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Christmas Tree Skirt Tutorial


It was 102 degrees yesterday, the air conditioning was cranked, and I got too much sun at the pool. Christmas is pretty much the last thing that should be on my mind, right? Except that somehow, December 25 always manages to sneak up on me. And with the inevitable gift buying/making rush, Christmas decor projects tend to take a back seat. So really, why not make a Christmas tree skirt on a 102-degree day in July?


With that in mind, welcome to my stop on the Christmas in July Blog Hop, hosted by Elizabeth of Don’t Call Me Betsy! Every year since I started sewing, I’ve been saying I would make a Christmas tree skirt for my family, and this year, we will finally have one. A few months ago, I pinned this half-square-rectangle tutorial from the Modern Quilt Guild’s “100 Days of Modern Quilting” series. When I went to design this tree skirt, it called out to me. Here’s how to make the tree skirt, using the MQG’s tutorial.

You will need:
– 1.5 yards solid white (or other background fabric)
– 3/4 yard of red prints or scraps
– 3/4 yard green prints or scraps
– about two yards of fabric for the back
– 3/4 yard of solid red for binding

– Cut (18) 5″ x 7″ rectangles from green prints
– Cut (18) 5″ x 7″ rectangles from red prints
– Cut (36) 5″ x 7″ rectangles from solid white
– Cut (4) 8.5″ x 12.5″ rectangles from solid white
– Cut (4) 8.5″ x 6.5″ rectangles from solid white

How to make it:

1. Start by going to The Modern Quilt Guild’s blog for their tutorial on making half-square rectangles. For this tree skirt, you’ll want 24 red half-square rectangles going in one direction, and 12 red half-square rectangles going in the opposite direction. For green, you’ll want to swap that—so you need 24 green half-square rectangles going in the opposite direction of the 24 reds, and 12 greens going in the opposite direction of the 12 reds. Clear as mud? Great. Moving on. : )

2. So you should now have a total of 72 finished half-square rectangles. Again, following the instructions from the MQG’s tutorial, make those 72 units into 18 diamond blocks.

3. Lay out your completed diamond blocks as shown above. The first three rows are staggered, followed by a row that isn’t staggered, followed by two more staggered rows. The 8.5″ x 12.5″ white pieces go in each corner, and the 8.5″ x 6.5″ pieces are in the second row in from each side, at the top and bottom.

4. Once I completed the top, I decided to baste the skirt before trimming it into an octagon shape. (I figured it would be easier to baste while the skirt was still square, but I didn’t want to spend time quilting areas that would eventually be trimmed off. So trimming after basting but before quilting was my solution—but you could really trim at any point in the process.) To create the octagon, measure along the edges of the basted skirt, 16.25″ from each corner, and make a mark.

5. Then lay your ruler diagonally across the corner, from mark to mark, and trim. Voila, it’s an octagon! Oh, and save the corner pieces that you cut off—they’re great for practicing your FMQ!

6. Now you’re ready to quilt. Since this was the first project I quilted on my new Horizon, I wanted to try a free-motion design that I’d never done before—and since I’ve never done anything but stippling, I had lots of options. : ) I went with loopy squiggles.
7. Now comes the scary part: Cutting into an almost-completed quilt to make space for the tree trunk! I used a cereal bowl to trace a circle in the dead-center of my skirt (dead center is easy to find thanks to the block seams).

8. Once the circle was traced, I used a ruler and my rotary cutter to cut right down the center seam of the quilt, starting at the top edge and stopping once you’ve cut into the traced circle.

9. Then I used my scissors to cut out the center hole.

Looks more like a tree skirt now, right?

10. That just leaves binding. With the octagon’s odd angles and the circular hole in the center, bias binding is a must here. I always make continuous binding when I use bias—click here for a great tutorial on how to do this from Julie of Jaybird Quilts (scroll down to Method #2). It’s a convenient way to make bias binding, and results in less waste. I made my binding from a 27″ square and had plenty left over.

11. To bind around the odd angles of the octagon, I used this tutorial by Heather Mulder Peterson of Anka’s Treasures. It’s more or less the same concept as binding 90-degree corners. Once you’ve gone around the octagon, keep going down one of the long cut edges, around the inner circle and back up the other cut edge, right back to where you started, like a normal square quilt.

