Appliquéd Heirloom Christmas Tree Tutorial

heirloom christmas tree

Appliqued heirloom Christmas tree by Trisha Smith

Christmas memories are like having treasured heirlooms in our hearts for a lifetime. Create a cherished memory for your little girl by making her a special holiday dress. On this dress, the appliquéd tree designed by Trisha Smith is decorated with a tatted garland and then embellished with Swarovski Hot Fix Crystals to add a little bling. It all comes together to give the dress an heirloom feel. Of course, the tree would look great on other projects as well; add it to decorative pillows, festive aprons and more! Follow Trisha’s tutorial, as featured in our October/November 2013 issue of Sew Beautiful (#150), to create the heirloom Christmas tree.

What you’ll need:

  • Pattern
    • Your favorite A-line jumper pattern
    • Click here for appliqué template (NOTE: The template is included in two sizes on the magazine centerfold. The version included here is the larger version)
  • Fabric
    • Pink corduroy for jumper
    • 10-inch square of green corduroy for tree
    • Two 4- x 11-inch pieces of white fluffy fabric for snow
    • Scrap of brown fabric for tree trunk (Ultrasuede works great)
  • Trim
    • 1 yard of tatting
  • Notions
    • Hot Fix Gun
    • Hot Fix Crystals (11 pieces)
  • Thread
    • Lightweight for bobbin that matches garment’s background
    • Machine embroidery for appliqué (green, white and brown)
    • Lightweight white for sewing on, size 60 or 80
  • Supplies
    • 9- x 12-inch piece of Steam-A-Seam 2
    • 10-inch square of tear-away stabilizer
    • Glue Baste-It for placement of tatting
    • Open toe appliqué foot
    • Awl

Product Notes:

Steam-A-Seam 2: Steam-A-Seam 2 is a double-sided fusible stabilizer. It is slightly sticky and may be re-positioned until it has been ironed. TIP: Always use a press cloth when working with a fusible!

Glue-Baste-It: When gluing tatting in place, be sure of placement before putting glue to fabric. This glue washes out but it holds very nicely. If you should have to reposition the tatting before stitching, the firm hold of the glue could mar your fabric.

heirloom christmas tree

Appliquéd heirloom Christmas tree

How to make it:

Preparing and Positioning Appliqué

1. Trace tree and trunk design on to Steam-A-Seam 2 (fig. 1).

2. Cut out each drawn design of Steam-A-Seam 2, leaving extra space around outer edges (fig. 2).

3. Peel away only back layer of paper from Steam-A-Steam 2.

4. Press tree and trunk fabric pieces to remove wrinkles.

5. Position tree and trunk design onto wrong side of fabric, carefully following correct grain line on the fabric. TIP: Corduroy has a nap – “Pat the Bunny,” smooth goes down! Fuse Steam- A-Seam 2 in place following package directions.

6. Cut out tree and trunk designs exactly on drawn lines (fig. 3).

7. Peel away paper backing from Steam-A-Seam 2 on tree and trunk. Position tree on garment in desired location and pat in place with your hand but do not iron yet. Lift lower center edge of tree and slide top edge of trunk up under tree fabric and hand press trunk in place. With iron, fuse these two pieces in place permanently (fig. 4).

Basic Applique Techniques

Machine Set-Up: Use a bobbin with lightweight thread that matches the background color of the garment fabric. This will eliminate the need to change bobbin thread for every needle thread color change. Thread the machine with embroidery thread that matches the applique design. Lower the machine’s upper tension to 3 or less, which will cause the needle thread to pull to the bottom; this will give a more satin-looking stitch on top. Use an open toe applique foot and engage needle down option if available.

Place a piece of tear-a-way stabilizer on the wrong side of the fabric under the area that will be stitched. As you stitch the design, always pivot when the needle is on the outside edge of the applique fabric. Sew fast and move the fabric slowly. When the tree has been appliqued on (see stitching order that follows), remove the stabilizer from the wrong side of the fabric around the outside edges of the tree but do not remove the stabilizer that’s inside the tree area. This stabilizer will help when stitching tatting to the design later.

Stitching Applique Design

1. Stitch tree trunk first using a stretch straight stitch (L=3.0). Stitch along each outer edge first. Next, stitch a few rows of curved stitching on actual trunk to add depth (fig. 5). Pull thread tails to wrong side and tie off.

2. Satin stitch tree (W=2.5 – 3.0; L=0.35.) (Test machine and adjust as needed).

3. Make snow (see directions below), and blanket-stitch snow in place.

Making Snow

Stitching together two pieces of fabric gives snow a full, fluffy appearance.

1. Transfer snow design to a plain piece of paper. Roughly cut out around drawn design.

2. Place two pieces of white snow fabric with right sides together.

3. Place snow pattern on top of fabric and pin in place. Stitch on drawn line that is on paper (fig. 6).

4. Trim seam allowance to slightly less than 1/4 inch and tear away all paper. Make a small 1-1/2 to 2-inch slit in center back through only one layer of fabric.

5. Turn right side out. Press if fabric will allow. Position snow on garment with cut down next to fabric. Pin, glue, or hand-baste snow to garment. Using white thread in bobbin and needle, stitch, using a blanket stitch to applique snow in place (fig. 7).

Embellishing Tree with Tatting

1. Start at top of tree and shape tatting onto tree. Flip tatting at each turn. TIP: Use lots of glass-head pins, placing them at an angle so you can iron over them once tatting is in place.

2. Drape tatting in between points; do not pull too tight. Steam press over pins using a press cloth to shape tatting.

3. Remove all pins except pins at each point and press again. Remove all pins and press again.

4. Put pins back in at each point. Use Glue-Baste-It to attach tatting to tree fabric, removing pins as you come to them (fig. 8).

5. Set machine for a zigzag stitch (W=1.5; L=1.0). Adjust width and length as needed per your machine. Use an open toe foot that will give you good visibility and yet hold tatting in place.

6. Stitch over header thread in tatting to secure it to tree. As you stitch, use a large awl to help hold tatting down. Gently remove remaining stabilizer from wrong side of fabric (fig. 9).

7.  Add ornaments using a Hot Fix Gun and crystals to decorate tree.


Trisha Smith is the designer of Trisha’s Treasures patterns, which can be purchased at speciality fabric shops across the country. She has taught throughout the country, including classes at the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion and The Children’s Corner in Nashville. Her work has been published in previous issues of Sew Beautiful. Visit her on Facebook at “Patterns by Trisha’s Treasures.”


Check out this tutorial by Connie Palmer for another heirloom Christmas tree appliqué idea!

Plus, shop these holiday products in our online shop for much more inspiration:

Retro Christmas Stitchin’ machine embroidery download

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