Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spiderweb Christmas Tree Skirt Tutorial - Part A

It's time to be sewing in earnest for Christmas!  My Spiderweb Christmas Tree Skirt pattern was inspired by the geometric shapes inherent in the spiderweb block.  It was really very fun to make, but I can't promise quick results - strip piecing does take time.  I know our tree skirt will be enjoyed for years and years to come, so it was well worth it.  I'll be sharing this tutorial in 2 parts. See Part B for skirt assembly!
The finished Christmas tree skirt measures 53" square.

{Part A - Make Spiderweb Triangles}

This was my first time making spiderweb quilt blocks.  I used Heather of a la Mode's tutorial.  It has lots of pictures!  Please take a look at her tutorial to learn the basic process of making spiderweb blocks. 

Step 1:  Cut Base Pieces

In her tutorial, Heather cut 12.5" blocks for her base.  I used 14" blocks instead, to achieve the right dimensions for my tree skirt.  Cut a total of fourteen 14" square blocks in a solid that will become your stars.  I used Essex Linen/Cotton in natural.

Christmas Tree Base Cutting

Next quarter each block, just like Heather did.  So, cut each block in half on the diagonal and then cut the resulting 2 triangles in half again.  You'll have created 4 perfect triangles from each 14" block, for a total of 56 base triangles!

Step 2:  Mark Base Triangles

In this step, you'll place pencil marks on your base triangles that will allow you to accurate piece the fabric strips.  Follow Heather's directions to fold each triangle in half and place a pencil mark on the fold 1/4 inches from the longest side. 

Christma Tree Piecing Marks

For the next two marks, do NOT follow Heather's tutorial. Instead, place marks two and three at 3.25" from the center fold on the two short edges of your triangles.  Draw lines to connect marks two and three with mark 1 (see pencil marks in picture below).

Spiderweb beginnings

Unfortunately, you have to mark each of your 56 triangles this way.  I know, I know... it's a lot of measuring.  I did mine while watching TV.

Step 3:  Prepare Fabric Strips

I had never done any string piecing before this project, so I was surprised how long it takes to fill up those triangles with strings of fabric!  Very quickly, I discovered to use wider strings to help speed things up.  My blocks were pieced with strings ranging from 1 - 2 1/4" wide.  You can choose whatever widths you like, of course!  Variety in widths is good here.

Fabric for a new project
Spiderweb blocks are a funky, scrappy look.  I also chose some bold prints in Michael Miller's Christmas Spice line from Sew Love Christmas, so I knew the finished look was going to be quite lively.  For moderation, I added in a large helping of Kona solids, including: cerise, tomato, coral, artichoke, olive, buttercup and emerald.  When I got started piecing, I decided to add in some black and white prints for balance as well. 

tree skirt piecing

Cut fabric strips in 2-3 different widths from each fabric for variety.  Cut from edge to edge of your fabric pieces, to create the longest strips you can.

Step 4:  Piecing Triangles

Now that you have a pile of strings and a pile of marked triangles, take another look at Heather's tutorial, starting at the step after she shows off her pile of strings.  Heather did a great job of showing how to piece spiderweb triangles step by step.  I followed her directions exactly until (nights later) I had a pile of triangles with 2 string pieced sides and a plain, linen center that will become my stars. 

Strip Piecing

You cut a total of 56 triangle bases.  Complete 48 of those triangles as shown.  For the remaining 8, only piece one half of the triangle.  Less work, ya!  These halfway pieced triangles will form the yoke around the Christmas tree trunk itself, so set them aside - they're special.

Quick Piecing Tip:  When you're sewing a string of fabric onto another string, if you particularly like the two together, sew the entire strips together far beyond what you'd need to cover that part of the triangle base.  Then, after trimming, you'll have a partially pieced, wider string that you can add to a different triangle base to save time!  Here's an example of a pre-pieced strip:

Pieced Strips

After all this string piecing, you've done most of the work in making your Spiderweb Christmas Tree Skirt.  Next week I'll show you how to complete it!  You'll need backing that measures 53" square.  I used a heavy corduroy to give the skirt weight.

It's SIX weeks till Christmas!


  1. Love it! I don't know if I can squeeze in ANOTHER project before Christmas, but I'd like to try! I've been wanting to try the Spiderweb method; it's so cute.

  2. Love this block! This is on my to-do list for sure. Great idea with the Christmas fabric! Great blog, lady - good stuff.

  3. I can't wait to see the finished skirt, I've been in love with the idea since you first showed the fabrics you were going to use

  4. six? Oh my.
    by the way - you have the best tutorials. : )

  5. I've been looking for a new tree skirt pattern and this just might be it! Thanks for the tutorial.

  6. this is so pretty - do I have the patience to try it????

  7. This just popped up in Sew, Mama, Sew! Handmade Holiday inspiration, and it is just the project I need to make a new tree skirt, and try out Spider web blocks!
    Thank you!

  8. You're very welcome! Hope you enjoy the project!!!

  9. good job, like the colors u picked.


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