Friday, October 18, 2019

How to Make a Christmas Tree Skirt with a Ruffle

Learn to make a Christmas tree skirt with a ruffle. I walk you through how to make your own, from determining the size to how many yards of fabric you will need. I show you how to cut out and sew the tree skirt.

How to Make a Christmas Tree Skirt with a Ruffle
Do you change your tree decor every year? I am on the 5-10 year rotation plan. Last year, I started the nativity tree theme and I foresee making a new nativity ornament each year for several years to come.

My tree for the 5-6 years before the nativity tree, was a white theme. I used white ornaments, each year making something new to add. For that tree, I used a white felt snowflake tree skirt {Go see the tutorial - it's no-sew!} I ended up using that white tree skirt last year, but I felt that I needed a red skirt this year to match the red bulbs and bows that round out my nativity tree.

I looked and looked for a tree skirt that would match and that I liked. I found nothing! So I decided to make one. I found the PERFECT fabric and there was EXACTLY enough left at the store to create the skirt. It was meant to be.

Find even more Christmas Tree Skirt Patterns here.

How to Make a Christmas Tree Skirt with a Ruffle

How to Make a Christmas Tree Skirt with a Ruffle - a Step-by-Step Guide

Step-By-Step Guide to a DIY Christmas Tree Skirt

Customize your tree skirt to your tree. I teach you how to determine the size the skirt should be, and how to calculate the fabric needed for both the tree skirt and the ruffle. You'll learn how to create the ruffle and how to sew it all together.

Determining the size of the tree skirt

A Christmas tree skirt should be about the same size as the base of your tree. Measure the diameter of your tree at the base. This doesn't need to be exact, just to the nearest inch. My tree was 54 inches in diameter. Write down this number somewhere, you'll need it to calculate the amount of fabric needed.

DIY Tree Skirt

How do I determining how much fabric I need for a Christmas tree skirt?

To create the skirt, we will start with a square of fabric that is the size of the diameter of the tree minus 2 inches to account for the ruffle we will add. For my tree, the squares {one for the top and one for the bottom} of fabric needed to be 52 inches.

Fabric comes in many widths. In general, cotton and quilting type fabrics are about 42"  wide. Apparel fabrics are about 55". So I headed to the apparel section of the fabric store and found a shimmery fabric that matched the red poinsettia flowers perfectly. Since one yard is 36 inches, I got 1 1/2 yards. So I ended up with a 54" X 55" piece of fabric.

 I also chose a coordinating lining fabric for the bottom and the ruffle. 

Figuring out the fabric needed for the ruffle

To create the ruffle, we will need long strips of fabric that are folded in half. The folded half will be the outer edge of the ruffle, the raw edges will be sewn to the skirt. 

Calculating this had my head spinning a bit, but stick with me and I'll try to explain as best as I can.

I determined that I wanted my ruffle to be about 2 1/2 inches. To account for a seam allowance, I needed my strips for the ruffle to be 6 inches. {Once folded in half they are 3 inches. Assuming the seam allowance is approx 1/2 inch, the remaining ruffle is 2 1/2 inches}.

Next, I needed to figure out how long the strips needed to be.  Figure out the circumference of your circle (diameter X pi) and times it by 2 to have enough to create a ruffle. Using the diameter of my tree the calculation looks like this: 54 X 3.14 X 2 = 340 inches. I rounded! - we are not getting that precise.

To determine how much fabric you need, consider the width of your fabric. Mine was 56 inches. So 340 / 56 = 6. {again, I rounded} I needed 6 strips of fabric that were 6 inches wide. 6" X 6 = 36, so that meant I needed 1 yard of fabric for the ruffles. 
You might notice that since I rounded, I only ended up with 336 inches instead of 340. Once I sewed them together, I lost another couple inches due to the seam allowance. That's ok! This doesn't need to be that precise. 

(My kids always argue that the math they are learning will never be used in real life. Here's a chance to prove them wrong ;)

Supplies needed for a Christmas tree skirt

Based on a 54" tree skirt you will need: 
exact  yardage will vary based on the size of tree skirt and the width of your fabric!

  • 1 1/2 yards fabric for the top
  • 1 1/2 yards coordinating lining fabric for the bottom
  • 1 yard coordinating fabric for the ruffle
  • 1 twin sized package of batting
  • thread
  • sewing machine
  • straight pins

Cutting Out and Sewing the Christmas Tree Skirt

In this section we'll cover how to cut out the fabric and how to assemble and sew the Christmas tree skirt.

Cutting out the fabric for the skirt

Begin by cutting out a square of fabric to the predetermined tree diameter minus 2 inches. In my case 52 inches. 

To cut out your circle, you could totally rig up a large compass with some string, but there's an easier way.

