Monday, October 22, 2012

Buddy the Elf Tree Skirt Tutorial

Another Monday, another Christmas tutorial! This is part of the Holiday Craft Bash I'm participating in with Meredith, Jacey and Debbie. Each week, you get to see a new inspiring Christmas project done 4 different ways. And you can add your own projects to the Flickr group for a chance at great prizes. And the best part is, we'll all have some GREAT decorations done before the holiday rush starts!

 I've been working on this all week and have been SO excited to share it with you. Elf is like a new classic in the Christmas movie category. It's a must-watch in our house every year and we quote it all season long. My kids love this tree skirt and I can't wait to introduce them to Buddy the Elf again this December... or maybe even sooner.

This tutorial takes a few things for granted quilting wise. You should know how to do machine appliqué and how to baste, quilt and bind your project. However, if you aren't a quilter, you could easily simplify this project by making the base of your skirt out of a large big piece of felt rather than quilting cotton. Then you can do the appliqué part with my patterns and you won't have to quilt or finish the edges of the felt in any way. Or you could even use the patterns to make a set of Elf stockings for your family the same way I made my Bumble stocking from last week. Lots of possibilities. 

1 1/4 yards white fabric
1 1/4 backing fabric
45" square of batting
Fabric scraps in red and white, blue, and gray
Small amounts of wool blend felt in light blue, gray, green, golden yellow, black, white, and orange. 
5 1/2 yards of single fold bias binding (buy pre-made or make your own)
Fusible web, such as Wonder Under or Steam a Seam
Fabric spray adhesive or quilt basting spray
White thread and gray thread
Marking tool
About 15" of velcro

Print the 5 pattern pages: Buddy 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5

About Cutting and Appliqué 
I cut my felt pieces by tracing the pattern shapes on freezer paper. You could also trace them directly on to the wrong side of the felt and then cut. I sprayed my felt pieces in place before stitching them down, and used the fusible web only on my quilting cotton pieces. 

 Cut your tree skirt top by taking your 1 1/4 of white, folding it in half selvedge to selvedge, then in half again so that the cut edges meet. Now it should be folded into four layers. From the corner with both the folds, measure 2 inches from the corner on both sides and mark with a marking tool. Then mark again on each side at 21" out from that same corner. Tie your marker on some string and use it like a compass to connect both these markings to each other. So you will hold one end of the string at the folded corner, then start with your marker at the top marking and connect it in a curve to the corresponding mark on the other side. Your lines should look like mine above, with the folded corner at top left. (Ignore the chalk marks my kids decided to add, that side just became the back!) Cut along both of these curved lines and when you unfold the fabric, you will have a full circle with a hole in the middle.

Arrange your Buddy, Puffin, and Narwhal pieces. You want to leave a large space on one quarter of the circle where we will put the opening later on.

Under each section, add some fabric shapes for water and glaciers to give the characters some kind of base. After you are happy with the arrangement, adhere and appliqué each piece one section at a time. In other words, do all the puffin pieces first, then all the buddy pieces, etc. Since we are working on a fairly large base, it's easiest to break it into sections. I also found that using a medium gray thread on all the pieces looked neutral on every color. (I did not want to switch to a matching thread each time!)

Add the candy cane appliqués with fusible web last. I did 8 candy canes, randomly placed around the circle.

Now that all the pieces are in place, it's time to baste and quilt everything. Do not cut a circle out of your batting and backing fabric because it will be too hard to line up everything. Just baste the top circle to squares of the batting and backing that are big enough to cover it, then you can trim around the edge, leaving an inch or two for shifting.

I used this as a chance to practice a little free motion quilting. I made swirls all over the white space in white thread to look like blustery snow flurries. I didn't quilt at all over the felt pieces, but since this is a tree skirt and not a quilt, I think the un-quilted areas aren't a problem. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out... except for the fact that I forgot to turn up my tension until I was mostly done, so the back doesn't look great. Good thing no one sees the under side of a tree skirt.  

After quilting, cut away the excess on the outside of the circle. Draw a straight line in that open space from the outside to the inside and cut it open, then cut out the inside circle as well. Definitely looks like a tree skirt now, we just have to finish it off!

Sew your bias binding onto the back first. On one side of the opening, pin three 5" pieces of the soft side of velcro under the binding, lined up with the raw edges. Pin them so the fuzzy side is facing up when looking at the back of the tree skirt. 

After attaching the binding to the back all the way around, bring it the front and pin, making sure you fold the velcro pieces out so you don't sew over them again. Top stitch the binding all the way around on the top side.

 Turn it over to the back and line up the rough pieces of velcro so they are opposite the fuzzy sides on the opening. Pin in place and sew around all 4 sides of each piece, making sure you use white thread. You are done!

Here's what mine looks like from the back with the velcro closed. Instead of buying a new piece of fabric for the back, I pieced mine with things in my stash. I could easily turn the tree skirt over if I wanted something a little classier.

But then again, why would I? I may be buying a tree right after Halloween this year just so I can look at this tree skirt every day and smile. Smiling's my favorite.

If you use this tutorial or the templates in any way, be sure to add your projects to the Holiday Craft Bash Flickr pool. And keep an eye out this week for some more really beautiful tree skirt projects from my HCB friends.


  1. Wow!!! That is the cutest tree skirt ever!!! Thanks for the tute. :)

  2. this is so awesome. lol! suddenly I'm craving syrup....


    totally a classic, totally love this tree skirt. :)

  4. um, jessica, this is too good. seriously, you are blowing my mind.

  5. Not gonna lie - you kinda sicken me a little. You've got all this talent and wit and you mix them together pretty flawlessly and it - gag - makes me a little sick. A Buddy the Elf treeskirt? Are you kidding me? Don't know many people who could pull that off, as you've clearly done here. If I were a lesser person, I'd prolly try really hard not to like you. But, alas, I dig you pretty good. Well done, my friend. (gag)

  6. This is just the cutest Christmas tree skirt and I plan on making one just like it. Come join me at

  7. If you want to do a lot of work for some snazzy recognition but almost no money, you could totally put together a book based on sewing from cool movie prompts. It's obviously in your genes and not many are doing it. Haha, but don't think I'm joking about the no money part.

  8. AHH! The perfect tree skirt. You are a rockstar!

  9. SANTA, I know him!!! This is adorable, you rock

  10. I love it! Thanks for the great tutorial :)

  11. Oh this is just so cute! I love all the details thanks for the tute.

  12. I LOVE elf, and i LOVE this!!!! Really??? How did you come up with this.... it's friggin' awesome.

  13. So perfect!! I read most of this in the Narwhal's voice too :)

  14. This is so great! We watch that movie every year while we decorate our Christmas tree, I love it! I might have to add this to the tradition.

  15. Love it so MUCH. Seriously, Jess. You are crazy talented.

  16. love that the narwhal made it on this!! My kids would love it.

  17. your killing me! love this mucho grande!

  18. Oh thank you for this tutorial and inspiration! I needed this little uplift of holiday cheer! Thank you! I love Buddy The Elf! This is perfect! Thank you!


Thanks so much for your comments-I LOVE to hear from you, so speak up! And I usually reply in email to your questions, so make sure your profile has your email.