Modern Paper Christmas Tree

Modern Paper Christmas Tree
During Christmas I break all my usual design tastes. Throughout the year I like uncluttered, clean lines, minimalism, and midcentury modern. At Christmas I love it all. There’s no such thing as too much, no style unrepresented, I want every surface festooned with holiday cheer. So when I can make those two styles converge, just imagine the heaven I create for myself. Using some foam core, glue, and scrapbook paper I can make a Christmas tree that would be perfectly at home in Don Draper’s Manhattan loft.

Step 1
To make a tree the same size as mine, you’ll need three pieces of foam core posterboard. Cut each piece in half along the longest edge, and then mark the center line of each new piece with a pencil.

Step 2
Use an exacto knife to cut through the first layer of the foamcore along your pencil line, but don’t cut through that bottom layer. You just want to create a score line where the piece can bend, not cut the piece in half.

Step 3
Now you need to cut your foamcore into the shape for your branches. Line a ruler up with the center pencil mark at the top, and the outer corner of the bottom. Cut that line on both sides to create a triangle.

You’ll also need to cut the bottom edges so that when each piece is bent to make the branches it will still stand up correctly. You need the outside corners to be right angles, so you can measure that with a protractor and line that angle up with the center point. Then cut along the line you’ve created and repeat for the other side. If you have a self-healing mat used for quilting you don’t even need the protractor. You just line the outside edge up with one of the grid lines and then cut a straight line to the center point.

Step 4
To get the foamcore to bend you need to make some room, which means cutting away some of the foam. This will be the inside so you don’t have to be neat about it. I just tilted by knife to an angle and cut away the foam on either side of the scored center line, being careful not to cut through the front of the foamcore.

Step 5
I made six branches for my design, and once they’re folded in half it’s time to assemble. I lined each piece up to it’s neighbor, keeping them at an angle so they’d fan out instead of having each side stick together. Run a bunch of hot glue down the joint of each piece.

Step 6
To connect the two end pieces together, bend them around to meet and form your cone, then run glue down the joint as best you can from the inside. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to keep things in place.

Step 7
The hard work is done, now it’s just a matter of decorating. You could use any method you can dream up for this, but I wanted to bust out my glitter cardstock and my die cut machine and give this a paper tiling treatment. You just need to pick a basic shape – really, any shape will do – and cut a metric ton of pieces. I would recommend using a shape a little larger than the one I used because I was tiling for days, but the results are pretty great. If you don’t have a die cut machine just use a punch and some elbow grease.

Step 8
To cover up the outer edges of the branches, just bend your paper pieces over the tip.

Step 9
To cover up your center joints, bend your paper pieces in the middle and glue right over the top of it.

Step 10
Whatever shape you use to tile your tree with, it’s won’t be small enough to cover the top of your tree in a way that looks good. So we’re going to cover the top with a little cone. Start by cutting a circle out of coordinating paper, then cut a slit across to the center point. Wrap it around the top and cut off all but about a 1/2″ of the overlapping paper.

Step 11
Bend the cone so that it fits around the branches, then glue it in place.

Step 12
I’m never one to pass up glitter, particularly at Christmas, so I finished by dumping glue all over the tree to add a little white glitter to make it look snowkissed.

Foam Core Christmas Tree
I just love the sharp angles and clean lines of this tree. It brings my love of midcentury design together with my love of everything dripping in glitter to create the perfect Christmas decoration for me. Now I’m toying with the idea of making one even bigger.


12 Days of Christmas Gift Tower

Gift Tower
In all of my Christmas decorating, I haven’t done much with the theme of presents. That’s because all of my decorating is done in part so that the celebration isn’t just about getting stuff. But even I have to make certain exceptions, because there is little that is as pretty and thrilling as a wrapped up package. Except for maybe 12 wrapped up packages all tied up together. When I found this set of 12 nesting boxes, I knew I had to make a decoration that would celebrate the 12 days of Christmas.

