Our large, lush tree skirt is over four feet square; grand enough for Christmas morning's bounty of pretty packages. The pinwheel design is a patchwork classic, simple and sweet. And, even if you've never done patchwork or quilting before, I know you'll have success with this. It's just four squares of fabric cut on a diagonal, alternated, then sewn back together into four new squares. A 'stitch-in-the-ditch' at each seam quilts it all together. Easy as that. You really don't need to read all the directions now do you? Well... maybe just a few.
The only caution on this project is the bulk of the velvet binding. If you are new to binding, I might suggest substituting a thinner fabric. If you decide to stay with the elegance of velvet, we recommend using a roller foot or walking foot to help keep all the shifting layers in line. Our Janome Memory Craft Horizon has AcuFeed™, which is like a built-in walking foot. Love that!
Our thanks to our friends at Moda Fabrics for providing all the French General Lumiere de Noel fabric as well as our selected velvets. You can find the gorgeous Lumiere de Noel fabric in stores and online now, including at Fat Quarter Shop.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Memory Craft Horizon)
- Roller foot (optional) or Walking foot (optional) to help with sewing on the velvet
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1¾ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for print triangles: we used Lumiere de Noel by French General for Moda Fabrics in Floral Christmas La Veille de Noel Natural
- 1 yard of 60" wide fabric for the solid triangles: we used a cotton velvet by Moda Fabrics in Brown
- 1½ yard of 60" wide fabric for the binding: we used a cotton velvet by Moda Fabrics in Burgundy
- 1¾ yard of 60" wide fabric for the backing: we used a natural linen, you could also use a muslin or heavy cotton
- 1¾ yard of 90" low loft batting: we used Kyoto Bamboo Blend batting from Fabric.com
NOTE: There are a lot of options when it comes to batting; simply remember you will need a 56" x 56" square, then select the most economical option available.
- Four approximately 3½" pom-poms
NOTE: We made our own using a Clover Pom Pom Maker.
- 2 yards of 1½" ribbon for ties: we used a deep red grosgrain
- All purpose thread to coordinate with the skirt top: we used deep red
- All purpose thread to match the skirt backing: we used cream
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen, pencil or chalk
- Iron and ironing board
- Pressing cloth
- Yarn needle
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Straight pins
- From the print fabric (La Veille de Noel Natural in our sample), cut TWO 28" x 28" squares.
- Cut each square diagonally to create two triangles.
- Repeat for the solid fabric (cotton velvet in our sample). Cut TWO 28" x 28" squares. Then, cut each square diagonally to create two triangles.
- Cut a 56" x 56" square out of the backing fabric.
- Cut a 56" x 56" square out of the low-loft batting.
- From binding fabric (cotton velvet in our sample), cut FIVE strips 6" x width of fabric and TWO strips 4" x WOF.
NOTE: We ran short on fabric and so had to straight cut all our strips. In the supply list, I indicated a larger piece of velvet so you can straight cut the four 6" x WOF strips, but
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Pair up the print and solid triangles; you should have four sets of two.
- Place a print triangle and a solid triangle right sides together, aligning all the raw edges. Pin along the longest side (the diagonal cut side). This means when you open it up you'll have a square again.
- Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance.
- Repeat to stitch together the remaining three sets of two.
NOTE: When you are sewing two unlike fabrics (cotton and velvet in our sample), stitch with the more 'troublesome' fabric (the velvet in this case) on the bottom against the feed dogs for greater control.
- You now have four squares, which you need to assemble. Lay out the squares on the floor in order, so the triangles alternate print-solid-print-solid all around in a pinwheel pattern.
- Pick up your first pair of squares. With right sides together, pin the pieces together and stitch, using a ½" seam allowance, along one long edge. Press the seam toward the print fabric to minimize the velvet's lumpiness.
- Pick up the next square in your sequence and pin it, right sides together, to the two-piece section you just created. Stitch along one edge, creating a three-piece section.
- Pick up the final square in your sequence and pin it, right sides together, to the three-piece section you just created. Stitch along one edge, creating a four-piece section. 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.
- Lay your 56" x 56" backing square, right side down on your work surface or the floor. Make sure it is flat and smooth.
- Place the 56" x 56" batting square on top of the backing. Make sure it is flat and smooth.
- Place your four-square skirt top, right side up, on top of the batting. Make sure it is flat and smooth.
- Pin all layers together along outside edge of the tree skirt. As needed, trim the layers flush all around the outside edges. If possible, a rotary cutter and mat is best for this step.
- 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, bowl 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.
- Cut through the backing and batting to create the the skirt opening; use the opening in the top layer as your guide. Then cut through all layers around the center circle, following your drawn circle.
- Pin along all the raw edges: the outside edge, the inner circle and both sides of the skirt opening.
- Edgestitch around all these edges.
NOTE: "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.
- Re-thread your machine with thread to coordinate with the top fabric in the top and thread to match the backing in the bobbin. We used red in the top and cream in the bobbin.
- To quilt your tree skirt and secure all the layers, stitch in the ditch of each triangle seam.
- Because we chose a velvet for our binding, we set our iron on low and used a pressing cloth to create our binding strips.
- Take the five 6" x WOF strips and sew them together along the 6" sides, using a ½" seam allowance, to make one long, continuous 6" strip that is approximately 280-290". This will finish at 1½".
- Fold the strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.
- Open up the strip, wrong side towards you.
- 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.
- Fold again along your first crease, right sides together, so your two folded edges are together. Press. Ta-da #3 ... double fold bias tape.
- Repeat these steps with the 4" bias cut strips to create a continuous strip that is approximately 70-75". This will finish at 1".
- Attach the binding to all the raw edges of the tree skirt, using your favorite method.
- With the 1" bias cut binding, start at the left opening of the tree skirt and run the binding up this side, create a corner, go around the center circle create another corner, and finish down the opposite side of the opening.
- Next, use the 1½" binding to bind the entire outside edge of the square.
- Sew slowly, adjusting the binding to the curves as you go around the inside circle, mitering at the corners, and remembering to tuck under the raw edges of your binding at the beginning and end of each section.
- If you are new to making or attaching bias binding, the following tutorials are all helpful. There are several options for binding, choose the one you like best or mix and match:
Pendleton blanket throw - the bulky corduroy binding on this project is similar to the challenges of our velvet.
- We chose traditional mitered corners ...
- with a stitch-in-the-ditch finish.
- BUT WAIT!! Before you stitch the outside edge binding in place, using a yarn needle, attach a pom-pom to each corner.
- Okay... now you can sew the binding in place. It's very thick binding, so go slowly and adjust as needed.
- Cut the 1½" ribbon into four 13" lengths.
- Finish one cut end on each length with a narrow, double turn hem. To do this, fold under the end ¼" and press, then fold another ¼" and press again. Stitch in place close to the fold.
- Ribbon cut, or "V" cut the opposite end of each length.
- Place the hemmed ends of the ribbon along both sides of the skirt opening. The first set of the ribbons should be placed 1½" down from the circle opening. The second set of ribbons should be 12" down from the circle opening.
- Pin all four ribbon ends in place so the seam of the ribbon hem is aligned with the binding seam. The ribbon should be WRONG side up.
- Stitch the ribbons in place, matching this new seam to the hem's seam and the 'ditch' of the binding/square.
- Fold the ribbons over and tie into a pretty bow.
Project Concept: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Jami Boys