grain sack tree skirt

by | Dec 4, 2014 | Holiday, Sewing | 22 comments

I intended to make a tutorial on how to make the grain sack tree skirt under our family room tree and it started out that way, but things went south about 1/3 of the way through.

grain sack tree skirt | miss mustard seed

 It may surprise you (or not) to know that I don’t usually have a plan when I make something.  Not a detailed plan, anyway.  I know what I want to make and I have a general idea how to make it and then I trust in my ability to wing-it.  I tend to be an optimist when it comes to DIY, which often works in my favor, but can sometimes get me in trouble.

It’s hard to get into too much trouble with a tree skirt, so I decided to fly by the seat of my pants and started cutting fabric.  I knew I didn’t have enough of the the antique hemp toweling I wanted to use, so I picked out a roll of plain hemp linen that complimented it.  Both lengths (the striped toweling and the plain) were 16″ wide.  I started with the blue striped, since I knew I would use all of it.  I cut it into 32″ lengths.  The fabric I was working with already had a crease down the center, so I used that as the center point for a triangle.

grain sack tree skirt | miss mustard seed

I used a yard stick as a straight edge and drew a pencil line from the top center to each of the bottom corners.

grain sack tree skirt | miss mustard seed

…and cut out the triangle.

grain sack tree skirt | miss mustard seed

I didn’t want to waste any of this antique fabric, so I used the two smaller scrap triangles to make another large triangle.  I just put the right sides together and stitched along the straight edge.

grain sack tree skirt | miss mustard seed

This is where the process pictures stop.  I will say that I wish we had a video of Kirste and I doing the geometry to figure out how many wedges we needed to make a complete skirt.  We actually got to pull pi out of the math arsenal and were patting ourselves on the back for being so clever.  The math told us we should make the plain wedges half the size of the blue striped wedges to have enough for a full circle, so that’s what we did.

Well, we ended up two wedges short.

My geometry teacher would shake his head.  Actually, he’d probably say, “Yep.  That’s Marian.”

Kriste and I laughed and I actually said, “I’m not sure how this happened!  The math was so sound.”

It worked out fine, though.  I cut two more large wedges out of the plain hemp fabric to finish the skirt.  I left a slit where the two larger plain wedges met and also cut out a hole for the trunk.

Then I left it alone for a few days.  I kept looking at it, thinking.  This is where winging it can slow me down.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to line it…maybe stitch along the seams to connect the two layers?  I’m not a precise seamstress, so the skirt didn’t lay flat and I didn’t think lining it would be very successful.  But what about the edges?  I knew I wanted to add a ruffle, but I wasn’t sure what kind or how.  After giving it a lot of thought and running my fingers over different fabric options, I decided to sew a ruffled border that would hide the raw edges.

grain sack tree skirt | miss mustard seed

I cut some lighter weight antique hemp linen into 2″ strips and sewed it around the edges, gathering and ruffling as I went, stitching it straight down the middle of the ruffle.  This fabric hardly frays at all, so I was able to leave the edges raw.  I liked the look so much, that I did the same around the opening for the tree trunk.

Miss Mustard Seed-294

Lastly, I stitched on eight twill ribbon ties (lining them up to make four bows) and trimmed all of the loose threads.

Miss Mustard Seed-291

My wonky stitching actually worked to my advantage and it lays nicely over the tree stand and allowed for a little overlap where the ties meet.

Miss Mustard Seed-3348

All of the tree skirts I’ve had have been store-bought or made for a freelance tutorial.  This is the first one I’ve made just for us and it’s my favorite.


  1. Erica H

    If you have to do geometry to make something, I’m out! 🙂

  2. Judy Pimperl

    I’m laughing because I can SOOO relate to your issues with trying to document in pics as you went while winging it. I do the same thing…
    Just yesterday, I was trying to document in pics the very simple project of “How to Properly Wrap a Gift Box”…simple, right? Well, just trying to remember to stop every time I made a simple fold in the paper to take a pic just didn’t work like it should have. It took me hours to sort through the pics to get them in the correct order to try to tell the story.
    It’s so much easier to just take pics of the finished product…I think I’m done with the tutorials!
    Your tree skirt is beautiful, and I LOVE the ruffled edge.

