DIY Pumpkins with Realistic Looking Stems

September 24, 2023

Learn how easy it is to make a realistic pumpkin stem for all of your faux pumpkins using sisal rope and cinnamon.

FALL   |   Updated September 24, 2023

DIY Pumpkins with Realistic Looking Stems |

The stems are always going to give it away that your faux pumpkin isn't real.

I'm aware that painting craft store pumpkins isn't anything new. And if you search DIY pumpkin or pumpkin tutorial on Pinterest, you'll find plenty of inspiration. And that helps improve the look of many fake pumpkins available on the market.

But my problem is that even after painting a plastic pumpkin, it still looks fake. And that is almost always due to the cut plastic stem.

I set out on a mission to create a realistic looking DIY stem to take my chalk painted pumpkins from an ordinary fall project to extraordinary. Using some unconventional supplies, I think I've found a way to make stems that will have you taking a second look to determine whether or not they are the real thing.

READ NEXT: How to Dry Brush Chalk Paint Pumpkins for a More Realistic Heirloom Look

DIY Pumpkins with Realistic Looking Stems |

I've been rolling this idea around in my head for close to a year after picking up a cart load of 90% off pumpkins from Hobby Lobby after Thanksgiving. I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do with them, but I knew I wanted a bunch of them in a variety of shapes and sizes.

What's really great about projects like this is that it doesn't matter what the pumpkin actually looks like because you're going to be painting it anyway. There are some really unattractive ones out there, but after a coat or two of a new finish, they're as stylish as Pottery Barn! As long as you like the size and shape, you're good to go.

Supplies You'll Need

  • foam pumpkins - any shape or size will do

  • sisal rope -

  • hot glue

  • cinnamon - you don't need good cinnamon. What you'll find at the dollar store is perfect.

  • paint brush - choose one that you don't mind throwing away when you're done

  • mod podge - matte finish is best

How to Make Realistic Pumpkin Stems

STEP 1: Cut some short strips of the sisal rope. You're looking for pieces about 3 times the length of your current stem.

STEP 2: Separate the twisted rope into individual pieces or twists with two or three coils.

STEP 3: Pull apart and fray the ends and attach them onto the stem of the pumpkin with hot glue. Continue around the entire stem gluing the strips of sisal. I know it looks a little strange, but don't judge quite yet!

Continue around the entire stem gluing the strips of sisal. I know it looks a little strange, but don't judge quite yet!

STEP 4: To form the stem, add a little glue into the center of the strips of sisal, attaching everything together. You don't need to glue the entire strip, but just every so often to secure the pieces. If you want the stem to bend or twist, just add a little more glue to fold the stem over.

STEP 5: Cut your stem off at the length you desire. To make the stem look a little more real, I left a few strands of the sisal longer than the stem like it was just ripped out of the pumpkin patch.

STEP 6: Coat the entire stem with Mod Podge, then cover it in cinnamon just as though you were glittering something. You don't need good cinnamon.....the version sold at the dollar store is perfect. Allow the Mod Podge to dry.

STEP 7: After the Mod Podge has dried, brush the excess cinnamon off of the stem and pumpkin. Then coat the entire stem again with Mod Podge. Do not cover it in cinnamon this time. Everything will become hard. Some of the cinnamon may get brushed off, but that is okay. Allow the stem to dry again.

STEP 8: When it is dry, you may want to use some fine grit sand paper to rough up the stem a bit exposing some of the sisal.

DIY Pumpkins with Realistic Looking Stems |

DIY Pumpkins with Realistic Looking Stems |

You may be happy with the look of your pumpkin now, but I still wanted to paint mine.

I'm loving the color combination of mustard, golden brown, burnt orange, and sienna this fall. They are such warm, earthy colors and like most fall shades, look amazing together. I decided that I would paint my pumpkins with chalk paint in these shades along with antique white.

DIY Pumpkins with Realistic Looking Stems |

DIY Pumpkins with Realistic Looking Stems |

All of the pumpkins were coated with three coats of paint. So that I could paint the entire pumpkin at one time, I used a hair dryer to dry the bottoms of the pumpkins between coats.

DIY Pumpkins with Realistic Looking Stems |

To finish the project, I coated each pumpkin with Miss Mustard Seed's antiquing wax.

The dark wax settles into all the cracks and distressed areas you made when you started this project making the whole pumpkin look complete. I used a wax brush to put it on, but you can also use a rag.  Then use a clean rag to wipe the excess wax off.

DIY Pumpkins with Realistic Looking Stems |

I experimented to discover whether it is easier to craft the stem or paint first.

I did it both ways and found that it really doesn't matter which way you do it. If you do the stem first, you do have to be careful when painting that you don't get paint on the stem. But other than that, it doesn't seem to make a difference.

DIY Pumpkins with Realistic Looking Stems |

DIY Pumpkins with Realistic Looking Stems |

I am honestly in love with these pumpkins and I can't wait to decorate with them. Whether they are mixed in an array of colors or just one hue, they look fabulous for fall.

What do you think?

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DIY PUMPKINS WITH REALISTIC LOOKING STEMS - Update your dated, worn pumpkins and learn how to DIY a realistic looking stem!



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