Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vintage Christmas Tree Window Decorations Tutorial

I spent yesterday evening making a version of these lovely vintage window decorations out of Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Ideas 1967.  It dawned on me as I was making them that I must have subconsciously chosen "trees" as a decorating theme for this year (remember the Advent Calendar?). These look really beautiful hanging in a window, and they are very easy to make.

I've included the original instructions for the materials below, but today I'm going to show you how to make slightly updated and smaller versions of the decorations. I apologize in advance for some of the photographs.  Acetate is highly reflective, like a mirror, so I had to shoot the designs at an angle and use the flash at times to minimize my reflection in some of the shots.  I used transparencies (acetate) so I could save my design from year-to-year; however, the original instructions state that you can also glue the decoration directly to the window.  But why expend all this effort only to dismantle it and, heaven forbid, have to wash the window later?

You can scale the size of these decorations up or down as you wish, and make substitutions for many of the materials.  I could not find Venetian (Venice) lace flowers at my local fabric stores so check online (I've included a link to one supplier below).  Check a framing supply store for the acetate, or purchase sheets or rolls online.  This project is a great way to use up scraps of of lace and trim that you may already have in your stash. 

Materials for the Lace Tree
Original Instructions

1 1/4 yds. white ruffled lace, cut into separate 2", 4", 6", 8, 10", and 12" lengths
2 yds. white Venetian lace flowers
20 x 24 inch sheet of 10mm to 115mm gauge acetate 
Scotch tape

My version
1 yd. white ruffled lace, cut to 1", 3 1/2", 4", 6", and 8" lengths
1 pkg. small white fabric flowers (look in the bridal section of your local big box craft store)
Trimmed piece of  a large transparency ( mine is about 9" x 11" and less than 2mm gauge thickness)
Self-adhesive clear and iridescent gems, various sizes  OR  Self-adhesive foam or paper snowflakes
Craft glue (a low heat hot glue gun may be ok, a high heat glue gun may melt the acetate)
Sharp pair of scissors

First, cut your piece of acetate to size.  Next, cut your lace pieces to the desired size.  Trim the ends of the lace pieces on the diagonal, like this:

Next, lay out your lace pieces in the shape of a tree: 

Check to make certain that you like the length and look of the lace pieces. The lace is graduated:  smallest at the top, largest at the bottom. As long as you like the way the pieces the look, the actual measurement of the pieces does not matter (this is a forgiving project).  I trimmed some of the pieces a bit more at this stage.   Position the lace on the piece of acetate to check that they actually fit.  Adjust the length of the lace pieces as needed.

I slipped a piece of black cardstock underneath my acetate to make the next steps in the tutorial easier to photograph.  Apply a thin layer of glue to the back of the band at the top of each piece of lace.  I applied glue to all of my lace pieces prior to positioning them on the acetate.  Press down gently on the lace to make certain that it is flat and glued evenly on to the acetate. 

Don't worry about a few blobs of glue here and there at the top of the lace.  You will cover these with the Venetian lace flowers (cut apart) or fabric flowers.  Glue them across the top of the bands of lace.  If using fabric flowers, be certain to press the petals down into the glue to make certain that they adhere to the lace.  Cut a small rectangular scrap of lace to make the tree trunk:

Next, add stars or snowflakes in the "sky" with the Venetian lace flowers, clear/irridescent gems, or foam snowflakes.  I liked the look of the gems:

 Hang the lace tree on your window with tiny pieces of Scotch tape and enjoy your handiwork!

Materials for the Braid Trim Trees  (not pictured)

Original Instructions
2 1/4 yds. green loop fringe
2/3 metallic gold braid for the large tree
1/2 yd. metallic gold braid for the medium tree
1/3 yd. metallic gold braid for the small tree
9 blue jewels, 9 aqua jewels, 6 lavender jewels
20 x 24 inch sheet of 10mm to 115mm gauge acetate

My version
3/4 yd. green loop fringe; cut three 3 inch pieces, three 4 1/2 inch pieces, and 2 one inch pieces
1/3 yd. gold braid trim in two different styles; cut three 2 inch pieces and three 3 inch pieces
Self-adhesive gems in clear, iridescent, and red
Self-adhesive foam or paper snowflakes
Standard 8 1/2 by 11 inch transparency (less than 2mm gauge thickness)
Craft glue
Sharp pair of scissors

Basically, you will follow the same procedure as above. Glue the loop fringe to form a triangle, and glue the gold braid inside of the trees.  Add gems in colors and designs that please you to the inside and the top of each tree.  I liked the look of the foam snowflakes with the braid:

When you've finished, if you have stray bits of glue or fingerprints on your acetate, simply wipe them off gently with a damp paper towel or microfiber cloth, as a cotton rag or dishtowel may leave behind bits of fuzz.   My transparency is an old one and you can see the scratch in the picture above.  When I hung it on the window it wasn't as noticeable as it is in the photo.

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask!  Email me, or leave a comment.  Happy crafting!


  1. What a great project! I love uses for old lace, because I have TONS of it. I'll have to try this out. :)

  2. We can think of oodles ways to use re-crafted items in this project. Great idea!

  3. Very cool! There's just something timeless about Christmas and lace together, 1967 or not!

  4. Very sweet Christmas trees. I am going right in my sewing room to check out my lace supplies. Thanks for the great tutorial.

  5. I also have lots of lace. I sort of collect it. I may try this next week when I finish my Christmas gifts that I'm sewing.

  6. Thanks all! I'm glad you like the tutorial.

    Sue and Jo, when you're done, please send a photo! I'd love to see your trees!

  7. I am sooooo in love with this project. I LOVE lace and trimmings (I used to be a fashion designer!) and have all the supplies to make these...I am soooo tempted to quit wrapping and go make a few! Off to check out the etsy shop!
    Holly @ 504 Main

  8. Stopin' by via the SITS Link Up, hey this is cool, I'm gonna but this down as a to-do with my 11yo daughter. Someone gifted me a bunch of lace and I had no idea what to do with it, now I do!!! Thanks!!!


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