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Christmas Tree Quilt with Squares and Half-Square Triangles

This is a story about taking a design that’s rather plain and adding a few extra touches to make it uniquely your own.

I just finished this quilted wallhanging last week  (No, I was not late for last Christmas — I was getting a really big head start on next Christmas!)

Here’s how it all happened. I saw a few Internet photos of Christmas Tree quilts made from squares and half-square triangles. They looked really easy to make, and my very favorite quilting term is EZ. I can cut out a square! I can make a half-square triangle block!

The photos I saw inspired me to break out my Electric Quilt software and create my own variation of the design:

Since this quilt is made entirely from fabric squares, it would lend itself handsomely to a scrappy approach, but I decided to use just one green fabric for the tree and one off-white print for the background. For the border I used four different red prints.

First, I cut the following 3½’” squares:

  • 32 off-white background squares
  • 38 red squares
  • 44 green squares
  • 2 brown squares

Then I cut  4” squares to make half-square triangle blocks.

  • 10 green squares
  • 8 white squares
  • 2 red squares

I sewed the 4″ squares into half-square triangle blocks. I made the blocks a little big and trimmed them to 3½’” after making them.

  • 16 Green/white triangle blocks (8 white squares and 8 green squares)
  • 4 Green/red triangle blocks (2 red squares and 2 green squares)

Then it was time to lay out the quilt. I sewed the blocks together one row at a time, then sewed the rows together from the top of the quilt to the bottom.

When it was completely pieced, the top looked like this. Hmm. A little too plain.

I machine-quilted the top, using a stipple for the background:

And a free-motion zigzag pattern for the tree.

That big mass of green still looked awfully plain. But what if I decorated the tree? How about a few garlands and other decorations? I dug into my yarn box and found these:

I twisted the two yarns loosely together and arranged them on the tree. Better, but still pretty plain. Maybe a few birds would do the trick.

I found some fabric scraps that I had already backed with fusible web for previous projects. I traced a little dove pattern I’d been saving from an old Martha Stewart magazine onto the paper backing, making sure to flip the pattern over sometimes so that some of the birds faced in each direction. Then I arranged the birds on top of the yarn.

Now that looked good! I took this photo so I could see how I had arranged them, then removed the birds so I could use quilt basting spray to glue the yarn in place for stitching.

I couched the yarn onto the quilt by sewing over the yarn with the widest, most open zig-zag stitch my sewing machine could make.   

From viewing distance, the yarn looks almost like I needle felted it onto the quilt top.

Once the yarn was secured, I used a hot iron to fuse the birds to the quilt, right on top of the yarn in places, then free-motion stitched around the edges to secure them.

Looking better!

Next, I fused a yellow star to the very top of the tree.

Finally, the binding. I happened to have some beautiful upholstery trim my stepmother sent me a few years ago.

Instead of using a traditional binding to finish the quilt’s edges, I stay-stitched the edges by sewing all around the quilt with a medium zig-zag stitch.

I pinned some hanging triangles to the back of the quilt so it can be hung on the wall.

Then I pinned the trim to the front of the quilt and sewed it in place with a straight stitch. The same line of stitching also secured the hanging triangles.

There was only one little change left to make. The yellow fabric I’d used for the star looked awfully pale, so I borrowed my daughter’s fabric markers and colored the star a deeper yellow.

Now I’m really happy with the finished quilt.


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