A friend of mine has a daughter who is in love with the idea of a dress Christmas tree. When I found this post on how to make a miniature version, she liked the idea but didn’t know how to make it using supplies she could easily access. Me, being the person I am, was like “what? that’s easy.” So I decided to look around my house and see if I could put one together without having to purchase anything weird or special. As it turned out, I found everything in my house. Now that might not work for everyone but I’m certain you can find everything at your local thrift store (maybe even your dollar store).
Since this was an experiment, I pulled out several items that I ended up not using. At this point, I didn’t have any clue what I was going to use for the tree part so that is why there is no picture. Also, I kind of picked at the project after I got the initial doll made so there’s a real imbalance of pictures – sorry.
I started with a Barbie doll. I picked the ugliest most abused one out of my collection (I started collecting them at garage sales that do bag sales at the end of the day for future projects). I didn’t realize that the one I picked was electronic. Who knew they made electronic Barbie dolls? So, there were a few steps that will be different if you use a regular doll. It will be easier to tear apart too. If you do use an electronic doll – remove the batteries so they don’t corrode as time goes on.
I started with removing the head. This was a well put together doll so it was work. The head also had this weird pink attachment that I had to break apart so I could have a smooth neck.
There were also weird attachments for the arms but this is approximately what your doll should look like once you have removed the head and arms.
Because it had weird little things in the arms that I could not remove and they moved, I taped them up with some electrical tape. You can choose to skip this step but it did make attaching the ribbon so much easier.
Wrap and glue a thin ribbon around the neck and shoulders. I did have to cut a few small strips to cover over the top of the neck and along the sides of the neck. I recommend wrapping the ribbon without glue first to see where it will be tough to maintain coverage since this is an irregular shape. Glue small strips first to make sure those areas are covered.
Then wrap the ribbon around the neck and shoulders.
I stopped just before the breasts. The wrapping was going to be very difficult at that stage.
Since I felt I had a good start on the doll, I wanted to build her a stand. The original instructions used a jewelry dress form that was on a stand. With her pointy little feet, this doll was not going to stand up as a tree if I didn’t create something to hold her up. So I took 2 toilet paper rolls, cleaned them off and then measured them against the doll. I needed about 1 and a half rolls to equal the space on the doll I wanted covered with the roll. I wanted the stand to go up to her hips to provide the most stable stand possible. Make sure that the cut end of the smaller roll is what is attached to the longer roll. I used electrical tape to attach them.
The design of the typical barbie doll is that the legs taper to really small feet. The feet became clappers in a bell and made the entire stand unstable so I took the remaining bit of roll and cut up the side. Then I rolled it into little holders for the lower legs.
This also helped to make more surface area for the entire doll to stand on.
To keep it in place, I added more electrical tape. You want there to be as much surface area and support since if the bottom folds or collapses, the entire doll won’t stand.
The start of the Oscar. Before she got her skirt, I kept seeing an award. It opens the possibilities for future ideas.
To finish off the doll part of this craft, I wrapped the body in a piece of red burlap ribbon. This is wire ribbon but I removed the wire to make it more moldable. Removing the wire is easy – just grab and pull it out. I wanted to put this on last because the ribbon secures the toilet paper rolls to the doll. I just used basic craft glue for all of this.
Then I was left with having to figure out what to do about the skirt. I found in our Christmas decorations a small fake tree. I didn’t know what to do with it and so thought it would be perfect for her skirt. (Then my husband says – it’s a great tree, you’re going to tear it apart?)
Okay, I got two birds with that stone. I “trimmed” branches off the tree carefully so that it still looks like a tree, just with more space between branches. It worked out. I was able to trim them off with wire cutters so that I had enough pieces for the skirt. It took 8 branches per layer and I did 4 layers. I did got back after the first layer and put the trimmings on the roll between the branches to keep the toilet paper roll from showing through. Sorry for the lack of pictures here.
I hot glued the branches and it took a bit of time because the branches need to be held in place while the glue cooled. It takes seconds but I’m impatient and I was doing this with the cat on my lap.
Once I had the branches in place, I wrapped the waist in a ribbon to hide the seam between the end of the branches and the burlap. Since I didn’t quite cut a long enough piece of ribbon, I had to do some patching. To cover that, I added a lovely velvet bow.
I love the end result of this project. So much so that the projects I have completed since have not given me the same sense of satisfaction. I hope this inspires you to make your own version.
Oh, what if you can’t get fake branches? I bet you could easily do this with natural pine or fir branches. You want something with small needles and very fresh. Let the needles dry on the dress. The great part is that you can remove the branches later and add fresh ones the next year.