Then & Now: A vintage, Thanksgiving turkey craft updated

I have a small collection of vintage craft books, and sometime I’ll post a photo from the books on the Crafts ‘n Coffee Facebook page. After I posted the picture of this handsome Chenille Turkey from the 1975 book Foam Crafting with Styrofoam®, I had several requests for the tutorial. So, I asked designer Patty Schaffer if she was up for recreating the original Chenille Turkey Craft and of course she was.

If you love vintage crafts, then go see this vintage Chenille Turkey. has an updated tutorial.

The original Chenille Turkey on the right is from the 1975 book Foam Crafting with Styrofoam.

Fast forward 38 years to 2013, and here’s Patty’s Thanksgiving Chenille Turkey redux. He’s a craft classic, and he’s made from materials that are as easy to find today as they were in 1975 – chenille stems and STYROFOAM Brand Foam. (Do you remember when chenille stems were called pipe cleaners?)

Cute Chenille Turkey. This is a great family craft -- kids love working with chenille stems.

Here’s Patty’s 2013 version. Isn’t he cute?

Patty reports that he was a lot of fun to make, and her son really loves the chenille stems. It’s the perfect Thanksgiving project for families, as the kids can curl the chenille stems while an adult cuts out the tail feathers and assembles the body.

To make a Chenille Turkey, you’ll need:

  • STYROFOAM Brand Foam: 5″ ball; 3” x 4” egg; 12″ x 12″ x 1″ sheet
  • Paper, 12” x 12” (for tail pattern)
  • Chenille stems: 100 brown and 9 orange
  • Wiggle eyes
  • Felt: Gold, brown, white, red
  • Ribbon, 1″ wide (for edge of tail)
  • Top hat (Patty found hers at Michaels)
  • Low-temp glue gun
  • Tools needed: Scissors; pencil; serrated knife; old candle or bar of soap; straight pins; toothpicks

To make a Chenille Turkey:

1. Make the tail:

  • Draw a scalloped tail on the sheet of paper. Patty’s pattern measured about 9-1/2″ wide by 8-1/2 ” tall. Cut out pattern, and pin to the foam sheet.
  • Score a cutting line around the pattern using a sharp pencil.
  • Wax the knife blade with a bar of soap or old candle.
  • Cut out the tail.
  • Cover one side with felt, and glue ribbon along the edge.
The finished back of the Chenille Turkey.

Cover the back of the tail with felt, and the edge with ribbon.

2. Assemble the body:

  • Cut a small slice from the top of the ball and the side of the egg.
  • Rub the cut sides together for a secure fit. The wide end of the egg faces the back.
  • Insert 2 – 3 toothpicks between the pieces and glue together.
  • Cut a small slice from the back of the ball. Glue and pick the ball body to the tail.

3. While you assemble the body, have the kids roll the chenille stems into coils. Cut about 30 of the brown chenille stems in half before coiling.

4. Cover the tail and body with a mix of the large and small coils. The orange coils are all placed on the tail. The head is covered with the smaller coils.

The chenille stems are coiled and look so pretty on this turkey tail.

Here’s Patty’s Chenille Turkey with the finished tail.

5. Cut feet from brown felt and a collar from the white felt. Cut out and glue a beak and wattle to the head. Glue on wiggle eyes. Glue hat onto the head.

Cute and soft Chenille Turkey. A fun family craft to celebrate Thanksgiving.

He’ll make a fun centerpiece on the Thanksgiving table.

Here they are, side by side. Fun Thanksgiving craft -- a DIY Chenille Turkey updated from 1975. Kids love working with the chenille stems. Patty is working on another turkey craft to share with you next week and I think you’re going to love it. And tomorrow, I’ll share a round up of turkey crafts from around the blogosphere.

Don’t forget about this week’s giveaway – you could win a subscription to Country Woman magazine and the winter issue of Paper Creations. You have till midnight tonight to enter.

Happy crafting.


This entry was posted in Craft Tutorial, Fall Crafts, Kid's Crafts, Thanksgiving Crafts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Then & Now: A vintage, Thanksgiving turkey craft updated

  1. ColleenB. says:

    They are adorable.
    Nice to bring the old craft projects back around.
    Thank U 4 the tutorial.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. Debbie Kaste says:

    Love the turkeys! It’s really fun to see the differences in them thru the years. Wonder what they’ll look like in the future:) Thanks for the tutorial and have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

    • Sharon says:

      I agree — it’s fun to look back at popular crafts from years ago, and see how they can be brought up to date. And then there’s macrame . . . that one has never really come back, has it? Thanks for stopping in, and a very happy Thanksgiving to you, too. Sharon

  3. This is awesome and not hard to make…can’t wait to do this, thanks.

  4. Sharon says:

    Thank you! Glad you like him! It was fun to see Patty create him, and to see how an old craft can become new again. P.S. I remember calling them pipe cleaners, too! Sharon

  5. Katiria says:

    Goodness gracious that’s one cute turkey! Great job Patty, I can’t wait to see your next turkey.
    Thanks for the ideas Sharon;)

    • Sharon says:

      Who knew turkeys could be so cute! We sometimes see flocks of wild ones around here, which is fun, but they’re not that cute. I know you’ll love her next turkey project! Thank you for the comment, Katiria. Sharon

    • Sharon says:

      So glad you stopped in today, Birgit, and thank you, especially because I know this isn’t a holiday you celebrate in Germany. No Halloween and no Thanksgiving 😦 But crafting is universal, eh? Sharon

  6. LisaM6 says:

    Now that is a great update. Love the curls for his feathers. Tooo cute.

    • Sharon says:

      Thanks, Lisa. I’m sure there are other ways to use those curls . . . green curls would make a nice Christmas tree on a foam triangle. The book also has projects made with coiled chenille stems, and those are pretty neat, too. Sharon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s