Give Thanks Tutorial

November 3, 2018By Janice FergusonHoliday, Projects, Sewing 24 Comments Opinion by Paid Consultant

Eleven canning jars have been transformed into twinkling mantle décor for Thanksgiving. This is a visible reminder of the reason for all that delicious turkey and pumpkin pie. With THE Dream Machine 2 by Brother (the quintessential combo embroidery/sewing machine) or any Brother embroidery machine, you can make a meaningful Thanksgiving decoration that can be used year after year. It can even be left in place through the year. On the mantle, on the piano, a bookshelf or wherever, it is a timeless statement to be grateful.

The fabulous BES4 lettering software, included with the purchase of THE Dream Machine 2 by Brother was used for the text on the jars, though the built-in letters on your machine would also work. That amazing BES4 program offers a multitude of fonts and countless options. This is the most basic use of its features and I’m eager to try some of the others. Just a few easily acquired items are required. Assemble your supplies and get started on this fun project that makes such an important statement.


Note: There are several grades and weights of burlap. I chose the coarsest, least expensive because I want the light to shine through the lose weave. Without the fairy lights, I would use a better grade of burlap.


  • #80 needle, black embroidery thread for needle and black bobbin thread, embroidery thread for pumpkin design, spray adhesive, double sided tape, 3 ¾ yards black grosgrain ribbon ½-5/8” wide, tan grosgrain ribbon 5/8-1” wide, glue (hot glue gun or other strong glue) mid-weight tearaway stabilizer, very lightweight stabilizer.
  • 11 smooth sided quart mason jars (A carton of 12 near the canning supplies was purchased from the big box store).
  • Fairy lights—eleven 3.3’ strand of battery-operated lights for each of the 11 jars.


Note: The font used here is Black Tie from BES4. For the quart jar, keep the height of each letter below 4.00. The Black Tie Large font was stitched at 3.84”.

Note: Use a piece of cardboard or poster board for table protection when using spray adhesive.

BES4 Text Preparation

  1. Open installed BES4.

  1. Select start a new design.

  1. Click on the circled b icon for BES4. Select NEW on the next menu.

  1. Select the Text icon at the top of the next screen, type in G, select Black Tie Large font.

  1. Select BES4 Black Tie font and reduce size to 3.84, then click on apply.

  1. Save the design. First it will be saved in the BES4 format so it can be edited and manipulated later.
  2. Save as .pes in your chosen folder for future reference.

  1. Send the design to THE Dream Machine 2 electronically. Or save it to a memory stick and transfer the design in that manner.

  1. Continue with each remaining letter for GIVE THANKS.
  2. Open the folder to access the letters.

  1. Alternatively, you can select letters from PE-Design or the built-in letters on your machine. Keep height to just below 4” or 100 x 100cm. Use a font from which stabilizer can be removed easily. Un-removed stabilizer will show through the coarse burlap and restrict the brightness of the fairy lights.

Fabric Preparation

  1. Pull a thread to straighten top cut edge of burlap. It is rarely if ever cut on grain.

  1. Measure 10” from selvage and pull another thread. This will leave a channel for accurate cutting.
  2. Cut along the empty thread channel, rendering a piece 10” x width of fabric.

  1. Measure the circumference of your jar. Mine came to 12” so I cut each 10” x width of fabric piece into 10 x 13” pieces. Three pieces can be cut from each 45” width, requiring four 10” cuts down the selvage. Cut 11 rectangles. Save the left over short ends to cover the jar lid.

Embroidery Directions

  1. Mark vertical and horizontal center of burlap rectangle with a tiny dot. Pierce snowman sticker through center dot then insert pin into marked dot.
Note: Take care to line up the edges of the snowman with the grain lines. Press snowman in place, leaving pin penetrating snowman and burlap.
  1. Mark center of tearaway stabilizer with a dot. Pierce that dot with the pin, at once centering the snowman, the burlap and the stabilizer. Straighten and pin stabilizer to burlap.
  2. Hoop in 4×4 frame, using the template to place the center properly.
Note: The BES4 Black Tie font was reduced to a height of 3.84”. That leaves no wiggle room, so exact placement is important. You may also hoop this in the 5×7 frame for easier placement.

  1. Use black embroidery thread in needle and black bobbin thread. Open letter G and embroider.

  1. Continue embroidering the remaining letters. Press after embroidery to remove hoop burn marks.
  2. Embroider pumpkin on 11th rectangle just as was done with letters. When trimming 10 width to 6”, center pumpkin.

Assembling the Jars

  1. Reduce the width of the strips from 10” to 6”. Begin cut 1” below each letter.

Note: Starch and pressing helps keep the burlap in line and easier to handle.
  1. Apply spray adhesive to bottom 5” of the 6” burlap strip ON THE WRONG SIDE. Cover top inch with cardboard then spray.

