Going around in CIRCLES...in a good way!
These circles are meant to be--and here is how they are shaping up!
This is the pattern for a quilted Christmas tree skirt that I am in the process of making. This pic is from the free tutorial online at http://www.sewwequilt.com/2011/12/comfort-and-joy-guest-from-us-annies.html
My daughter-in-law chose this pattern from three possibilities I offered her. These were free patterns online (budget friendly) that I thought I could technically tackle. I am so happy to be able to make them something that they actually need, will use, and hopefully LOVE!
To start, she chose about 1/3 of the fabrics from my existing red, green and gold fabric stash. Hurray for using stash! Then we went shopping and she helped me pick out the other 2/3 of them at the fabric store. FUN! She is so good with colors, she picked some beauties. I had to laugh when I got home and noticed the main fabric is from a known scrapbook manufacturer--SEI! Can you spot it?
Here are the several fabrics she chose.
I gather my tools for the task. I use rotary cutter, mat and ruler, measuring tape for this stage. I needed to cut 148 of the five inch squares...that means cutting several of each fabric!
(NOTE: If you are using a 10 degree ruler, I would make your squares 5.5 inch square instead of the smaller 5 inch square required for a 9 degree ruler.)
I am using a 9 degree ruler so here I go....first cutting 5 inch strips and then cutting those down again into 5 inch square pieces.
Place them in a pleasing fashion in columns of 5 squares. Sew each column together from top to bottom. Make sure you label them and put them back in the order that you originally liked.
With all 28 columns sewn vertically it is time to make them into wedges! You can use a 9 degree wedge quilting ruler or a 10 degree ruler. Use 5 inch squares for the 9* ruler and 5.5 squares for the 10* ruler. With the pattern I am using (link above) you cut one large wedge and also a smaller thinner wedge out of the same column, You end up with two stacks of wedges--there are 28 wide wedges and 28 skinny narrow wedges.
Place seven of your larger wedges on the table and then fill in with the skinny wedges. This is a 1/4 section of your full sized 28 (large) wedge circle tree skirt. Work with just the 1/4 section at a time for space and ease of task.
I found it easier to sew from the bottom of the wedge (wide end) to the top simply to line up the more visible seams better. The bottom of the tree skirt is the part people will see more often and it is the part you want those seams to look nicest. Any fudging can be hidden easily at the top of the skirt.
Try not to have identical fabrics side by side next to each other if possible. If it is unavoidable to have wedges with similar fabrics near each other, then try to make it at the top of the tree skirt where the pieces are smaller and less noticeable--as well as usually covered with gifts at holiday time.
Be sure to look at your quarter section from many angles! Adjust wedge placement if needed. But don't fret over it too much.You could do this all day! LOL
Sew up your 1/4 section now with the 7 wide and 7 skinny wedges in order. Do not change your mind half way through! Just go for it. It really will look great! And like I mentioned before, you don't want to drive yourself crazy or spend all day on each quarter-section. Iron now! Ironing each quarter section is more manageable than leaving it to the end. Take my word for it. So make it simple and iron each quarter section as you complete it.
Sew, sew, and sew some more.
Two quarter sections together make a half circle.
Keep sewing, just keep sewing! Make the other half of the skirt and seam it to the first half. Do NOT sew the circle shut by mistake! You need an opening on that last section in order to get it around the tree. You can't see the opening below but I did leave the last seam open.
Here is a closer view of the full circle. If you need to touch up your ironing, do it now. Make sure the back seams of the skinny wedges are pressed open toward the wide wedges to decrease bulk. Give the top of your skirt a firm pressing as well. Pressing now helps you quilt it easier later, believe me!
At this point, I stitched 7 inch strips of my extra backing fabric to my 45x45 backing fabric piece on all four sides. I did this to make sure the completed 48 inch tree skirt circle didn't have to be cut down to fit the backing.
Well you know me, I can't get through a whole project without a "use what I have" moment or two.... I ended up stitching some of my batting together so I could use several partial pieces up. You see, I had gotten two bags of thin poly batting FREE from a gal at a garage sale when I bought another item. Of course I said yes. Time to use it up! It only took about 20 minutes to baste the odd scraps of bat pieces together to fit. Save it from the donation heap? Yes! Cost wise it saved me about $10-15 on batting for this project alone--so I thank the kindness of that gal.
I was also happy to find in my existing stash 3 spools of mono-filament thread for quilting on the multi-colored skirt top and 2 spools of light yellow gold for my bobbins. The yellow-golds were not identical but they worked well in the long run on the gold backing fabric. Considering I have not quilted a lot in the last 8 years, I am glad to find ways to use up my existing supplies.
The moral of this part of the story is for us to see the use in things that may not be brand spankin' new in the package to be perfectly usable. We can actually ACCEPT with grace the abundance that others offer kindly and make beauty from it.
I sandwiched the skirt, the batting, and the backing fabric (by SEI). I do use basting spray between each layer which helps keep things in place before you get it all sewn down. It took me about 4 hours to freehandedly meander quilt it (below left) and hand stitch closed the gold outer edging and ties.
The photo below shows pretty true to the colors in the fabrics.
It soon goes to the home of my son and his lovely wife.