Feeling excited and inspired, maybe a little hungry? Perfect - let's get started!
First you need a biiiiiig piece of felt, bigger than the little rectangles on the racks at the craft store. Bigger than the packaged "big piece" of felt next to the little felt racks at the craft store (unless you are making a small skirt for a small table-top tree, then the packaged felt might be just perfect). You'll have to get to a fabric store for this project. Big box fabric stores like JoAnn, Hobby Lobby, maybe even a good fabric section of Walmart have felt on the big bolts for 5 or 6 dollars per yard regular price (don't forget your coupon). It probably will come between 59 and 72 inches wide.
But before you go to the store, you need to crawl under the tree with a tape measure and figure out what you want your skirt radius to be (feel free to have a child do the crawling under part). Measure from the center of the tree bottom out to where you want the skirt to end. If you have a bulky tree stand, be sure to go over that because the skirt will, too. Double that measure to get your circle diameter, and have that much felt cut off the bolt - but you can't go bigger than the width. So if the felt is 72" wide on the bolt, that's your maximum skirt diameter. If it's 59" wide on the bolt, that's your maximum diameter.
For this tutorial I am making a tree skirt with a 35" radius, and the felt came 72" wide on the bolt, so I bought 2 yards (72") to have a square with 72-inch side lengths. Much of the time I find I lose a an inch or two in uneven cutting and/or ugly selvages when I bring fabric home from the store, so even though my felt was 72" x 72", I really could only use about 70" by 70" - just a tip.
First fold your big felt in half. Then fold in half again the other way. Now you have a square with side lengths about the size of the radius you want:
The corner with all folds is the center of your skirt. Remember this corner.
You can cut the quarter circle one of three ways:
(1) Grab a pair of scissors and free-hand it all the way. This option is not for the faint of heart.
(2) Find a circle the same size and use it as a guide. A round table is a good example, but my skirt is too big for my kitchen table so that option is out for me.
(3) Get an object or child to hold one end of the measuring tape on the center corner for you and mark your radius at intervals around the fabric, creating a little dot-guide for yourself. You're welcome, OCD readers!
Here's a picture of Santa sitting on the end of my tape for me:
Marking tip: Mark 1/8" past your desired radius so you can cut inside your markings and they won't be on your finished skirt. 'Cause that just ain't pretty.
About this photo: I realize it looks like a plain slab of felt. But if you look really close, you can see my dot guide going across the fabric.
Finally, you get to cut your quarter circle through all layers of fabric.
Again, you have to look very closely at this one to see my dot guide on the cut-off section. A perfect, non-marked circular edge is worth annoying the family for. It is.
DON'T UNFOLD IT YET! DON'T DO IT!
Next, get the kids to find something circular to put over the center corner - you've got to cut out a hole so the tree fits in the middle. And yes, while I was in the kitchen getting a bowl, I also fixed myself a cookie snack.
Now you can unfold that baby. I know what you're thinking: "For the love of Christmas, I must iron out the creases immediately!" But don't do it just yet. Unless you can lift the tree into the center, you still need a way to get your skirt around the tree. So pick your favorite crease and use it as a guide to cut a straight line from the outside edge into the center hole.
My favorite crease. This beauty is my ticket to a perfectly straight line. Don't judge a crease by its cover. Or something.
Finally it's time to get your steam iron on and press this thang. And yes, you will need steam to get those creases out. (I finished my cookies while waiting for the iron to heat up.)
So there is your tree skirt base. Now comes the best part - decorating. Remember all those enticing colors and patterns of felt rectangles on the little racks at the craft store? Knock yourself out. Cut out shapes to your hearts content. Small shapes, large shapes, shapes that are details for other shapes (e.g. green felt stripes on a white ornament shape). Be creative and let your kids go wild.
But how will they stick? Let's talk about glue.
For felt on felt, I find that Felt Glue works well (I know, who'd have thought it?). At Hobby Lobby next to the felt, they have sheets of fleece and also a kind of glitter fabric. The Felt Glue didn't work very well for adhering those onto felt. Fabric Glue worked, as well as hot glue gun. In fact, hot glue gun also works for felt on felt, but you might get little smudgy flat places where the glue is applied.
I'm actually working on a blog post all about different kinds of glue with different fabrics. I know many of you will lose sleep in anticipation! Seriously, though, I'll report on my experiments and we'll compare and contrast. It's going to be awesome.
********Shameless Etsy shop promoting to follow*********
If you are wondering how you can find the cut-out felt shapes in my photos, a digital downloadable pdf pattern file is available for $2.99 in my Etsy shop here. All the shapes you see in both skirt themes are in that one file.
If you feel daunted by the felt search and acquire mission and/or don't feel like cutting things, two different tree skirt activity kits are also available in my shop. Each kit contains a pre-cut red felt 70" tree skirt, decorative trim, and 26 pre-cut pieces to arrange as you desire. Nothing is glued on (glue is not included in the kit). They are activity kits for you to do with your family. One is a Traditional Holiday theme and the other is a Christian Nativity theme (shown below).
Traditional Holiday theme pieces:
Christian Nativity theme pieces:
Merry Christmas and happy crafting!
Looking for more ideas? Check out 733blog's Inspire Me Wednesday page