I'm sewing Christmas tree skirts for my two youngest adult children by special request. They picked the Starflake pattern designed by Linda Johnson of Calico Cat Patterns & Designs: www.thecalicocat.com. The pattern includes three sizes: 36", 48" and 60" in diameter. I opted for 48". Both Jeff and Allison wanted traditional reds and greens.
The Starflake pattern looks deceptively simple. But there are a LOT of bias edges in those diamonds, parallelograms and pie-shaped edge pieces!! I used dark green batik to help stabilize the star point units, and the straight-of-grain red strips on the outer border of the center star also helped anchor the adjacent stretchy edges.
After taming the bias, the next challenge was to achieve nice crisp points where the light-colored diamond shapes intersect with reds and greens at odd angles. I love to sew. But unsewing? Not so much! So I devised a method to minimize wear and tear on my seam ripper and my nerves while joining those tricky fabric intersections.
Here's the tip: When trying to achieve perfect points at angled fabric intersections, I machine baste the challenging intersection using a long stitch. I stitch only about one inch, and then check to see if I have a nice point before stitching the entire seam. That way, if I need to unsew, I only have one inch of large stitches to rip out instead of 16 or more inches of regular length stitches. It took two or three machine basted attempts on my first star point unit, but by the third unit, my basting was pretty much right on target. Once a basted intersection passes my inspection, I change my stitch length back to normal, and sew the long seam, sewing over the basting stitches.
The top of Jeff's tree skirt is pictured above, along with a photo of my machine basting trick (the seam ripper is my pointer in that photo). This project was back-burnered while I caught up on custom orders the past two weeks. I still need to machine quilt both tree skirts and bind them. I hope to get them in the mail and on the way to D.C. and Brooklyn before Thanksgiving. Wish me luck!
LeAnn aka pasqueflower