Crafty February: Fabric-Covered Tea Light Candle Jars

You can decoupage the inside (left jar) or the outside (right jar) surface of the jar.

We seem to have abundance of glass jars. Last year it was baby food jars, this year it is yogurt jars -- they are all begging to be made into tea light candle holder! Naturally, as someone who likes to sew, I also have abundance of scrap fabrics. This simple craft project can be done with preschoolers or young children; it is very messy but the mess can be easily cleaned, thanks to water base glue. The finished result does not have to be neat either. This is where imperfection is perfect: the uncovered surface lets light through and the random pattern yields softer light.

A very important note: these jars are NOT to be used with real tea lights. Please use battery-operated, flameless tea candles (see below).

What you need:

  • Elmer's Glue or Mod Podge
    Elmer's glue is non-toxic, water based, and cheaper than Mod Podge and since this jar is meant to be decoration, I think it is ok to use the cheaper, lesser quality glue to decoupage.
    If you want your jar to withstand lots of manhandling, I'd suggest using Mod Podge, which is also non-toxic and water based (but stinkier and stickier than Elmer's). It is more expensive than Elmer, but it comes in many different finish (such as matte, glossy) and some can withstand dish washing as well (never personally tried this, though).  In this project, I used Elmer's because that's what we have.
  • Glass jars - washed and scrubbed clean off of oils.
  • Fabric scraps, cut into desired shapes. Quilting weight cotton, cotton lawn, or thinner gauge of cotton, linen, or silk all work well. I found light colors work better but darker colors will create interesting pattern. Just play with what you have and see how it goes. I used pinking shear/zig-zag to cut up the fabrics to further enhance the pattern and to minimize fraying.

What to do:

Dip each pieces of fabric onto your glue and stick them one by one on the jar. Make sure the fabric is throughly saturated and wet with glue before sticking them on. You can thin a little bit of the glue with water to make it easier for the fabric to soak. You can stick the fabrics onto the outside or inside surface of the jar, or both!

Here's Tod trying to stick the pieces on the inside. Not easy but easier for small hands than big, grown-up hands. Notice how thin the glue is -- I found the thinner the better, and you can always seal with a coat of glue afterwards for reinforcement.

Fabrics decoupaged on the outside surface of the jar tends to be rougher when dried. You can mitigate this by varnishing a coat of Mod Podge or acrylic varnish if you want, but I like the look of the raw, unfinished surface.

When you are happy with how your jar looks, leave it out to dry for at least 24 hours. If using Mod Podge, follow the manufacturer's instruction to finish the surface (I think you have to wait at least 15 minutes before applying the second coat, etc. etc.)

Jars waiting to dry

Finally, one very important point worth repeating: NEVER ever use real tea light candles with these decoupaged jars. I use one of these fake, battery-operated, flameless candles that flicker, which are widely available from Michael's, Jo Ann's, Hobby Lobby, etc.

DO NOT USE REAL TEA LIGHT CANDLES. This is to be used with battery-operated flameless candle like this one.

Trust me, it looks real once you put it inside the jar.

Make a bunch of these jars to give away as Valentine's to teachers, mom, dad, uncles, aunties, and friends. Happy Crafting!


  1. I've been experimenting with making glitter jars...looks like I need to try this too!!! Very fun!

    1. Oh, glitter jars are fun & can look pretty! We did glitters last year at the Tod's class. We smear baby jars with ModPodge on the inside and children shake glitters to their heart's content and shake off the excess. The jars look SOO festive & amazing how simple things can look so nice.