Monday, November 19, 2012

A Spiral Christmas Tree Skirt

Here you see a  gift I just finished this morning for my daughter. It is a spiral bargello style quilted tree skirt. I sewed on it all Saturday and Sunday this weekend and just had the ties to sew on this morning. It's an early Christmas gift kind of like the one I made for my son and his wife a few weeks ago

This spiral design my daughter chose also uses a 10 degree wedge ruler but is about 1/3 more time consuming than the randomly placed 5 inch charm square wedge style because you have to spend more time getting the strip formation right.  There was a SULKY brand online tutorial and pattern for a single color repeat but I liked the slower color change better seen in the two photos below. I think the spiral design is enhanced by the more gradual color change. I saw these two spirals below on Google Images but they only led me to picture links and not a tutorial. I had to devise my own from looking at that pictures.

and this one where the person also had to improvise their own from the Sulky pattern online.

I used three reds, three greens, and for my lightest trio I did like the photos and I used one white and two "almost" golds.  

See if you can use your stash. Consider fabrics that are not necessarily Christmas in theme but are the right colors. Since these fabrics were all available to me from the previous tree skirt for my DIL and son, I know it was previous non Christmas stash for 1/3 and then we had bought specifically at that time (a month ago) the other 2/3 of these fabrics to coordinate. My DIL came along that evening and picked the fabrics so that I knew she would like their tree skirt--and use it. 

PLANNING: I put on my thinking cap. It took me some thinking as to how to sew and cut the strips for the 4 repeating spirals efficiently. (You can't just sew all nine together in a super long and tall tube like you would on a normal bargello quilt and pick apart where you want the top to be for  each row.)  

My strips are each 3 inches tall and about 25 inches long. I found that the 25 inch lengths were about right and gave me the flexibility to move that color fabric to the top of the wedge without ripping out a seam to move it's position in the lineup from bottom to top. etc. 

SEWING: Take your time. This is not a project to rush.
I ended up sewing my 9 fabrics in ascending order in about 25 inch strip sets. After I sewed the strip set for that first style wedge (for example below far left, the set with gold at top)  I then cut just that sequence into the four identical wedges with gold at top before I moved on to the succeeding one with the next color --white-- at the top. Below you see the cut wedge stacks. The spiral repeats 4 times around the circle so I knew I needed 4 of each of the nine types of spiral wedge.

Note: Since I was using what I had from the previous tree skirt project a few weeks ago, I had to eeek out a few of the last blocks by seaming bits together but I don't mind that.

When all my wedges were cut (4 of each kind as in photo above) I was able to lay out a single sequence of the 9 wedges and check my bargello order before joining the wedges together.  Laying out 9 of them was a quarter section of the whole circle. They should look like stairsteps of color/print. Do this each time you begin to sew a quarter section of the circle so that you know you have them in correct order.

Sew each quarter section together. Always sew from the widest part of the wedge toward the smallest. Any bits that might get out of line are then at the top of the skirt where they show much, much less under the tree with gifts on top! LOL Also iron them as you go alternating one wedge ironed with seam allowances up and the next wedge with seam allowances down to reduce bulk when nesting the seams. Here is a quarter section sewn up:

Sew two quarter sections to make a half circle. Even draped on a chair, you see the spiral starting to form below. Press the heck out of it again from the top as you complete each section.

Sew the other  two quarter sections and join them to be a half circle. Now join those on one end with your first half to become a full circle--but leave OPEN the last side of the circle where you would put it around a tree. Your tree skirt should be shaped like a letter "C" basically and open on one side as in the photo a few pics below.

I was also being ecological again this time and again just seamed up some odd pieces of thinner poly batting for the inner layer.  Started out as a jumble! LOL

The batting was from a bag of pieces for 50 cents from a garage sale. I used half of it on the last tree skirt and the rest here. It saved about a 4 foot square from being tossed out to our town incinerator.  I found that I can baste battings quickly and easily on my machine if I raise my presser foot and just evenly pull the batting through as the machine sews. Yes! That's is right! Just lift up the presser foot! No snags. Super speedy and it works! This basting of the batting does not show because it is sandwiched between the topper and the backing. 

I do use quilters basting spray between each layer too which also insures everything in the quilt sandwich stays put. By the time I meander around my tree skirts--or any project really-- that batting is staying in place!  

I did buy a piece of beautiful red and white pattern holiday fabric (above) at 2.99 a yard off the remnant table at our local store for the backing. I didn't have any Christmas yardage big enough.  I try to keep my stash very small and general purpose and buy what I need as the need arises. 

Here is a close up of the meander quilting I did on this. I am getting better at this! I used the darkest green fabric again for the ties and binding. Have I mentioned I actually LOVE hand sewing and binding things?

The only thing I might change is to use only bias binding around the neck of the tree skirt so it rounds it more and I was just using up flat strips. I will know that for next time. 

DONE IS DONE! Hurray! 
 I know she will love it!


Elita@Busy Needle Quilting said...

Absolutely gorgeous!! I love it and the backing fabric is to die for! Now to see if I can do one similar...

Deb C said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I've just recently returned to quilting and although I know it would be ambitious, I'd like to make this tree skirt. I found you through a Google search looking specifically for this. Your posts are wonderful and I've started to follow you for your tips. Thanks again!

Jan said...

That is beautiful. Worth the effort because it is stunning.

Unknown said...

Hello! Any idea about how long this would take to hand sew? Sewing machines and I don't get along....

Rockester said...

Probably about as long as a baby quilt? About the same size.