The Solution: A patchwork Christmas tree skirt.
The Result: Just lovely.
If you are on a mission to use up your festive fabric selection, then whip up this Christmas tree skirt and it should put a dent in your stash.
What you need
• Approx 8 co-ordinating cotton or linen fabrics for the top side of the tree skirt - Please note that amounts of fabric are not given here as you can use any number of different fabrics to make up the tree skirt.
• 1¼ yards (1.25) linen or other 54" (137cm) wide fabric for backing of tree skirt
• Needle-punched cotton batting (wadding) such as Warm & Natural Brand
• Embroidery needle
• Standard sewing equipment such as sewing machine, thread, hand sewing needles, pins, shears etc
• Embroidery floss to match fabrics
Read the instructions through before beginning.
All seam allowances are ¼” (6mm) unless otherwise stated.
Your stitch length should be set to 2-2.5 which is 12-13 stitches per inch. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of every seam.
Create the Pattern Template
1. This tree skirt is 44" (111.8cm) in diameter. To create a a large enough piece of paper to draw out the pattern template, first tape wrapping paper or brown packing paper together to form a piece of paper approximately 45" square (115cm).
2. Fold the piece of paper in half and then half again.
3. Improvise your own compass by tying a piece of string over 22" (55.9cm)long to a pencil and hold the end. Being careful to hold the string at the 22" (55.9cm) point (or there abouts), hold the string at the folded point of the piece of paper and draw an arch with the pencil from one fold to the next. Make sure the string is taut and the pencil is as straight as possible. The first arch will be the outer edge of the tree skirt.
4. Now draw an arch to be the inner circle of the skirt that will allow the skirt to sit around the tree base. Hold the string attached to the pencil at a point 3" (7.6cm) from the pencil at the folded point of the piece of the paper. Holding the string taut and keeping the pencil straight, draw an arch from one folded edge of the paper to the other.
5. Keeping the paper folded, cut along these drawn lines with paper scissors. Unfold the paper and you will have a very large circle.
6. Cut a straight line from the inner circle to the outer edge along one of the creases of the paper, so that the tree skirt can be wrapped around the tree.
7. Cut 4¾" (12.1cm) squares from your selection of cotton and linen fabrics for the top of the tree skirt. I needed approximately 101 squares to complete my tree skirt. Make sure that your squares are a square as possible. Use a rotarty cutter and cutting matt if you have one to make this stage quicker and easier.
8. Begin to piece the squares together by sewing the squares into strips, using a ¼" (6mm) seam allowance. Lay the strips over the paper pattern template, side by side, to see how long a strip you will need to cover each area of the tree skirt. As you stitch one square to the next to form a strip, be sure to press the seam allowances open. Once you have a strip long enough to cover the outer edge of the circle start on the strip that will lie next to it.
9. To make sure that you have a pleasing arrangement of colours, lay the squares in the order you will piece them together on top of the pattern template, next to the strip to which it will be sewn.
10. When you have completed sewing together the second strip of squares, pin it to the first strip, making sure it is placed so that the edges of the circle will be covered and so that the seams match. If you have a walking foot for your sewing machine you can skip straight to machine stitching the strips together, but if you don't have a walking foot, first baste the strips together to ensure that the seams stay aligned and then machine sew the strips together. Press the seam allowances open.
11. Continue to assemble strips of squares in this manner and stitch them together until you have assembled enough squares to completely cover the outer edges of the circle template.
12. Use the paper pattern template to cut a piece of needle-punch batting or wadding such as Warm and Natural Brand.
13. Lay the cut out batting (wadding) piece so that it sits flat on the wrong side of the backing fabric. Pin and then hand baste the batting (wadding) to the backing fabric.
14. Cut the backing fabric along the outer circle of the batting (wadding), but do NOT cut out the inner circle or the slit in the backing fabric.
16. Pin the layers of the skirt together. Lay out the layers so that the pieced top is on the bottom, sitting on a flat surface. Cut the pieced fabric top to the circle shape so it is even with backing fabric and batting (wadding). Do NOT cut out the inner circle or the slit in the tree skirt. By hand, baste the layers together. This is a particularly important step if you do not have a walking foot on your sewing machine.
17. Using pins, mark an opening somewhere on the outer edge of the circle. The opening needs to be about 12" (30.5cm) to give you enough room to turn the tree skirt right side out.
18. When sitting at your sewing machine, place the batting (wadding) side of the tree skirt up, so you can see where the slit and inner circle are positioned. By machine, sew from one side of your marked opening, all the way around the outer circle, along one side of the slit, all around the inner circle and then down the other side of the slit. When you stitch around the inner circle and along each edge of the slit use a ¼" (6mm) seam allowance, but use a ½" (1.3cm) seam allowance when stitching around the outer circle.
19. With the tree skirt layers stitched together, cut the backing and top fabrics of the tree skirt along the slit in the batting (wadding) and cut out the inner circle leaving a ¼" (6mm) seam allowance. Clip the curves on the inner circle and trim the corners at the bottom of the slit.
21. Turn the tree skirt right side out through the opening and press. At the opening, turn under the raw edges and press. Pin the opening closed.
22. Top stitch around all edges of the tree skirt, including the outer circle, inner circle and the edges of the slit. When top stitching, stitch ⅛" (3mm) from the edge. You may also find it helpful to change your sewing machine needle to a size 16 jeans needle to ensure that the needle can go through the layers of the tree skirt. When you top stitch the edges you will also be stitching the opening closed.
Hand Tying the Tree Skirt
23. Instead of machine or hand quilting the tree skirt, we are going to hand tie the layers together to keep the layers from shifting. Embroidery floss generally comes in hanks of 6 threads. Thread an embroidery needle with a long piece of two threads of embroidery floss, but don't tie a knot in the end.
24. Starting on the top of the tree skirt, take the needle to the bottom of the tree skirt, at the point where four squares of the patchwork meet. Pull the thread through the tree skirt leaving a tail of about 3" (7.6cm).
26. Without cutting the thread, travel to the next join of patchwork squares and repeat the process, by taking the needle down to the bottom of the tree skirt, take a small stitch and come back up, almost at the same point you started,where four square corners of the patchwork meet. Continue in this manner, until you have only just enough thread to form a tail.
27. You will now have embroidery thread travelling from one corner of each square to the next. Using a pair of scissors, snip the embroidery floss at the centre of each square. This will leave you with tails long enough to comfortably tie a reef or square knot at each corner of each square. Tie a reef or square knot and then trim the tails to approximately ¾" (1.9cm). Note: To tie a reef knot lay the thread right over left and tie and then left over right and then tie.
That's your tree skirt finished.
If you are feeling silly, try it on as a poncho. I was personally thinking of starting a new trend. Hey, if Lady Ga-Ga can wear meat as a dress, I can wear a tree skirt as a poncho. It would be far more festive and all together less smelly.