  1. Center quart jar on letter, with bottom raw edge just barely above the bottom of the jar.

  1. Wrap burlap around jar. Trim overlap so cut ends butt.
Note: Don’t worry if they don’t meet exactly but avoid overlapping. A strip of ribbon will cover the join.

  1. Gently fringe the top edge to the bottom of the jar threads.

  1. Use a short strip of double-sided tape at the top of the butted edges. Press ends in place. Without spray adhesive on the top 1”, the burlap tends to flop open. Add tape here and to any lose edges.

  1. Cut eleven 5.5” strips of tan grosgrain ribbon. Treat raw ends with fray block.
  2. Prepare to cover the jar lids with burlap. Starch and press the leftover short ends of the 10” strips.
  3. Stitch 3” circles in the hoop. Create a 3” circle by going to the shapes menu. and selecting the single line circle.

  1. Select the single line circle.

  1. Edit the size to 3”. Enlarge in arrow box until the size is 3.00 x 3.00. Save in memory.

  1. Hoop very lightweight stabilizer, almost as thin as tissue paper, then stitch the burlap circle twice. You can fit two circles in a 5×7 frame.
Note: Do not cut out but remove from frame. Re-hoop to stitch 2 more circles on the same scrap. Stitch 11 burlap circles.
  1. Remove embroidered circles from frame. Cut out circle very close to stitching line.
Note: This is most easily done working from the stabilizer side. After cutting, remove stabilizer very gently, starch and press again. Set aside.
  1. Stitch 11 circles from burlap scraps.
  • Starch and press cut out circles. Alternatively, you can trace around the lid and trim to 3” or draw a 3” circle. Work straight stitches twice on that line, then cut just outside the stitches.
  • Remove lids from rings and place on cardboard to protect your work surface. Apply spray adhesive to top of lids a few at a time. Press a burlap circle to each lid.
    1. Cover burlap seam. This is a challenging step. It required many attempts to get a satisfactory result. I’ll share my challenges hopefully to prevent unsuccessful efforts on your part. First, I applied glue to ribbon and to the jar’s burlap seam, then pressed in place.

    • The results were disappointing if not horrid. The glue showed through the ribbon and did not stick very well. Believe me when I say I pressed each length of grosgrain against the burlap for a very long time! Finally, I left it to dry through what was left of the night.

    • Yukkk!!! Hot glue might be one worth a try or use of another glue. My skill set does not include glue applications, though apparently I should study up on this topic. Finally, I resorted removing the grosgrain—that wasn’t pretty!

    • Grosgrain was replaced with another piece of ribbon, nearly the same size and attached with double sided tape. This ribbon had been my first choice but when glue was applied the results were even worse. I moved on to grosgrain because I expected that the glue would not show through, as it is thicker and more densely woven. But the disaster that ensued is evident in Image 29.
    Note: If you come up with a better solution, please leave your suggestion as a comment below, as I plan to make more of these. The double-sided tape is described as permanent. I hope so.

    Finishing the Tops

    1. Wrap the rims with double-sided tape. Cut eleven 12” lengths of 5/8” black grosgrain. Press the grosgrain against the tape. Trim the excess where it meets the first raw edge. Complete each rim in this manner.

    1. Apply a very narrow bead of glue inside the rim. Place a burlap lid in each rim and press firmly to join the burlap to the glue.
    2. Insert one strand of fairy lights in each jar and hang switch at back of jar. Attach rim loosely so as to not cut the fairy light wire.
    Note: Just sitting the rim on the jar and pressing lightly worked best. It is hard to screw the rim down without cutting the wire.
    1. Arrange jars on mantle. A garland of fall leaves at the top makes a lovely arrangement.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all of you dear readers. I am thankful for each of you.


    • Very pretty Janice!!!

      You made me laugh with the glue glitch. All’s well that ends well though becasue this project is a real winner!

      Funny, one of my recent projects featured glue too . . . I discovered I’m not all that handy with a glue gun but it sure did the trick for getting things to stick.

      • Joanne, did you ever think you would resort to glue or a glue gun for your sewing projects? I surely didn’t. But it turns out that I need to quit turning up my nose to products and techniques that I think are too “craftsy”! I’ve even accepted raw edge applique’ for some quilting! Who knew? I’m keeping an open mind now! Thanks for your comment, Joanne. Now I’ve got to find your project with the glue gun!

      • Burlap is such an interesting textile with far more great uses then I ever imagined. It seemed perfect for this project. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Cheryle. Thanks for your comment.

    • Looks really beautiful! I love the ideal of light coming from within! The letters seem to be around 4″ in size? I still have BES 2 and limited to smaller size letters. You’ve inspired me to upgrade.

