My Christmas Tree Skirt

By Sally Miller

I inherited a Christmas tree skirt which was hand stitched by my mother in 1956.  I know because she stitched her initials and date into the skirt.  In 1956 I started kindergarten.

The skirt was made of white wool felt.  My mother embroidered 7 sequined poinsettias which were then sewn onto the felt circle.  Two different kinds of trim were also hand sewn onto the white wool felt skirt, and a lot more red sequins.

My mother died in 1977.  My father died in 1987, and that is when I inherited this Christmas tree skirt.  By the early 1990’s the cotton thread which my mother used was nearly 40 years old, and some of the sequins and beads began to fall off.  Cotton thread can rot.  Sequins and glass beads can have sharp edges which are not always kind to cotton thread.

My mother taught me to knit.  My mother taught me to crochet.  My mother taught me a lot about hand sewing, including embroidery with a hoop.  My mother taught me to use a sewing machine and to make clothes. But with all the beaded projects my mother completed, I never learned to sew on a sequin, nor did I ever learn any projects involving beads.

Thirty years ago, I had the intention of learning to sew on a sequin and repairing the skirt.  But before I got started, the fabric was stained.  Cat and hairballs.  Sequined projects are difficult to clean. The Christmas tree skirt was now beyond repair.  The intention changed to a complete re-make. It was never the highest priority project.

About 15 years ago, I signed up for a class in bead embroidery and discovered sewing on a sequin is not rocket science.  I also discovered a love of beading. The project was daunting.  I kept procrastinating. Over the years I contemplated a number of different design plans.  Never put pencil to paper or did much of anything else to make the plans concrete. About the most I did was look at fabrics.  I kept coming back to red sequined poinsettias. 

Two years ago, I bought ultra-suede to serve as the foundation for the Christmas tree skirt.  Then my sister got sick.  The ultra-suede was stored safely on a cardboard roller and wrapped in plastic in the same closet with the Christmas decorations.

2020. Now is the time to create my own Christmas tree skirt.  Red sequined poinsettias are part of the plan.  The poinsettias I have in mind will be different than the ones my mother created.  I have some ideas about the rest of the plan but am willing to allow the project to reveal itself along the path. 

In 2020, we need to take care of our souls, our creative selves, our psyches, as well as taking care of others.  This project of making a beaded Christmas tree skirt is the most ambitious of the projects I have undertaken this year.  It is also the oldest project on the mental “to do” list.

Before I could proceed to create a new Christmas tree skirt, I needed to move forward from my emotional attachment to that Christmas tree skirt my mother created, as well as the design she created. Now I understand my mother’s creation, some 64 years ago, as the inspiration for my ambitious 2020 undertaking!

I finally realized that designing and creating a new beaded Christmas tree skirt will honor my mother MORE than merely repairing or copying her original design.

Why was that so hard to understand?

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jane Jenkins

    I love this story, Sally! The imagery speaks to me in a way that connects with my own memories of family heirlooms. A treasured baby quilt my Grandmother made for me that was subsequently almost destroyed when I allowed it to go home with my grandson will now be reinvented with the salvageable parts and I will have honored my grandmother’s vision. Thanks!

  2. Anne Konigsmark

    Heartwarming with love. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good season!

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