This Christmas Tree Quilt Block is easy and fun and should make a dent in your Christmas fabrics scrap pile!
You don’t need any complicated measuring or math for this block, we are going to make these christmas tree blocks ‘improv-style’ and I have two methods for you to try.
So grab your scraps and some background fabric and let’s get sewing!
Table of contents
- Red & Green Fabric Strips of various lengths and/or an already pieced crumb quilt block in green prints & shades. (Or just some Christmassy green fabric if you want to make it super simple!)
- Background fabric – you can use one big piece or use scraps in a similar shade
- Small brown fabric scrap (for the tree trunk)
- A triangle ruler, accuquilt die (I used the 5″ x 6″ Isosceles Triangle Die), or a freehand drawn triangle.
- Optional – small yellow scrap of fabric, a gold button, or even star-shaped buttons – for a star on top of your tree
- Optional – square quilting rulers for trimming your final blocks
How to Make a Scrappy Christmas Tree Quilt Blocks
Time needed: 30 minutes.
This is an improv piecing method so I’m going to be asking you to step out of your comfort zone and leave the precise measuring behind. Trust me – this will be fun!
- Pick the Size of Your Tree (Triangle)
While we won’t be precisely measuring our fabrics ahead of time we do want to have a rough guide for what size we want the Christmas Tree to be.
Keeping in mind the size of quilt block you want to make, find (or draw) a triangle shape that would fit well within that size of block.
So for example I used my AccuQuilt Isosceles Triangle Die – which cuts a 5″ x 6″ triangle and finished with a 12″ quilt block.
You can use any triangle ruler or just draw a triangle shape and use that as your guide. You can make these Christmas Tree Quilt Blocks as small or as large as you like!
- Create your Tree
I made these tree blocks using two different methods for the main body of the tree itself.
If you are already a crumb quilter you might have some ready-made crumb blocks you can use as the basis of your scrappy tree.
I like to make one-color crumb quilt blocks so I already had one in green ready-made. Crumb blocks make great patchwork trees and they cut down on fabric waste too.
If not you can also use scrap fabric strips of any width to improv piece your tree.
- Improv Piecing
If you are using an existing crumb block you can skip this step.
See image below to make sense of the written instructions!
-To improv piece your tree, start with an off-kilter-looking triangle to be the top of your tree. This should be a scrap of green fabric.
-Next, sew a red scrap of fabric to the green scrap on the edge the lowest edge of that first scrap, right sides together with a 1/4″seam allowance – we are making a red garland that runs along your Christmas Tree.
-Press open and sew another scrap of green to that red scrap. Make sure each strip is slightly longer than the one before.
– Press open again and then trim at an angle in the opposite direction to your first red piece of ‘garland’….imagine stringing a red garland onto a tree and follow the line you want the garland to go in…or check out my video tutorial below if this is making no sense!
– Keep alternating green, red, green, red and changing up the direction of the angle by trimming just before you add each red piece.
– As you get further down your tree go back to the triangle shape you are using as your reference so you know that your tree is big enough. When your slap of scrappy strips covers your whole triangle – you are done with this step!
- Cut out your Tree
Once you have either a crumb block in green or a slab of green and red stripey pieced fabric you are ready to cut out your tree.
As I said I used my accuquilt die to cut the triangle shape for my trees but you can use any triangle ruler or just cut a triangle with a straight-edged ruler to the size you want.
- Add Background Fabric
Choose a piece of background fabric to add to your tree piece.
White fabric works well but I used denim too – see my photos below! White backgrounds obviously are going to look like snow but you can get creative and use whatever you like!
Your background fabric should be longer than the longest side of your tree and at least half the width of your estimated final block size and sew right sides together on one long side of your tree.
As a guide I used a fat quarter for the background on this block but I had plenty left over.
– Sew along one long side of the tree with the right sides of the fabrics together.
– Trim the background fabric to follow the lines of the unsewn sides of the tree (see photos below)
– Repeat on the other long side of your tree.
– Fold in half down the middle of the tree and trim so that the top and sides of this section have straight lines and match each other.
If your background fabric is too small for your desired block size you can just add extra strips of fabric to the top or sides as needed later on so don’t stress about this bit.
If this kind of no-measuring improv piecing is new to you, it might make more sense if you watch the video tutorial.
- Cut your Tree Trunk
To add your tree trunk take your brown strip of fabric and ‘eyeball’ a size for your tree trunk.
For the trunk of my 5″ x 6″ tree I cut a trunk that was roughly two fingers wide and a little less than two fingers high (see the video tutorial).
Trust your judgment about how big your trunk needs to be to look right for your tree. Just remember you need to get your 1/4″ seam allowance in to piece it as well.
- Add Background Fabric to Tree Trunk Section
Whatever height your tree trunk is cut two strips of your background fabric to the same height and half the width of the block you want to make.
Sew these strips to either side of your tree trunk.
For a more free-form approach to piecing this bit see how I do it in my video below – no measuring at all!
- Sew Tree Tunk and Tree Sections Together
Find the midpoint of your tree by folding it in half and lining up the middle of your tree trunk with that point.
Sew the trunk and tree sections together.
- Add an additional Background Strip
I added an additional strip of background fabric below the trunk.
Again I didn’t measure I just aimed to make it roughly the same distance from the top of the tree and the bottom of the trunk to the outer edge of the block.
Other options for the bottom of the blocks would be to pick a fabric color for the ground, snow, or grass and piece something below the tree for it to ‘stand on’.
- Trim Final Block to Size
Lastly, trim your block down to the finished desired size.
I use my fingers and hands to center my tree and a large square quilting ruler to trim my block to size.
This is the finished block that started as a crumb block (It needs a proper press I’ll grant you but I’m still happy with how it came out!). I think this makes a lovely modern christmas tree block.
This is the version with the improv scrap fabric srips – the background fabric for this one is a pair of old jeans. I love making quilts out of old jeans.
Here is a bonus mini block. After trimming the main triangles on my accuquilt I found that the scraps had made a secondary mini tree!
Here is another denim tree block I managed to make with what was left from the first block
These are some bonus crumb block trees made from the excess fabric from the first few trees! I haven’t made them into blocks yet.
- If the scraps that get trimmed off during improv piecing gives you stress, you can chain-piece them as you trim to create additional crumb blocks. Then cut additional trees from these to make ‘bonus blocks’.
- Remember there is no way to get this wrong! If your tree ends up smaller than you expected – make a smaller block or keep adding to it until it gets bigger. Have fun with it!
Frequently Asked Questions
You are going to hate this answer – you don’t calculate. This process is about playing with scraps and fabric and using your intuition.
We are using the ‘eyeballing’ method of calculating and this gets easier the more you do it.
If this kind of sewing makes you nervous I suggest you only use scraps to start. Pull out 3 piles of scraps – green, red, and background fabric. Take out more than you are likely to need and work from there.
So many fun holiday projects!
– make lots of blocks and make a full Christmas Tree Quilt
– combine these tree blocks with other Christmas Quilt Blocks to make a Christmas Sampler Quilt
– make Christmas Cushion Covers
– make 3 or 4 blocks and sew them together to make a table runner
– turn mini blocks into coasters or Christmas Tree decorations
– use one large block as a holiday season wall hanging or a mini quilt
– use two blocks to make a fabric gift bag (see links below for my gift bag tutorial)