Dressing up the tree

Last year was the first year we stayed home for Christmas instead of traveling across country to visit one set of grandparents or the other. It was reallllly nice! I especially enjoyed having our first-ever Christmas tree and some place to display the handblown glass ornaments I love to collect.

Only one thing was missing – a tree skirt. We waited until the 19th to buy our tree, and then there just wasn’t time. This year, I remedied that. Early, even – we’re going to get our tree this weekend.

I also liberated myself of a lingering guilt – I used a piece of fabric that had been in my stash for, I kid you not, 19 years.

Yes. 19. One-nine.

It was a gift from my mother when I was thirteen and learning to sew; 90″of 60″ ivory-on-ivory satin brocade. A really nice fabric that I was excited to use, until I realized that if I made it into a big dress, I would look like a tablecloth. (or if I did an especially good job, a very young bride wrapped in a tablecloth).

So it got put away. Every time I wanted to make a fancy dress or Ren Faire costume I would look it over, but it was always either too big (don’t want to use just half of it), too small (not enough for a long skirt), or too white. I carted it to college with me and back again, and through many moves. Normally I’m a purger, and it had gotten put onto the Freecycle pile several times… but always put back away again.

And now I had the perfect use for it. What could be more Christmasy than ivory brocade? (Well, maybe red velvet, but I didn’t have any of that). I bought 90″ of 60″ muslin lining and some Christmas packaging ribbons at Joann’s with a 50% off coupon and got to work.

I think the wait was worth it.

I copied the design for the Angelique tree skirt, $100, from Crate & Barrel. (Which, even if we could afford it, is no longer available.)

Read on to see how I made my own.

(If you’re buying your own fabric & lining, buy only 60″. Then you can skip this squaring-up step.)

It starts a lot like folding and cutting paper snowflakes. First mate your fabric and lining face-to-face so they match. Then fold them in half along the longest part. Then I had a swath of fabric that was 90″ by 30″. Fold in the center short-ways, to make a rectangle 45″ x 30″.

Pin the twice-folded corner – this will be your center – so you remember which end it is. Then take the shortest edge and pull it diagonally down to meet the other side; this will give you the line needed to make a perfect square of fabric.

(The triangle point at the left is our center.) Mark that straight line on the right, and cut. Now you have a square.

Open it back up and mark a line across the far corner. You want this line to be twice as long as the measurement from the edge of the fabric (which is folded) to the beginning of the line. My line measured 25″ across, and from the folded edge to the line measured 12.5″ on each side. (Be sure and measure BOTH sides so the line isn’t skewed.)

(The folded center is still down at the bottom left, catty-corner from the line). Once those measurements work out, which means that when opened your octagon’s sides will all be the same length, cut across the line.

Measure 4″ in from the corner of the folded center and cut across that as well. Voila, an octagon with a hole in the middle.

Slice up one side, through both fabrics, to the center.

Then comes your basic sewing. Stitch alllll the way around the octagon, up the slit, around the center hole, and down the other side of the slit; remember to leave a 6″ gap so you can turn the thing inside out later. Clip your corners, turn the whole thing inside out, adjust the corners so they’re sharp, and iron it. Then stitch around all those edges again, to hold it more or less in place and sharpen it up.

And here’s where you get to be creative! Attach whatever ribbons and trims you want, you won’t be chucking this in the washing machine so it doesn’t really matter if it’s glittered, or wired, or what. Then you iron from the reverse side, and you’re done.

Well, I went simple. I like understated elegance. I like sparkles too though, maybe they’ll come later. One tutorial I read said you can even use stamps and fabric glue and glitter to make snowflakes or whatever shape you want to stamp, how cool is that?

And now we have a $100 tree skirt that’s lovely enough for me to show it off… and cost about $10.

3 Responses to “Dressing up the tree”

  1. Heidi Says:


  2. Anonymous Says:

    You are so talented!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you, my dear. Just went out and bought material for matching stockings and tree skirt. I think I shall use this tut. to help make sure the tree skirt is actually a success. what timing you have :)

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