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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. Emma
    Emma says:

    Love the tutorial. Doing in July? Well, finally getting outside to enjoy some sunshine after all the downpours we have had. Thinking of Christmas, but that is as far as I have got! Thanks for the chance to enter.

  2. Susan
    Susan says:

    July at our house (on a farm) is spent trying to sneak in some sewing time amid the garden/food processing work. We usually put up corn, peas, butterbeans, tomatoes, apples, figs, jellies, etc, while trying to stay cool in these GA temps! Love that fabric! Just what I need to inspire me to do a bit of Christmas in July gift sewing!

  3. Binks
    Binks says:

    Gahh!! I've loved Creative Thursday since I discovered her art a few years ago. I was so excited to know she got into fabric design. I droll over all her awesome new lines.
    I think I'd spend Christmas in July at Disneyland.

  4. gmp
    gmp says:

    Your tree skirt is beautiful! And, I really love your Christmas fabric bundle too.
    If I were celebrating Christmas in July, it would definitely be at a beach setting. The palm trees would be decorated with tiny white lights, there would be tropical drinks with those little umbrellas, and I would invite all my family and friends to come to the beach for a huge barbecue. Finally, I would have Santa arrive at the beach on a power boat, with presents for everyone.

  5. Isa
    Isa says:

    I spend christmas in july mostly indoors to stay away from heat making list for this years christmas presents.
    I really need to try such an adorable tree skirt as well <3

  6. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    Beautiful tree skirt, love it! Christmas in July would be spent sitting in a floaty, on the lake, drinking a slushie Margarita with my sisters.

  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Christmas in July….can't quite imagine that, but I would have to say that it would include a pool, mangoes, and a decorated palm tree! Thanks so much for the giveaway! ashleymjones(at)live(dot)com

  8. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I need to make a tree skirt this year … and my colors are the bright ones like yours! This is now on the to-do list. I love love love the fabric bundles … Thanks for the awesome tutorial and giveaway 🙂

  9. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I need to make a tree skirt this year … and I think this is the one! I love all the bright colors for c-mas, just makes it more cheery 🙂 I love this fabric it is right up my alley 🙂 Thanks for the great giveaway.

  10. lovetostitch
    lovetostitch says:

    I just got back from celebrating actually!!! Went to Florida to see my grandgirls and got to swim all day!! Any day playing with them is a true the blessing, the real meaning of Christmas – they are presents to me!
    Your tree skirt looks lovely. I would probably not cut the slit, but cut just the hole and slip my tree trunk through it- then use on the table some time with an arrangement over the hole – that's just me. Thanks so much!!

  11. Diane
    Diane says:

    If I were to actually celebrate it, I imagine a nativity play at the beach accompanied by berry shortcakes and lemonade. What is more likely to happen in July around here is iced coffee, shopping, and finishing up some piecing!

  12. Lee Heinrich
    Lee Heinrich says:

    I'm not sure if the giveaway is still open, but if it is.. my Christmas in July is my birthday! My fiance always gets me something sewing related and we go out for a nice dinner and drinks. Food is the path to my heart, lol. 🙂

  13. Stitched With Prayer
    Stitched With Prayer says:

    Oh how I love that tree skirt!!! Wow, how would I celebrate Christmas in July? Well, Can it be August? Cause July is full of celebrations for us, grand children's birthdays and today my hubby and I have been married some 44 years. So we have be doing our share of July celebrations…however, next month I plan to get back to my Christmas sewing, which is a lot like celebrating for me. Working in my sewing room is pure pleasure and stress relief, and I have been working on quilts for my two youngest grandchildren, a grandson 12 and granddaughter 13 and loving every minute of it. I have missed working on them this busy month so I will be very excited to get back to them the first part of next month. Thank your so much for a chance to win some wonderful Christmas fabric…something my stash is very short on. I've only been making quilts for four years and building a stash is slow going, so I haven't concentrated enough on holiday fabrics and now I'm wishing I had. Good Luck to Everyone and Hugs all around…

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