This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in December 2014.
Combine my favorite holiday season + testing my hand at a new DIY skill + an effort in Scandinavian design, and what do you get? A perfect little tree skirt!
Needle felting is a craft I’ve admired a lot lately; people with experience than myself make beautiful woolen animals and objects, and decorate their wool sweaters, so when the idea arose to make a new tree skirt to coordinate with our blossoming collection of crafty Scandinavian holiday decor, I thought that needle-working it would be a great way to make something practical, while trying something new.
I used a package of full-size quilt batting for the base of my tree skirt. It’s fluffy, available inexpensively, and a wide size to fit well beneath a large tree.
Begin by cutting your full-size quilt batting sheet into a circle. If you fold your batting in half or into quarters, you’ll find it a little easier than trying to cut a perfect circle out of a flat sheet.
Still folded, you’ll want to cut another circle in the center of your batting that will wrap around the tree trunk and stand.
Unfold your batting at this point, and trim a straight line from the outer edge to the inner circle. This will make it possible for you to slide the tree skirt around the tree.
The beauty of a custom project like this is, you can take it in almost any direction to suit your holiday decor style. Choose colors to suit your own taste, and get creative with patterns. Our style is veering Scandinavian, so I gravitated towards reds and blacks, but supplemented with teal and green when I was choosing colors of wool roving and felted wool rolls at the store. In this design, I used one 12″x12″ sheet of teal, one 12″x12″ sheet of red, one black wool pencil roving (essentially, thick yarn), and a single felting needle.
If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to buy needle felting tools. Felting needles which are different than straight pins because they have a little tooth on the end that grabs the wool fibers to force them through the layer you’re affixing them to, connecting and entangling them. I found a pack of two for $6 at my local craft store, and you’ll find that there are lots of varieties available at a range of costs.
I chose to impress modern-looking trees upon my tree skirt design, and I made a template before I got cutting to help ensure that all of the pieces would be the same size, and the proportion that I wished to have.
My tree was symmetrical, but with alternating red and teal colors. From the above design I trimmed the paper so that I had a template for the top, middle, and bottom sections of each tree.
From there, I trimmed carefully through each 12″x12″ sheet of felted wool, obtaining 8 tree tops, 8 tree middles, and 8 tree bottoms from each color. There was very, very little scrap remaining so be diligent to maximize each sheet, or else you’ll run short.
Organize your trees onto the spread out quilt batting, and attach them in place with straight pins.
You’ll need to place your quilt batting on top of a soft surface before you begin felting with the needle. The needle and fibers will need to penetrate through something soft in order to work effectively. A small piece of styrofoam came with my felting needle, but I used a 2″ thick piece of high-density foam beneath my area so that the needle had plenty of room to plunge. It worked really well.
Use the felting needle to attach each section to the underlying batting by, essentially, using your hand like the needle on a sewing machine and POKE-POKE-POKE, STAB-STAB-STAB all around the edge and then in the middle of the area too. The needle with its toothy end will make a crunching sound as it forces through the layers, and though it took a long time to do all of the trees, I was able to see progress pretty quickly. After just a few pokes of the needle, the top lying tree design was beginning to be well-affixed to the batting. This is my new zen.
I had space between my colorful trees in which I planned to add in additional details; circles, snowflakes, I knew something would work well to add a little more personality to the tree skirt. I sketched a few different ideas on a sheet of paper, and ended up liking these simple black tree forms the best.
Using a length of wool pencil roving (which is wool roving pulled into a thick yarn-like length), I modeled each tree and used the felting pin to bore into the high-density foam and made the shape permanent.
If you’re curious what it looks like from the underside of the skirt, here you can see the black threads tangling in the white batting.
Set up your finished piece beneath the tree, and voila! My first felted piece, and an easy tree skirt.