Burlap garden flag

by cathym on May 24, 2021

by Cathy Monrad

Embroidery thread in desired color
Paint in desired color
Stencil of desired pattern
Garden flag pole for 12-inch flag 

Marker (same color as thread)
Darning needle 
2 pieces of cardboard
Painters tape
Foam stencil brush


  1. Wash and dry burlap completely.
  2. Cut a piece of burlap 12 inches wide by 34 inches long.
  3. Fold burlap piece in half lengthwise, and pin along edges.
  4. Use marker to create a dotted line 13/4 inches from fold, and 1 inch from the sides and bottom  to create a rectangle as shown in Figure 1. 
  5. Thread needle with embroidery thread. Starting at the top left corner of marked rectangle, leave a 2-inch tail of thread on back of flag. Use a running stitch to sew along the dotted line all the way around. 
  6. Turn flag over, knot the thread ends, and cut tails. Place a small bit of fabric glue on knot and let dry.   
  7. To create the optional fringe look, pull 4–6 burlap threads from each side. 
  8. Place a bead of fabric glue along burlap edge to stop fraying. Let dry completely. Turn flag over and repeat. 
  9. Lay burlap flag right-side up on piece of cardboard and remove pins. Place stencil on flag in desired location and tape the edges down. 
  10. Pour a bit of paint onto the second piece of cardboard. Dip foam brush into paint, then dab brush onto cardboard to remove excess paint. Stipple the brush gently on the stencil until brush is no longer offloading paint.
  11. Reload brush as directed above and repeat stipple technique until desired look is achieved. 
  12. Let flag dry completely. Remove tape from stencil.
  13. Hang in your garden and enjoy!
Figure 1

Cathy Monrad is the graphic designer and garden crafter for Upstate Gardeners’ Journal.


Mug suet feeder

by cathym on November 3, 2020

by Cathy Monrad

1½ cups cornmeal
¼ cup flour
2 cups bird food mix
½ cup lard 
½ cup chunky peanut butter
2-3 mugs
2-3 sturdy sticks 8 inches long
Twine (optional)

Large bowl 
Wooden spoon
Nonstick saucepan


  1. In large bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, and birdseed together. 
  2. Melt lard and peanut butter in saucepan.
  3. Pour melted lard and peanut butter over birdseed mixture. Stir until mixed thoroughly. 
  4. Spoon suet mixture into mugs and press down to remove air pockets. 
  5. Push sticks into suet mixture all the way to bottom of mug. Press mixture around sticks.
  6. Refrigerate overnight until hardened.
  7. Hang mug from tree branch or shepard’s hook, or use a piece of twine to tie handle to branch. 

Project Notes
–  Great way to reuse chipped mugs—just make sure there are no cracks.
–  Refrigerate until ready to use and place feeder out of direct sunlight to avoid spoilage; homemade suet is recommended for use when oudoor temperature is below 40 degrees F. 

Cathy Monrad is the graphic designer and garden crafter for Upstate Gardeners’ Journal.


Bleached botanical stencils

by cathym on September 15, 2020

by Cathy Monrad

Create a one-of-a-kind fashion statement using some bleach, water, and plant material. A new shirt, old dress, or thrift store find can be transformed within a few minutes. A few notes before beginning:

  • Good ventilation is key; making this project outside is best.
  • Choose a day with no wind to avoid bleach splatter and prevent foliage from moving.
  • Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes, and old clothes in case a breeze pops up.
  • If children want to help, they can safely lay plant material onto clothing, but I recommend adults perform the bleach spraying step.

Materials & Tools
– Clean shirt or other garment; if new, wash before starting project
– 3–4 pieces of cardboard; 1–2 to place inside garment and 2 for flattening foliage
– Clean, empty spray bottle with adjustable nozzle
– Bleach
– Water
– Foliage of your choice (I used rose of Sharon cuttings; foliage with large leaves work best)
– A few small rocks to use as weights
– Safety glasses 

  1. Arrange foliage on one piece of cardboard with leaves and/or flowers. Place second piece of cardboard over foliage. Lay heavy items such as books or bricks on top to flatten plant material for a couple of hours.
  2. Mix a 50/50 ratio of bleach and water in spray bottle.
  3. Place remaining cardboard inside garment.
  4. Place flattened foliage in desired collage pattern on garment. Weight any leaves or flowers down with small rocks as needed.
  5. From about 3-4 feet above your project, slowly and lightly spray bleach mixture onto garment—oversaturating the fabric will cause bleach mixture to seep under the foliage. The bleach mixture will begin to change the fabric color within 30 seconds. Wait a full 5 minutes to determine if you need to respray an area. 
  6. Once you’ve achieved the desired look, carefully remove the rocks and foliage from the garment. 
  7. Let fabric dry completely. Remove cardboard from the inside and rinse garment thoroughly with cold water before washing per manufacturer’s instructions.
Foliage laid out on shirt
Rocks placed stategically to hold down leaves; bleach mixture sprayed lightly over shirt is just beginning to change fabric color
Rocks and foliage removed after desired look achieved

Cathy Monrad is the graphic designer and garden crafter for Upstate Gardeners’ Journal.