Handmade Jesse Tree Set Tutorial (in expert, intermediate, and novice versions)

by | Nov 14, 2013 | Advent, December, Tutorial | 24 comments

There’s still time before Thursday at 9pm Pacific to enter to win the giveaway. (To enter by leaving a comment on the original post go here.) The giveaway is over, thanks to everyone who entered! In case you didn’t win, some of you wanted to be able to make your own, and asked for a tutorial. So, here goes . . . 

Method A (what I did, aka the hard way)

If you have an iron and a pair of tiny scissors you can do this. Seriously. It is not hard, it just takes time and patience and lots of very small cutting.


At Catholic Culture, I found all 24 readings, and the suggested symbols for each one. Then I went into publisher and google image search and found clip art I wanted to use for each symbol. You should be able to access the clipart I used here.

Then I recreated the pictures from the clipart in layers of fabric and ironed them on to the felt circles.

To do that, I ironed the Heat ‘n Bond adhesive onto the fabric scraps, then pinned the clipart picture to the fabric and cut out each piece as I needed it. If I had multiple layers I found it helped to have printed multiple copies of that picture. Once all the tiny pieces were cut out, I layered them on a felt circle and ironed them down (it just takes a few seconds to fuse, so it shouldn’t melt the felt). 

Then I put a blank felt circle on the back and whip stitched the two circles closed, stuffing a little stuffing in when I had an inch or two of stitching left, and attaching the ribbon at the top.

Here’s what each symbol looks like in fabric:

You should be able to access each of these photos individually in this google+ album.

Then I went to Shutterfly and made a small paperback photo book with a photo of each ornament and the reading for that day.

It looks like this:

Once you make all your ornaments, you can take photos of them, upload them to Shutterfly, cut and paste the readings, and order a book to match them. 
Method B (the easier way)

  • Download the photos of the ornaments from the google+ album
  • Print them out onto Printable Fabric for Inkjet Printers (to make 24 ornaments, you’ll need 4 sheets of printable fabric)
  • Cut the printed fabric into 24 3.5 inch circles with pinking shears
  • Cut an additional 24 3.5 inch circles out of another fabric for the back of the ornaments with pinking shears
  • Sew together and stuff as directed above
  • Click on the link above to order a copy of the book I made, it’ll match and everything!

update: to order the photo book . . . (2016 Note: I don’t think this works on mobile devices, but it is still working from my desktop computer)

  1. go to catholicallyear.shutterfly.com  
  2. sign in to your shuttefly account, or create one if you don’t have one yet
  3. click on “Jesse Tree Book” under recent activity
  4. click “save to my account”
  5. order the book from your account

updated update: It has come to my attention that Shutterfly doesn’t ship internationally, so for those of you out of the US, I’ve created another google+ album, Catholic All Year Jesse Tree Readingsthis time with all the readings. You can download the photos to your own computer and have them printed as a book someplace more convienent.

Method C (the Advent starts tomorrow?!? way)

Please let me know if any of you guys make these, I’d love to see any of the methods!


And hey, maybe vote for me . . . 

If you have a moment to spare, please consider voting for Catholic All Year at The Homeschool Post’s annual homeschool blog awards! Voting is open through November 18th.

If you are so inclined you can click on the links to vote once per day, per device for Catholic All Year as the Best NEW Homeschool Blog 2013, and/or the Best Current Events, Opinion, and/or Politics Blog 2013.

Thanks so much to all of you who have voted already.

Have an awesome Advent everyone!


  1. Irishmoss

    is there a link to buy the album from shutterfly? Maybe I'll put on my contact lenses and look again. Thanks for posting! It's hard enough to actually make them, but to make a tutorial too makes you awesome. 🙂

  2. Kati

    Kendra you are AWESOME for sharing this! So I am trying to buy the book and I can get it saved in Shutterfly but when I try to order it just takes me to the slideshow of the book. I may have to call shutterfly to see what's wrong? If anyone else has success with this please let me know how!

    • Kendra

      Sorry for the confusion. I think I have it sorted out. You should be able to go to the share site I created, save the book to your own Shutterfly account, and then order it. Please let me know if that doesn't work.

  3. Isabelle Tabary

    Thank you so much for putting this up, I'm definitely going to try and make it!
    I was just wondering, Shutterfly doesn't send worldwide, do you happen to have a PDF or any such file of when you created the book? If not, I'm sure I'll manage!
    Thanks again for sharing this!

    • Kendra

      Hmmm, I didn't think about you international types! I'll see if I can figure out how to make a PDF of it. Stay tuned . . .

    • Kendra

      I've created another google+ album, this time with the pages of the book. (See the link above.) I hope that works!

    • Isabelle Tabary

      Works perfectly! Can't wait to get crafting! Thank you very much, and sorry to have added to the trouble.

  4. Valerie

    Thank you so much for sharing this info. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it when others share their awesome ideas and tutorials for the non-creative people like me! I can be crafty, but I'm usually much better at copying ideas than I am at creating my own.

  5. Nanacamille

    That is so very cute and creative. I can't wait to see them all in person when we come up to Northridge. You have such a talent for putting these things together. My compliments. I have been voting for you on both links. Good luck!

  6. Christine

    Thanks for making and sharing these – great idea, and they should be so helpful to people! I'm expecting a set of ornaments from a Jesse Tree ornament exchange, so I think I'm covered.

    I have to say, I find it very refreshing that there aren't really any mass-produced Jesse Tree sets yet. Everyone makes their own, or possibly buys a little kit that some Catholic mom somewhere is selling on Etsy or such. I know it won't stay that way forever, but I love that it makes us all use some creativity, share ideas, and communicate with each other!

    • Kendra

      That's a really good point Christine, it still feels kinda underground!

  7. Mrs. Mike

    You are the BEST! Thank you so much. I'm holding out hope that I'm the one who inherits your original set but this gives me something to work towards if I don't. 🙂 Thank you so much Kendra!

  8. Anonymous

    Yes! I was hoping you would tell us how you did it. I love an excuse to be crafty. Thanks!

  9. Anonymous

    Love the book! just tried to order and was unable to. Spoke with Shutterfly and they said that the book you designed it in is no longer available and so can't be ordered. For anyone to be able to order one, you need to call them and have it converted into a new book format that's currently available since you're the author. Sorry for the extra step for you, but would love to have availabe for people to order. It's excellent! Thanks for sharing and making available.

    • Kendra

      You're right. thanks for letting me know. I called and had it switched over to the new version, but it needs reformatting because the text doesn't necessarily fit on the pages now. It's a good excuse to redo it, especially since I have NO IDEA what version of the Bible I used the first time around. I'll fix it some time this weekend and let you know.


    • Kendra

      It's now converted and you should be able to order it! New and improved, now NRSV.

  10. Katherine

    I love that there's an "Advent starts tomorrow?!" version. 🙂

  11. angiestg

    I was wanting to type up all of the readings for my newly made Jesse Tree and I am so thankful that you have already done it and are graciously sharing it!

  12. Amy @ Motherhood and Miscellany

    Wow! Thank you for sharing this again. I didn't see this last year and kind of flopped in my (first) Jesse Tree attempt. This will make it so much better!

  13. ixoxJesus

    where did you get your the display easel for you Jesse book?

    • Kendra

      It's actually just a stand up paper napkin holder. :0)

    • ixoxJesus

      Thanks Kendra!! I am attempting to make this for my god children, thank you for all your hard work, just ordered the books from shutterfly today:)

  14. Wren

    Kendra, I cannot thank you enough for sharing your Jesse tree ornaments. I am so excited to start this tradition with my young family. Thank you, thank you!


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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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