Wednesday, December 26, 2007

christmas tree skirt

Jackie, you ask, I answer. I meant to post about this before I found myself in a self-imposed crafting hell, forced to spend every moment of the days leading up to Christmas sewing.
I made this back in the days when there was only one child in the house and I had far more time. I can't remember the exact year though. I'd have to go through our old Christmas photos and see what year it shows up. Before this I used to put a large piece of burlap under the tree stand and then wrapped it around the stand with some twine, like a tree from the nursery.
No pattern for this one. High school geometry came in handy to get started. I folded a large square of muslin in quarters and then eigths. Sort of like making a paper snowflake. Then I took a yardstick and placed one end at the skinny point on the fabric. I measured down one folded side to the length I wanted for the radius of the skirt. (I've lost Trish and Norma at this point.) Then slowly and carefully swung the other end of the yardstick like a giant compass and lightly chalked the arc that was made. Clean up any breaks in the chalkline and generally fix it up. Next came a hole for around the base of the tree. Did the same thing, just much closer to the point (remember that how far down you measure the radius will only be half of the opening's final diameter). (I think Angie has also shut down by now and just wants to look at the pictures.) If you're being really picky remember to add seam allowances to both measurements. Once I'd marked both arcs, I cut through all layers on the chalk line. Then I opened up the fabric (again, mine was simple unbleached muslin) and had what looked like a large donut. (Trim up the edges if your arcs didn't form the perfect circle. )

This is a quilted tree skirt, but I didn't want a traditional quilt binding at the edges so it was done a bit differently. Instead of doing the quilt 'sandwich' first and quilting before finishing edges, I did it in reverse. A seam was cut from the outer edge to the inner edge of the skirt so it could be put around the tree. Then I used this piece as a pattern to cut out another piece of muslin for the backing and a piece of cotton batting to go inside. It also has a few trims that were put on during this part of the construction process. The cotton rope trim was pinned along the edge of my top piece facing toward the center, so it would point out when the skirt was completed. There are also some pieces of twill tape on both sides of the long opening so the skirt can be tied behind the tree. I basted all of the trims on first. Next, a sandwich was formed, but in this order - batting on the bottom, then the top piece of muslin with the trim facing up, then the backing piece of muslin(muslin has no right side here, so that didn't matter, but if your fabric has a right and wrong side, their right sides should be together with the wrong side of the backing fabric being on the top of the whole sandwich). Stitch all the way around the edges in one continuous line started on a long edge (where the twill tape is) and leave an opening for turning it right side out. Turn the whole thing(clipping corners and curves, blah, blah, blah) and press. I edgestitched along the edges with the twill tape to close up the opening.
Quilting came last. Because I couldn't use temporary spray adhesive to baste the skirt, I pinned it. For this project I used a method for quilting that has you pinning pieces of paper that you've needle punched with your design to the quilt. (This method is a whole post on its own.) Then you free motion quilt through the paper. If you'd prefer to draw the design onto the fabric, I'd do it long before the pinning. Once that was set, I free motion quilted the motifs and then stipple quilted all the spaces between them. This was one of my very first quilting projects and it took awhile. I also refuse to show the back with several pleats in the fabric where it wasn't basted well enough before I did all the stipple quilting. Luckily, only one side shows when it's out and when you wash and dry a piece like this, it puckers up nicely and hides any stitches that don't look perfect. At one point, I had imagined I would quilt some Beatrix Potter figures onto the skirt to go with the cushions I've made. Never happened. I finally realized that a stencil-like shape of her work would look awful compared to the detail in her paintings.
It feels like it took as long to write how I did this as it took to actually sew it.

Proof that I got the girls' lap quilts done in time to open on the big day and to use for movie watching that night:

More on the gifts we made in the coming days.

Hope you had a wonderful holiday.


blackbird said...

Those are the best quilts in the world - and I love the tree skirt too!

Jackie said...

Thanks for posting the tree skirt. I never would have guessed it was muslin. I think I'll have to try one in January, but I have never quilted, but I'll see what happens. At least muslin isn't very expensive.

Love the quilts also.

TX Poppet said...

Wow. The tree skirt makes me want to go all grinchy and slide down your chimney to steal it for myself. Too gorgeous!

Trish said...

You didn't lose me until you started talking about a quilt sandwich, then I began thinking about a turkey sandwich which I am now going to make for lunch.

Limited attention span or hunger?

Susie Sunshine said...

Ha! You give me way, way too much credit, I was just looking at tthe purdy and completely ignoring all the mathy/sewing words.