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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 (64)

Scrap Sacks by Sami said:
Scrap Sacks by Sami's picture

I would consider myself a beginner to intermediate self taught seamstress and I LOVE this tutorial.  This is mine and my boyfriend's first Christmas together.  Between us we have 4 children.  His daughter and I made really adorable 'Elf' styled stockings for our new 'family' and used the left over fabrics to make a coordinating tree skirt.  This was so easy to follow!  I'm a big fan of iron fleece though, as I use it in a lot of my projects.  So I used that in place of the quilt batting, which made keeping all the 'layers' together a little easier for me.  Our stockings colors are very bright and cheery, and not completely traditional in color, so I made this reversible, by using a traditional red and green 'flannel' patterned cotton fabric as the backing. Happy Sewing!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Scrap Sacks by Sami - so glad to hear you had fun with this tutorial!

ammsmith said:
ammsmith's picture

I am a beginner, and figuring out how much fabric to buy always makes me anxious! I love your skirt...but the tree in my house is small (goes on the side table). The table is circular and measures 28". I was thinking of doing a 24" skirt, because I thought cutting your measurements in half would be the easiest way to make this work. If I used 8 different fabrics, would 1/2 yard each be an appropriate amount to buy? Or 1 yard of each fabric If I do 4 sections?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ ammsmith - I'm afraid we don't have time to answer such specific questions about re-sizing. Your best option, and often what we do when figuring our original cuts, is to draw it out on a piece of paper. Draw a rectangle with your fabric width (usually 44-45 for regular cottons) along one side and the various length options along the other side (18" for a half yard, 27" for three quarters, 36" for a full yard). Then sketch in your pieces to see how it might all fit. Remember to get a bit extra if you want to fussy cut any motifs or choose a directional design.

Katia M said:
Katia M's picture

Bonsoir

j'ai bien envie de faire enfin la jupe de mon sapin de Noël

quand je l'aurai fini comment vous envoyer la photo?

à bientôt et merci pour votre partage.

Melanie b said:
Melanie b's picture

What are the final measurements of this skirt? 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Melanie b - The skirt finishes at approximately 48" in diameter. 

Jeana said:
Jeana's picture

I bought a sewing machine a few months ago but had never made anything until I found this tutorial. I wasn't sure if I was good enough to make this tree skirt actually look good, but I am happy to say it turned out awesome thanks to the clear steps given here. Thank you so much, can't wait to make more projects from this website! I am so proud of myself!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Jeana - we love to hear stories like yours! We are proud of you too!!

NervousBonnie said:
NervousBonnie's picture

I just found this tutorial and going to pick up fabric to attempt this!!!! 

liselou said:
liselou's picture

Can someone help me. I want to make a round table runner with lace around the edge. Would I just do it the same way as you would with bias tape? same principle? I want this for my wedding. I am having burlap with lace on the edge. Thinking of lace ribbon. Oh help please

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ liselou - That's a pretty broad question because there are quite a few variables involved. You certainly could make a mini version of this tree skirt and insert lace into the seam; you'd just have to do all the math. If you search our Projects Tab under table linens, you'll find some other options that might work better for you scaled up or down. You might also take a look at our recent Trivets article... these little round verions are a bit like this tree skirt:

http://www.sew4home.com/projects/table-linens/scrapbusters-patchwork-tri...

Estelle Jordanius said:
Estelle Jordanius's picture

I really like this tutorial, hope there is a person who can make a video on it.

cindersnow555 said:
cindersnow555's picture

Hi,

Can you do this as a no-sew project? I don't have a sewing machine and i am terrible at freehand sewing.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ cindersnow555 - Wow... I'm not good at all when it comes to reverse-engineering to a no-sew project. I think it would be pretty tough. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ SunshineSews - thanks for sharing - it looks so cute under your tree.

Emily H. said:
Emily H.'s picture

I found this last year, and bought all the supplies, but ran out of time to make it. Just finished it - in the nick of time! Thanks for a great project with clear directions!

littlemissdeer said:
littlemissdeer's picture

I just made this for our tree, and I LOVE it! I'm an intermediate seamstress and found this to be simple and enjoyable. I used 6 full-sized "pie-slices" and then took the remaining 2 and halved them, making a really interesting pattern out of red curdoroy scraps and green fleece!

Julie Houghton said:
Julie Houghton's picture

I've been looking for such a pattern, looks great, and can't wait to get started.  Thank you for sharing it!

