Ever since we went to Palm Springs, California, a couple months ago, I’ve been obsessed with cactuses. Cacti. Whatever you want to call them, they are just about the cutest thing ever. I thought for a while about trying to get my own live cactus, but I wasn’t going to be satisfied with one of those little two-inch-high ones from the garden store. No sir, I wanted a BIG cactus! But I live in Cleveland where there’s no sun nine months of the year, so, yeah, I can’t grow a giant cactus here… but I can MAKE ONE! No desert required.
Holy moly, this is probably my favorite DIY project ever. It’s about as easy as can be, but the results are so crazy adorable. I can’t get enough.
Here’s how to make your own giant cactus out of fabric.
- 2 yards of green felt (like this)
- polyester fiberfill (like this)
- a basket or large flower pot
- river rocks to put in your basket (like this)
- newspaper or scrap paper
- green thread
- sewing needle or sewing machine
- scrap wood or wooden dowel
- white paint and a small brush if you want to “dip” your basket
I wasn’t very good at documenting all the steps with my camera, but you should get the general idea. First, fold your fabric in half and draw your cactus shape on it with chalk. Pin all the way around the shape and cut it out to get two matching pieces. With the pins still holding the pieces together, sew around the edges, leaving the bottom edge open. I actually did all the sewing by hand because I didn’t feel like getting out my sewing machine. Obviously a sewing machine would be a ton faster. Once the sewing is done, flip it inside out and fill the whole inside up with polyfill. Fill it densely to make sure it’s sturdy, especially around the arms.
(Do you see my assistant’s little head in the top left picture above?!)
I wanted my cactus to be able to stand on its own. This isn’t completely necessary because you could just fill your flower pot or basket with some heavy rocks to keep it stable, but I just wanted to be really sure that if a cat climbed on it, it was less likely to fall over. We pushed a 3′-tall-ish piece of 1″x2″ scrap wood through the polyfill in the middle of the cactus (a cheap wooden dowel from the hardware store would do the same job). It actually took us a few tries to figure out what base would work best from there. In the photos above, you can see that first we tried screwing a flat piece of scrap wood to the bottom, but we found that it didn’t give us enough stability since it had to be smaller than the basket and my basket isn’t very wide. So then Andy came up with the idea to put two pieces of wood parallel to each other that the cactus would rest on, and that did the trick.
Here you can see how tall it is in real life… And what a great husband Andy is who doesn’t complain about spending a Saturday afternoon helping me build a giant cactus!!
For the basket, I used one I already had and decided it would look cuter if the top was “dipped” in paint. I simply taped off the area I wanted to paint and used some of the same white paint we used on our living room walls. It took three coats using a small brush to get into all the nooks and crannies. After putting the cactus base in the basket, I filled the rest of it with balled up newspaper and then covered that with a layer of river rocks. A five pound bag of small rocks was just what I needed to put one layer of rock to hide the newspaper.
And, well, once I made one cactus, of course I just had to make another!
I have visions of filling an entire wall with fabric cactuses of all shapes and sizes! Our own little piece of Palm Springs right here in Cleveland … Makes you want to go sit by the pool with a cool drink, right?!
P.S. Also check out how we made that midcentury-inspired mirror.