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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blue and Silver Christmas Day 3 - Pencil Trees

Today's project is another fun one to do with kids (if you're patient and not in a hurry). I've seen these "Yo Yo Trees" all over around the web as they're quite popular in the quilting world. But most of them used bland fabrics and were just plain green and rather dull (in my opinion). Then I saw a cute variation in THIS free eZine. LOVED the idea of using a variety of fabrics. But I'm trying to keep as many of my projects as kid-friendly and budget-friendly as possible and didn't want to go through the hassle of tracking down the right size dowels and cutting them just so AND I didn't love the whole wooden spool thing. It's cute for the quilter, but I'm not a quilter. And I want these in my living room... blah blah blah.

SOooooo... I improvised (as all good inventors do, right??). I decided a pencil was a much more logical and economical item to use rather than a dowel. They can be purchased for pennies, don't have to be cut with a saw, and most people have tons of extras laying around all sad just waiting to be used. PLUS the erasers provide excellent traction on the bottom to keep them from sliding around, so no spool is even needed!

Awesome.  So I'm officially renaming MY version of the Yo Yo Tree the Pencil Tree.

I just created the circles in InDesign and printed the PDF's. Please email me if you'd like a copy immediately, and I'll send you the PDF. I'll try to get them in jpegs soon. Basically you make 9 circles. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 inches wide.

Then I went to my scrap fabric bin and grabbed some that fit the color combo I wanted. I realize I'm at a huge advantage as I literally have thousands of yards of fabric in my home, but fat quarters and fabric scrap lots can be purchased on ebay and craigslist for pretty cheap. And don't forget garage sales!

So I stacked them up to see what order I wanted them in and ended up repeating a couple prints. I put the circle patterns on top of each one just to make sure each one would work since these were all small scraps. Truthfully, this was probably the hardest part of the entire project. I tend to over-analyze!

Items needed:

Pencil (I sharpened mine to 7.5" from bottom of the eraser to the tip of the point. You can make them smaller if you want and just squash the layers a bit more flat.)
Fabric scraps
Needle and thread

Tree Topper:

Trace your pattern onto your fabric. Since the edges will be tucked way in the center of your tree, don't worry about getting pen on your fabric. :)

Here they are all stacked up, so I could again over-analyze and make sure I liked the order of the prints...

Then thread a needle and tie a knot in the end. Stitch around the edges. If you're new to sewing like my 4-year-old and 6-year-old, you may find yourself painstakingly pulling each stitch through to the other side. That worked for them as it kept them from poking themselves too much. But if you're looking to save time, it helps to just kind of wind your needle back and forth and then pull and bunch after you don't have any room left on your needle. Like this:

Then make sure the right side is facing out, and pull it tight. Then make a few stitches, pulling your needle through your stitch to make a knot (Again, trying to explain this for beginners. If you're already a pro, just go ahead and end your stitch your way. :) )

Now flatten it out and make a slit in the center on the bottom.

NOTE: You could also make a slit in the center before stitching. It's slightly easier that way, but I found my kids' stitches weren't very uniform (some were 1/8" from edge, some were 3/4" from the edge), so the slit didn't always end up in the center if I had done the slits before. This was I could make the slits directly where the "new" center was...

Then stack them on your pencil. :)  I'm not holding this pencil up. It stands on its own with even just one layer.

Once all layers are on, you just need a tree topper.

Again thinking of kids and budget, I just drew a star on paper, traced just barely around the outside of it to make it more rounded and cute, and let the kids cut it out. Then traced that one and cut a second to make them uniform.

"Laminate" the stars by putting packing tape on each side, and then I cut along the bottom edge all the way to the paper to make an opening, so it would fit like a little glove on top of the tree.

Looked ghetto like this:

Glitter and ModPodge make everything better:

My girls are decorating their bedroom in pink Christmas decorations (of course), so their trees are pink. And my 6-year-old found a cute flower she wanted to use as her tree topper, so we'll be hot gluing that on today when she gets home from school. :)

I'm linking to:

The DIY Show Off



  1. Love it! You are so creative!

  2. Oh cool! I definitely would have thought you'd need cardboard in the bottom or something. This is great.

    popping by from the DIY show off :)

  3. Very cute and love the color and fabrics you chose.


I LOVE your comments! They're the reason I blog. If you've used one of my tutorials or found them helpful, I'd also love to see pics! You can post them on my FB page or send an email: attemptingaloha @ gmail . com