Men’s Ties Christmas Tree Skirt Tutorial

Family Ties turned into a Christmas Tree Skirt

Family Ties turned into a Christmas Tree Skirt

Men’s ties make the perfect circle skirt to dress up your tree.   If the male family members in your house despise wearing ties (like my husband), and they are sitting in a drawer, gather them together for this quick project.   I was lucky enough to receive my dad’s and uncle’s discarded ties after their professional lives no longer called for them.   I also added a few from thrift stores to complete the project.   It has become a family tradition to use this skirt under our tree every year as a way to include some of the past and bring it into the present.

*A little disclaimer: I made this tree skirt before I started my blog, so this tutorial is explaining how to make this after the fact. Hopefully, I can explain the process clearly enough so you can easily make one for yourself…or give to someone else.

I gathered 46 ties to assemble this tress skirt, including the tie used in the center hole.
Here is a list of what you will need:
1). Approximately 42-52 men’s ties, both skinny and wide, or enough to make a circle around the base of your tree
2). Approximately 40″ of Single Fold Bias Tape (or you could use a strip of Christmas fabric)
3). Muslin or cotton fabric for base
4). Thread to match ties

Underside of tree skirt using muslin fabric

Underside of tree skirt using muslin fabric

1.) Draw a large circle out of the muslin fabric (above photo) making it a few inches shorter than ties to allow the points of ties to hang off (below).  Mine measures 20.5 inches from center circle to outer edge.

Tie ends overlap the base fabric

Tie ends overlap the base fabric

2.) Serge or finish the outer edge of the skirt (above).

Cut opening from center circle to outer edge

Cut opening from center circle to outer edge

3.) Draw a center circle. (The center circle needs to be large enough to fit around the stem/trunk of your tree). Cut out center circle hole and continue cutting stright out to the edge creating an opening to slip around tree base (above photo).  One tie will be used to trim around center circle in Step 9.
4.) Finish straight edge with bias tape or scrap strip of Christmas fabric. In photo above, you can see I used green bias tape from my bias tape scraps.

Audition tie layout

Audition tie layout

5.) Using muslin as my base fabric, audition all of the ties next to each other and pin in place overlapping each tie. Continue in a circle until the look and arrangement of ties is pleasing.
6.) Overlap the ties near the center circle (below).   They will be roughly cut and uneven and its okay.  Ignore the tie used to finish the circle.  Yours will not look like this at this stage but will after Step 9.

Narrow sections of ties overlapped at center circle

Narrow sections of ties overlapped at center circle

7.) Top stitch ties in place overlapping each tie over another.  Continue working around the entire circle until the first and last two ties cover the bias tape on the right side of the skirt.  When placed under the tree, the ties will overlap, disguising the opening.

Underside of tree skirt using muslin fabric

Underside of tree skirt using muslin fabric

8). After all of the ties are sewn to the base muslin fabric, it is time to trim the center circle and clean up the edge. Cut the ties evenly around center circle edge.
9).  Fold one tie in half and center around circle leaving ends to be used to tie in a bow. Stitch, enclosing all rough edges of ties.

Completed center circle with remaining tie for bow

Completed center circle with remaining tie for bow

You are done!….except for the presents.

Completed tree skirt

Completed tree skirt

Time to add presents

Time to add presents

Place under your tree and Merry Christmas!
If you are interested in other quick Christmas presents, check out my Snap Bag Tutorial or Curling Iron Cover Tutorial.

– Dana

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Mug Cover and Mug Rug

Mug Cover and Mug Rug

This is a little late getting posted, but I thought it might be worth it to give a few ‘guy’ ideas for future presents. It is easy to come up with girly projects to sew, but I have a harder time coming up with ideas for the males in my family. My husband is no exception. He is truly appreciative of anything I sew for him….as long as it is masculine and useful.
So here are my three picks for this year’s Father’s Day:
1.) Handmade shirt
2.) Mug Rug (or small place mat)
3.) Mug Cover (fancy pen and pencil holder)

Mug holding guy stuff

Mug holding guy stuff

I think this may be my tenth mug cover gift because they can be personalized with cute fabrics and they hold SO much stuff. (Also great for manicuring tools, sewing supplies, etc.) Here is the pattern and the link at Simplicity here:

Mug Cover Simp 2450

Mug Cover Simp 2450

Simplicity calls is ‘Buckets Gone Wild’, but I think of 5 gallon buckets when I hear the world bucket, so mug cover it is.

I buy the standard vacation souvenir mugs at the thrift stores for a buck or less or re-purpose some from my collection. I then rummage through my cotton fabric and bias tape stashes. I just maaay have to go to the fabric store to look at the fat quarter combinations if nothing seems to be coming together.

