A handmade fabric Christmas tree sits on a pink background. The festive fabric features popcorn and candy canes strung on the tree.

Christmas sewing project: Sew a squishy 3D Christmas tree

Christmas sewing project: Sew a squishy 3D Christmas tree

There's no denying that Christmas is on it's way! Writing this in the run-up to Christmas 2020, I'd say festive fever is peaking early this year. After the year we've all had, we all just need some fun and frivolity in our lives! So today I'm going to share with you a simple but effective sewing project to add to your Christmas decor.

felt hedgehog sewing kit for children to learn to sew

For anyone who has stumbled across the Stitch Club sewing blog - welcome! Stitch Club started life as a children's sewing club in Sussex, UK. 2020 saw the launch of a range of sewing kits based on designs we've sewn successfully with kids as young as 9 years old. But plenty of adults are enjoying them too! Check out our shop pages to see the Stitch Club sewing kits.

This tree is a fun Christmas sewing project which we've sewn with both adults and children. The original version was the plain green fleece one, which we made with our young students at Stitch Club several years ago. They had so much fun with this as they got to sew little sparkly sequins and bells on at the end. It was a real hit!

 

Here's one of our students sewing sparkly things onto her tree:

a child sews decorations onto a handmade fleece Christmas tree

In subsequent years we also sewed the printed fabric version with children, and additionally ran a really enjoyable adult class to make these! You can have fun with your fabric choices - go green if you want a 'real' tree feel, and then you could add embellishments afterwards. The tree is made from several different tree cut-outs so you can go for a patchwork mix and match effect too. For this sample I couldn't resist this candy cane and popcorn fabric!

 

fleece Christmas trees, handmade and decorated by children with buttons

 

To create the tree, pairs of tree-shapes are sewn together and stuffed. When you look at the photographs you'll see that the fleece tree has four 'sides' and the cotton fabric tree has six 'sides'. It's a good idea to stick to just four if you're using fleece because the project will be bulkier. If you're using woven cotton fabric you can choose whether to go for four or six.

Gather your supplies - what you'll need:

  • Half a metre of cotton fabric if you're making the full six shapes.
  • Quarter of a metre if you're sticking to four. A fat quarter is fine, but quilting fabrics can be quite narrow - some only 110cm wide. This does work, but is a bit of a squeeze. Plan your cutting carefully.
  • If you're using fleece, this tends to be a very wide fabric, and quarter of a metre is ample.
  • Sewing thread to coordinate with your fabric, pins, and a hand sewing needle.
  • Sharp scissors.
  • Around 150g toy stuffing.
  • Any embellishments like bells or sequins that you'd like to use.

 

First, download and print our free pattern template

 

The tutorial

Preparing your fabric

Begin by preparing your pattern pieces. The pattern template requires you to cut out the two shapes and stick them together where indicated. Use your pattern piece to cut either four or six shapes from your chosen fabric.

several christmas tree shapes cut out from fabric

When placing the pattern onto your fabric, make sure you position it straight. If you're tight on space and your fabric is either plain or has an 'any-way-up' print to it, then you can alternate positioning the template right way up or upside-down in your layout. This helps to nestle the pieces together and use less fabric.

With your tree shapes cut out, you're ready to get sewing.

 

Pin and sew

Take two fabric trees and place them right sides together (i.e. so that they look inside out, with the back of the fabric showing). Align the edges nicely and pin them together. Repeat with the other pieces so that you have either 4 or 6 pairs, depending on how many you decided on.

sewing together the layers of a christmas tree

Mark an opening centred along the base of the tree. You can simply mark with pin placement, or use a sewing pen with disappearing ink. As the bottom edge won't be visible, a normal pen will be fine if you're careful to mark discreetly. The pattern has marks on the bottom edge to indicate the opening.

Sew around the edge at a 1cm seam allowance, beginning and ending either side of the opening. Make sure you back-stitch to secure the stitches well.

When you reach each 'turning point', in order to make neat pivot, leave the needle in your sewing, before lifting the presser foot lever and turning the fabric.

This next step is very important to the finished appearance of your tree! You need to snip open the seam allowance at each of the inverse 'corners'. Using a sharp pair of scissors, snip to within about half a millimetre the stitching line. Be brave! You want to get nice and close, but don't actually cut your stitches. If you do have a mishap here, just re-sew the seam a little further in.

You also need to snip off each 'tip' including the top point.

how to sew a 3D Christmas tree

And repeat!

Repeat the above steps for the remaining pairs. Then, carefully turn each of them the right way out.
You may want to use something like a chopstick to get the points turning out as sharply as possible. If you nailed the snipping in the previous step, the points should sit nicely. If you have a lot of drag lines you can either just live with those, or turn inside out again to see if you can snip a bit closer to the seam in the affected areas.

Press

Heat up your iron and give everything a little press to get rid of those creases.

Final assembly

You just have one final seam to sew now! Take your tree sections and lay them on top of each other, all together. Line up the edges as much as you can, but pay particular attention to getting the top points aligned.
Pin them together well. You're about to sew down the centre to attach all of the layers. If you have a piece of chalk, a sewing pencil or pen, then you may like to draw a straight line to guide you. Even if you used a pen, you won't see it later as when the tree is stuffed that centre is really hidden. An alternative, is to lay a piece of masking tape or washi tape along the tree so that you can sew right next to that.
Stitch them together right down the middle.
sewing a Christmas tree with festive fabric

Stuffing and closing

The main bulk of the project is complete! All that remains is to fill each section with stuffing and close the gaps at the bottom. When stuffing, you should start with very small pieces, working them right into the top and the tips. Then as you continue to fill you can begin to add slightly larger pieces of stuffing. If you start with large chunks, you find that you may create a 'jam' and be unable to work any into the tips.
sewing up the base of the christmas tree by hand
When you're happy with the filling, sew the bottom edges together by hand. It takes a little while, and as you can see from this photo, you don't have to do an invisible stitch (i.e. ladder stitch) unless you really want a super tidy finish. As it's hidden underneath when you display the tree, it's fine to do a simple whipstitch, or whatever works for you.

 

I hope you enjoy sewing your tree! Let us know in the comments. If you're looking for some festive sewing that's ready-to-sew, take a look at our Christmas sewing kits.

Christmas sewing kits santa and hanging felt garland decorations

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