You will need:
A set of 12 nesting boxes. I got mine at Joann’s and they’re made by Die Cuts With A View
Spray paint
Gift Tag

Step 1
You can decorate these boxes any way your heart desires. Since that top box gets so little, I wanted to keep the look pretty simple and traditional. I sprayed the boxes with a deep green or burgandy – planning that part out carefully so the colors would alternate correctly – and then misted some gold spray paint over the top to add an elegant metallic sheen.

Step 2
I added a glitter border around the lids of each box by running a line of glue around the very edge, and sprinkling it with glitter. Let this dry thoroughly before assembling, it’s easy to botch up the glue while it’s wet.

Step 3
Finish decorating the boxes however you’d like. I cut these numbers out of velvet paper and glued one on each side.

Step 4
Stack the boxes up by size and glue them in place.

Step 5
Wrap a ribbon around the entire stack and tie it off with a giant bow at the top. I love the effect I got from using a double sided ribbon.

Step 6
The gift tag I decorated with glitter in the same way as the box lids. A little glue around the edges and some glitter on top. Then just a handwritten message.

Step 7
When the tag is dry, tie it onto the bow.

12 Days of Christmas Gift Tower
This turned out to be a really simple project I finished in a matter of hours, and it’s a great way to add some height to a tablescape where everything is suffering from being around the same size. I think mine will go under my 12 Days of Christmas tree, as the perfect finishing touch I didn’t know I needed.


Bundled Up Cozy Christmas Tree Unveiling


Christmas DIY: Miniature Quilt Ornament

Miniature Quilt Ornament Tutorial
Oh the last minute. It and I are bosom companions. In planning my calendar I, of course, never planned two a day tutorials, or even a tutorial on Christmas Eve. I mean, who’s still making ornaments besides crazy old me? But if I’ve learned anything from so many years blogging, it’s that these kinds of ideas are entertainment just as much as they’re inspiration, so in that spirit, and to complete the record of this sweet little tree I’ve been frantically building in between killer colds and holiday party and cramps that are trying to kill me. Given my current level of pain and what I long to do, I think it’s perfectly fitting that my last ornament for this cozy Christmas tree is a quilt.

I didn’t just want to cover the tree in blankets, but I knew I needed a blanket somewhere. It’s too much a part of our family life: snuggled up together on the couch watching TV, having a family slumber party under the weight of a homemade quilt, laying outside in the sunshine on the giant picnic blanket I made. So to finish off this tree I had to make the teeniest tiniest quilt ever.

Miniature Quilt Ornament Tutorial Step 1
Cut a bunch of strips out of your fabric one inch wide and plenty long. If you really want to you could just cut a bunch of one inch squares, but you will give yourself a WHOLE lot more sewing to do that way.

Miniature Quilt Ornament Tutorial Step 2
Sew five of these strips together to make each row. You’ll have to do a little planning so that you make sure when your rows are laid together you get the colors where you want them to be. I just started sewing willy nilly and then had to rip a bunch a part because once I laid the rows out I had a bunch of reds touching. Once your rows are all sewn up, iron the seams flat.

Miniature Quilt Ornament Tutorial Step 3
Cut across your panels to make the rows 1 inch tall.

Miniature Quilt Ornament Tutorial Step 4
Sew five rows together as you had them laid out and iron the seams flat.

Miniature Quilt Ornament Tutorial Step 5
Cut a square of fabric the same size as your quilt and sew them right sides together leaving a 1 inch opening for turning. Be sure and add a loop of yarn for an ornament hanger between the layers before you sew. For stuffing, since I wanted it flat like a blanket and not puffy like a pillow, I cut a couple of pieces of polar fleece 1/2″ smaller than my ornament. Turn your quilt right side out and put the fleece inside, fiddling with it until it lays flat and the corners are tucked up inside of the corners of the quilt.

Miniature Quilt Ornament Tutorial Step 6
Tuck the edges of your opening inside and sew a line of topstitching all the way around your quilt to close it up. You could stop there, but I wanted to make my quilt look like an old-fashioned tied quilt so I used a little more crochet thread on a needle, threaded it down through the quilt and then right back up and tied it in a knot.

Miniature Quilt Ornament
Now that this last ornament is done, I’m ready to show you the finished project. Coming up in just a few hours – our Christmas home tour and the unveiling of the Cozy Christmas tree.


