Since I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated by dreamcatchers. If you’re unfamiliar, dreamcatchers are intricately woven hoops, originally made by Native Americans, which are thought to capture bad dreams in the woven web while allowing good dreams through the open center. Dreamcatchers are also important symbols within many Native American cultures, and if you’re interested, I would encourage you to look into it, as the origin and legends surrounding them are quite interesting. If you know me personally, you know I’m a sucker for historical details, myths and legends, but aside from that, I do feel like it is important to understand the origin of symbols we utilize.
The dreamcatcher design has become somewhat ubiquitous, appearing on garments and popping up at craft fairs. Dreamcatcher was the title of a Stephen King novel, and in recent episodes of season 5 of Once Upon a Time, a dreamcatcher was used as a magic charm to store memories.
I was introduced to dreamcatchers when I was 7 or 8 years old. My mother, brothers and I would spend summers upstate and we began attending a local library class where we would read a story and then do a craft to accompany it. Sometimes it was something basic like building a plaque from popsicle sticks, sometimes much more complex, like the time a local artist co-hosted and we created mosaic flower pots. I don’t recall the story we read this particular day, but I remember making my first dreamcatcher. Imagine, if you will, a white paper plate with the center cut out and holes punched around the edges. Yarn was woven through the holes with plastic pony bead accents, and then we added bright primary colored craft feathers to the bottom. It was crude, sure, but it got me hooked. That first dreamcatcher may well still be in my parents’ summer home somewhere, along with many of our childhood craft projects.
Fast forward. While I was pregnant with my daughter (before we knew she was a she), we decided to do the nursery green, and I decided to make a dreamcatcher for the window. I started with a 9″ wood hoop which I wrapped with white suede cord, then I used white crochet cotton and an assortment of gemstone beads I had on hand to create the web. Then we moved and the dreamcatcher sat unfinished for over a year. I recently finished it, and decided to make another for my own room, and a third with a doily just to try it out. The doily is a much less traditional design, but I think it’s very quaint and attractive. I added some quartz crystals to all of my dreamcatchers, as quartz is a great protective stone and I love it.
I apologize for the quality of some of these photos, I don’t know what was wrong with my camera! This is a quick project, however I finished these two over the course of a weekend, as I had an extremely curious toddler trying to help.
Onto your DIY Decor – here’s what you’ll need. If you have materials that will work, go ahead! I had nearly everything on hand before I started. There are so many ways you can customize, please understand this is only an outline. This is one of those projects that once you see how to do it, you’ll be off running and can personalize to your heart’s content.
- 2-piece wood embroidery hoop, your choice of size (the small ones I used are 6″, the larger 9″)
- Crochet cotton, embroidery floss, thin yarn or twine
- Doily (if using)
- Beads or feathers for embellishments, if desired
- Strips of fabric, yarn, suede cord, ribbon
- Paper clamp
- Quick drying glue (anything that will adhere, I used Hypo-Cement)
Doily style hoop assembly:
This style is a more modern bohemian style, so you retain the silhouette of the piece but lose the woven aspect. It’s still lovely to look at. For this project I used a 6″ wood hoop with a 1″ strip of white muslin, white crochet cotton and a white doily from the craft store.
- Start with your wood hoop, a doily at least a little smaller, and your crochet cotton/embroidery floss/twine. Take apart the embroidery hoop and set aside the split part, you’ll be using the solid here. If you are not covering the ring, move on to the next step. If you are covering the ring, take the ribbon or 1″ strip of fabric you’ll be using and choose a starting point. Put a dab of glue on the inside of the hoop and stick your fabric there, clamping it in place with the paper clamp. Begin winding your fabric, giving enough overlap that it covers evenly. Feel free to move the clamp as you go if it makes you feel more secure. When you get back to the start, overlap slightly, trim your fabric and glue it down, using the clamp to hold it until it dries.
- Cut yourself a piece of your string about 3x as long as your hoop so you have plenty of space (6″ hoop = 18″ string), and tie it on in any spot, relatively snugly with a secure double knot. Place your doily in the center and begin weaving through the outer point, around the hoop and through the next outer point. Some doily designs may have 1 central spot on each outer bump, mine had 2. Continue all the way around, keeping a relatively even tension (a smaller doily will leave more open space around the outside, mine stretched slightly to fit just so) and when you get to the end, just tie off with a double knot and trim the edges.
Woven style hoop assembly:
For this one I used some red suede cord I had on hand for the hoop, and pale yellow crochet cotton for the web. Any thin cord will work for the web, and there are plenty of similar materials you can use to wrap the hoop if you prefer.
- Start with your wood hoop and suede cord. Remove the outer split portion of the embroidery hoop. Dab some glue on the inside of the hoop and press the end of your cord into it, using the paper clamp to hold it. Begin winding, being careful to keep the cord from twisting and keeping it fairly even all the way around so you don’t end up with gaps. Feel free to glue every here and there, and move the clamp to hold it in place as you go. When you reach the starting point again, trim your cord so it will meet the other end, dab in some glue, press and clamp until it has set.
- Get yourself plenty of your web material (crochet cotton, twine, yarn, embroidery floss, etc). Choose a spot to start and tie on with a snug double knot; feel free to use the ridges between the cord to nestle it in. Visually determine 6-8 anchor points (I like to note the 4 basic points, then put one between as well for a total of 8). Bring your string to your next anchor point, go around and back through the space your string and hoop made – if you do not double back the string will not anchor (look at the photos to see what I mean). Continue around until you have your first round, then continue the pattern onto the string instead of the hoop this time, going to the center of the section, around and through. Continue until your web covers as much as you wish and tie off with a double knot, then trim. If you want beads in your web, just slip them onto the cord and let them fall in as you weave.
You can get creative here. I use mostly slipknot type knots to attach my dangling pieces; I used mostly yarn here, but you can use strips of fabric, ribbon, trim, suede cord, or whatever else you like. Try different textures, braid some pieces, and try different lengths. I added some crystals in as well, and tapered the hanging pieces towards the center. Add drilled seashells or coins, strands of beads, or whatever strikes your fancy. I added some lovely feathers I had ordered on Etsy from a family farm that responsibly and humanely harvests feathers from their chickens (and cleans them!) to two of the three dreamcatchers, stripping the top fluffy bits to reveal some stem, then hot gluing them together and attaching them by simply using a piece of string and a series of knots – wrap to front and tie, wrap to back and tie, etc etc until the entire stem was covered and the feather cluster securely attached. Get creative!
I added some pieces and then removed them if I wasn’t happy with how it looked – that’s the beauty of the slipknot. If you’re braiding, just use something to hold the hoop in place (I used my phone, which you’ll see in the photos).
Then just add a loop of string to hang and you’re ready to go!
The white dreamcatcher is in Little Miss’ room, while the red and yellow is a subtle but attractive addition to the red and gold curtains on my double window. The doily one will likely be heading north to Kristen. I love these! The design is just so elegant and lovely, and I like the thought of them keeping away nasty dreams and only letting the sweet ones through, especially for my little girl.
Will you be trying this? What are you crafting?