Tag Archives: sewing

She’s Crafty: That Time a Made a Tree Skirt

Remember back in November when I took on the goal of improving my craftiness?  Well, I went balls to the wall crafty in the month of December and haven’t done a damn thing since then. I burnt myself out. I knitted so much right before Christmas my wrists hurt. Physical pain.

But some time has passed, and I’m ready to get my craft on again. I’ve also decided to share my projects with you on a monthly (or maybe twice monthly depending on the amount of craftiness I’m rocking over here) series – cleverly named She’s Crafty. This accomplishes two things 1) it makes me continue to grow my crafting skills and 2) it creates a blog series which was one of my #28DBC goals.

For this first installment, I’m sharing the project I’m definitely most proud of. Friends, I sewed a mother-effing tree skirt, and it turned out awesome!

Running In Chucks tree skirt finished

This project was not as quick and easy as I was expecting hoping it would be.  Beginner mistakes were made.  I actually almost cried…more than once. But I now have a handmade tree skirt to celebrate Christmas for years to come. Here’s how the trauma it went down.

I used this pattern from McCalls.  (I also planned to make the stockings, but my mom thought they looked like a fun project so she actually made them for me.) I cut out the pattern and then laid out my fabrics and interfacing to cut the pieces.  Mistake #1 occurred here.  I forgot to iron my fabric until it was too late (read: after I started cutting.)  This is also the point at which I learned I have no good space in my house to do this. Cutting the pieces was a pain in the ass, but I got it done.

It was now time for the sewing begin! The first step was to baste the interfacing to the top pieces. Basting is basically temporarily sewing pieces together. Basting is also, in my opinion, the world’s biggest waste of time. At least for this project. I quickly discovered I could iron the pieces together and the interfacing would melt just enough to stick while I sewed one section to the next.  Easy peasy.

Unfortunately on top off the frustration of basting, my sewing machine was being an asshole. My bobbin wasn’t winding properly (though I discovered later that was my own fault – mistake #2.) My thread kept snapping. It was a hot mess. I called it quits for the night and decided to tackle the project at my mom’s house the next day. She has a nice sewing room with a cutting table, ironing board, and much more high tech machine.

It should be noted that at this point in my sewing career, I sew pretty damn slowly. Putting the sections for the back and front together was easy enough (once I was using a fully functional machine), but a slow process for sure – like 8 hours to put together 8 pieces for the top and 8 pieces for the bottom slow…but I got it done with little drama.

Tree Skirt partial

When it came time to sew the top and the bottom together things got messy (again.) Apparently sewing round edges is not my strong suit. Also, I realized I sewed the button loops on backwards (mistake #3) and had to do that a second time. At this point in the day I was tired, my back hurt, and I was getting really easily frustrated.  My mom offered to finish the skirt for me, but I really wanted to complete the project myself. Half and hour, and very little progress later, I reached that point where I needed to walk away or things would start rapidly progressing downhill. I really needed the project finished that day though so I surrendered and let my mom finish sewing the top and bottom together.

Despite not finishing the project 100% on my own, I’m really proud of myself for getting it done. I absolutely love it, and it looked awesome under the tree if I do say so myself.  Plus it cost far less than buying a tree skirt at the store because tree skirts are apparently ridiculously, absurdly expensive.  Of course, one could argue it cost me way more in time since I spent an entire Saturday working on it, but I like to think of that as the priceless element of the homemade tree skirt we’ll have for years to come!

She’s Crafty

A while ago I drafted a post about not being good at things.  That particular post focused a lot of strength training and lifting and the realization that I struggled to consistently strength train because I felt like I wasn’t good at it and didn’t like that feeling.  The post obviously never made it to the web.  Around the same time Rachel published a really great post along a similar line (and probably much more eloquently than I would have.)  My comment on Rachel’s post pretty much sums of that previously drafted post as well as touches on the point of this post – crafting.

Crafting (and DIY in general) is another one of those things that I’ve always wanted to do, but I’ve never felt particularly good at it.  Crafting brings out my inner perfectionist and makes me feel crappy every time I create something that isn’t as perfect as its store-bought counterpart.  And those feelings can be intensified when you look at the amazing projects floating around the blogosphere and Pinterest (oh god, Pinterest).  After a while I started to question whether crafting and DIY was something I actually wanted to be good at or just something I felt like I was supposed to be good at.  

But here’s the thing, I really do enjoy crafting.  I’ve been an on and off crafter my entire life.  In middle school, my mom brought me home a sewing machine from school (She’s a Home Ec teacher and they’d recently done away with the sewing program at her school.) and I made myself more scrunchies that is even reasonable.  I took up scrapbooking for a brief stint after high school.  I knitted for a while in college.  Inevitably though, I gave up on those things when they got hard.  When it came time to improve my skills (and ultimately mess up along the way.)  The only crafting I’ve ever really not given up on it food crafts and cake decorating.


If history shows me anything it’s that I really do enjoy creating things even though I don’t feel like a particularly creative person.  The other thing I’ve realized as I’ve gotten a bit older is how special handmade things really are.  I like being able to give handmade gifts.  I love the idea of a handmade Christmas, though I’m not sure I could ever get it together enough to pull that off.  But even more than that, the things that always make me reflect fondly on my childhood are all the things my mom made for me along the way – every decorated character cake she made, all the handmade Halloweeen costume, the fact that she made my senior prom dress.  These are things I want to be able to do for my child(ren) or my neices and nephews.

And so I’m taking on the goal of improving my crafting.  When I stopped knitting, it was because I got bored with knitting row after row to make a bajillion scarves.  I was never quite able to wrap my head around the purl stitch and I felt like without that, I couldn’t go any further. So this time that was wear I started.  Thanks to this book that Laura sent me nearly a year ago, I finally figured it out.  I also figured out how to knit in the round, alternate between knit and purl, and identify when I should knit or purl, and I’m about 2/3 of the way through a new cowl neck scarf for myself.  Yes, I’ve made errors, but I’m way more proud of the progress I’ve made.

I also had my mom dig out my old sewing machine from her basement.  This brings me to my next crafting goal: sewing.  I want to sew a dress (actually one of my Mission 101 goals) for myself to wear this holiday season (aka for Christmas and/ or New Years Eve).  Hoenstly, this is a pretty ambitous goal, but it’s something I really want to do.  I’m going to pick a simple pattern, and my mom had agreed to help me especially with fitting.  

The way I see it is like this: if I can actually manage to do a single, unmodified push-up now (which I totally did over the weekend friends!), I can definitely sew a dress.  It might not be perfect, but it will be awesome. 



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