Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Handcrafted Christmas Tree Skirt Project

Courtney being silly with the freshly-gifted tree skirt 
(she was trying it on as a true skirt)

The office Christmas tree modeling the tree skirt 
before Courtney took it home
(click the photo to see a little more detail)

Each year my office does a Secret Santa gift swap. It's totally optional, as it's not assumed everyone feels equally excited about participating (especially because homemade gifts are encouraged and appreciated). Since I joined the agency in July, this Secret Santa office event was my first.

About a month ago, I drew the name of a talented designer/illustrator. While I don't think Courtney is high maintenance, I did realize that her background makes her more naturally inclined to scrutinize color, design, layouts, etc. I decided I would be brave and make a homemade tree skirt. I asked Dawn, our Traffic manager, what colors Courtney uses in her home. Knowing Courtney and her preferences rather well, she quickly responded with, "lots of blues and greys." She also validated my tree skirt idea.

About three weeks prior to Tuesday's swap, I took my eager little self to Hancock Fabrics to buy supplies.

Shopping list:
  • 2.5 yards of navy blue felt
  • 1.5 yards of grey felt (I found some discontinued fabric on sale)
  • 1 spool of grey yarn
  • 1 spool navy hand quilting thread*
  • 1 packet silver glitter
  • Assorted beads (silver, white, pearlescent) 
  • 1 can spray glitter
  • 1 tapestry needle
  • 1 packet standard hand sewing needles*
  • One small container of pins*
That night, I got to work cutting out the base of the tree skirt. I decided to not cut one but two large circles from the felt so that the skirt would be more durable. I planned to sew them together using the yarn and tapestry needle. 

Dan helped tremendously by developing a plan to cut out the perfect circles. We unfolded the fabric and decided on the diameter we wanted. Dan cut a string to be half the length of that diameter (which would be the radius) and plotted a point that would be the middle of the circle. We tied a sharpie to a screw driver using the string. I held the screw driver in the middle of the circle as Dan pulled the string to full tension and drew all the way around. Once I'd cut out that circle, I traced it and cut out the second circle. I can't remember off the top of my head but I would guess the circles' diameters were about four feet.

Once I aligned the circles on top of one another, I sewed around the edges using the grey yarn and the tapestry needle. 

I picked up the project a few days later. The next step was cutting out snow flakes. I folded various-sized squared of the grey felt "every which a way" and cut out little portions to make snowflakes of various shapes. The felt's thickness prevented me from doing really elaborate designs, but that was okay. 

I pinned the 11 snowflakes I'd made onto the circle, keeping in mind I would need to cut a slit through to the center for the tree. Sewing beads and sequins on the skirt was the most time consuming part of the project. On the days I worked on the project, I tried to tackle one or two full snowflakes. I not-so-systematically alternated beads with sequins. I grossly underestimated the time it would take to do the beading but was happy with the visual result. (Be warned that it took me anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours —maybe more — to bead each snowflake. But feel free to pass along suggestions as to how that could be more time efficient!) Unfortunately I don't have a photo that shows the beads in up-close detail. 

I cut through the tree skirt (effectively its radius) to the center and cut out a small circle in the center for the tree. I sewed up the slit and its fresh circle the same way I'd handled the circumference. 

Spraying the finished skirt with the can of glitter spray really made it come together and sparkle. 

I feel goofy admitting this, but it felt like the night before the first day of school or Christmas eve as I was falling asleep Monday night. No amount of coughing or my sore throat could keep me from being excited about the next day's festivities. I hoped Courtney would enjoy her gift — and I couldn't wait to see what others made or thoughtfully bought. 

Luckily, Courtney appreciated the gift and the thought that went into it. She also mentioned that she was thinking about making a tree skirt this coming weekend because she didn't have one. Good timing! 

Total cost: approximately $30 (but some of the cost was for supplies I'll use again)
Total time: an embarrassing 25 or so hours (whoops!)

* If you do any amount of craft projects, you likely already have these items at home.


1 comment:

Mb said...

I totally know why there was blue fabric in my Xmas packaging now. Way to be green and resourceful.