The next idea is a version of a mug rug. I was lucky enough to receive one of these as a gift from Rachel, my student/friend (Sewredy.wordpress.com) She has perfected the applique mug rug and other projects. I wrote a little something about her new blog here.
Here is my version with rounded edges:

Camping Fabric Mug Rug

Camping Fabric Mug Rug

I rounded the edges simply because I find it faster and easier to apply bias tape or self-made bias strips. No pattern is used. These can be made many different ways, but the basic dimensions are approximately 13″ X 8″-ish.

The fabric is a camping motive cotton remnant and I edge finished useing dark brown single fold bias tape from my stash. I used the same fabric on the other side because the drawings are entertaining like the Air-stream camper. If you want more info on how I apply my bias tape, I wrote about it on the thermal iron cover post I wrote here.

The last project is a hand made shirt. I have lost track of how many I have made for him, but it it is a my ‘go-to’ pattern.

McCalls 2149 Men's Camp Shirt

McCalls 2149 Men’s Camp Shirt

Okay, so no hanger appeal. I see that here, but it DOES look better on a human, I promise. I chose version “B” from this McCalls 2149:

Great Pattern for Mens shirts

Great Pattern for Mens shirts

You can tell by the low pattern number that it has been in the pattern book for a long time. I think many of the new McCall’s patterns are in the 6000’s.

I bribed my husband with homemade blueberry pancakes to model the shirt.

Husband in his Father's Day shirt

Mr. B in his Father’s Day shirt

Now that’s a little better. You can see the shirt filled out better and that it had a casual, loose fit.
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Since we love to dance, looser and more comfortable clothes are mandatory to do all the fancy moves. The fabric is a rayon from my stash in what I call ‘Builder Beige and Brown’.

Buttons and collar

Buttons and collar

Here you can see I used the standard men’s brown/tan button which blends in so well, it cannot be seen except for up close.

The ‘guy’ list continued:
4.) Neck pillow or lumbar pillow
5.) Personalized pillow case (Great for travel so you don’t accidentally leave the beloved pillow in the hotel)
6.) Shoe bags (Keeps shoes protected and off clothes in suitcase)

Can you think of some more great handmade gift ideas?

Until next time, keep creating.
-Dana

Make Do and Mend-Then and Now

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This thimble is commemorative of Clothes Rationing; a time hard to imagine by today’s standards. My mom found this thimble years ago while in Australia at the Imperial War Museum. In the early 1940’s, “Make Do and Mend” was a WW2 wartime slogan to encourage everyone to not waste anything. It was so extreme, clothing coupons were issued to each person each year showing the item and it’s value; the price fixed by law. The British government controlled not only what you wore, but how much you could wear.

If you had the money to buy clothing but you lacked the clothing coupon, you were forbidden to purchase more. As a result, an illegal black-market began to supply the desired items for a hefty price. All societal levels were now equal supporting the war effort. It is hard to imagine a ‘Rationing book’ but it existed to keep track of individual portions of certain foods doled out to people on a weekly basis. If you had been given your allotment, you had to wait until the following week to get more. Clothing and textiles were at such a minimum due to all resources being used for the war effort, pamphlets and sewing classes were available to encourage using old clothes or making new clothes out of old textiles.

Many women took on traditionally masculine jobs which demanded clothing that was durable and practical. Rosie the Riveter was considered the new chic and fashionable standard. The government controlled the look of fashion by dictating how to construct clothing by limiting the number of buttons, pockets, fullness or extra embellishments on each item. A great and personal account of this time is written by Lena of Queens of Vintage.com

Discovering various fashion and sewing blogs, I see current day efforts of a Make-Do-And-Mend campaign to Thrifty-To-Glam makeovers to no Ready-To-Wear (RTW) purchases for a whole year. One blog site I love is Goodbye Valentino where Sarah takes her designer garment to the sewing machine for a style change or alteration and commits to sewing all of her clothes for a year. Another great feat was accomplished by Erin of A Dress A Day on by ‘thrifting’ her way to a new wardrobe for just pennies.

Though we may not be forced into making do and mending our existing clothes, many have chosen to resist the temptation to buy new. In my opinion, it is a mindset and philosophy to reduce materialism or consumption in an effort to do one’s part to slow the fast-churning wheels of cheap clothing production and all that it may entail. Although I can’t be certain that my fabric purchases aren’t being manufactured/produced in the same flurried pace, it is my preference to make my clothes because I can. I still shop for jeans, grab a bargain here and there, maybe some inexpensive tees for working out, but the majority of my wardrobe is ‘me made’. Whatever your particular view on clothing and style, keeping up with trends (or not), it is good to look back at history and read about a time when the options were so limited and compare it to today. We can choose to participate in the fashion spectrum on many levels; from mending the few clothes we have, to buying designer originals, to sewing and fitting garment to our own unique tastes and preferences. This is just another reason why I’m a sewing evangelist.

