quilted christmas tree skirt

A long tutorial calls for a long intro.

It’s my first Christmas as a grown-up, so my husband and I were super excited to get our own Christmas tree. Surprisingly, we had a lot of Christmas decorations; we were mostly just missing stuff related to the tree – lights, topper, skirt. My parents had my sisters and I each pick out an ornament every year, so I came into our marriage with a lot of ornaments and other decorations. Plus, I acquired some items in college.

Several years ago, there was a segment (probably) on the Today Show about holiday decorating styles. They had a quiz which entailed picking your favorite wrapping paper from four choices. I fell into the classy, elegant, traditional decorator category. My mom, however, fell into the flashy, bright, borderline obnoxious decorator. People like what’s familiar, so I have also become a flashy Christmas decorator too. My family has 150-200 ornaments on the tree with blinking colored lights, silver garland, and tinsel (if the cat behaves herself). We put ALL of our ornaments on – family vacation ornaments, the kids’ yearly ornaments, my parents’ ornaments, the paper ornaments made in Sunday school when we were 3. ALL of them. It’s to the point that we have 2-3 ornaments per branch all the way around the tree. It will probably seem a little bare this year, though, because I took my 50+ ornaments with me when I moved.
Peter, on the other hand, is a traditional decorator, so we had to do some compromising. Our tree is a beautiful blend of festive and classy with it’s warm white lights, colored twinkle lights, silver garland, our collection of ornaments, bright glittery filler ornaments, and a lighted star topper. In my dream house, I would have a main, live Christmas tree with colored twinkle lights and the family ornaments as well as a second artificial tree with traditional red and gold decorations.
As for the tree skirt, I was trying to think of what I wanted. I didn’t like any of the skirts I’ve seen in the store. They’re either cheap-looking, boring (aka traditional), or both. I wanted something fun and festive.  Being the crafty person that I am, I decided to make my own. On top of that, I thought quilting it would be a great idea. I’ve never made a quilt before; I’ve never been into quilting. I guess I thought now was the time to try my luck at it.
I followed the Jessica’s Festive Christmas Tree Skirt mini tutorial at SewCraftyJess.
What you’ll need: I got all of my materials on sale at Jo-Ann Fabric’s for 40% off, totaling about $50.

30 6″ x 23.75″ fabric rectangles for wedges – The tutorial I followed called for 32 wedges. I chose 8 fabrics, and made 4 wedges each. This required me to purchase 2/3 yard (24″) of each fabric. (The rectangles are too long to be placed the long way along the width of the bolt.) Once I got all of them assembled, I noticed that the ends overlapped (creating a backing logistical issue), so I removed 2 wedges.3 yards of fabric for backing – The finished tree skirt is about 4.5′ (54″) in diameter, which is wider than the bolt. With a little creativity, three yards of fabric was plenty to piece my backing together.

2/3 yards of fabric for binding – The tutorial called for 1 yard. I made binding cross grain binding (explained at Quilter’s Cache and in the tutorial) from the typical 2.5″ wide strips cut. I used a little over 1/2″ yard, so buying 2/3 yard should be plenty. Luckily cross grain binding gave me enough flexibility to work around the curves of the skirt. I used a striped fabric for the binding. Pay attention to the directions the stripes run! Mine ran with the bias, so I had to cut the binding with the grain to maintain diagonal stripes on the binding. If your stripes run with the grain, you will have to cut the binding on the bias to create diagonally striped binding. I have no idea if bias binding requires more fabric; you might need the full yard.

6″ x 24″ quilting ruler – Not necessary but super helpful. I invested in one, and I love it! I regret not buying one sooner.

Coordinating thread – I used a whole spool of plain, old white.

60″ x 60″ piece of batting  – I bought I full-sized roll of batting; I’ll use the leftovers for another project.

150+ quilting pins (or safety pins) – There is a difference in quality of safety pins! About 1/3 of mine were Singer brand, and they were great. The remaining ones were from the dollar store. They were terrible to work with, because they didn’t maintain their shape. If I make another quilt, I’m going to invest in some quality quilting pins.

Cut the wedges.

Step 1: Launder and iron the fabric.

Step 2: Measure and mark the fabric into 6″ x 23.75″ rectangles.

Step 3: On the short side of the rectangle, measure and mark the center of the edge (3″). On either side of the center mark, measure and mark 5/8″.

