DIY hot air balloons

hot air balloons 12

if you know me and DIY’s, you know you’re in for a long post!  i’m not just going to show you how to make one hot air balloon, i’m going to show you how to make 17 different balloons!


3 or 4 times a year, i create a new “installation” for our school‘s main office.  a couple years ago, my parents and i hung tension wires across the ceiling to be able to do these installations, so everything i do hangs from them.  when i’m ready to switch these out, they’ll move over to fred & betty’s, our school’s thrift store, where i do the window displays.  fun jobs, huh?

supplies:  paper lanterns (i used ones i had on hand, but the type with tighter, even boning worked much better than the wider criss-cross boning), scissors, hot glue, glue gun, mod podge, 1″ wide paint brush, tray for mod podge, fabric (i used almost all scraps), yarn, berry baskets, and styrofoam or plastic cups.


this is the key to the hot air balloon shape:  a cup.


i used both styrofoam cups and red plastic solo cups.  i cut each cup in half and also cut the bottom out as well.


then i lined the widest opening of the cup with hot glue, lots of it, and lined it up with the bottom opening of the paper lantern, making sure the entire cup top was adhered to the bottom of the lantern.  before i glued the cups to the lanterns, i made sure the widest opening of the cup fit over the bottom opening of the lantern because some lanterns had wider openings than others.


this is the start of the basic shape of the hot air balloon!



for the basic shape of the balloons, i used this technique.  i took a strip of fabric, between 1 to 2 1/2″ wide, and hot glued it to the inside of the cup opening on the bottom, then i painted lots of mod podge onto the lantern where the strip will lay. then i gently stretched the fabric strip to the top and hot glued to the inside of the  top opening as well.


 then i painted the top of the fabric with more layers of mod podge, almost in a paper-mache style.


and then do this over and over until the surface of the lantern is covered.  or, as you can see in the pic below, on some of the balloons i left some of the lantern showing through, but made sure i used enough strips to at least cover the cup base.

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 10.17.09 PM


for this balloon, i didn’t have enough green strips, but i had a lot of scraps.  i used strips at the base to make the basic shape, then covered it all with scraps of fabric.  and tons of mod podge.


after the balloons were made, i needed to figure out a way to hang the baskets.


i used yarn as the ties.  first i made a loop around the top of the balloon, not big enough to slide down.


then i tied the ends with a knot.


then made a second loop, just a little bigger than the first, but still not big enough to slide off the balloon.


then i took the smaller loop and placed it inside the larger loop.  where the arrows are, that is where i attached the loops to each other with the shorter pieces of yarn (see below).



then i snipped off the ends.


now does it make sense?


then i took long, even lengths of yarn and tied one end of each to a berry basket corner.


then i tied the other end of the yarn to the center of the bottom loop (see above – words can’t explain).



it was great like this, but i wanted to add one more thing…


i made a small loop to slide up the base of the balloon.


then took 4 small pieces of yarn and tied the long strings to the new small loop.



then i cut the ends of the knots.


hot air balloon5

this balloon was made of several strips of the same fabric, covering the whole balloon.  then i took a strip of the persimmon fabric and wrapped the widest point of the balloon, and again at the base.  the basket was made by cutting apart a berry basket into 4 quarters, then glueing 2 of the quarters back together to make a smaller whole.  then i wove grosgrain ribbon through the openings and hot glued the ends together.

hot air balloons7

this was one of my favorites!  instead of the strips going from the top to the bottom, the went from just above the middle to the bottom, then i painted the top of the balloon with acrylic paint.  i made i simple tiny bunting with scraps glued to yarn, and strung it around the balloon.  i lined the berry basket with red construction paper.

hot air balloons2

i made 2 rainbow balloons, this one with the pattern repeating twice.  it took forever.  well, about an hour and a half.  rather than making an elaborate net to hang this basket from, i just did 4 long strings of yarn and glued little yarn bows at the top.  the basket was woven with yellow grosgrain ribbon and lined with a grocery bag.

hot air balloons 8

this was a funky shaped one.  i tried using a full cup rather than cutting it shorter in half, hence the longer, taller shape.  i did a patchwork on this one like the green one but then added 3 green strips for a bit of contrast.


this one is patchwork turquoise under the black and white strips.  i was just making do with what i had on hand, and i only had enough turquoise to do patchwork since i didn’t have long strips.  sometimes working with what you have forces the creativity!

hot air balloons1

another balloon with the same strips covering it and contrasting bands.

hot air balloons6

this balloon i did the yellow pieces first with 2 wide strips of fabric per section, then layered the pink fabric strips in between.  the basket is woven with 2 layers of ribbon for a more solid look.  i tied each corner of the basket with 2 strings of yarn.  i had an “x” of yarn at the top of the balloon that the ends of the basket strings tied to, 2 bottom strings tying to each top string.


after several elaborate balloons, i just wanted some more simple ones!  this one is just 3 colors of strips withe the lantern showing in between.  i wove the basket with thin strips of paper bag, and glued baker’s twine to the corners and to the base of the balloon.

hot air balloons4

this one began with the floral fabric, then the yellow fabric on one side and the pink on the other, making a pattern.


this one i didn’t use any mod podge at all, just hot glue at the top and bottom of the strips and along the edges to seal it against the balloon.

hot air balloons9

this is the other rainbow balloon, but with more colors.  can you see the irregular, spread out spines under the strips?  it was much more difficult to use than the closer spines.  more give in the paper of the lanterns.

hot air balloons3

this pink lantern was so pretty i didn’t want to cover it completely.  the basket is woven with paper bag and striped ribbon.


another patchwork, but this time ombre.


the webbing was simple – just a single ring at the top with 2 strings coming from each basket corner.

hot air balloons10

this one was made with mostly hot glue, too.  you can see the difference – its just not quite as tight as the mod podged balloons.


another simple one!

