My love of The Nutcracker has been well documented here. I attend the ballet every season—this year I’ll be seeing the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s version when my family comes to town—and last year I made these Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour nutcrackers to add to my collection.
As soon as it’s appropriate to start decorating for Christmas, I sprinkle as many nutcracker-related objects around my apartment as I can get away with. I’ve got nutcracker ornaments on my tree, nutcracker place card holders for Christmas dinner, a countdown-to-Christmas nutcracker, several dozen decorative wooden nutcrackers (including a few standouts like the hand-carved masterpiece I purchased from a woodworking shop in Austria, a bespoke specimen made in the image of my dog and a mariachi nutcracker that pays homage to my San Antonio home) and…a dog who is technically a year-round ode to The Nutcracker: I named her after Clara.
All this is to say that every year around Christmas, I’m eager to add still more nutcracker to my life. Last week, I turned my attention to the oft-forgotten tree skirt. After snagging a simple red felt tree skirt with a pretty scalloped edge from Target last year for a measly five bucks, I wanted to do something to dress it up a bit. You see where I’m going with this, right? A few hand-sketched stencils and a couple dozen sheets of felt later, I found myself draping this newly festooned skirt around my tree and feeling very happy indeed.
For this project, you’ll need the following:
• a plain felt tree skirt—there are a couple good options here and here
• sheets of crafting felt in various colors
• fabric glue
• good scissors
• black and red markers
• nutcracker stencils 1, 2 and 3
1. Print out all three sets of stencils onto sturdy paper and cut them out. Using the stencils, trace the head, hair, mustache, body, pants and two boots in different colors of felt for each nutcracker you’ll be making. I made eight in total, but you can make however many you want. These would also be great for dressing up individual stockings.
2. We want each nutcracker to have his own custom look, so now’s the time to make a hat, beard and any uniform adornments you want to give him. I used this photo for inspiration, but you can really do whatever you want here.
3. Next, cut out eyes, a nose, a mouth, eyebrows and two little hands for each nutcracker. As you’ll see below, the noses, mouths and eyebrows are simple rectangles, the eyes are circles and the hands are semi-circles. I found these pieces were easiest to freehand. And don’t worry if they’re not super uniform—small imperfections add to the homespun charm of this project.
4. Once you have all your pieces cut, all that’s left to do is glue your nutcrackers together. Start by gluing the head to the hair, then glue the body and boots to the pants. Once those have a chance to dry a bit, you can glue the head to the body and then layer on all of the extra details. Let your fully assembled nutcrackers dry completely then use black and red markers to carefully draw on pupils and teeth.
5. Lay your completed nutcrackers out atop your tree skirt and check to make sure they’re spaced evenly. Add glue to the backs and press them firmly onto the tree skirt. If you’re worried about wear, you can use some tonal thread and a few stitches here and there to secure the nutcracker more firmly, otherwise all that’s left to do is drape your pretty new tree skirt around your pretty new tree and drink some eggnog while you appreciate your handiwork.