|A DIY Christmas tree for small — and flat — spaces!|
It's a Christmas tree for those who lack the physical space for either a real or fake one. Or for those who can't be bothered to put up a tree for a myriad other reasons.
For example, several years ago, my hubby and I were bogged down by various things and we ended up just stringing lights on our fig tree. I suppose since it was still a tree, it wasn't a total cop-out, but what I'm saying that I totally understand that for some folks, it's a matter of time, priorities, and state of mind. For people in certain circumstances, putting up a tree and then taking it down may not be the most pleasant thing to do. (In fact, count me among them. We put up our tree this past week and I can confirm that increasingly, it's become a chore.)
Therefore, my suggestion is to take a couple of hours to craft this easy to sew (and store) hanging Christmas tree and you're covered for years to come. It also makes a good gift for college students living in dorm rooms.
Your first thought might be that this is merely a wall hanging, but this tree is currently displayed in the front window of my house for viewing from both sides.
GATHER MATERIALSHere's what you need to make yourself a hanging Christmas tree:
- 1 yard of fabric (quilting cotton weight)
- 20" of 1" wide ribbon (cut into ten 2" pieces)
- medium weight fusible interfacing (enough to cover all of the fabric, which works out to be about half a yard)
- 1/2" grommet
- 1 hair elastic (or thick elastic band)
- some decorations
- basic sewing notions & tools (thread, clips, pins, scissors, iron, etc.)
My fabric — from a Craftsy Robert Kaufman mystery box — is a rich print of brown and green shades that seemed perfect for a tree.
|Fabric from Robert Kaufman's Imperial Fusions Katsumi collection...|
Which is not to say that you can't make an eclectic tree from rainbow-hued fabric... the choice is obviously yours. (Speaking of fabric, though, if you make yourself a paper template and cut it up per the upcoming instructions, you then have the option to use an assortment of different fabrics to make this, which can also produce a fun result.)
The ribbon is from my stash of Dollarama ribbon.
|Red ribbon with polka dots...|
Finished project is approximately 37" high x 20.5" wide (depends on your fabric and how you space out the segments).
CUT FABRICSquare up your yard of fabric so that you have a true rectangle, as close to 44" x 36" as possible.
Take your piece of fabric and fold it in half, selvage to selvage...
... so that it measures about 22" x 36". After folding, the wrong side should be showing.
Fold it in half again so that it is now approximately 11" x 36". The first fold and the two selvage edges should be together along the bottom. (You might want to fold just to the inside of the selvages.)
Next, measure and draw a line for subsequent cutting, or just measure and cut in one step. A yardstick is helpful to guide your way from one corner of the folded fabric to the opposite corner, as shown below. (Again, avoid cutting into the selvages.)
Unfold the top part of this (labelled "keep" in the above graphic) to get two layers of an isosceles triangle; i.e., your tree shape. (You won't need the bottom part, although you can make yourself a second tree if you sew a couple of the pieces together and adjust the size a bit.)
The next step is to divide this into six segments, at 5" intervals.
|Divide your triangle into six segments...|
Pin the two layers together if required and make your cuts.
While you've got your slicing tools handy, cut your ribbon into ten (10) pieces, each 2" long.
CUT & FUSE INTERFACINGUsing the cut segments of fabric as a guide, cut out matching pieces of a medium weight fusible interfacing for each piece of fabric. (I used Décor Bond.)
If you can manage it, cut the interfacing a 1/4" smaller than the fabric to keep the bulk out of the seams.
|Cut interfacing for all twelve fabric pieces... (the tip of my tree is missing from this picture!)|
Fuse the interfacing to each corresponding piece of fabric. (I like to use pins to ensure that the interfacing doesn't slide out of place. Once I make a first pass with the iron, I remove the pins.)
|Fuse interfacing onto all fabric pieces...|
Pin all of the interfaced paired pieces with right sides together. If there is a print on the fabric that you want to match up from segment to segment, check to see that they are stacked together properly.
MAKE INDIVIDUAL SEGMENTSAs you can see, each segment is connected to the next via two strips of ribbon. (I will refer to the top triangle piece as segment #1, the next one as segment #2, etc.)
|The sewing part of this project consists of straight lines only...|
To accomplish this, each segment is sewn individually, with the bottom seam encasing the top end of the ribbon pieces. (When the segments are turned right side out through a gap left across the top seam, the bottom ends of the ribbons from the previous segment are then slipped between the fabric pieces and joined together during a topstitching process.)
Let's do this assembly line style and start with segment #1.
|Position the ribbon pieces...|
Sandwich the ribbon pieces between the two fabric pieces as shown above, each one 1.5" in from the left and right sides. (By the way, your actual pieces of fabric may be a little wider or narrower than mine, depending on how it was cut.)