Christmas DIY: Pair of Slippers Ornament

Slipper Ornament Tutorial
Bear and I get along famously. We’re one of those annoying couples who are so on the same page that we accidentally dress alike all the time. But the one thing we are always bickering over is the temperature of the house. I am always running cold and he is always running hot. He’s trying to open windows while I’m wearing sweaters and lying under blankets. I am often shoving the tip of my nose against his face to prove how cold I am so he’ll turn up the heat. And my poor toes. My toes are always so cold we call them toecicles. Which forces me to be an expert in slippers. It’s the only chance I’ve got.

I am almost never without slippers when I’m home. Fleece lined, down filled, memory foam, even slippers that sweep the floor while I walk around the house. So in honor of my poor frozen toes, some mini slippers had to be included on my tree before it was finished bundling up.

Slipper Ornament Tutorial Step 1
To save you any fretting, I’ve made you a pattern. But it’s just a basic shoe shape. You could make your own the same way I did – by tracing the shoe of a little kid you happen to have handy. You’ll need four pieces to make the souls, and two rectangles to be the uppers. Mine measure 4 inches by 4 1/2 inches.

Slipper Ornament Tutorial Step 2
Fold the rectangles in half so that it measures 2″ x 4 1/2″, then sew it shut. Turn it right side out.

Slipper Ornament Tutorial Step 3
At this point you’ll want to plan ahead to make one shoe the right shoe and the other the left. Take your four soul pieces and divide them into two stacks, arranging them so that the toes face in toward each other. Take your tubes and place them seam side down, then pin each tube in between two soul pieces. If you’ve arranged it correctly then the seam on the tube will be hidden when you turn it right side out. The tube is much longer than the soul pieces, so you’ll have to be careful when pinning to fold it out of the way of where you’ll be sewing so that you don’t catch it in your seams. Sew all the way around, leaving just an inch open for turning.

Slipper Ornament Tutorial Step 4
Turn your slippers right side out, making sure that everything is laying the way it’s supposed to. You can stuff your slippers if you want to, particularly if you’re using a fabric that isn’t as fluffy as this polar fleece, but I wanted to keep my slippers flat so I let the fabric do the work. If you did stuff it, I’d definitely recommend using a batting instead of a stuffing.

Slipper Ornament Tutorial Step 5
Fold the edges in and sew a line of topstitching all the way around the slipper.

Slipper Ornament Tutorial Step 6
Sew the slippers together by putting a few stitches in the sides of that top band. It only takes a few stitches so you can do it by hand if you have trouble shoving all this through your sewing machine. I tied a loop of fishing line around these bands so I could hang these on the tree.

Slipper Ornaments
These little ornaments worked up so fast and so easily, that I think I might actually try making some full sized. I can never have enough slippers, and now that I know how easy they are to make, I think I might just make some in every color. I could have slippers to match every outfit!

Slipper Ornament Pattern
To download the pattern, click through and download the original size.


Christmas DIY: Puffy Coat Ornament

Puffy Coat Ornament
Like everyone of my generation, one of my favorite Christmas movies is “A Christmas Story,” and we quote it endlessly around here. Particularly whenever we bundle up and we reenact the scene where the little brother is so covered in puffy winter clothes that his arms stick straight out as he whines, “I can’t put my arms down!” When I found this blue raincoat material in the remnant bin of my fabric store, I knew immediately that I had to find a way to include that moment in the tree.

This is the most complicated tutorial of the whole month, but don’t let it intimidate you. It’s still all just straight seams, no worries about fit or closures, and if any of the pieces get to small for you to want to deal with them in your sewing machine, it will work great with just a few stitches done by hand.

Puffy Coat Ornament Tutorial Step 1
Download the pattern I’ve made for you and cut out all the pieces. You’ll need one of every piece except for the sleeves, which you’ll need two of, of course.

Puffy Coat Ornament Tutorial Step 2
To make the coat puffy you need to add some lines of stitching to gather it. I sewed a bunch of lines of straight stitching about 3/4″ apart. The spacing doesn’t matter a whit, just pick a line on your sewing machine and use it for everything.

