overdyed tree skirtI have had my own home for thirteen years, and I have never owned a Christmas tree skirt. Well, that’s all gonna change this year, my friends, because I just made myself a new crazy patchwork tree skirt! It all started with a felt tree skirt I got at the dollar store, which I combined with some custom overdyed Christmas fabric, burlap, ric rac, ribbon, and crazy pom-pom trim.

dsc sponsored post

RIT Dye sent me a 10 pound box of dye — their full line of liquid dyes, 25 colors! I am the proud owner of an insane amount of dye now, and you can be too! I’m giving away the same package to one lucky commenter. Giveaway details at the bottom of this post. The sweepstakes is now closed! Congrats to our winner.

But back to the tree skirt! Let me tell you how I made it.

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overdyed tree skirt

Overdyed Patchwork Christmas Tree Skirt

Project Materials:

  • Dollar store tree skirt, $1
  • 8 pieces of stash fabric (at least 24″ long and 12″ wide), on hand
  • Rit Liquid Dye, 2 colors (I used Scarlet and Aquamarine), $3.99 each
  • Assorted trim. on hand
  • Sewing machine, thread, scissors
  • A piece of leftover gift wrap

Total: $9

For this project, we are going to use stash fabric. You know you have some! I used four different Christmas fabrics that I had on hand. You can use any fabric, of nearly any color. The beauty of using the Rit Dye is that when you overdye the fabrics, they become color coordinated. This is a great way to use up fabric you don’t like anymore, or make coordinating fabric out of odd scraps.

If you don’t have any stash fabric, you could use old clothing (men’s cotton dress shirts would provide a lot of fabric), or flour sack towels from the dollar store.

The Rit Dye Liquid Dye line has 25 colors to choose from, but you can also mix your own color (over 500 colors, including this year’s hot fashion colors) using their ColoRit Formula Guide.

Step 1: Over-Dyeing the Fabric

You need to read all the instructions that come with your dye. The instructions below are an overview of my process, but do not cover everything.

rit dye in a pot

1. First, launder your fabrics if they have never been washed before. You don’t have to dry them because you’re just going to toss them into some dye anyway.

2. Read all instructions and determine how you are going to dye your fabric (in the washing machine, in the microwave, or in a pot on the stove). I chose to dye my fabric on the stove because it seemed like the most self-contained way to do it.

3. Use a pot that is only for dyeing or crafting (don’t use it for food after you have used dye in it). I have a 5 quart stock pot in my craft stash left over from my soapmaking days.

4. Heat up water on the stove, then shake your liquid dye and add your desired amount. Remember, it is better to add less than you need at first, because you can always add more later.

5. Let it cook in the hot water until the fabric reaches your desired shade of color. Remember, when it is wet it will appear several shades darker than the final result.

6. Rinse fabric out in cold water until rinse water runs clear.

7. I laundered mine in the washing machine (cold water) after this.

Step 2: Sewing the Tree Skirt

It’s been awhile since I designed a sewing project for you! If you are afraid of sewing, this is a great beginner project (you only have to sew straight lines, and no finishing needed!). If you refuse to sew, you can do this project, but just use hot glue or fabric glue to attach the fabric pieces to the tree skirt. Cover seams with ribbon or ric rac.

The basic process for sewing the skirt is sewing fabric “pie pieces” to a piece of stabilizer — we are going to use the dollar store tree skirt as a base to sew our fabric on top of. This will provide a template to keep the tree skirt, well, looking like a tree skirt, and it will also add body to the tree skirt so it’s a double layer of fabric. The process is similar to the one I used for these crazy quilt blocks. The good news is, felt is easy to sew on!

Make the Pie Piece Pattern

First, let’s make a template for our pie pieces.

make a christmas tree skirt template

1. Fold your dollar store tree skirt into half, half again, and half again. This will give you a shape that looks kind of like a pie piece, and should be roughly 1/8 of the circle of your tree skirt.

2. Using a piece of scrap wrapping paper (I used thicker kraft wrapping paper from the dollar store), Cut out a paper pattern for your pie piece.

3. You need to cut 8 of these pie pieces. Some of my fabric was too narrow for these pieces, so I folded the paper template in half so it looked like a 1/16 piece of pie.

Whatever the width of your pie pieces, you need enough to add up to one complete pie!

cutting a circle skirt

I ended up with 6 regular pie pieces, and 4 skinny pie pieces. I ended up needing another little skinny piece at the end of the skirt, too… so it was a 1 & 1/16 pie!

Sew the Pie Pieces to the Base Tree Skirt

sewing tree skirt

1. Lay your dollar store tree skirt base out flat on your work surface. Lay your first pie piece down, right side UP on top of the skirt, matching edge to edge. Sew a seam down the edge of the tree skirt.

Because our tree skirt has a deconstructed look, we are just going to leave the seam and raw edge of the fabric exposed.

2. From now on, we are going to be laying each pie piece face DOWN on top of the previous piece, and then sew the new seam, then flip the new pie piece over. And repeat until the skirt is completely covered with fabric pie pieces.

flip the new pie piece over

This is what it looks like after you have flipped the pie piece over so the good side is showing.

Because the burlap pieces were so stiff, I flipped them over, then sewed them down before sewing the next piece on. You can see the red thread showing from where I sewed it down. I thought it looked cool.

3.  At the end of the skirt, when you’ve sewed all the pieces on, sew a final seam down on the edge of the tree skirt.

rit dye christmas tree skirt

4. I also folded the “waist” part of the skirt over and sewed a topstitch just to make it look a little more finished, but you don’t have to do that. You can leave it as is, or trim it with pinking shears.

5. You can also topstitch around the bottom hem of the skirt if you like.

The skirt looks pretty good just like this, but I was so excited that the project worked exactly like I imagined (no craftfails!) that I kept going and added a bunch of crazy trim.

rit dye christmas tree skirt

Whenever you do get done with the skirt, be sure to iron it!

embroidered merry christmas

I added a little machine embroidery, too. I added a couple lines of decorative stitching, and also “Merry Christmas 2001.”

overdyed christmas tree skirt

I added crazy stripes of ball fringe. All in the name of stashbusting, I assure you!

overdyed tree skirt

My little model helped me get the right shot.

overdyed tree skirt

I had to go to my husband’s office to use their Christmas tree to get a shot of the skirt in action. (We don’t have our tree yet!). This one looks like a 1970s craft book, I think!

Dyeing this Christmas fabric was just the beginning. I have been dyeing everything that isn’t nailed down since I did this project. I have dyed tea towels, t-shirts, doilies, and some PJ pants (they were so loud before I dyed them – turquoise with hot pink peace signs! I would have LOVED them in 4th grade.)

Dye Resources:

Rit Dye Liquid Dye Giveaway!

Our giveaway is now over! Congratulations to our winner:

winner of rit dye

So, who wants to try their hand at dyeing stuff? Thanks to my sponsor Rit Dye, I am giving away the ENTIRE LINE of Rit Liquid Dyes!

One lucky reader will win 25 bottles of Rit Dye – 1 in every color available.  To enter, answer this question: What would you like to refashion using Rit Dye?

1. You must comment on this post to enter to win.

Giveaway open to United States residents only, 18 and older. Ends on Thursday, December 15th, 2011 at 11:59 PM. Full rules here.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Rit Dye. All opinions are 100% mine.