Hanging up the advent trees

To finish up the advent trees series, I show you how to make this easy hanging strip to display your trees.

Now you’ve created a set of advent trees, how do you display them?

You could hang them individually on the Christmas tree. Or you could make a hanging strip like this one. You can hang the trees vertically, as in the picture at the top of the post, or use it to hang them horizontally, for example along a mantelpiece. The one I make here takes three trees (you can easily extend it to more if you want) which you can mix and match if you change your mind.

In this version the trees hang from buttons, so you can move them around or replace them if you want. The problem with using buttons is that they will place some stress on the ribbon – if you just sew buttons directly to a satin ribbon then the weight of the trees will pull on the ribbon, distorting or splitting it and eventually breaking. To combat this, I use a grosgrain ribbon as the backing which is a bit more robust, and then sandwich a small piece of interfacing between the two ribbons to help stabilise the area. It won’t work for anything too heavy, but can take the weight of the advent trees (and any chocolatey goodies in the pockets).

Materials

  • 60cm (23″) grosgrain ribbon (thin enough to fit through your curtain ring and washer – mine was around 13mm)
  • 63cm (23″) decorative ribbon (width equal to or slightly smaller than grosgrain – mine was 10mm wide)
  • scraps of fusible interfacing
  • 3 buttons
  • 1 small plastic curtain ring (large enough to fit the ribbons through – mine was 2cm diameter)
  • 1 metal washer (similar size to the curtain ring – again, mine was 2cm diameter)

Materials needed to make the hanging strip.

Substitutions

These instructions show how I made my strip, but you’re pretty much free to adjust it to your heart’s content.

I made a hanging strip 60cm long with 3 buttons for hanging. To adjust to your own measurements, take the length you want the strip, add 3cm (approx 1″) for attaching the rings, and cut both ribbons to this length.

The button spacing here works best for hanging three trees; if you’re after a horizontal strip you might want them closer together. Try pinning them on the ribbon to work out your preferred spacing.

I use grosgrain ribbon for the back ribbon as it’s a little stronger and less likely to split under the weight of the hanging trees. You can use a satin ribbon, but you might find it doesn’t last as long.

The metal washer is to weight the strip if you’re hanging it vertically. You can use anything with a bit of weight that you attach to the bottom – it’s to stop it wafting around. I like the washer because it’s easy to attach, looks nice enough in its own right so you need to worry about covering it, and it’s pretty cheap to pick them up from a hardware shop. If you’re making it as a horizontal garland, you might want to replace this with a second plastic ring for hanging at both ends.

For speed, I just sew the buttons on at regular intervals, but you could stitch the length of the two ribbons together – iron on all the interfacing squares first, stitch down the length and then sew on the buttons. If you have a plain ribbon on top, you could use a decorative machine stitch here – check a scrap first to see if you need stabiliser. If so, try water soluble, or place tearaway stabiliser between the two ribbons before sewing.

Instructions

(Click on any image to enlarge it.)

Note: since the measurements don’t matter too much, I’ve rounded the measurements in inches – use either inches or centimetres, but if you mix and match, expect things not to quite add up!)

  1. Treat both ends of the ribbons to stop fraying.
    You could use fray check or hem the edges, but I prefer to seal the ends with a lighter – hold a flame close to the cut edge of the ribbon until the fibres melt together.

    Seal the ends of the ribbon by melting them with a flame - mind your fingers!

  2. Place the decorative ribbon on top of the grosgrain ribbon, aligning the ends, and wrap 15mm (1/2″) over the plastic ring. Stitch close to the ring.

    Fold both ribbons through the ring and sew to secure.

  3. Measure 9cm (3.5″) from the ring and iron a small scrap of interfacing to the grosgrain ribbon.
    Do this on the side of the ribbon that will be covered by the decorative ribbon on top – the interfacing will be hidden between the two ribbons.

    Apply a small square of interfacing between the ribbons.

    The interfacing is here to give it some strength. Without it, the weight of the tree will eventually cause the ribbon to split (especially if your trees are laden with chocolatey goodies). You could skip this step, but the hanging strip won’t last as long.

  4. Hold the two ribbons together and sew a button through all layers – both ribbons and the interfacing sandwiched in between.

    Sew the button to the top ribbon, sewing through both ribbons and sandwiching the interfacing in between.

  5. Measure another 16cm (6″) from the first button and repeat the interfacing and button.
  6. Sew the third button another 16cm (6″) from the second.
  7. Hold the two ends of ribbon together and trim to the same length. Seal the ends as before, wrap 15mm (1/2″) through the washer and sew close to the edge.

    Pass both ends of the ribbon through the washer and sew as for the top.

    This is just a repeat of step 1. I suggest waiting until you’ve sewn all the buttons on, though, as the ribbons always seem to shift – this way it keeps them together.

    The finished hanging strips: curtain ring to hang it up, three buttons to hang trees from and a metal washer t the end to weight it.


Here’s what the strip looks like if you hang the trees horizontally – this is the same strip I used for the vertical pictures, so you get two for the price of one!

...or horizontally, whichever you prefer.

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