The Family Handprint Jesse Tree

Jesse Tree 4

I will admit it. We have been raising Catholic kids for 17 years and up until this year, I have never really had a Jesse Tree.

Jesse Tree Treasures set

In fact, as I prepared my review and giveaway of these awesome  Jesse Tree Treasures, I had a number of “what are those?” questions.  The kids have made their share of single ornaments at school over the years, but we have never jumped in on this tradition at home.

When I was blessed to receive this full set of Jesse Tree Treasures, I neglected to admit, that I really didn’t have a worthy place to exhibit them. Since we don’t usually get our Christmas tree until at least the 3rd week of Advent, I was starting to eye the fallen branches outside…but decided to create something we could use year after year.

I am not an expert sewer, but I’m confident that I can usually design something I like and find a way to sew it.  If need be, I can plug through, rip out the odd seam and cover up the odd stray blooper…and that’s exactly what I did!

I was inspired by this Jesse Tree banner by a Mom at Pars Caeli (Piece of Heaven) who also has five kids. I liked the fact that she used at least one hand from each person in the family.

I decided that 8 little hands was a good solution…honoring 3 little babies we have lost over the years.  Bill and I each have one hand forming the base structure of the tree (poetic, isn’t it? =) and I added some interest to the trunk of the tree…with another big hand, hopefully representing God’s Hand in our family life.

Jesse Tree 2

Here’s my Handprint Jesse Tree Tutorial:

Handprint Jesse Tree 1I purchased about 3′ of purple felt and 3′ of tan colored felt, and a bunch of dark green, light green and wine colored buttons.

I was already blessed to receive the Jesse Tree Treasures 28-piece set of Jesse Tree ornaments.

I traced each of the kids hands up to their elbows on paper…but if you have everyone handy you can skip a step and carefully trace their hands (up to their elbows) directly on the felt with a brown, orange or pink marker. I was pleased that the marker didn’t bleed…and it could easily be cut away from the pieces.  I think I also ended up flipping all the pieces over, so any remaining marker couldn’t have shown up.

After cutting the hands/arms out of the felt, I tried a few arrangements, laying the pieces on the purple felt.

If you want to included a hem or rod sleeve, make sure to leave enough material at the top, and possibly the bottom. A rod at the bottom of the banner certainly helps to steady and straighten the banner.

Handprint Jesse Tree 2When I found an arrangement of the hands that I liked to create the family tree, I began to loosely stitch the pieces in place.  Fabric glue could be used to tack the pieces in place…or even fully secure the pieces to the banner.  I just like the look of the thorough zig-zag stitch outline…and I didn’t want to take a chance on sticky globs of glue.

I zig-zag-stitched the entire assembly to the banner. It was a bit tedious, but easier than I thought. The machine stitching wouldn’t earn me any awards in sewing class, but I like the imperfections, and the ones I don’t, I covered with a button.

As implied above, I forgot to leave enough material at the top and bottom to sew in a pocket hem for a rod. I folded a long piece of the same felt in half (lengthwise) and sewed it in place to the top face of the banner material (at both the bottom and top of the banner). All the ugly seams are hidden in the back, when the extra material is flattened back in place…and the rods are slipped into the pockets.

I cut a few pieces from the rod pockets at the fold, so that the rod (wood dowel) can be seen between the tabs.

Jesse Tree Helper

My helper recorded the Jesse Tree ornament number and title on the back of each ornament so that we can hang them in order once Advent begins.





  1. Oh, I love how yours turned out!! We made these with our parish families, based on this patter, and used all members of the family’s hands. I have three little ones and then my husband and I added our hands, too. The Jesse Tree is such a beautiful way to experience the Old Testament and Advent.

    So happy to be of inspiration! xo, MJ

  2. Angie O'Connell says:

    WOW! I LOVE IT!!
    That is an amazing idea! I want to try it, but sewing isn’t one of my gifts, maybe I could figure it out anyway. I really appreciate you showing our ornaments on it. Everything looks so beautiful together! Have a blessed Advent.

    • I’m getting a lot of compliments on YOUR ornaments…I can’t take credit for them! Sewing could be fairly easily avoided….using fabric glue or iron-on adhesive. The buttons kind of need to be sewn on by hand…although there is provably a no-sew alternative…like Velcro, brads/brass fasteners, grommets and hooks, or still buttons…but GLUED thoroughly in place. I’m excited to have the Jesse Tree this year!

  3. Monica
    I like this. We always go to the backyard and get a branch, but it doesn’t display them all well. Can’t wait to try!

  4. Monica, I love some of the biblical representations you added to your tree. I’m in the process of changing a few of mine (I don’t like the ones I originally selected) and definitely want to change a few. Thanks for the ideas!

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