Tag Archives: Christmas quilt

Moving Toward the End of the Year

I was enjoying writing and posting more, and then got side-tracked for several days with a couple of things. Back now, with some unrelated thoughts.

  1. Do any of you other WordPress users look at your spam folder regularly? What kind of spam comments do you get? Most of mine are links (presumably — I’ve never checked them!) for lesbian porn. Why? Why any porn?
  2. Do you ever feel like no good deed goes unpunished? That’s not really fair, as I think I did a few good deeds over the last week and mostly they went great. Jim and I found a wallet and were able to return it to the owner; a young woman with a toddler in full-meltdown mode needed a kind word and an arm around her shoulder; I pulled together an ad hoc presentation on quilts and quilting for an adult English learners class, and they seemed to enjoy it, as did I. In truth, I need to get over my momentary annoyance and remember, “this is just something I don’t need to worry about.” That thinking helps me a lot, in a wide variety of circumstances!
  3. My guild had our last meeting of the calendar year last Monday, and it was fun. We had a special Christmas show & tell, so people could bring couch throws or tree skirts or baby quilts or whatever quilted holiday objects they want. I shared one, which I’ll tell you more about below. We also had cookies. I ate too many and remembered why I don’t eat a lot of sweets. ugh…
  4. I’m not making Christmas presents this year, unlike some others. No pillowcases, no throw quilts, no table runners, no placemats, no stockings. No. (Now I just need to keep reminding myself of that. I’m NOT making Christmas presents this year. I’m not making Christmas presents this year. I’m not…)
  5. My studio is a Mess. Yes, “mess” with a capital M. So many things out that need to be put away. So many pieces of paper, a lot of it quilt guild stuff, but a lot of it my own. Fabrics that need to be restashed, books that need to be reshelved… Maybe my next task needs to be cleaning, since I’m not making Christmas presents this year.
  6. Speaking of stash, I recently saw a post on the use of the word “stash.” I can’t find the post again or I’d link it. Anyway, the writer seemed to object to the word, because of the connotation that a stash is something to be hidden or to be ashamed of, like your stash of drugs. I don’t know about that. I have a stash of migraine drugs and I’m not ashamed to admit it! While i do think words are important, and certainly I have no shame about my fabric “collection,” (a word she seemed to prefer,) I think “stash” in terms of quilting is just part of quilting jargon and not something to get twisted about. Also, I DO NOT “collect” fabric. It is a raw material in my process, not something to display as a pretty thing on my shelves, like my rabbits. What do you think of the word “stash?”
  7. I’ve been thinking about my Word of the Year and will share about how that went in a later post.

This morning I finished a quilt, which I shared at my guild meeting on Monday. It’s a two-sided Christmas table runner.

Christmas Houses. 47.5″ x 21″. Modified pattern of Amish Houses by Monique (Dillard) Jacobs of Open Gate Quilts. Free pattern for the full lap-throw size. https://www.opengatequilts.com/pdf-patterns/free-amish-homes-pattern

I made an adaptation of Monique Jacobs’ Amish Houses quilt. Free pattern available at this link. She is a talented designer and my guild is hosting her in June. She’ll be teaching the pattern in a workshop. My version provides a sample for my guild-mates, and also shows that you can make this pattern in beautiful Amish-style solids, or in fabrics of your choice. The pattern instructions are clear and it went together beautifully.

Because it’s a table runner, when I quilted it I figured the backing fabric didn’t matter. I pulled a piece from my stash (YES, my stash, not collection!) that hasn’t been very useful to me. It is white with small, pale-pink roses on it. hmm. Well, it worked fine as a backing but frankly looked terrible. Plain muslin would have been better, but I didn’t have any pieces big enough. I decided to make a false back to cover the pink flowers. And since I rarely do things the simple way, I appliquéd big, simple snowflakes on it.

The snowflakes are just 60° diamonds that I cut out three at a time from white Kona Snow. I used a piece of freezer paper as the template for them, starting with the largest ones and then trimming the freezer paper smaller for the other two. I spritzed the white pieces with basting spray and arranged them, then appliquéd with a narrow zigzag. This morning I finished the binding, securing the false back to the rest of it.

Christmas Houses back. 47.5″ x 21″. My design.

Currently my dining room table is covered with presents that need to be wrapped and mailed. Once it is visible again, this runner will decorate it. Because it isn’t very specifically Christmasy, it will work well until Spring.

If you made it to the end of this long post, thanks so much for reading! I hope your December is going well. It certainly is going fast!

Christmas Is Coming!

The top of my class Christmas quilt is done, but it needs to be quilted. (I’m still working on the bear’s paw quilt, too. As these get bigger, it’s harder to work on them “at the same time.”)