Haley Nicodemus said:
Haley Nicodemus's picture

Hi - I know this was posted a million years ago, but I need some help! :)  I'm doing 12 triangles so 6 difference fabric and two triangles for each fabric.  How do I figure out a pattern for each wedge?  Thank you so much!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Haley Nicodemus - we actually just re-did this skirt last Friday -- you can check it out on our home page. Look at the first illustration where you are forming your quarter circle - if you want 12 wedges, you need to divide each quarter circle into thirds instead of in half. So rather than the 90" angle turning into two 45˚ angles, you'll need three 30" angles. We typically don't revise our tutorials because our work load doesn't allow us the time to re-figure everything for all the possible options. We would feel awful if we gave you inaccurate advice that caused your finished project to turn out less than successful. But I think these notes will get you moving in the right direction. Don't forget to check out the revise of this skirt in pretty new fabrics: http://sew4home.com/projects/fabric-art-accents/re-imagine-renovate-holi...

Kerry-Mary said:
Kerry-Mary's picture

Not really a sewing person, but when I saw this my immediate thought was "I could make that"

My husband did the triangles for me. I got some old curtain material cut and sewed. To say I was

pleased with my effort is an understatement. I'm buying some Christmas themed fabric and making

it as a gift. When you try something for the first time the instructions reads like Double Dutch

but on my second reading I understood the procedure. Thank you for a clear and concise

pattern,

gail ann kratz said:
gail ann kratz's picture

I ave not made this tree skirt yet..just decided on what color and fabric to use..you have made this so simple..I need simple...very excited..can not wait to see the finished product..making this for my sister for Christmas..hope she like it! Thanks again for sharing your pattern...

Jorie said:
Jorie's picture

Oh, this is great. I have been wanting to make a tree skirt for years now and I just couldn't find anything that I was excited to make. This is IT, and it is so straightforward..Plus, I get to use my lovely bias tape maker. Just one question..the fabric I am considering is 56" wide, not 45". Math is hurting my head...would 1/2 yard each be enough then? And any reason I couldn't back it with felt...so cheap, and quiltable without batting?

Cat Lanz said:
Cat Lanz's picture

Such a lovely design! Would it be simple to have one side be a solid color? I'm a beginner and I already purchased all the materials under the impression that one side was a solid color. (Oops!) I think I can still make it work, but I wanted to first ask if I'd be making more work for myself. Thanks for your time :)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Cat Lanz - do you mean the back of the tree skirt? Ours is muslin on the back, so yes, it is a solid color - the print fabrics are only on the top. 

Cat Lanz said:
Cat Lanz's picture

Oh that's great to hear! It looks like I have everything I need to start then :) Thanks again!

kindle cover said:
kindle cover's picture
I should have seen this site during before Christmas.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Dana R - We love stories like this. S4H is ALL about getting inspiring people to sew - even if they are brand new to it. Your boyfriend is going to love it. smilies/cheesy.gif
Dana R said:
Dana R's picture
Thank you so much for sharing this pattern and these detailed instructions. I am very new to sewing (I have only made two things), and I just made this tree skirt for my boyfriend for Christmas. He's been asking for one for a couple of years, and I never thought I would be able to make something like this. Thank you again!! smilies/smiley.gif
TurnerPANSY said:
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Sew Craft Make said:
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This is gorgeous..I've shared over at Sew Craft Make

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Amy Grice - a yard of 54" wide fabric will be more than enough to fussy cut two wedges. Have fun!
Amy Grice said:
Amy Grice's picture
I'm so excited I found this easy tutorial! I have been searching for a while. I'm a VERY beginner sewer and hopefully I can do this! My only problem is that the only fabric I really like is 54". And of course, I want 4 different patterns which is $9.99 a yard (have to buy whole yards). SO,with that said will the 54" still work with this??
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Emily DeShone - The arc of our wedge requires a full 18\" swing, and since we recommend fussy cutting each wedge, 1/2 yard is realllllllly cutting\' it close. You might be able to make it happen if you are a clever-cutter. However, you\'d probably want to make your wedge slightly thinner. We show we above how to create the wedge pattern - so simply adjust it down to work.
Emily DeShone said:
Emily DeShone's picture
I would still like to have 8 triangles but I don't want to have so much leftover fabric. Can I get a 1/2 yard of 8 fabrics and make 1 triangle from each?
alicia.thommas said:
alicia.thommas's picture
Penny2, the seams make the diameter of the circle a tiny bit smaller, but it remains a full circle. You can make the skirt larger or smaller to suit your needs by adjusting the radius.
Penny2 said:
Penny2's picture
I love the idea of this skirt, but when you make the 1/2 inch seams won't that make the wedges narrower and you won't end up with a full circle?
alicia.thommas said:
alicia.thommas's picture
Moondancer630, YES! You can make two tree skirts with the fabric you have. In the last drawing above, we show how you can cut two triangle sections from just 5/8 yard of fabric. If you have eight 3/4 yard pieces, you can cut two with 1/8 yard to spare on each piece.
Moondancer630 said:
Moondancer630's picture
Question...if I bought 3/4 yard of 8 different fabrics (I like this best) since your making a 90 degree triangle and cutting in half couldn't you get TWO skirts out of 3/4 yds of 8 diff fabrics?
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!

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