Puffy Coat Ornament Tutorial Step 3
Leave the ends of thread long so that you have plenty of room to grab on to them, and pull the back thread to gather. Don’t pull it as tight as it can go, just enough to give you a bit of a puff.

Puffy Coat Ornament Tutorial Step 4
The front of the coat comes in two pieces. Fold the inside edge of one of the pieces over about 1/4″ and sew it on to the other front piece, just like we did when we made our flannel shirt ornaments.

Puffy Coat Ornament Tutorial Step 5
The next few steps are sewn up just like when we did the raglan sleeve sweater ornament. Line the edge of one of the sleeve pieces up with the front piece and sew in place. Repeat with the other sleeve on the other side of the front piece.

Puffy Coat Ornament Tutorial Step 6
Sew the back piece to each sleeve in the same way.

Puffy Coat Ornament Tutorial Step 7
We’ll sew the sides shut like the sweater too, only this time we want to sew the sleeve cuffs shut so we can stuff the coat. So start your line of sewing at the sleeve cuff, turn the corner to sew down the sleeve, turn at the armpit, then sew down the body. Repeat on the other side and then turn your coat right side out.

Puffy Coat Ornament Tutorial Step 8
Now we need to deal with the collar. For starters take the collar piece and fold it in half. Sew those sides shut and then turn it right side out. This makes a nice finished point for your collar edge.

Puffy Coat Ornament Tutorial Step 9
This is the most intricate bit of sewing in the whole coat, so you might have the best luck by doing this by hand. I’ve done it on my machine, so it’s possible, but it does take a lot of wrestling. Line one end of the collar up with the seam on the front body piece and wrap the collar all the way around the back and back around the front to overlap, being careful to keep the coat out of the way of anything you don’t want sewn.

Puffy Coat Ornament Tutorial Step 10
Flip that collar up so that all the seams go to the inside of the coat. Place a loop of yarn inside the neck and sew across the collar to close it up.

Puffy Coat Ornament Tutorial Step 11
Stuff the coat at the bottom, making sure to really fill those arms up. The puffier the better, to really get that look of not being able to put your arms down.

Puffy Coat Ornament Tutorial Step 12
Sew across the bottom to close it up. Since my fabric won’t fray I just left the edges out in the open, but you could always fold the edges in before you sew if you want it super clean.

I am loving this for all the same reasons I’ve been loving so many of these ornaments – the miniature quality, the cozy factor – but this one I’m also really loving because it reminds me of a movie I love and our dorky family inside jokes. Which is kind of why I do all this stuff anyway.

Puffy Coat Ornament Pattern
To download the pattern click on the image and download the original size.


Christmas DIY: Pair of Mittens Ornament

Pair of Mittens Ornament
I couldn’t stop the inspiration. Whenever I looked at my list of ideas I couldn’t bear to cross one off. So in this last dash to Christmas I’m going to be pumping out the tutorials to share them all in time. This little set was another one that the tree just wouldn’t be complete without. You have to have mittens on a bundled up tree! But lucky for me (and for you) they whip up in a super hurry.

Pair of Mittens Ornament Tutorial Step 1
Download the handy little pattern I’ve made for you, or just trace a hand or mitten you have nearby. You’ll need to cut the pattern out four times out of a fabric for the outside, and four times out of a fabric for the lining. If your fabric has a specific front and back remember that you’ll need to have one mitten be a right mitten, and one be a left. So if your fronts and back are different than you’ll want to flip the pattern over for two pieces.

Pair of Mittens Ornament Tutorial Step 2
Sew your lining and exterior pieces all around the edge, leaving the wrist section open. So now you should have two exterior pieces and two lining pieces. Snip the corners between the thumb and the hand and turn the exterior pieces right side out. Leave the lining pieces just the way they are and insert them into the mittens so that all the seams are hidden between the lining and outside pieces.

Pair of Mittens Ornament Tutorial Step 3
Fold the raw edges still at the wrist towards the inside between the layers. Pin in place.

Pair of Mittens Ornament Tutorial Step 4
Pin a piece of yarn (I didn’t even bother measuring it. Maybe it was a foot?) between the two layers. I liked to position my yarn right at the seam on the thumb side of the mitten.