NOTE: Just an FYI... when the ribbon is placed right side up as shown, the fabric directly underneath it will be the back side of the finished tree. If you want to be able to display the finished tree on either side, double the length of the ribbons (i.e., to 4") and fold them in half before pinning here (with raw edges of ribbon matching the raw edge of the fabric).I often find it helpful to colour-code my pins. In the picture below, the turning gap is marked off with orange pins and the ribbon pieces are held together by green pins.
|My orange pins mark where I start and end my stitching...|
Retrieve the fabric for segment #2. For this one, the ribbons should be located 2" in from the left and right sides, as shown below.
|Place the ribbon 2" in from the outside on both edges for segment #2...|
For segments #3, #4 and #5 (note that segment #6 has no ribbons along the bottom), locate the ribbons 3" in from each side.
Once the ribbons are properly pinned in place, arrange the stacked segments back into the original triangular shape to determine the location of the turning gaps across the top. Each opening needs to be wide enough to accommodate the bottom ends of both ribbons from the previous piece. (The turning gap will therefore be quite wide on segment #6.)
|Include sufficient room to accommodate the ribbon ends when you mark the turning gap...|
Once again, the orange pins mark the beginning and end of the turning gap, and the green pins indicate where the ribbons are located.
|All pinned and ready for sewing!|
Once you have all of the important locations marked, add any other pins necessary so you can start sewing. Stitch around the perimeter of each stacked segment (apart from the turning gap, of course), using a 1/4" seam allowance.
TURN SEGMENTS RIGHT SIDE OUTBefore turning anything right side out, clip the excess fabric from the corners as shown here. Cut away the tip from each corner, as well as some of the seam allowance on either side approaching the corner. Be careful not to cut into your stitching.
|Carefully clip away the excess fabric from the corners...|
One last thing before you turn these right side out: go to your iron and press open the seam allowances for all of the turning gaps. (This will make it easier to keep a straight edge once it's turned.)
|Press open the seam allowance at the turning gap...|
Okay, now you can turn everything right side out.
Use a dull implement like a chopstick to help you with the corners. (Be careful... I was overly enthusiastic and poked a hole through one of them!) For best results, slide whatever tool you're using along the straight edge of the seam first before heading into the corner.
|One step closer to the finish line...|
Press all of the pieces after they've been turned right side out. (Careful not to scorch the ribbons.)
JOIN THE SEGMENTS & TOPSTITCHThis final step will be the most challenging, because you have to manage these large connected pieces as you go.
Let's begin with segment #1 again: pin the opening closed and topstitch right around at about 1/8".
|There — the top of the tree is done!|
Slip the ends of the ribbon from segment #1 into the turning gap of segment #2 — leaving 1.25" to 1.5" of the ribbon exposed — and pin securely. Topstitch all the way around to close the gap and secure the first two segments together.
|Leave a gap of 1.25" to 1.5" between each segment...|
Whatever gap you choose to leave between each segment, be consistent all the way through. (I ultimately went with 1.25".)
|The gap here is 1.25"...|
Now join segment #3 to this assembly in the same way.
I went to the other end of the tree next and joined together segments #5 and #6. Because they're so big, they might be tricky to move around if left until the very end. Then I added segment #4 to the top of it.
Lastly, I joined #3 and #4 together.
Of course, it's strictly your preference as to how you do this; I'm not sure that any one method is better than any other.
|Add a grommet...|
The tree is now ready for trimming!
In terms of decorations, I literally found what I needed around the house.
These red and brown stretchy ribbons — tied up in a bow attached to a small bell — were sitting on top of a ceramic candy jar on an end table in our living room. The remains of my snacking over the past year, they used to adorn the necks of those marvelously smooth chocolate bunnies from Lindt.
|Recycling some Lindt bunny collars...|
The two larger red bows had been looped around our front closet door knobs for some time... I don't recall where they originally came from.
|Used as a wall hanging...|
All together, they easily raise the level of cheer on my hanging Christmas tree by one hundred percent!
Other suggestions for decorations include buttons that can be sewn directly onto the fabric. Actual small Christmas tree decorations can be attached with safety pins for easy removal. You might even go all out and make small envelopes out of felt, number them and turn this into an advent calendar using hook and loop tape.
Maybe get adventurous by using totally different pieces of fabric. Or try variegated fabric. Or maybe start with relatively plain fabric and embellish with ric-rac trim or Christmas themed appliqués. (Check out this post for a faux appliqué technique.) I'm sure you can think of all sorts of ideas for turning this into a work of art.
Hope you enjoy!