Some people’s Christmas trees look like they’re straight out of a magazine: cohesive, subtle colour schemes, lots of sparkle, not a thing out of place.
And then, there are trees like mine! A riot of colour. Sweet, memorable, mismatched ornaments. Nostalgic nutcrackers, toys, and crafts. And somehow, it just works! Decorating the tree is a trip down memory lane.
When I started pulling fabrics for the quilted Arctic Vortex tree skirt to go under my Christmas tree, I wanted it to have the same feeling: an eclectic collection of meaningful bits and pieces, with maybe a bit of filler to pull it all together.
I went through a dozen iterations of fabric pulls until I landed on the red, green, and navy colour scheme to work with the ornaments on my tree, while letting the fun and meaningful print fabrics in my stash shine.
I knew that I wanted the low volume centre diamonds to have enough contrast against the strips to help them stand out. I also wanted the sashing to have enough contrast to separate the blocks effectively. And a little bit of bling from the metallic stars was the perfect choice.
When it came to quilting, I started with navy thread for the sashing as a way to stabilize the quilt overall. I tried a few geometric options, and used a diamond grid stencil to mark the fabric, but ended up doing half-feathers within the half-diamonds. This gave good texture but didn’t require a lot of precision, and best of all it went fairly quickly.
Within the blocks, I used a very thing silvery-grey thread in the fussy cut centres, with dense back-and-forth quilting around the fun novelty motifs in the middle, to help give dimension.
I then did two final passes in red and aquamarine threads to match the blocks. I initially tried a very structured string of circles on one of the strips, but I’ve never really enjoyed quilting circles using rulers, and the effort wasn’t worth it. No matter how I quilted these blocks, the busy fabrics would dominate the quilting. I just needed something quick to hold the quilt together without being too fussy.
For me, that usually means quilted lettering. One of the easiest free motion quilting skills to start with is quilting cursive letters, because you already have the muscle memory to make loops and bumps. I started quilting holiday words like “merry” and “joy,” and added some lyrics like “fa la la la la” and “let it snow.”
The end result is a merry and bright tree skirt that puts a smile on my face!
And although nobody but a quilter would ever appreciate this, the bias binding went on suuuuper smoothly around the hole in the centre!
Learn all about the tricky binding details here.
PS – It makes a very fetching cape/poncho!