Pair of Mittens Ornament Tutorial Step 5
Sew all the way around the cuffs right at the edge. Then fold them over to show the contrasting lining.

Pair of Mittens Ornament Tutorial
These are not only super cute, but I think they’d even be pretty functional. I can’t remember the last time I saw mittens for sale that still had the yarn connecting them, so if your little ones are always losing their mittens, this might be a solution. Or an adorable last minute gift.

Pair of Mittens Ornament Pattern
To use the pattern, just click on it and download the original size.


Christmas DIY: Miniature Sweater Ornament (with tiny wire hanger)

Miniature Sweater Ornament
In my brainstorming, this is the ornament that started it all. The tree never would have been complete without it, and the sweaters I picked up from the thrift store with this project in mind were what set the whole color story for the tree. But it took me a while to get it right. Knit is tricky to sew, and pattern construction on knit fabric was a little bit of a nightmare, but I persevered. And now my nightmare will be a total breeze for you.

Miniature Sweater Ornament Tutorial Step 1
Download the handy little pattern I made for you and make yourself a cardboard pattern. I found it really helpful to have a kind of rigid surface to hold against the wiggly stretchy knit as I was cutting. The cardboard really helped. You’ll need two pieces for the body, and two pieces for the sleeves.

Miniature Sweater Ornament Tutorial Step 2
Working with pieces this tiny you’ll definitely want to hem as much as you can before you put the pieces together. Hemming a sleeve can be a bit of a wrestle when it’s for a full grown person, A hem on something the size of your finger will make you swear. Hem the neckline and the sleeve cuffs by just folding it over. You could fold it twice to make a cleaner hem, but second hand knit is going to look a bit raggedy no matter what, so I didn’t sweat it.

Miniature Sweater Ornament Tutorial Step 3
This style of sleeve is called a raglan sleeve and it is the simplest thing in the world. Line one of the body pieces up with one of the sleeve pieces, right sides together, matching up one of those angles by placing the point of the sleeve right up to the neck hem. Repeat for the other side.

Miniature Sweater Ornament Tutorial Step 4
Sew the other body piece on in the same way by lining it up with the other side of the sleeves.

Miniature Sweater Ornament Tutorial Step 5
Sew the sides closed by sewing one long seam from the sleeve cuff to the armpit, pivoting, and then sewing down the body to the waist. Repeat for the other side.

Miniature Sweater Ornament Tutorial Step 6
Hem the bottom of the sweater. You could do this step at the same time you do the rest of the hemming, but I like waiting until the sides are together so that the hem can be all one piece.

You could stop here if you want to just have a sweater, but if you want to hang it up neatly on your Christmas tree, you need a hanger.

Miniature Sweater Ornament Tutorial Step 7
I used a piece of electric fence wire because I had a whole bunch of it and it was a good width. Mine measured about 10″ long. Bend the first 3/4″ or so into a little hook.

Miniature Sweater Ornament Tutorial Step 8
Then bend it into a hanger shape…

Miniature Sweater Ornament Tutorial Step 9
…and twist the end around the neck of the hook, cutting off any extra.

Miniature Sweater Ornament Tutorial
A couple of hems and two seams and you have an adorable little sweater. Despite the fact that knit can be a bit challenging to work with, because it’s so stretchy, I think this would make a great first sewing project. You could always use a polar fleece or other fabric that doesn’t have as much give as a full on sweater knit, and since it doesn’t have to fit anybody it’s an easy way to make a few mistakes without it spoiling the fun of the project.

Miniature Sweater Pattern
Click the picture and download the original size.


Christmas DIY: Polar Fleece Scarf Ornament

Polar Fleece Scarf
Two holiday parties last week, an epic sickness, and three holiday parties this week, and I am BEAT. And then at the class party today I realized I didn’t have enough presents for all the teachers aides, so I have to go back to the kitchen to make some more before getting up to do the whole thing again tomorrow. Next week I should be done with my to-do list and ready to just enjoy the season, but for tonight? My eyes are glazing over and I need some sleep. So I’m shuffling a few things around on my calendar because I need an easy night. And because I might be making a few of these to make up for the teacher’s aides and bus drivers I didn’t make enough hot fudge for.