Step 4: Draw a line from each side mark to the corner on the other end of the rectangle, forming a wedge.

Note: Instead, the wedges can be measured out by alternating the direction and stacking them against each other. Be mindful that the pattern on your fabric will alternate orientation with each wedge.

Step 5: Cut out the wedges.

Piece together the wedges.

Step 6: Determine the desired arrangement of the wedges.

Step 7: Take two wedges. With right sides together, pin along one of the long edges of the wedge. Be mindful of which side will keep the wedges in the desired order.

Step 8: Sew along the edge using 1/4″ seam allowance. All seam allowances will be 1/4″, as that is standard in quilting. I sewed from the outer to inner/center edges of the quilt, because I thought it would be easier to correct uneven lengths on the inner/center part of the quilt.

Step 9: Take another wedge, and pin and sew it in a similar fashion.

Step 10: Continue piecing together the wedges to create 4 sections of 7 or 8.

Step 11: Pin and sew together the sections; be sure to leave one seam open.

Step 12: Press open the seams.

Piece together the backing.

Step 13: Spread out the front of the quilt and measure the diameter. It should be around 56″ in diameter.

Step 14: Measure and cut a 60″ length of the backing fabric, cutting perpendicular to the selvage. (The selvage is the self-finished edge of the fabric.)

Step 15: Cut the remaining fabric in half perpendicular to the previous cut and parallel to the selvage, as shown.

Step 16: Arrange the two pieces so that they flank either side of the larger piece, as shown.

Step 17: With right sides together, pin and sew the pieces together using 1/4″ seam allowance.

Step 18: Press open the seams.

Pin the quilt.

Step 19: Cut the batting to size.

Step 20: Create a quilt sandwich: backing on the bottom, batting in the middle, and front/top on top. The right sides should be facing outward. (Thus, the wrong side of the backing on the bottom is facing up.)

Step 21: Starting at the center and working outward, smooth the layers of the quilt and pin them together every 4-6″. Pin at the center of the wedges, so the pins don’t go through bulky seams and will only minimally interfere during quilting.

Step 22: Trim the backing and batting leaving roughly a 2″ border around the front.


Step 23: Straight line quilt, by sewing a line 1/4″ away from each wedge seam. Do not back stitch; just go past the edges of the top on either end. Take out pins as needed. I started at one end and when I got to the middle wedge, I moved to the other end and worked toward the middle once again.

Make the binding.

Step 24: I made cross-grain binding, which provides a medium amount of flexibility – just enough to go around the gentle arcs of the quilt. Measure and cut the binding fabric into 2.5″ wide strips perpendicular to the selvage.

Step 25: Take two strips, and with right sides together, place the ends together at a right angle, as shown. Pin in place.

Step 26: Sew the strips together along the diagonal, as shown.

Step 27: Cut off the corner, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Step 28: Continue sewing the strips together in a similar manner until you have 250″+ of binding (a rough estimate of the outer circumference + inner circumference + both lengths of the opening).

Step 29: Press open the seams.

Step 30: With the right sides out, fold the binding in half lengthwise, and press.

Bind the quilt.

Step 31: Leaving a 8-12″ tail, pin several several inches of the raw edge of the binding to the quilt edge – just enough to keep in place while arranging it in the sewing machine. I started on the straight opening edge of the quilt.

Step 32: Sew the binding to the quilt, pinning a couple of inches ahead (if necessary) as you go.

Step 33: When you get to the corners, create a mitered edge. With the needle in the fabric, turn the corner. Back-stitch off the top. Fold the binding up to create a right angle, and then down again at the edge. Continue sewing in the new direction.

Step 34: Stop 12-16 inches away from where you started, leaving another tail.

Step 35: To create continuous binding, sew the binding together at a right angle like when making the binding. Trim the excess. Press open the seam. Fold the binding in half and press.

Step 36: Sew the rest of the binding to the front of the quilt.

Step 37: Trim the excess backing and batting.

Step 38: Fold the binding over to the back of the quilt and tack in place by hand sewing, as shown. Alternatively, you can machine sew this step. However, I’m a perfectionist, so I got frustrated and gave up.

Finish the quilt.

Step 39: If you haven’t already, take out any remaining pins and trim any thread tails.

Step 40: Admire your work!!