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Citrus Holiday: Simply Quilted Patchwork Tree Skirt

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This is one of our favorite projects in the Citrus Holiday Living Room. Maybe it's because the tree skirt is a holiday classic. Maybe it's because we love the vibrant collection of Pop Garden fabrics set-off with bold red binding and bows. Maybe it's because it secretly reminds us of pie, and we love pie. In fact, now that I've mentioned it here, I wish I had a piece of pie. Mmmmmmmm.... pie.

In our supply list, we indicate you need ¾ of a yard of each fabric or a total of eight ¾ yard cuts. This will work great even if you have a strong directional print. You'll have enough width and length to run your pattern piece either horizontally or vertically. However, you do end up with leftovers. To conserve fabric, you could reduce your pattern from eight unique triangles to four, see the Hints and Tips section below for more details.

The skirt finishes at approximately 48" in diameter. 

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Our Citrus Holiday designs were made using Heather Bailey's delightful Pop Garden & Bijoux Collection. To learn more about how we created this non-traditional holiday palette, read our article: Citrus Holiday: A Lighthearted Living Room.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • ¾ yard of 45" wide fabric for EACH triangle (eight total): we used Heather Bailey's Pop Garden & Bijoux for our eight triangles: Paisley in Lime, Rose Bouquet in Cream, Pineapple Brocade in Canary, Sway in Cream, Paisley in Blue, Wallpaper Roses in Green, Pop Daisy in Cream, and Peonies in Red
  • 1 yard of 45" wide fabric for binding around all tree skirt edges and for tree skirt opening ties: we used a red cotton sateen
  • 1½ yards of 54" wide cotton muslin for tree skirt back (you could use a higher quality fabric than muslin, but this is for the side that sits on the floor and isn't seen, so an inexpensive choice seems more logical)
  • 1½ yards of 54" wide lightweight quilt batting (optional - we used it because we liked the dimension, but it isn't necessary if you'd prefer a flatter look)
  • All purpose thread
  • See-through ruler, at least 24" long
  • Large sheet of lightweight paper, at least 26" x 26" square, to make triangle wedge pattern
  • 1 yard string or thick thread
  • Regular pencil
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins
  • Bias tape maker (optional - see below)

Getting Started

Make your triangle wedge pattern

  1. On your large sheet of lightweight paper, draw a 24" vertical line.
  2. Draw another line, also 24" long, perpendicular to the first line. Reach back to your geometry days and make sure your lines are straight and form a 90˚ angle at the corner.
  3. Cut a piece of string 25" long. Pin one end to the 90˚ corner of your two drawn lines. Tie the other end to a pencil. Make sure after you've tied the string to the pencil that the string measures 24" from corner to pencil point. In essence, you've just made a little compass. You are so smart!
  4. Draw an arc from the end of the horizontal line to the end of the vertical line. Ta-da ... perfect quarter circle. Cut this out along your drawn lines.
    Diagram
  5. Fold your quarter circle in half and crease the folded edge. Open it back up and cut along the crease. Ta-da #2 ... perfect triangle wedge.
    Diagram
  6. Using this spiffy pattern you just created, cut eight triangle wedges, one from each of your various fabrics.
  7. Lay out your eight wedges on a flat surface. For something like this, the floor probably works best. Besides, that's where this tree skirt will eventually end up, right? Arrange your eight wedges, mixing and matching the order until you have a pattern that's pleasing to your eye. Here's a close-up drawing of ours in case you'd like to make it exactly as we did.

Diagram

Finish Other Cutting

  1. Cut a 49" x 49" square out of your cotton muslin. Set aside.
  2. Cut a 49" x 49" square out of your lightweight quilt batting. Set aside.
  3. From red sateen, cut seven strips 2" x 44" and four strips 4" x 22". Set aside.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Make the eight-panel skirt sandwich

  1. Pick up your first pair of triangle wedges. With right sides together, pin the pieces together and stitch, using a ½" seam allowance, along one long edge. Iron the seam open.
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  2. Pick up the next triangle wedge in your sequence and pin it, right sides together, to the two-piece section you just created. Stitch along one long edge, creating a three-piece section. Continue in this same manner with all triangle wedges. LEAVE THE FINAL SIDE SECTION UNSTITCHED. This will be the skirt opening. NOTE: As you sew, you'll notice that the points where all the triangles come together in the middle may get a bit messy and wild. Don't worry about that at all. Remember, we have to cut out a hole in the middle for the tree trunk, so all that wild mess will be cut away.
  3. Lay your 49" x 49" muslin square, right side down (although for most muslin there isn't really a right and wrong side, but if you use another type of fabric, place it right side down). Make sure it is flat and smooth.
  4. Place the 49" x 49" quilt batting square on top of the muslin. Make sure it is flat and smooth.
  5. Place your eight-panel tree skirt, right side up, on top of the batting. Make sure it is flat and smooth.
  6. Pin all layers together along outside edge of the tree skirt.