Fold the fabric in half on the diagonal. Fold the triangle in half again and again and again until you have a skinny triangle. 

how to fold fabric to cut out a circle

Next I measured 26 inches (1/2 of the 52 inches, since it's folded) from the point to the other end. Measure on each side and a few spots in the middle - this will give you a rounded guideline to cut.

cut off rounded edge

Cut along your rounded guideline. I used a rotary cutter. If using scissors, you might want to pin the pieces together so they don't slip around as you're cutting.

cutting fabric for christmas tree skirt
Next cut off 2 inches from the point end. Slightly round your cut, so it will form a circle when opened. 

fabric lining and batting for christmas tree skirt

Repeat this folding and cutting process for the lining and the batting.

cutting out christmas tree skirt

Unfold and lay out all the pieces of the skirt. Cut a straight line from the center hole to the edge.

Cutting out the fabric for the ruffle

six inch strips for ruffle
Cut out six 6-inch strips of fabric. {The number of strips you need may vary, depending on the size of your tree and the width of your fabric}

Sewing the Christmas Tree Skirt with Ruffle

Now it's time to start sewing. 

Prepping the ruffle

I'll warn you right now, ruffles are tedious! There's a lot of prep work to adding a ruffle, especially with something large like a tree skirt. But they're charming and worth it. 

Begin by sewing all the strips of the ruffle together, taking care that the seam allowances are all on the same side.

fold and iron strips in half for ruffle

Next you will press the whole strip of fabric in half lengthwise. 


To create ruffles, you will sew two seams along the raw edges of the folded strip. Use a BASTING stitch. A basting stitch is the longest stitch your machine can make. Sew along the raw edge at about 1/8 inch and at 1/4 inch. 

To create the ruffle, you are going to cinch up the fabric by grabbing the top string in each stitch and pulling gently on it until the fabric bunches up. Work the bunches as far as you can and then pull the string more to create more bunches. It takes quite a while to gather it up to match the circumference of the tree. 
But before we get to far with the ruffles, let's line up the fabric correctly so we can pin it on as we go.

Layering the fabrics 

pin the ruffle to the lining

Lay your batting down first, then the lining fabric with the RIGHT SIDE UP. Now we'll add the ruffle. Once the ruffle is pinned in place, lay the top of the tree skirt on top with the RIGHT SIDE DOWN.

Please be sure to layer your fabric correctly. I know from experience that unpicking and re-pinning the ruffle is NOT fun!!! To reiterate: Batting, lining {right side up} ruffle pinned in place, top {right side down} Pin it all layers together
layer fabric for tree skirt

Tips for gathering and pinning on the ruffle

Pin the ruffle with the raw edges towards the outer edge of the circle and the folded edge pointed inward.

I found it best to find the middle of the ruffle and pin it to the top center of the tree skirt. Then I gathered the ruffles on one side of the middle, then did the other side.

Pins are your friend. I pinned the ruffle approx every 3/4 of an inch. Pins keep the ruffle secure and in place until you sew it together.

It's a tiresome task on this large of a project, but throw on some Christmas music and brainstorm gift ideas as you work.

The very edges of the ruffle should be turned inward and sewn in place so the raw edges aren't visible. {I honestly didn't think to do this, and after unpicking and repinning once, I was done and didn't go back and fix it}

DIY Christmas Tree skirt with ruffle

Sewing the Christmas Tree Skirt

Once the ruffle is pinned to the lining/batting layers, place the top fabric in place with the right side down.  Pin all the layers together to keep everything secure and it's finally time to sew it together.

Sew all around the outer edge,  one side and the inner circle, leaving one straight edge open for turning.

Turn right side out.

Fold edges in and sew opening closed.

Press and enjoy your new Christmas tree skirt!


  1. This turned out really cute! I nee to make me one, I can't find one at the store that I'm in love with.

  2. Wow, that is such a beautiful tree skirt!

  3. How would you calculate and make a tree skirt your size but using christmas print cotton that is 44 inches wide? Is it possible?

    1. I'm not sure you could make it the same size (54") and have it in one full piece. It's possible to sew two pieces together to make it larger, but then it may look odd with a seam in the fabric.

      One option could be to make the circle as large as possible with the fabric you have and add a longer ruffle. The circle part of the skirt would be about 44 inches and you could have a 6 or 10 inch ruffle to enlarge the skirt. You'd have to decide if you would like the look of a long ruffle like that. Not to mention that it ruffles use a lot of fabric.

      Let me know what you figure out.

    2. Rachel, thanks for the reply. My Mother in law made a 52 inch with out counting the ruffle years ago for us. She has a seam but it works perfectly with the tree skirt design. I'm limited with my abilities but I might try sewing on with a seam. It takes a lot of fabric doing it that way so maybe wait until after Christmas to get a good deal on fabric.