How-to Make Rag Strip Christmas Trees


  • Cotton fabric, 3 different patterns or colors, you will need 9 strips of each pattern 5″ x 24″
  • Hemp cord, large, 7′ approximately
  • Sewing machine and thread, with zig-zag stitch
  • Styrofoam cone, 9″ tall
  • Small straight pins (I used tiny finishing nails cuz I had a bunch on hand)

Time for project: This project takes me about two hours, but if you make more than one tree at a time, you will cut down the time per tree

Christmas prints do work great for this project.  I had a coupon for some sale fabrics at JoAnn’s, so I ended up using quilting fabrics in red and green and not actual Christmas prints.  The important part is that they are 100% cotton, so that when you tear the fabrics they fray nicely.

So I used a dark red small flower print and a green print with tiny leaves.  The third fabric I used is unbleached muslin.  I like the way the off-white mixes with the tiny prints.  I have used before three different prints, which is also super-cute.  Try to mix up the patterns, with not all three tiny prints or not all three large prints.  Mix it up a bit.

  1. The first step is to make your strips of fabric.  As I used a 9″ cone, I made my strips 5″ x 9″.  I actually tore the strips out of the fabric, rather than cutting them.  If you haven’t torn fabric much, you just snip the edge of the fabric where you want to make the tear, and then grab the snipped edge with both hands and tear.  It will tear straight.  You will need 9 strips of each of the three fabrics.
  2. Stack the strips into three sets.  Using my color scheme, the first set is red on top, green in the middle, white on the bottom.  The next set is alternated, green on top, white in the middle, red on bottom.  Then alternate the last set, white on top, red in the middle, green on the bottom.
  3. Now you sew the hemp cord onto the back side of the sets of strips, right down the center of the bundled strips.  You will sew the cord down the center of the first bundled strip, then continue onto the center of the second bundled strip, and finally down the center of the third bundled strip, ultimately having the three sets sewn together, end-to-end.  Use a zig-zag stitch to attach the hemp cord to the strips, having each side of the zig-zag landing on either side of the cord to hold it down.
  4. You now should have a long strip of fabric with the cord down the middle.  The strip of fabric is layered in three layers.  The whole piece is about 6 or 7 feet long.
  5. Now you snip the edges of all three layers of fabric, all the way down both sides of the whole bundled strip.  You just snip the edges so that you can then tear the strips up to the center where the hemp cord is sewn.  Make the snips about 1/2″ apart.  Stagger the snips on the next layer down, so that they land in between the snips on the layer above.  It will look sort of like the pattern of a brick wall.
  6. After you make all of the snips on all three layers all the way down the 7 foot strip, tear the bits of fabric towards the middle where the hemp cord is sewn.  Repeat on both sides of the hemp cord.
  7. Smooth the layers of fabric a bit, folding the cord into the middle, wrong sides together.  Keep the cord inside the middle of the folded strip.  This will make the pinning to the cone easier.
  8. Pin the end of your hemp cord to the base of the styrofoam cone.  I leave the plastic on the cone if I can, it helps make the little tree last longer.  Then gently start winding the cord around the cone, pinning every so often into the cone.  As you wind, you will want to keep the “rows” snug and smooth.  It looks best at the end if you wind each “row” equidistantly throughout.  I like the way it looks when it is wound fairly close together, as it makes the little tree look a bit fuller at the end.
  9. When you get to the top of the cone, you can tuck the other end of the hemp back down under the fabric strips.

The measurements can all be adapted for different size trees and cones.  You can adapt not only the length of the finished strip, you can adapt the width of the strip if you like a tighter, neater looking tree.  You can also use other colors and patterns to make decorative trees for other occasions, like birthday bashes or baby showers for example.

I have also used the same process to make rag strips for decorations.  Rather than winding it onto a cone, I have used the long rag strip to hang around the Christmas tree like a rope.  I have also used them for hanging along the windows like a banner and around tables for decorations.

It’s a great way to use some of the random pieces of fabric you have left over from other projects as well.


4 thoughts on “How-to Make Rag Strip Christmas Trees

  1. Pingback: How-to Make Decorative Baskets, Another Cute Christmas in July Project | St. John Studios

  2. thankyou so much for sharing this! Its exactly the look I’ve been searching for…and you’ve
    explained it really well and great pictures too!

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