Crafting for Bored People: Valentine’s Day Calaveras (Sugar Skull) Decoration

Valentine's Day Garland Hanging on Bookshelf

It’s amazing what I find myself doing these days just to stay busy. Can I blame it on reading Amy Sedaris’ Simple Times, Crafts for Poor People? Probably not, although I do owe her a debt of gratitude for comedic relief.  I’m the kind of person who NEEDS to do something at almost ALL times, driving Raj crazy with my manic drive to complete each new project in as little time as possible. (This is what type-A’s do when they’re NOT working. They put ALL of their energy into something, anything trying to forget that they have nothing to do.) Whether I’m watching TV, relaxing, or just talking to Raj, I like having something to work on in my hands. I’m still baking and cooking, but as you can imagine, that gets dangerous–being faced with cookies, cakes, and stashes of sweets haunting you ALL day, each and every time you set foot into the kitchen. So…in the past few months, I’ve revisited crafts that I haven’t done since junior high school (i.e. cross stitching) and have taken up some new ones, a la felt garland making, or whatever you want to call this.  This is what my life has become–craft central.

My latest project involves my affection for all things Day of the Dead–which has nothing to do with Valentine’s day, but who cares? I made this Valentine’s Day Sugar Skull garland out of felt, which I imagine hanging on the mantle of our (as of yet, non-existent) house back in DC. (It somehow doesn’t look as good hanging from the bookcase here in Amman, in a place that isn’t all abuzz in Valentine’s Day decor, as I imagine it will look back in the US.) The garland is comprised of eight calaveras (skulls): four moustached males and four flower bedecked females with nine hearts in between the skulls. Prior to this project, I didn’t know how to embroider, but look at me now. I’ve mastered chain stitch, blanket stitch, back-stitch, and French knots.

A must have on any bookshelf if ever you find yourself living in the Middle East

In addition to this project and in keeping in line with the theme, I’ve also completed another skull garland, this one for Halloween.

Halloween Garland
Closeup 1
Closeup 2

And my next project? I think I need to move away from the skulls, possibly to something more lively. I’m open to suggestions.

41 thoughts on “Crafting for Bored People: Valentine’s Day Calaveras (Sugar Skull) Decoration

  1. Those are so cute! I am in love. Do I win a garland for being the first? Where did you find the pattern or did you make it up? Very impressive. Amy would be proud. I bet your neighbors like them as much as I do!

  2. I saw your skeletons and thought they were your cookies! Love the garland, trés chic. I saw that Amy Sedaris book on sale at Borders a few months ago when they were closing but didn’t get it. Good thing I’m not stuck in Jordan. I’ll be first on the crafting boot camp sign up list when you return.

    1. I bought the book through Amazon for .35 cents plus 3.99 shipping. I started with David Sedaris books and have moved on to his sister’s–yes, it’s a good thing you’re not here–unless you and Mindy can come on Space A. I was thinking of making V Day cookies, but I’m not feeling inspired enough and am not sure if there are any worthy recipients. Too bad you and Aaron aren’t near because you TWO–yes, Aaron too, would make the short list.

  3. I love the skulls! I was born on Day of the Dead (Nov 2nd) so I have always had a soft spot for that holiday. You could sell those on Etsy. I would buy one! Also, I’m planning to make some of the Scottish oatmeal bread from the recipe you posted. It looks delish!

    1. Thanks. I used to love visiting Olvera Street in LA where they have fabulous shops full of Day of the Dead stuff. Good luck with the bread. I’ve been partial to whole wheat bread lately since the loaves of bread around here are more like cardboard.

  4. Hi Jen~
    Well, you are your father’s daughter, aren’t you??? That type-A quality of wanting to be active seems to be inherited! Your busy fingers crafts really are cute and would make a big hit on Etsy. Even though Shannon’s birthday is November 2, I’d never thought too much about the “Day of the Dead” until lately when it’s become an “almost” holiday. Seriously, the cookies sound more appealing to me and I bet Raj could make quick work of them but the delightful garlands are undoubtedly safer! Hope you’re both well!

    1. Thanks Jacque. That’s another thing I miss about southern California around Halloween–the celebration of Day of the Dead. Hope you’re well too. How’s the knitting going? My mom keeps wanting to teach me but I think I have to wait a few more years. There’s an age requirement to knitting.

  5. Keep making them and obtain orders on ebay, or? othewise, step away from the skulls Jen!
    but keep stitching! and cooking and sending us great receipes, pics and travel adventures. WE love them!!!
    Wishing you both well,
    Dick and Mary

  6. Type A personality, a sure sigh for busy hands. You always do make some very cute stuff and I am sorry I am not there to enjoy the fruits of your labor in person, especially when you are cooking. Perhaps we can sell these day of the dead items in Old Town. That one store is a sure bet for these but that won’t pay the rent for too long..Then, being an A type, you would have already moved on to the next project.. Keep on cooking and crafting . Love, Dad

  7. Those are so cute! We keep missing the Day of the Dead sugar-skull making craft day at our local library; your felt skulls would be a great home project anytime for us. They remind me of some handmade critters I saw in Pippy Longstocking, a dock store in Fort Bragg. They were for a contest. Makes me want to go sew!

  8. I had no idea Amy had this crafting book! I’m definitely going to have to pick this up. Those skulls and hearts are super cute. I need to master the french knot too, lol. Love the garland!

    1. I got the book off Amazon for .01 cents plus $3.99 shipping. I have no idea how any $ is made that way, but the book came in no time and in great condition. It’s well worth the $4.

  9. Hey, these are super awesome! Thanks for liking my post too, it’s nice to think that someone on the other side of the world is stringing felt doohickies into garlands at the same time as I am :0) jess

  10. really love the garland! Just come home to a power cut and you have inspired me to dig out my felt bag and sit by the window stitching an oreo cookie 🙂

  11. Glad you found my One of my daughters and her kids (they’re in Baltimore so someday you’ll be almost neighbors) are skull FREAKS so I’ve forwarded your Valentine craft to her. She’ll love it. I like your sense of humor — I try to maintain one about being in very rural North Carolina but it’s been 24 years!!!!

    1. Thanks for forwarding the post. I’m onto my second skull garland out of boredom. I’ve got all sorts of skulls hanging in our house these days and the middle east isn’t too keen on skulls so I can only imagine what people think about ‘the Americans.’ My sense of humor is the only thing keeping me sane here.

  12. These are so cool!!!
    I am the same way about needing something to do all the time. My husband gets annoyed because he thinks I should be paying attention to whatever show or movie that we sit down to watch instead of blogging or crocheting at the same thing. I never really considered myself a type A person before. I made some felt doughnuts and felt ornaments recently that are posted on my blog that you should check out.

  13. I don;t think you need to move away from skulls at all. I say embrace the skulls. Easter is coming up! And thanks for checking out my Lemon Icebox pie post!

  14. This is great! I’m printing this off for Day of the Dead (alas I didn’t find it in time for Valentine’s Day :). When I lived in Tucson, AZ, there were lots of Day of the Dead activities.

    1. Thanks. Out of boredom, I’ve made a second garland of female calaveras only without the hearts in between, so I suppose it doesn’t need to be for Valentine’s day only.

  15. Hey! Thanks for stopping by my blog,!

    I’m pumped about your skulls. I got into making stuffed animals last summer when I was going to a bunch of weddings and children’s birthday parties–I wish I would have made them skulls instead of dinosaurs.

  16. hi! thanks for liking my post on my blog,

    i have some pending projects that were not yet posted and hope you can look at it. im loving your skulls. actually, the project im into are plush/stuffed dolls mostly handmade.

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