Here are a few pix. Below is the finished top in as big of a view as I can manage. There are a few “Christmas” fabrics in it, but I rarely buy novelty fabrics. My friend Sharon passed a few of hers to me, so bits of hers show up. Mostly, though, it is other reds, greens, and golds I had in stash. I didn’t buy anything new for this.

Quilt top, laid out on the floor. I can’t get quite high enough to fit the whole thing in view. It’s about 68″ square.

OH, that’s not true. I did buy the green paisley in one of the strip borders. I’d used a different green, cut it and attached it, and simply wasn’t happy with it. This green has more light in it and has more interesting pattern.

A decent view of the center block, which finished at 16″. The green border around it is 2″ wide, taking the segment to 20″ square. Notice how the strip border neither encloses the center block, nor expands it. It is neutral. The swirly line print does draw the eye, but does not direct the eye farther out. This suits, because the center block really is self-contained. With its round shape and circling flying geese, it wouldn’t work as well with something like spraying half-square triangles in the first border.

The outside border is the red plaid at the top of the photo. It helps settle down the riot caused by the pile of packages in the next border, all in scrappy fabrics.

I had fun making the green “packages” with their bows on top. The bows are just flying geese, and they echo the shapes in the hourglasses above, as well as the flying geese in the center and the pinwheels in the corner blocks.

The pinwheel corner blocks are a funny illusion. They’re made of the same block as that ribbon border near the center. It’s called a “Y” block in EQ7. There are 4 of them in a pinwheel block, and using all the same “background” fabric makes it look like a pinwheel on point. The pinwheel spins, as do the flying geese in the center, though going in different directions. Finally, they are one more allusion to a package, as it looks like you’re looking down on the top of a fancy bow.

Over the years I’ve gotten over the wish to make my fabrics match for style. While I do want them to “go” together, there is a pretty broad range, even in a quilt like this. There are 1800s reproductions, a few Christmas fabrics, at least one batik, a fabric sold as wide backing fabric… I enjoyed using the last of a few scraps, evening piecing a few scraps together to make patches big enough. I remember where I bought some of these, including on a family reunion trip in Michigan, on an outing to Illinois with Jim, at chain stores and local quilt shops and one online store. A quilt like this represents a large part of my quilting history, stitching memories into the design.

I plan to keep this quilt. Though we decorate pretty minimally for Christmas, I’ll enjoy having this out, either spread across the dining room table or draped on the stair railing, or even bunched around the two of us on the couch. Some day maybe I’ll give it to one of my kids, instead of the coal they usually get for Christmas. 😉

Class Quilts

My medallion class began last week! In class I help lead participants through the process of designing their own medallion quilts. And while they create, I do, too.

In the few weeks we have together, while each of them is making one quilt, I design and construct two. I start with very different centers and color schemes in order to demonstrate a variety of strategies.

The first one I began has a center block that features flying geese circling a star. The block design came from the Big Book of Scrap Quilts, published by Oxmoor House in 2005. The quilt pattern is called “Dizzy Geese,” designed by Joan Streck. Dizzy Geese is a block quilt, with a 17″ block made with templates.

I re-drew the block to 16″ and paper-pieced it.

Though I’ve made quilts in reds and greens before, I haven’t made one I’ve thought of as a Christmas quilt. This one will have that intention, but I’d still like to keep it lighthearted. I’ll minimize the holiday-focused prints, but refer to the occasion through shaping. For instance, the circling flying geese give the impression of a wreath.

With the intricate center, I wanted a simple first border, but one that would extend the range of color. Because the star points are a forest green print, I chose a citrus green for the border. The corner blocks add to the gold, found in the center’s green print and in its background fabric.

The second border was fun and easy to make. Take a look. The corners are just half-square triangles. The side blocks are each made of three pieces and all the blocks are same. Their orientation gives the look of a twisting ribbon as they circle the top.

And the third border is a plaid with dark green, dusky gold, and burgundy, with bright gold corners. I don’t love the dark plaid, for various reasons. But I think it will serve its purpose as the design develops. It’s easy to get hung up on individual elements, such as the color or shapes or value of a particular border. Just as you don’t have to love a particular block to have it work well in a block quilt, you don’t have to love a particular border in a medallion quilt. Every border changes every border, and it’s the final effect that counts.

I have tentative plans for the next borders, but won’t work on this more until next week.

The second quilt begins with a bear’s paw block in the center. I’m less certain of the direction for this one. I really like the center block, with its beautiful Julie Paschkis print in the large sections. And I love the batik that surrounds the block. I am not absolutely sure they work together. However, some patience is in order as I let the process play out. (Trust the process.)

Though I rarely work on two quilts in the same stage at the same time, the chaos is kind of exciting, too. We’ll see if I still feel that way in a couple of weeks. 🙂