiness! I left maybe 1/4 inch of free space at the bottom of each pocket, to make it easier to close off.
Here’s what the main cactus should look like from the bottom:
and from the top:
Tie off the bottom of the top ball and the main cactus with tightly knitted thread. Just make sure your knot is strong enough to hold and not slip!
Here’s what your cactus pieces should look like!
Your last job (besides the bases, if you’re making them) is the little ball cactus! The first step is to sew together the short ends of your rectangle and make a tube, then flip it inside out so the seam is on the inside:
This next step is an optional part. The cactus would still look sweet plain, but I love the way it looks with the little knots as decoration! It looks more like a cactus! Basically, tie a million knots! I jest, but it will seem like a lot! If you need a tutorial for a French knot, you can find one here. An easy way to make sure the knots are spread evenly across the cactus is to make them in a grid pattern, evenly measured in both directions.
This is what mine looks like, inside out, to show you how I spread out the knots!
The next step is to sew a loose, straight stitch along one opening of your cactus to gather the end closed.
Stuff your little cactus with polyfil until it’s reached the desired firmness. I like stuffing until there’s a little bit poking out of the opening.
Stitch another straight line along the opening that’s left, and father the end closed to make a ball.
Make sure to tie your knots tight! You can leave your cactus here as it is, or continue to the next step. I tied matching thread around my ball to give it little sections, like so:
I added a little flower to the top of my cactus. To do this, cut a small strip of felt about 2-3 inches long and 1/4-1/2 inch tall. Sew a straight stitch along one long edge, and gather. Stitch the two ends of your strip closed to make a flower. Stitch to the top of your cactus.
Ta-da! You’re done with all three of your everlasting plants! Now, if you’re putting these in a larger pot with pebbles, or into a glass terrarium, or something similar, you’re done! But if you’re putting into a small pot, you might want a base to hold up the plants.
I made two types of bases, but both start with a cylinder of brown felt that’s the height you’d like it, and as big around as the bottom of whatever pot you’re putting it in..
For the moon cactus, I cut a circle of the same size to make the end cap of the cylinder, and stitched it on. Stuff the cylinder! If you like, you can place beans or some other weight in the base to make it stand up easier. Place the bottom of the main cactus piece in the opening of the cylinder, then gather and stitch the opening so it is tight to the cactus.
For the succulent and the ball cactus, a circle of the same size as the base was stitched to the bottom of each of the plants, then that circle (with plant attached) was stitched to the cylinder. Stuff the cylinder the same way as you did with the moon cactus, and then stitch a plain brown circle to the bottom of the cylinder, to close it off.
That's it! I know there are a lot of steps, but it's a pretty simple project all together! Please let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them.
Enjoy your plants that will never die!
Hey there! My name is Kirstie. I'm here to jot down what it's like for us to make our way in the world - having fun on a budget, refashioning and DIY-ing our hearts out, pursuing business ventures, and raising a sweet babe in this crazy world. Join me for a slightly haphazard journaling of my little family and our pursuits and adventures!