Ruffled Christmas Tree Skirt Tutorial

I have started on my Christmas planning for this year. That's how I found this that I hadn't posted this Ruffled Christmas Tree Skirt, which I made last year!

I know I first saw it on Pinterest, maybe in the early days. Don't you just Pinterest? I collect ideas faster than I can make them up! Anyway though I couldn't find the one that inspired this skirt, it is just of those ideas which stayed in my mind. What I ended up doing is working it out from making a twirly skirt for myself for a fancy dress up one year in ages past, similar to the twirly gathered skirt I made for one of my grand daughters. The tree skirt is something I had wanted to do for a long time and finally last year, I bit the bullet and just got in a did it.

Ruffled Tree Skirt Tutorial

Step 1: Cutting

Cut the largest circle from a large piece of scrappy material that I was never going to use for anything really – it was from a practice piece of fabric printing done some 10 years ago (Yeah, yeah, I know, I keep stuff for far too long!) If you are starting out with a new piece of fabric or just want a ball park figure to start you off with then may I suggest you buy or cut a piece to 115cm (44 inches) thus utilizing the whole width of a 115cm piece of cheap cotton. Feel free to use whatever material you have on hand, even an old bed sheet or a valance that is no longer being used. I remember when we all had valances on our beds. Now they just look so fussy. You could use some fleecy, or an old blanket would work too. If your material is only 1 metre wide then use that. You’ll just have a slightly smaller tree skirt or you could sew on a deeper strip on the end. It is all up to you and the resources you have on hand or what you choose to buy. Now where was I? You’ll just have to bear with me when I run on and on. My family often tell me to ‘get to the point’. I try... but it is so jolly hard for me!


Step 2: Marking

To draw a circle, I first fold the material in half and then half again from mid point on the fold line. This is just quartered, but I like to fold it just one more time keeping that same mid point as the pivoting point See Diagram 1
Pin one end of a string or tape measure to this mid point and measure to the other end 56cm (22″) if you have managed to have a 115cm material to start out with. Otherwise just mark your circle to the longest length you can. Us the string or tape measure and draw your circle.
While I have got the material all folded and neat I also mark out circle at 10 cm intervals up to the inner circle. You can get a better idea from Diagram 4 even though this is jumping ahead a little. I also like to mark each circle into half, quarters and eighths now (like a giant pizza) – the purpose will become clearer in Step 6.

Diagram 2

Step 3: Cutting the base skirt

Cut on the largest line. Don’t open it up just yet, however if you did you would see that you have a nice circle.
Now I want you to cut out the inner circle. An alternative is to use a small cake plate and mark out the inner circle for cutting as per diagram 2.

Open up the fabric and you will have a circle with a hole in the middle as per diagram 3. Diagram 4 is a closeup for you to see the lines better.

Diagram 3
Diagram 4 -  a close up
One more thing to consider at this stage is that if you are unable to place the tree inside the hole for example you use a fresh tree each year, then you might want to consider cutting up one of the fold lines from the rim to the centre hole as per diagram 4c

Diagram 4c

Step 4: The ruffles

Consider any material you have on hand that might fit the job then go out and buy whatever you need to make the ruffles for your Christmas Tree Skirt. I like to play with the way different fabrics look in the rows. This would look lovely done in an ombre colour themes to suit your colour palette. You may even decide to go with a single colour such as bright white to emulate snow. It would also look lovely in rustic homespun or unbleached calico too.

Diagram 5

As a guide you will need something like the following fabric lengths. I calculated using the maximum widths of the material (minus the edges) in multiples of 15cm (6 inches).
  • Two – 15cm x 112cm (6” x 44″) strips for the first centre ruffle
  • Four – 6″x42″ strips for row 2
  • Six – 6″x42″ strips for row 3
  • Seven – 6″x42″ strips for row 4
  • Eight – 6″x42″ strips for row 5 

If you look at my finished skirt, you will notice that both my greens were a bit narrower as I used fabrics that were on hand from my stash I just purchased the two larger reds, even the smallest red was from my stash. I had to use the red as my centre as it was the smallest fabric I had on hand. I played around and nearly went all various shades of red as per diagram 5 but in the end I decided to use some greens I had in my stash to break up the reds.

Step 5: Finishing the edges

You can leave the edges raw, (pinked would reduce any fraying), finish one edge with a rolled hem or you could overlock (serge) it like I did. See Diagram 6. Never use pins when overlocking! It will break your cutting blade!!!

Diagram 6

Don’t forget to calculate the hem allowance if you are going with a rolled hem. You don’t want the underskirt peeking out, esp if it is ugly like mine!

Step 6: Gathering

Most people would tell you to gather it by sewing a long straight stitch on one edge and the pull either the top thread (or the bottom) until it gathers to fit in the smaller area you require. I might do this if it were a skirt to be worn, but I like to cheat and skip a few steps if I can to speed things up. What I do is pin every inch or so and fit it as I go. I do mark the strip into quarters and eighths and pin it to the corresponding spot on the skirt base. See Diagram 7.

Diagram 7

Step 7: Sewing

I start with the outer ruffle and work inwards insuring that the skirt base is complete covered even if I have to move my circle marking to accommodate my narrower green strips as was the case. See Diagram 8. I sew right over the pins removing them as I go over them.

Diagram 8

Step 7: Bias tape 

I apologise that I do not have any diagrams for this last step. However I finished off the raw edge of the centre circle with some self made bias tape. The easiest way would be to buy a co-ordinating or contrasting cotton bias and sew it on. Calli has an excellent step by step tutorial on how to encase a raw edge with bias binding.

Looking back, I think my darker green strip was a bit too stingy with the gathering of the fabric. I might be inclined to replace it one day. But for now it stays. You hardly notice it when it is full of pressies anyway.

The finished Ruffled Christmas Tree Skirt

The Christmas Skirt adorning the base of the Christmas Tree.
What Christmas decorations have you made?