Christmas in July
And there you have it! One bright, modern Christmas tree skirt, and I already have one less thing on my holiday to-do list! Woo hoo!

But wait, here’s the best part: Now I get to give away a big ol’ bundle of fabric to one of you, to get a head start on your own Christmas projects! The Intrepid Thread is sending one lucky winner an FQ bundle of the entire “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” line by Creative Thursday. How adorable are those little cardinals?? Just leave a comment on this post telling me how you would celebrate Christmas … in July. Margaritas? Trip to the beach? Lying in the hammock all day? : ) (THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.)

Oh, and just in case you don’t win that lovely bundle, Manda of Manda Made Quilts is hosting a Christmas in July Charm Swap and needs about 15 more swappers. Sounds like a good way to get a variety of holiday prints—all the details are here.

intrepid thread ad

Thank you to The Intrepid Tread for sponsoring today’s giveaway! And don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog hop—the full schedule is below. Now, off to the pool! : )

Monday 7/16 – Don’t Call Me Betsy
Tuesday 7/17 – Sew Crafty Jess
Wednesday 7/18 – Pink Penguin
Thursday 7/19 – Freshly Pieced
Friday 7/20 – Sew Sweetness
Monday 7/23 – Happy Quilting
Tuesday 7/24 – Comfort Stitching
Wednesday 7/25 – Diary of a Quilter
Thursday 7/26 – Felicity Quilts

371 replies
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  1. Teje
    Teje says:

    I would love to have this year turquoise Christmas! Unfortunately mostly inside with the a/c as in real Christmas with the heating – but always sewing! x Teje

  2. Michala
    Michala says:

    Christmas in July will be spent relaxing in the garden with my boys. I'm making the most of it as today is the first sunny day in months. It's been our wettest summer on record here in England!

  3. Michala
    Michala says:

    Christmas in July will be spent relaxing in the garden with my boys. I'm making the most of it as today is the first sunny day in months. It's been our wettest summer on record here in England!

  4. Deb
    Deb says:

    i think working on a quilt as a Christmas gift would be a great July project. Just turn up the A/C and start sewing! Thanks for the giveaway.

  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    It already seems like Christmas in July with all of the wonderful Christmas fabrics that keep popping up in the stores. I am checking them all twice and picking the ones I would like to take to my retreat this fall.(Although they all are nice!!)

  6. free indeed
    free indeed says:

    Great tree skirt! Could have used this last year when I 'winged' my own pattern! 😛 I'd celebrate Christmas in July with a picnic down on the river bed that borders Maine from Canada…may get a visit from the ever growing populace of Border Patrol people, but that would add to the excitement of the day! 🙂

  7. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    Just thinking about Christmas is a nice escape from the heat. I usually start planning my Christmas projects about now and that beautiful fabric would be so much fun to work with.

  8. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    It's so hot and humid here, I just may have to hop on a plane and go somewhere, I just saw that temperature at the South Pole is -68F. Maybe I'll just stay here and go to our pool for Christmas.

  9. quiltmom
    quiltmom says:

    Beautiful collection of fabrics- so very pretty and Christmasy I loved your tree skirt tutorial too. Thanks for the chance to win such a pretty bundle.
    In July, I get to slow down and enjoy some down time after the busy school year. I get to quilt some quilts and have a Christmas quilt that I started last year- perhaps it will get finished this year yet.
    Regards from Western Canada,

  10. Kay
    Kay says:

    Love the tree skirt, I keep meaning to make one myself one year! Our favourite part of christmas day is opening stockings on our bed, so we would start with that. Instead of cooking a huge turkey dinner it would have to be a BBQ instead followed by trifle. We have 8 family birthdays in July so always have a get together anyway, maybe a bouncy castle would be fun. Thank you for offering the giveaway.

  11. Jesse
    Jesse says:

    I love the skirt…it's cute. I would celebrate Christmas in July by some boat time laying on a quilt that is red and green…then I would have to have made the quilt first…lol…but hey, it's a dream. So what am I really doing? Quilting my first t-shirt quilt for my daughter who leaves for college in a month…call it an early Christmas present for her.