  3. Pamela @

    Isn’t some of our most challenging projects the ones that become our favorites? Maybe it is doing it for ourselves instead of just for show that makes it that much special. Though having to remember to stop and photograph for tutorials does interrupt the thought process. I often get done with a painting tutorial and realize I got so into the painting that I forget to photo all the steps. You skirt turned out lovely despite the math challenges. 🙂

  4. Jenna

    I love how it turned out–especially the ruffle on the hem, it’s so sweet and feminine.

  5. Kristin

    It is beautiful. I hate using patterns and wing it when it comes to sewing. I loathed using a pattern for my daughter’s leopard outfit years ago for Halloween. By the time I made the head portion I recall making cuts here and there to avoid the whole process. I make up a pattern myself or wing it–the only time I am that “free”–otherwise I am a very practical lady. 🙂 I winged it on both my tree skirts. A few years ago I made a tree skirt for the family tree. I had a vision and went with it. I used pre-quilted off-white fabric and added a trim of red gingham bias around the base to cover the raw edges. I secured with Velcro. Done.

  6. Kelly @ the Moon and Me

    A kindred spirit. 🙂
    You tackle sewing projects about like I do…and it usually works out just fine.
    I love your tree skirt. Mine’s been waiting for its ruffle for 2 years now. 🙂
    have a wonderful Christmas!

  7. Deanna

    I love how it turned out. It’s perfect for your house and style!

  8. Jelena

    The tree skirt is so pretty, Marian! I love that ruffle, and might use the same kind on one of the curtains I am getting ready to make.

  9. Amber

    Superb job no one can tell you winged it at all. Attempting to make my first family stockings out of grain sack fabric myself. I don’t even know how to sew so wish me luck! Merry Christmas

  10. Jessica @ Dear Emmeline

    Turned out perfect! Big fan of your wrapping paper too! I’d love to know where you bought it.

  11. Winnie

    Listening to you “winging it” really makes the pattern-using perfectionist in me just crazy!! But I must say that I think I need to work on that aspect of myself, because your things seem to always turn out looking pretty good! Bravo to you, Marian . . .

  12. Jennifer W

    So beautifully sweet!

  13. Tina

    I’m so glad to hear this, Marian. I have these brain…um..interuptions…all the time! LOL It blends beautifully with your home. The ones I have made for our tree are my favs, too. Enjoy your holidays!

  14. Ellie LaJuett

    I think it turned out great!

  15. Jill Flory

    Marian was it the seam allowances that messed it up? I always forget to figure them in when I’m doing the math!

  16. Tina

    I am totally in the “wing it” camp when it comes to sewing ! Although, for me I have to stick with home decor sewing for some reason winging it doesn’t work out so well for clothing! Haha love the tree skirt and love even more that you made it just for yourself!

  17. Cindy@DIYbeautify

    Marion, it’s so nice to read that a professional decorator also wings the sewing! This has gotten me into trouble more than once too, but I {usually} seem to be able to find my way out. I LOVE your tree skirt, it has your unique look 🙂

  18. Cynthia

    It’s perfect Marian~ I love the bows!
    Happiest of Holidays to you and your family

  19. Jennifer Brennan

    The tree skirt is beautiful. It will compliment your home nicely for the holidays.

  20. Pat

    It’s my new favorite tree skirt too! Thanks for the post.

  21. Kira

    LOVE this!

    Your blog has become my new ‘Pinterest.’ I can’t wait to try out some of the milk paint. I’m asking a few of my friends with stores if they will look at it and consider carrying it. Thank you for sharing!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


Subscribe today

and receive a FREE e-version of my planning sheets!


Articles by Date


our sponsors

Bliss and Tell Branding Company