Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tutorial: Ruffle Trees!

It's that time of year we're you're yearning for some fresh new Christmas decorations, but realize that you just don't have the time to get something time-consuming made before the holidays (you know, along with the cookie baking, gift shopping, caroling, Christmas parties, and a partridge in a pear tree). But that's okay, because today Bethany from Sweet Bee Buzzings is here, sharing an easy (and quick!) holiday decoration you can make. Check out her tutorial and then find out how you can enter to win a Snack Pack of our Christmas Basics collection.

Hello there! My name is Bethany and I blog over at Sweet Bee Buzzings. Ever since I can remember I have loved Christmas (I still get a teensy bit sad when the decorations have to come down). My favorite Christmas bits are those that are handmade, and there's just something about Christmas crafting that is just so cozy and fun. 

Today I've got a fabric craft to share with you that won't take much time and doesn't use much in the way of supplies (or sewing know-how, so it's great for newbies, too :) Bonus: these wiggly stripes from the Christmas Basics line were the perfect print for the exact effect that I was going for. Extra bonus: these would look adorable in so many prints--snowflakes, hearts for Valentine's Day, anything really.

I'm going to show you two ways that you can make these, and then you can pick and choose or mix and match your method. You need about a quarter yard of fabric (but maybe more depending on the direction of your print), a styrofoam cone (I have a twelve inch cone, and a nine inch), some pins, and something to use as a topper (the shops are full of those little picks this time of year). I also used a pinking blade for these on all edges so fraying wouldn't be a concern (and I love the look of the zig zaggy edge).

I switched out my tree toppers, for you eagle-eyed observers :)

Let's start with the red one (on the smaller cone). I cut four two-inch wide strips from selvage to selvage, and then sewed those together to make one really long strip. Now, I know not everyone has a ruffler foot, but if you're looking for ideas for a Christmas gift and love ruffles this is a fun one. If you have one, attach it and set it so that it makes a small tuck every stitch (the '1' setting), but make your stitch length at about 3.5 so you don't have insanely tight folds. Line up the right edge of your fabric so that's it's just poking out, and sew all the way to the end.

If you don't have a ruffler foot, here's what you can do: set your tension as high as it will go, and set your stitch length as long as it will go. Then sew about a quarter inch from the edge. You'll end up with some ruffled fabric. It might not be as precise as with a ruffler foot, but for this project it doesn't really matter.

You should have a long strip of some delightful ruffliness.

Now we attach it to our cone. You could use hot glue for this, but I tend to burn myself each and every time so I'm going with pins. Start at the bottom, and pin an end in place.

Just keep working your way around the form pinning every couple of inches. Try and angle your pins downward--when we get to the narrower top it will keep them from poking out of the opposite side. When you get back to the starting point, hitch it up a little bit, and go around again.

I eyeballed how far apart I was placing my rounds and made them as even as I could without having to actually measure anything, adjusting as needed.

I had a few inches left over when I got to the top (which is what I wanted). If you have a ton left over you can go back and rearrange your ruffles (which is where the pins are handy as opposed to glue). I cut off my excess, and then cut that in half lengthwise so I had a one inch ruffled strip and the little scrap that used to be part of it (that little scrap was the only bit I had left over).

Take that wee ruffly bit, and make that your last layer at the top so that the ruffles are nice and even all the way down. Try to pull a little up above the very top of the tree so that when you add a topper you don't see that part so much.

Poke in/glue on your topper and you're good to go with this one.

Now, say you have a few fabrics you want to use with a different one on each round. You can still do this quite easily by making a tiered tree. For my green tree (on the larger cone) I cut my strips two inches wide by about eighteen inches. I ruffled these pieces with the high tension/long stitch method. You could also hand baste and gather on these smaller strips as you wouldn't need a length of thread a mile long.

Start at the bottom, pin in place, and trim any excess off the edge.

Take the next strip, and pin it around just above it. If you try to start/stop at the same point on each level you can just turn that side to the back so no one will see it.

Keep going around, trimming the excess. You'll be able to use those bits of excess in the higher levels where you need less to go around. Finish off the top the same way as the other one--with a small one inch strip that comes just a bit above the top of the cone.

Top it and you're done. 

I tied a ribbon for an extra little something, and then glued some felt to the bottom (cotton batting would work as well) to keep the foam from scratching up anything or making that annoying scratchy sound.

So there you have it--a chance for fabric play, to practice gathers (and maybe a reason to score a ruffler foot?), and an excuse to show off some adorable fabrics. These were a silly amount of fun to make, and I feel a little twinge of Christmassy delight every time I walk past them. If I hadn't stopped myself from buying a million foam cones I'd have a forest right now. Thank you so much, Fabri-Quilt, for having me over! Happy holidays!

Thanks, Bethany! We love your trees!
Stop by Bethany's blog to find out how you can enter to win a Snack Pack of the Christmas Basics collection--a collection of 42 precut 2-1/2" wide strips in all sorts of fun holiday prints (including the stripe Bethany used!).