      • Esther, you can change the size of most fonts. You are given a minimum and maximum recommendation, but I have been able to exceed that several times with no problems. I just enlarged the B in the Swizzle applique’ font to 8″! This is a great program. Thanks for your kind comment.

    • Very nice decoration, Janice. Your patience in making things work always astounds me! I love the fairy lights…but do you have to then turn each jar “on” when you want the lights? Or can you connect them somehow? (Can you tell I have never worked with them!)

      • Yes, Grammie, you do have to turn on each set of lights. But the switch is hung at back, just below the lid, so it is easy. It never occurred to me that there might be a way to connect them to come on all at the same time. I’ll ask my tech savvy husband but I expect not. I’m so glad you like this Thanksgiving decoration. It’s so warm and welcoming at night, above the fireplace. A large sunflower picture hangs above the mantle but my husband took it down for the photo. It seemed to be distracting to have half a framed picture above the jars. With it hung above the jars, the effect is very nice. Thanks for your kind comment, Grammie. P.S. Just checked with my husband who says he thinks they cannot be joined. The lights are battery operated and would have to be rewired to connect to one battery with one switch. That sounds like much more trouble than just turning them on individually, at least to me.

    • This is a beautiful display, especially when the lights illuminate the “Give Thanks”! Wonderful, easy to follow directions. I’m glad I’m not the only one who makes a mess with glue. I’m wondering if a glue stick would work to attach the ribbon. I have the same question as Grammie- do you pull out each jar to turn on and off each light strand?

    • Very nice project! This is something I will be making. Thank you for the beautiful step by step instructions.

    • Another great idea, Janice. Thank you for the tutorial especially since I have a lot of burlap left over from other projects and would love these with the lights. I’m not great with glue myself.

    • Another great idea, Janice. Thanks for the tutorial especially since I have a whole bag full of burlap scraps. Would it work to make a center back seam and slip the burlap over the jar instead of glueing it?

    • Donna and Grammie, the light switch is hanging outside the jar on the back just below the rim. So it is easy to switch them on and off. In retrospect, I might have liked fewer lights per jar, so one strand could do 2 jars with the excess wire just behind the jars. It really is easy to turn them on and off, but 6 switches instead of 11 might be better. Just a thought.

    • Carol, I really like your idea of seaming the back of the burlap. You could even just use a wide, short 3 step zig zag and butt the edges together. My first thought was glue and, like a pit bull, I held onto that idea, never considering another solution. Sewing the burlap together would be so much easier! Great idea!

    • The less than pretty seam is at the back. If placed against a wall, it wouldn’t bother me to just leave it uncovered.

      • Oh, Sandra, I wish I had thought of that! But if you put it on a table or some place where the seam would show—actually, just the doublesided tape would do the job with a careful cut! Hurrah for you thinking out of the box! Next time I’ll run these ideas past you! Great idea! Thanks for your comment!

    • Thanksgiving is over for nearly a month in Canada…. but I can see using this idea for Christmas… Easter… Valentines day – St Patricks day
      Memorial day – 4th of July – Canada Day 1st of July – when all the small strings of mini lights go on sale think out of the box… think ahead – grab some green ones… some red ones – some white ones – some blue ones… if you want to do Halloween maybe there are yellowish lights… NOEL only need 4 jars – LOVE ditto these work on batteries…

    • Your directions are so clear and understandable that I think even I could make this! The photos really are helpful too. Thanks for such a great project!

    • Hi Janice, I have an idea that might work, a little extra time but worth it to make the covers easily removable. Use matching ribbon and stitch to one side leaving half of the ribbon exposed and sew on one half of a strip of velcro, then stitch another piece of ribbon on the underside of the other side of burlap band and stitch matching velcro strip to ribbon. Velcro together meeting edges. The ribbon would act as a stabilizer on the burlap so the velcro wouldn’t pull out of shape. I hope I explained this right. It’s worth a try.

    • Carol, I’m so glad you find all those photos helpful. I am a visual learner and pictures make it so much easier for me to understand the instructions. Including so many images seems to be helpful to others as well, so I’m happy to know they make the directions more understandable. Thanks for your kind comment.

    • Debi, what a great idea! That would make the jars reusable for other holidays, as suggested in the above comment by Shirley. I think you have explained it perfectly! My next jars, likely NOEL thanks to Shirley’s suggestions, will be done this way! I’m so grateful for your thinking of this and taking the time to share with our Stitching Sewcial readers and me.

    • This is the perfect eye-catcher as your guests enter for that family gathering! It is a really creative and simple addition to your holiday decor.

    • Great project Janice. It looks so good, especially lighted. I love the instructions and your insights on the ribbon trim and lights. This could be changed up to use for any holiday. Thanks.

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