Tag Archives: sewing

Christmas Tree Skirt

Even though we’re not spending Christmas Day together this year, we felt it was about time to graduate to a real tree to celebrate the season. Previously I had a small fake tree, and a very tiny tree  skirt to go with it. We got our tree upright and lighted, and now we needed  new tree skirt to complete the look. IMG_2200[1]The tree skirts left at Target were expensive and ugly so we made a trip to the fabric store and picked out a few red-and-gold tone fabrics, and some 1/2″ batting to fill it with. I decided I wanted to make a hexagon shape with alternating triangles of each fabric.

Then came the challenge…how many PhD scientists does it take to figure out basic geometry? Apparently it takes 2, and it also takes about 30 minutes to remember what geometry formula to apply. I knew the diameter of the hexagon, so I knew the length of each side of each equilateral triangle, but I needed to figure out the height to measure and cut the fabric. I remember sitting in 10th grade honors geometry, struggling to imagine when I’d ever need the Pythagorean Theorem ever again…turns out, it came in handy for my tree skirt! A squared plus B squared = C squared, and with that I had my dimensions. IMG_0027I pinned all the adjoining triangle edges together (except for one) and pinned down the peak of each triangle to leave room for the trunk.

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Then I sewed all the edges. I then cut out a solid piece as a backing, with a slit up to the middle, and a cut out area for the tree base as well. I pinned this to the sewed triangles inside out, and sewed all the way around, basically making a large letter C. I then turned it right side out, and cut some batting to shape and stuffed it in.

I still need to do the stitch up the final open side, but it looks nice enough for now to put under the tree! The fabric, batting, and thread cost about $20, which is cheaper than the ugly skirts at the store!

We also did a little decorating on our front porch, so I’ll leave you with this. Can’t believe Christmas is next week!

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Homemade Placemats

My mom made some pretty place mats last year for their nice plates to go on their beautiful handmade wooden dining table in their lovely new home. I, on the other hand, live in a mediocre rental apartment, and the dining room is filled with my super-considerate roommate’s giant pool table (and in case you were wondering, it rarely gets used…can you sense my bitterness towards this table??). As a result my junky little 36″ round dining table is cramped in the corner of the living room, and is generally covered in all of our furniture redoing tools, so doesn’t get much action at dinner time. My plates are from Walmart and have seen better days. BUT, despite all this, I can still have nice place mats like my mom, so I set out to make my own! I made the dire mistake of asking Nik to come look at fabric with me, and for those of you who know Nik, he is quite opinionated about…well, pretty much everything except what I cook for dinner. About one long hour into our JoAnn’s Fabrics trip, we had it narrowed down to two totally different fabrics, and instead of sacrificing the strength of our relationship I decided I’d make two-sided place mats. Another mistake…Nik was very concerned the pattern would be visible from the other side when the mats are flat on the table, so he made me pick out some options for trim to hide the other side. Trim is nice, but you have to actually have good sewing machine skills to use it well, which I don’t have. So I ended up skipping the trim and just ironing the place mats as flat as I could so the contrasting pattern on the underside wasn’t visible. So I wasted some money buying trim that failed. Ok, enough writing, here’s a picture of the fabrics all cut out as evenly as possible:

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Third mistake: I’m never buying geometric patterns again that need to be cut into perfect shapes. Nik likes even things (understatement), so I couldn’t just “wing it” with the diamond pattern…it had to be evenly spaced between top and bottom and side to side. It took quite a bit of measuring to make it all work with the length of fabric I purchased that of course was about 1/2″ too short to make this measuring process simple. I made them 18″ wide and 13.5″ tall and accounted for about a 1/2″ seam so the resulting place mat would be 17″ tall and 12.5″ wide. I lined up the two fabrics face to face and pinned:

IMG_1468Then put a 1/2″ seam around all edges, with a small gap for turning it right side out. Once right side out, I pushed all the corners out and ironed it flat. Here’s the finished mat:

IMG_1471      IMG_1470 IMG_1469I think they came out pretty nice, simple, and elegant! And you can’t see the contrasting pattern too much when its flat on a table. I’ve done 2 of the 6 I plan to make. I’d take a lovely “after” picture with full place settings with my pretty china plates set out on my nice dining table if I could (sigh…refer to first paragraph if you’re confused at why I can’t do this).  Some day I’ll have nice things!

I also have a bunch of the floral fabric left over, and some left over insulation stuff from when I attempted to make a pot holder a while ago. I’m going to make some pot-warmer table protectors (Nik informed me these items are actually called trivets?) to go with the floral side of the mats. All in all, 6 two-sided placemats and a couple of trivets cost about $20 to make, with several JoAnn’s coupons I used.