  12. tartankiwi
    tartankiwi says:

    Hmmmm… Christmas in July would mean a winter Christmas those of us based in NZ, so it'd be a full British style Christmas dinner for us (yum! I miss them, they just don't work when you celebrate Christmas in the summer!)

  13. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    My Christmas in July this year has consisted of trying to keep everyone and thing cool on this little farm, with power outages for days. Have worked on a few Christmas gifts though and truely love your tutorial. Winning the fabric would help in makin a few more

  14. Deb
    Deb says:

    I live in York, Maine, where we celebrate Christmas in July by lighting up the light house with Christmas lights for all of our tourists who can't see it in December. It is a wonderful sight on a hot summers eve.

  15. karen608
    karen608 says:

    I'm staying in and sewing this hot hot hot summer. A/C is so good. Loved your tree skirt!! Thank you for the chance to win the Christmas fabric.
    karen608 at yahoo dot com

  16. Deb
    Deb says:

    I live in York, Maine, where we celebrate Christmas in July by lighting up the light house with Christmas lights for all of our tourists who can't see it in December. It is a wonderful sight on a hot summers eve.

  17. becky
    becky says:

    My husbands theory is every day with him is like christmas. He is a great guy to be around so he is sort of right also I make bandana quilts and few other simpler ones year round and donate them to a local childrens home makes me feel good and I stay in touch with some of the kids over the last few years who had located me and we try to help them adjust and just listen if they had "aged" out from the home so he is right every day is like christmas with him. Thank-you for the give away and tutorial. Becky

  18. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I'd love to win the terrific Christmas bundle. How fun it would be to make a Christmas cover for my Horizon, thread catcher, and maybe a Christmas pin cushion too. My sewing space is in the kitchen, so these items would help my hobby corner blend in with the rest of the house. Thanks for the chance, and enjoy your Horizon too! aschaefer24 at yahoo dot com

  19. Kim Feather
    Kim Feather says:

    Beautiful…and looks like even a newbie like myself could make it. It's funny you should address Christmas in July at this time. My 5 grandchildren are all military so I am in TN right now doing just that…..celebrating Christmas with all 5 of them poolside!!!! My daughter came from TX where her husband is stationed at Ft. Hood with her 2 boys. My son is the SR. ROTC instructor at the University of TN and he has the other 3. We are having a ball!

  20. Angie
    Angie says:

    Cute tree skirt! And, we are actually celebrating Christmas in July this year with our family….heading up North (Minocqua, WI) to the family cabin. We're decorating the pontoon boat with Christmas lights and a tree! Lots of Christmas in July themed foods and drinks too! We're pretty excited about it! 🙂 I'm finishing up a Christmas quilt to take along too. 😉

  21. ultraorganized
    ultraorganized says:

    We do spend Christmas by the pool (outside of Ft. Lauderdale) so it is extremely important to be festive with great projects like the tree skirt.
    I like this one because it looks festive and the tutorial makes it look so easy — thank you !)

  22. Janet
    Janet says:

    What a darling Christmas tree skirt! I would celebrate Christmas in July relaxing at Mirror Lake in the Uintas. I would have a take along hand stitchery project with me. I don't have a Christmas quilt and would love to win some of Santa Claus is Coming to Town fabric to begin one. Thanks for sponsoring the giveaway.

  23. Doreen
    Doreen says:

    My Christmas in July would be spent quilting up those Christmas prints under the beautiful sun filled skies. Of course it would have to stop raining first 🙂

  24. CathyH
    CathyH says:

    I'm actually working on a red and white quilt. Supposed to finish it in July. So I guess Christmas in July would be at home in my quilt room!

  25. SewySu
    SewySu says:

    Hohohoho….this is the cutest skirt. I have pondered making a tree skirt but all the patterns are SO Christmas and I have been intimidated…THIS one is cute AND looks doable!!!! Thanks for this great tutorial and give away to boot…. So, for me, we would return to Lopez Island (Washington State) and walk on the beach and pick up shells, rocks and kelp pods… and watch the eagles catch fish and people catch fish! cheers su "-}

  26. Sewgirl
    Sewgirl says:

    I would celebrate Christmas in July with a BBQ with my family and friends. That's what I like most about the holidays anyway..getting together with those we love.

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