Polar Fleece Scarf Tutorial Step 1
You’ll need polar fleece in two different colors. Cut two pieces each measuring 2 1/2″ wide, and 30″ long. The polar fleece I bought came off the bolt at 60″ wide, so I just cut off the selvedges and then cut it in half. If I was making this for an actual person to wear, I’d cut it about 6″ wide and 66″ long or longer, unless I was trying to skimp on fabric and then I’d call 60″ long enough.

Polar Fleece Scarf Tutorial Step 2
Line the two pieces up wrong sides together and sew the edges closed. If I was making this scarf to be worn I might take a little time to make this step more decorative, maybe with a blanket or other overcast stitch.

Polar Fleece Scarf Tutorial Step 3
Snip the ends of the scarf about three inches long and about 1/3 of an inch wide. (I was REALLY strict about the measurements here :sarcasm:) Separate the fringe and tie the front and back pieces together with a couple of knots. You’ve probably seen this done for simple baby blankets, and it’s a great way to not only secure the pieces together but add a little pretty at the same time. Plus, I love how it brings the contrasting fabric to the other side.

Polar Fleece Scarf Tutorial
On my tree I just tied these around the branches as if I was tying them around my neck. And I love how it turned out. This little tree has so much personality.

Now excuse me, I have presents to make, before my eyes slam shut.


Christmas DIY: Yarn Stocking Cap Ornament

Stocking Cap Ornament
As I’ve mentioned in earlier tutorials, I love yarn. So, so much. It’s so soft and beautiful I just want to wrap myself in it. Which I then go on to do when I put on a sweater. But in the seasons of my life, knitting is for January. It’s for when I need to be still and quiet and let the world go on around me as I meditate through repetitive motions. This time of year I have no time for knitting. I promised myself one project (my crocheted sock) and everything else has to make due without it or else this tree would never have seen the light of day. So I thought and I thought and I tried to come up with all the other ways I could use yarn, and I remembered this classic from my days as a Merrie Miss – what we would now call Achievement Days – which is basically Mormon speak for a way to entertain and educate 10 – 12 year old girls.

A similar version is made by wrapping yarn around a piece of toilet paper roll, but I’m a grown up now. I had to go for something bigger and better.

Stocking Cap Ornament Tutorial Step 1
Instead of a toilet paper roll, I used a mail tube. I cut it into three inch sections using an electric carving knife, since the mailing tube I got was pretty dang thick. (On the video I share a great tip for how to get a clean, straight, circular cut.) Then I just cut a whole bunch of pieces of yarn long enough to be doubled over and then wrap around the tube twice with room left over for a hat and a pompom. I think I cut mine to be just about three feet, but I wasted a TON of yarn when it came to trimming time. Two and a half will probably still be pah-lenty.

Stocking Cap Ornament Tutorial Step 2
Here’s the most complicated part of this whole process. Ready? Take your yarn and double it over on itself. Put the folded end through the center of your tube, then put the loose ends through that loop.

Stocking Cap Ornament Tutorial Step 3

Stocking Cap Ornament Tutorial Step 4
Do that over and over and over again, (with my yarn I think it was between 65 – 70 times, but it will depend on the yarn you’re using) until the cardboard tube is completely covered.

Then take all those yarn tails and push them back through the tube, pushing the little knots to the inside as well.

Stocking Cap Ornament Tutorial Step 5
Comb all those tails into a little ponytail and tie a piece of fishing line around it. This will also be your ornament hanger, so tie the ends of the fishing line into a loop.

Stocking Cap Ornament Tutorial Step 6
Be careful not to cut your fishing line, and trim the yarn ends into a little faux pom pom.

Stocking Cap Ornament Tutorial
Every one of my little hats came out slightly different in size, and I love it. It’s like a Dr. Suess crowd scene with short hats and tall hats, long skinny hats and squat hats. And each one makes me want to get a hot chocolate and put eh after everything I say.

If your kids can rainbow loom, they can totally make this hat. I think it would make a pretty great teacher’s gift since it’s cute enough for the poor teacher to not have to put it on the back of the tree with any playdough ornaments.