Behind the 19th window of the BERNINA Advent Calendar is a small gift idea that is easy to sew and that you won’t have to buy any materials for. Sewing lanterns for Christmas can be a project for the whole family, you can make them even at the last minute and give them as gifts from the heart!
Christmas time in our family is marked by Finnish traditions. I have a very special childhood memory of our “jouluvalvojaiset” (which translates as “staying awake at Christmas”). These were the evenings during Advent when we children were allowed to stay up much longer than usual to make Christmas presents with the whole family. There was wonderfully aromatic “glögi” (Finnish Christmas punch) and you could even try the gingerbread which, strictly speaking, was still supposed to be under lock and key!
Ideas and tutorials for your next sewing adventure
Subscribe to the BERNINA Blog Newsletter
If you love to sew you don’t want to miss the chance to receive the latest content from our authors directly into your mailbox.
It was exciting, mysterious, familiar and very atmospheric! I also connect our Christmas workshop with small gifts made together for neighbors and friends. These were simple ideas, often made in series from materials we already had at home. It was great fun and gave you a very warm feeling in your heart to be able to give a little joy to many people you met during the year.
Sewing lanterns – a last-minute gift for neighbors and friends
The basic idea is very simple: a Christmas-themed decorated cover made of fabric is put over an empty honey or jam jar and a tea light is put inside to create an atmospheric lantern.
If you want, you can embellish the lid for Christmas with stuck-on aluminum foil or wrapping paper, design a tag and give something else away in the jar… for example, Christmas cookies, homemade chocolates, tea or – as in the photo – a spice mix for punch with a handwritten recipe.
Do you want to try it out and drink some delicious Finnish “Glögg” while you are sewing? I am happy to share our family recipe with you here ;-):
Sewing lanterns – instructions
So, now I’ll show you how to sew the lanterns.
The size of the lantern cover depends on the jar
- All kinds of fabric scraps or discarded shirts, blouses, jeans, scarves, etc.
- Fusible interlining, e.g. Vilene H250 (only necessary for thin fabrics)
- Woven, lace or braided ribbon
- Iron-on rhinestones, beads, sequins or small buttons
- Sewing thread
- Old honey or jam jars
I’m going to show you a technique for cut-out designs. Not only light-colored and thin fabrics are suitable for this, but also colorful, thicker fabrics – in this case, the candlelight only shines through the design, but the lanterns add color to the Christmas decorations during the day. The designs should be simple and not too big so that the corners and edges still lie flat and do not stick out after cutting out.
In addition to the simple five-pointed star, I have put together other designs for you, which you can download from the following link:
You can change the size of the designs by scaling the printout size in the printer menu.
A little tip: You can also find appropriate Christmas designs in your kitchen. Cookie cutters are great as an alternative template!
The seam allowance on the side edges is 1 cm, and the hem allowance on the top and bottom edge is 2 cm each.
Thicker fabrics do not require any fusible interlining. However, thin fabrics should be reinforced with a fusible interlining (e.g. Vilene H250).
Cutting out for thin fabrics + fusible interlining
Measure the precise circumference and height of the honey or jam jar.
Draw a rectangle with these measurements on the uncoated side of the interlining and mark a 1 cm seam allowance on each side.
Cut out the interlining and iron it onto the wrong side of the fabric. Mark a 2 cm hem allowance on the fabric at the top and bottom edges.
Cut out the rectangle.
Cutting out for thicker fabrics (with no fusible interlining)
Measure the precise circumference and height of the honey or jam jar. Draw a rectangle with these measurements on the wrong side of the fabric. Mark a seam allowance of 1 cm on each side edge and a 2 cm hem allowance on the top and bottom edge.
Cut out the rectangle.
If you are using a fabric that frays easily, you can overcast the side edges with a zigzag stitch or overlock stitch now. I waited until later, after decorating, to do this.
Draw the design with a water-soluble marker in the middle on the right side of the fabric. If you don’t have a marker at hand, I have a great tip for you: you probably have erasable rollerball pens from the stationery shop in the house (or the kids will have them in their pencil cases ;-)). They are great for making fine markings on fabric, because the heat-sensitive ink simply disappears when it is ironed.
Stitch the design using a closely spaced zigzag stitch.
Secure the seam end with a few small straight stitches. Overcast the side edges with a zigzag stitch or overlock stitch and iron the cover flat. As you can see, the ink has now disappeared!
Iron the top and bottom edges over onto the wrong side by 2 cm and fold over by 1 cm.
Stitch the edges in place close to the edge with a straight or zigzag stitch.
Decorate the design with iron-on rhinestones (alternatively, you could sew or glue on small beads or sequins). Cut out the design along the zigzag seam with small scissors, being careful not to damage the seam.
If you want, you can stitch on a ribbon after this step, as shown in this example.
Place the side edges of the cover with the right sides together and sew together with a 1 cm seam allowance.
Iron the seam allowances open.
Turn the cover right way out – and you’re done. That’s how easy it is to sew lanterns!
Now you can pull the cover over the jar:
Then all you have to do is decide whether you want to fill the jars or whether you want to give them away without a lid and only with a tealight!
Embellishing the lid
You can easily embellish the lid of the honey or jam jar by covering it with aluminum foil. Of course, you can also use thin kraft or wrapping paper for this. Here’s how to do it:
- Cut a round piece of aluminum foil (or wrapping paper). The circle should be around 1.5 cm larger than the lid.
- Apply water-soluble glue stick to the entire surface of the lid, the side edges and the bottom edge of the lid. Stick the aluminum foil onto the lid and the sides and press down firmly. Trim off the excess foil around the edge, leaving approx. 3 mm.
- Fold the aluminum foil inwards and press down firmly
Sewing lanterns – other decoration methods
Of course there are numerous other methods for decorating your lanterns for Christmas… You can stamp, print, embroider, appliqué, inscribe them, etc. Here you can see a few more examples!
I hope you have lots of fun sewing, being creative and giving gifts!
I wish you a Merry Christmas – hyvää joulua – from the bottom of my heart