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 10.16.33 PM



these would look so cute in a kid’s room or nursery, or a playroom!  let me know if you have any questions!

craft camp birthday party

craft camp

after weeks of going in circles of ideas for a birthday party, my newly “eleventeen”-year old landed on craft camp.  with just a bit of pushing from me.  or a lot.  it was a crazy amount of work, but also so much fun!

craft camp

the set up is always my favorite part!  and now that the kids are older, they always want to help.  sometimes i let them ;)

craft camp

we used the gold dresser to set up most of the craft supplies so everything was close at hand.

craft camp

i hold onto everything party decor related, so all of these different bunting pieces were from different parties and events.  see, sometimes hoarding does come in handy!

(want to know how to make the tassels?  i’ve got a full tutorial here!)

craft camp

craft camp

craft camp

craft camp


my middle, lily, loves to surprise people with handmade gifts.  she made this paper bunting for gracie in the prettiest pinks and oranges – it was perfect for the front porch to welcome the guests!

craft camp

we pretty much spent the whole time here at the table.  i made the mistake of starting the party at 5.  it really should’ve started at 3 so we could craft for a bit, then eat dinner, then craft more, then send the girls to the slumber party tent.  so our time was a bit tight.  we had about 8+ crafts planned and ended up finishing maybe 5?

craft camp

i covered the table in plastic table cloths.  i don’t love these tablecloths unless they have a real purpose – like getting thrashed and will be thrown away after.  and if they are an amazing color like these ones from target.  i love doing runners from wrapping paper.  when target has fun wrapping paper in the dollar spot i snag a few, like this great wood grain paper.  a bit of scotch tape held everything in place.

craft camp

i made a quick “chandelier” with an old wine barrel hoop, some braided yarn, and strips of fabric layed over the edges.

craft camp

each guest had a vintage tin tray to work on.  i have collected these for awhile because i use them whenever i have projects going on – great for transporting around the house.  they worked perfectly for the rollie pollie crafts like perler beads and wooden beads.  when we were doing messier crafts, i covered the trays in tin foil for quick clean up.

craft camp

grace & lily wrapped the mini mason jars with wrapping paper scraps and yarn, and tucked in a name tag for each girl.  i also tried to cut time by prepping most of the crafts ahead of time, like each girl getting a certain number of beads and their own snacks.

craft camp

keeping everything close at hand helped to move us along, instead of me searching for this and that throughout the night.

craft camp

i used various sizes of mason jars to keep everything contained but visible.

craft camp

craft camp

and then there was cake!  i taught my girls how to make a yarn tassel and they made the little bunting for the cake, held up with skewers.

craft camp

we had made trix crispies for gracie’s birthday before, and this time she requested it as a cake.  you guys, this was so easy!  fastest cake ever.  you basically make it like rice crispies, but i poured it into 2 round cake pans, and pushed in into the corners really well.  once it had cooled, i just flipped the pans over and stacked one “cake” on top of the other.  the marshmallow goo helped them to stick together seamlessly.

craft camp

gracie also requested a “pretty tent”, not our giant brown tent we call “the condo” (its huge).  so i borrowed this 10’x10′ pop up tent from a friend and used more of those banners and bunting pieces i never get rid of.  of course, it was like 90* that day, even hotter in the tent, so this was quite the activity.

craft camp

we made sure to turn off the sprinklers the day before to let the grass dry out, and put a tarp underneath.  then i covered the tarp with all the afghans and quilts i could gather around the house.

craft camp

craft camp


craft camp

clockwise, from top left: my great grandmother’s afghan, lily’s baby quilt i made for her, my blanket my paternal gram made for me, a snippet of gracie’s baby quilt i made for her, a vintage lap quilt i found thrifting, and silas’ baby quilt i made for him.

craft camp

i neglected to take many pictures of the crafts.  partly because i was leading all of them, so taking pictures was too hard.  and because we crafted until late at night when it was too dark for good pictures, and then also in the morning trying to squeeze in a couple more projects before the moms came to pick up the guests.

this was a simple straightforward craft:  i have a bunch of crayons out for the girls to choose – they put them in all sorts of color arrangements.  we hot glued them onto thin canvases then held a hot blowdryer up close to the crayons to make them drip.  it didn’t work as smoothly or vibrant as i had hoped, but it was still fun.  i think using high quality crayons would’ve been helpful, but we just used leftover crayons from our giant crayon bin.

craft camp

we had just finished making dream catchers at fred & betty’s (thrift store), so the girls were so excited to do this one!  super easy with wire hangers and t-shirt scraps.

craft camp

wooden beads, baker’s twine, some painter’s tape and paint were all we needed for these fun necklaces!


who knew perler beads could actually be pretty?  we found that if you use cross stitch patterns it works great!  thank you pinterest.


 we also painted on canvases and i made the girls infinity scarves from their choice of fabrics (they were planned to make them, but we ran out of time).

overall, it was a really fun party and i know gracie loved it.