Trim and quilt the sandwich

  1. With your fabric pencil, draw a 7" circle in the center of your tree skirt 'sandwich.' You can make a template from cardboard or use a salad plate or pot lid to trace around. We found 6" - 7" was a pretty standard size for the center hole. If you think your tree is going to have a bigger trunk than that (holiday-lumberjack that you are), you'll need a much bigger skirt and this isn't the project for you. If you are planning on a smaller tree, the diameter of the skirt should be fine (more room for present piling), but you might want to cut the center hole an inch or two smaller.
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  2. Cut through all layers, using the edges of the tree skirt as your guide. Go all around the circle's edge, up both sides of the skirt opening, and around the center circle.
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  3. Edgestitch around all edges: the inner center circle, both sides of the skirt opening, and all around the outside edge. "Hey," You say. "It's not right sides together! What's up?!" You don't need to stitch right sides together and turn this project. Instead, you're building a fabric sandwich right sides out and leaving the edges raw. You'll be applying binding around the whole thing, covering up all those raw edges.
    Diagram
  4. To quilt your tree skirt and secure all the layers, stitch in the ditch of each triangle seam, then sew another row of stitches straight down the middle of each triangle piece. You can use either coordinating or contrasting thread to quilt, depending on how visible you want your quilting stitches to be.
    Diagram

Binding

  1. Take your seven 2" x 44" red sateen strips and sew them together along the 2" sides, using a ½" seam allowance, to make one long, continuous 2" band.
  2. Fold your strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.
  3. Open up the strip, wrong side towards you.
  4. Fold each side towards the center crease and press. Fold one side nearly all the way to the center fold mark – so it is almost touching the fold; fold the other side just a little over half way to the fold line – so there is a bit of space between the raw edge and the fold.
  5. Fold again along your first crease, right sides together, so your two folded edges are together. Press. Ta-da #3 ... double fold bias tape.
    Diagram
    NOTE: this is actually not real bias tape, because we did not cut our fabric on the bias. However, the curves of this particular project are fairly gentle, and so the straight-cut method described above should work fine – besides, it uses a lot less fabric than bias cut fabric. If you'd like to make REAL bias tape, read our tutorial: Bias Tape: How To Make It & Attach It .
  6. Attach your binding to all edges of your tree skirt in the following order:
    Cut a length and attach to the center circle.
    Cut a length and attach to one side of the skirt opening.
    Cut a matching length and attach to the other side of the skirt opening
    Use the remaining binding and attach all around the outer edge of the circle
    .
  7. Sew slowly, adjusting the binding to the curves as you go, and remembering to tuck under the raw edges of your binding at the beginning and end of each section. Again, if you are new to making or attaching bias tape, read our tutorial: Bias Tape: How To Make It & Attach It.

Make the ties and finish

Take your four 4" x 22" red sateen strips and make four ties, following the steps below for each tie.

  1. Fold the strip in half lengthwise, right sides together. Press and pin.
  2. Sew a ½" seam along the long edge, pivot at the corner and stitch at an angle to the opposite corner.
  3. Clip corner.
  4. Turn the tie right side out through the unstitched end.
  5. Press flat, tucking in the raw edges of the square end to create a finished edge.
  6. Edgestitch around all four sides.
    Diagram
  7. Lay the finished tree skirt out right side up and pin the four ties to each side opening approximately 1" and 11" down from center top opening.
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  8. Stitch the ends of the ties to the edge of the side openings, following the binding stitching.

Hints and Tips

Time saving options for binding

There is A LOT of binding on this project. To make your job easier, you can make binding using a tool called a bias tape maker, which helps fold the binding as it is pressed. For more about this tool, read: Product Review: Bias Tape Maker.

You can also purchase packaged pre-made ½" wide double fold bias binding.