Do you Make Do and Mend or go beyond?

Eye Shadow Rescue

Custom Blended Eye Shadow From Old Compacts

Custome Blended Eye Shadow From Old Compacts

Do you have broken eye shadow containers that should be thrown away but you keep using them because the colors are still great? I had 16 broken containers and was tired of the shadow powder spilling out and making a mess. Easy trick: Combine like-colors, add isopropyl alcohol, and voila! Saved shadows with new colors. A few supplies are needed and you will be on your way.

Broken and Ugly-Notice What Can Be Salvaged

Broken and Ugly-Notice What Can Be Salvaged

Displaying all of these showed me what colors were favorites, what I wanted to keep and what would eventually be thrown out. I was excited to consolidate.

Items Needed

Items Needed

Disclaimer: I am not a chemist. This is a overly-simplified way to salvage eyeshadow and I in no way am pretending to have the orginal eye shadow formula figured out. This is a quick fix to condense and simplify. Enough of that—let’s proceed.
Just a few items are needed:
1.) Isopropyl Alcohol
2.) Containers like these
3.) Dropper like this
4.) Cotton Swabs
5.) Scraper or small screwdriver

Chip Out, Add Alcohol, and Stir

Chip Out, Add Alcohol, and Stir

1.) Start to chip out the shadow with the screwdriver and get as much into the container as possible. (It gets a little messy).
2.) Dip dropper into alcohol while pinching it. Let go and watch the alcohol go up into the dropper. Squeeze out only a drop at a time to the dried up shadow, stirring as you go.

Gather Compacts

Gather Compacts

3.) Combine all similar colors and start mixing them together in the containers. This is the fun part. I found that I could use lighter colors to blend with some of the darker shades; consolidate greens, blues, etc.
4.) The consistency should be like thick soup. The alcohol will evaporate off eventually, but to remove lumps and get a true color, constant stirring works best.

ReUse Old Containers

ReUse Old Containers

5.) After emptying some of the compacts, I found that some were still in good shape and I would repurpose them. What a nice way to simplify, consolidate, and rescue perfectly good eye shadow. In the past, I threw the whole compact away. Now they have a new life and great ‘new’ colors!

Do you have eye shadows that need rescuing?

Introducing Sit and Sew

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Our group is small but it is mighty! I’m cheating a little here. This photo is one of the few times we could all gather on the same night so I am including this picture to show you the gang. Call it Stitch & Bitch, Sew and Sip, Unpick and Vent, whatever. But mostly we laugh, while getting serious about our sewing and have a great time.

But this is how the post should have started….
After months of mulling over and wondering how and what commitment could I make for the long haul, it’s was finally time to offer a Sit and Sew group near my home. The clubhouse in my complex rarely gets used and even in it’s 70’s decor, it will serve us beautifully for our gatherings. Here’s a picture of our treat table. Check out the revamped jewelry-box-turned-tea-chest below at the end of the table.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This is how I found it at the thrift store. A little sanding and paint and now it has a new life serving up tea.

Anyway, back to the room. Lots of space, a little kitchen, bathrooms, ceiling fans and air conditioning (an absolute ‘must’ here in the desert), radio, plenty of tables for sewing machines and cutting out. The ironing board will fit off to the side with plenty of room to spare.

Some of my students have been asking for another way to learn about the details of sewing. By offering a 3 hour session bi-monthly, I hope to offer encouragement and an upbeat environment to further the love of sewing. I am providing snacks and beverages (no wine, but that may change). The plan is to be available for tips and demos as well as questions. To start, the group will be small so that the right amount of attention can be spent helping, advising, etc. It may grow over time, or maybe not. We’ll see.

So much of the learning curve of sewing is accomplished by seeing how a technique is done. When I was teaching, I was always a little concerned about the project that was dictated by the corporation for the beginning sewist. It was either too complicated for the time allowed in class to properly finish (layout and cutting was not considered in the time frame) or it was not a project that drew people in to sign up. I tried to keep in mind that I could make the class fun and focus on the skills being learned. Reviewing the steps at the end was meant to encourage the student to go out and practice, find similar projects or repeat what we had just completed. The repetition helps hone the skill. What a relief that the students can choose their own projects!

It is difficult to find the time to sew when life can be so busy. My goal is to show how I squeeze in the little bits of sewing time into my day/week/month and share that with others. I hope to do that with this blog, as well.

Having a place to bring machines and projects to complete can be an outing for yourself….concentrated sewing time without phones and other distractions.

Do you have a sewing group in your area? What kind of format would work for you?