2020, amirite? This blog has been sorely neglected, but not forgotten. Like most people, I am fighting the constant exhaustion that is life during a global pandemic. Combined with a sporadic sewing practice, days that are generally braless, and a plate of work that always seems to be overflowing — I haven’t had it in me to spend any more time on the computer than I already do.
A break from blogging hasn’t been the worst, if I’m being honest. Letting go of the pressure to document everything I make has been good for me, and probably the only way I could have accomplished much sewing at all this year. I’ve also been lucky enough to start writing blog content for clients in the last six months (a literal dream come true), and along the way it’s become clear that there are only so many words this brain of mine can put together in any given day. Admittedly, this would be less of a challenge if I was better at photo-focused posts, but I’m hopelessly wordy.
All of this is to say that I have every intention of turning the ol’ blog ship around next year (keyword: intention). I miss writing for myself, exploring my voice, and more importantly — documenting what the hell I do with my projects. What did I even make this year? What was the cost breakdown? What size did I make and how did I adjust it? 2020 is pretty much a blackhole in own personal sewing chronicle. Who knows what 2021 will hold, but I am hopeful for smoother seas ahead.
Anyway, back to this Christmas tree skirt (which, lol, is the real reason we’re all here). I love it, I adore it, and I know I will forget it exists until I pull it out every year and proceed to squeal excitedly. It’s got MICE. Skiing mice! Knitting mice! Cello-playing and candy-cane carrying mice! It is whimsical and adorable and everything I love about modern quilts.
Despite having decorated 5 or 6 trees in my card-carrying adult years, a tree skirt just isn’t something I’ve gotten around to acquiring. My Christmas aesthetic, if you will, leans very vintage and kitsch — most of my decor is inherited, gifted, and/or handmade. I’m not somebody who walks into Target or Home Goods and sees a Santa or matching set of ornaments and thinks, “This must come home with me.” (No shade if that’s you!). Generally speaking, the mass-produced and easily available tree skirts have fallen into this category and hence . . . I’ve just never bought one.
Funnily enough, I decided to change that this year and found myself shopping around for a tree skirt in early December. I was then confronted with two inconvenient truths: the first is that I’m picky (see above), and I hated 95% of what I could find; the second is that apparently people buy these things before December, and anything I did like was already sold out. I promptly gave up on a having a skirt for 2020, and decided to try again next November.
Two days went by, and Helen of Helen’s Closet sent me photos of her beautifully quilted Christmas tree skirt for that week’s newsletter (one of my many professional blessings this year has been helping Helen out with her email campaigns). I was completely enamored, and given my usual lack of inspiration with xmas decor, knew I needed to seize the moment. The pattern is a free PDF from Jordan Fabrics, and includes a thorough Youtube tutorial which walks you through every step. It felt like an approachable project, and the result was exactly what I was looking for.
Within two hours I had purchased the fabric I needed for the quilt top (from Super Buzzy, my favorite local-ish quilting shop), and it was on my porch approximately two days later. They have a ton of very cute Christmas prints, and my husband and I had a great time picking out the ones we liked best. The site has a “design board” feature that makes it easy to select fabrics you’re interested in, see what they look like together, and drag and delete options as needed. I’m not sure if this is a standard feature with online quilt shops, but if not it definitely should be!
We ended up choosing fabrics from the Sugarplum collection by Heather Ross, although two of them —the yellow floral print and the backing fabric— are from a different collection of hers. Again, super newbie quilter with Very Basic Opinions, but I love shopping by collections / designers. It takes so much of the guess work out of matching prints together.
Of course, I realized shortly after my purchase that I completely neglected to buy backing fabric, which I have done not once but twice now. It was fine, just an extra shipping charge, but I really need to pay better attention to the entirety of the fabric requirements next time I decide to quilt something.
The sewing itself was enjoyable with very few hiccups. I miss cut one of the border strips, and had to add the four inch squares at each corner to achieve the right dimensions. It was a classic happy accident. The additional seam is (obvs) more work, but the final look is more symmetrical than the original design and I think I actually prefer it. I also greatly appreciate how easily it is to “fix” such mistakes with patchwork.
I kept the quilting fairly minimal, only stitching in the ditch for the big diamonds (per the tutorials recommendations), and it is . . . not my best work. However! It is also not my worst work, and you can’t see the less-the-perfect lines when the skirt is under the tree anyway. The main issue is some lumpy diamonds, but again, once the skirt is under the tree you really can’t tell.
The biggest snafu of this entire project was the brief death and resurrection of my sewing machine. Five minutes into stitching the top/back/batting sandwich, my machine froze for reasons that are unclear to both myself and my sewing repair man. Admittedly, it was about six months past due for a service (which I’ve been putting off since everybody and their mother and their grandmother have been pandemic-repairing their machines), but it was a real bummer to happen three hours from the end of a project. With a rapidly approaching enjoy-by expiration date, no less!
I lost five days of good sewing time, but I still got a solid two weeks of skirt enjoyment this year so I can’t complain too much. My husband rushed the machine to the shop since I was busy with work deadlines (bless him), and I was able to finish the whole thing the night it came back home.
I honestly couldn’t be happier with the result, and I’m so glad I took my time to wait for the right skirt project to come along. The pop of color under the tree is so fun, and many a dog have been enjoying what is essentially a floor blanket ever since (side note, should I be washing this thing every year? Probably.). All of the straight stitches and fun patterns gave me a fresh jolt of sewing motivation, and helped pull me out of my longest sewing lull to date — so if nothing else, I’m calling that a win!
- Fabric: Quilting Cotton from Super Buzzy
- Pattern: Christmas Tree Skirt by Jordan Fabrics
- Total Cost: $145
- $61.85 + $9.99 shipping for quilt top fabric
- $53.42 + $9.99 shipping for backing fabric
- $10 for batting (medium loft polyester)