I had so much fun making these delightful felt sugar skulls! This is a great beginner friendly felt sewing tutorial for creating super fun, spooky season decorations.
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Sugar skulls are used in a myriad of ways to help celebrate The Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) at the end of October or beginning of November depending on the traditions being observed. You’ll see the skulls in confections, clay masks, face painting and other decorations. I love that they are not meant to be creepy, instead they are colourful ways help honour the dead.
The creative nature of the skulls means they are well suited to the saturated colours of wool felt and can be heavily embellished with embroidery! Those are two of my favourite things!
There are so many different ways to use this felt sugar skull pattern. Pictured here you’ll see the skulls stuffed and with loops to turn them into ornaments.
But you could also leave them flat and unstuffed and turn a dozen of them into a banner. Or secure one to a Halloween themed fabric like one of these and frame it in an embroidery hoop. You can even turn one into a keychain or enlarge the pattern and turn it into a pillow!
For one stuffed felt sugar skull you will need:
Base Felt – 5″ x 3.5″
Black Felt – 1″ x 2″
Yellow Felt (for eyes) – 1″ x 1.5″
Heart Felt – 1″ x 1″
Polyfil or Wool Stuffing
8″ Length of twine
Tissue paper – 2″ x 2″
Small embroidery scissors
Matching and contrasting embroidery threads
Printed PDF Pattern (find the link at the very end of the post)
A fun thing about felt sugar skulls is that you can be super creative with colour choices! I decided to go bright and bold with a turquoise and fuchsia for this tutorial. And the embellishments can be super colourful too. This is one project where you don’t have to worry about playing it safe!
(I like to purchase my felt from Benzie Design on Etsy. Pictured here I used Fuchsia, Peacock, Foxglove, Black & Swan.)
Cut out the Pattern Pieces
Cut 2 skull outlines out of a bright colour. Simply pin the paper to the felt and cut around it.
For the smaller pieces, tape the paper to the felt with scotch tape and cut through both the tape and the felt together. Then gently peel the paper away.
Cut out the eye sockets and nose out of black.
The heart detail and flower eyes can be whatever colours your prefer! I decided to stick with yellows for the eyes.
DIY Felt Sugar Skull
Use a pencil to trace the teeth onto a scrap of tissue paper.
Trace the teeth as well as the surrounding face outline.
Line up the traced outline with the edge of the felt skull.
Use a single strand of black thread and a backstitch to embroider the teeth through both the paper and felt.
When the embroidery is done, gently tear away all the paper. Use a pair of tweezers or a pin to carefully pick out any bits of paper that get stuck.
Next, use a teeny tiny blanket stitch to attach the eye sockets and nose to the face with a single strand of black thread.
It’s really hard to photograph black thread on black felt, but I promise that I used a blanket stitch!
Use a tiny blanket stitch and matching single strand of thread to attach the heart to the forehead.
Secure the flowers to the eye sockets with a single strand of thread and a straight stitch going between each petal and into the center of the flower. The thread could be matching or contrasting, depending on your preference.
How to Embroider a Felt Sugar Skull
Now comes the really fun part in adding the embroidered detailing. I loved using contrasting bright colours for this part.
You can totally add more embroidery if you’d like. Or do something completely different from what’s marked on the pattern. I don’t think there’s a wrong answer when it comes to sugar skulls. The more ornamentation the better!
You could even make some teensy flowers and create a floral crown instead of embroidery.
At this point you can attach the skull to whatever project you have in mind.
Or proceed with turning it into an ornament by joining the front and back together with a blanket stitch and 2 strands of matching thread.
Lock in a loop of twine as you stitch around the top of the head. Stuff the skull gently as you go.
That’s it, all done! I don’t know if it’s weird to say a skull is cute, but too bad. Because these skulls are the cutest!
(And the felt pumpkin DIY pictured above can be found here.)
You can grab the free PDF felt sugar skull pattern by clicking here. There’s no sign-up required for this one, for now. 😉
Tell me in the comments how you plan to use this pattern!