How to use less fabric

The ¾ yard of fabric we list above for each different triangle does allow you complete cutting flexibility, but it also leaves waste. You can always save the leftover fabric for other projects, but if you want to conserve your money and your fabric, reduce the number of different triangles from eight to four. Buy 5/8 yard of each fabric and cut TWO triangle wedges horizontally. You'll need to make sure to select fabrics that will work if cut horizontally. In other words, you can't choose something with a strong vertical directional print. But, you can get away with buying just four 5/8 yard cuts instead of eight ¾ yard cuts.
Diagram

Contributors
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Dianne LeBlanc

Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna 2800 and the Singer Athena 2009.

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Comments (67)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Jennifer P -- went to your blog to see the skirt ... very pretty. Love the binding. Merry Christmas - and thanks for sharing.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Yasmina -- as you can see from the diagrams above, our wedges were cut with a 24" side. Start by measuring 24" out from your tree stand. If this doesn't look big enough, extend your tape measurer until you have the size you want. For example, maybe you want 30". Then, use that dimension (30") to make your wedges as shown above.

Hope that helps. Have fun!
Yasmina said:
Yasmina's picture
This is exactly the kind of skirt I'd like to make. What alterations would I need to make to the wedges to make a larger skirt? I have a nine-foot tree, and I like the skirt to be long enough to hold all the presents. Any advice would be appreciated.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Aimee - I can see the pix in my email notification of your post - cute! We don't encourage actual photos within the comments sections because for reasons beyond our control it whacks out the formatting of the instructions above. We're developing a way for folks to post to Flickr or another option and will post about that as soon as we have it set up. Thanks so much!!
Aimee said:
Aimee's picture
I'm trying to include the images....lets see if it works this time...


Tree Skirt said:
Tree Skirt's picture
Hi Liz!
I absolutely LOVE this project...its so adorable! The day I saw it was the same day I made one for my nieces little tree in her room. And she loves it too!



I made it overlap instead of ties for this one. The wedges were cut to 18", the tree its under is about 4'tall.
Thanks again for this fantastic project!
~Aimee
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi VanessaSue ... BEST of luck. Your project sounds wonderful. I love applique.
VanessaSue said:
VanessaSue's picture
I am brand new to sewing but seem to be catching on fairly easily! Last year my mother in law made my family beautiful stockings with quite a bit of applique work on them. I loved them so much that i decided to make my entire Christmas theme based on these stockings. First on my list is a tree skirt smilies/smiley.gif I am following your pattern, and i am going to design the tree skirt with the applique characters she used! I am very excited about the picture in my head and hope it turns out the way i want! I am very thankful to have your instructions to follow... wish me luck!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

Here's an interesting idea for a reversible option, sent to us by Sew4Home fan, Peggy H. -- Thanks Peggy!

I loved this when I saw it last year, though my personal taste would be with true Christmas prints, but thought what a great project. When looking at it again today I thought this would make a great reversible tree skirt using the flip and sew method starting with your center wedge and working in each direction to the last on wedge on each side then bind and your are done with a great reversible tree skirt. I have some large round formal table cloths, bought for a wedding this summer, only used once. So for one side I will cut them up and do embroidery on them, use Christmas fabric for the reverse side and use Christmas trim or some of my specialty stitches with my Janome 1000SE to quilt the seams. It should turn out great. I thought you might want to do a updated project using the flip and sew method and post it again.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Dawn ... what an excellent idea to use this project to make a floor or table cover. We LOVE it when folks figure out how to take one idea and adapt it for their own purpose. Let us know how it turns out and send a picture if you can.
Dawn Frances said:
Dawn Frances's picture
I was wondering how to make a circular floor or table cover and this fits the bill perfectly. I may either not make the hole and put a circle in the middle as a smallish cloth for the floor. This is perfect. I had told someone I will make some circular covers in patchwork and thought I had bitten off more than I could chew, but you have saved the day.
Thank you for this wonderful and simple idea.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Oh, it would be so cute in a mini version. Let us know how it turns out, we love to see pictures. smilies/smiley.gif
jodieth said:
jodieth's picture
I love this tutorial. The tree skirt is so pretty I wouldn't want any presents covering it up. I think I will try a smaller
version for a table top tree. Your directions are always so good.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi lilybellecustomdesigns -- so glad you like our tree skirt. Four!! Wow. And, I thought I was in to Christmas. Let us know how they turn out. Thanks for visiting.
Liz
lillybellecustomdesigns said:
lillybellecustomdesigns's picture
This is awesome! I can't wait to make one for each of the 4 Christmas trees I put up each year....I had better get started! Thank you for such wonderful directions.

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