Tag Archives: Christmas

Stripes Two Ways

When my son was very little, most shirts I bought for him were striped. Soft knit, pullover shirts, their stripes were horizontally arrayed in reds and blues and greens. In summer they were “muscle shirts,” sleeveless Ts, and in winter they were turtlenecks. But almost all of them were striped.

This photo is of Son when he was two. On that day he was covered in stripes and spots.

OHmygosh, wasn’t he cute??

But when he was a little older, he called a moratorium on stripes. No more stripes. The declaration created some conflict as he was growing out of his striped shirts, but he was a boy who knew his own mind. There was no use buying shirts he’d never wear. I asked why stripes were not acceptable.

“Grown-ups wear stripes, and I am not a grown-up,” he told me.

“What about plaids? Will you wear plaids?” I asked.

“No. Plaids are just stripes two ways.”

Then one Christmas when he was about six, his beloved grandparents gave him a flannel shirt. Soft and nappy, it had stripes, two ways.

He wore it to please them. Once. Maybe twice. And then it hung in his closet for twenty-some years.

If you know me, you know I easily get rid of things that are no longer needed. But I never could get rid of this little shirt. For a long time I imagined making a pillow out of it, as my sister had done with his Dan Marino sweatshirt. (When he opened the Dan Marino pillow, he exclaimed, “I have a sweatshirt JUST LIKE THIS!”)

Still, the shirt hung in his closet. Until this week. After washing it, I cut it apart, front from back, sleeves from body, cuffs from sleeves. There was surprisingly little useful fabric in it. But with piecing, there was enough to cover a 12″ x 16″ pillow form.

The button placket serves as the closure for the cover. I’ll tuck a note in the chest pocket to tell him the pillow’s story, with the memory of his grandparents and his firm declaration that plaids are just stripes two ways.

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. šŸ˜‰

Another New Christmas Stocking!

When I was a kid, the Christmas stocking was a feature of our family holiday celebration. My mom, an incredibly creative woman, made our stockings, decorating each differently. We all knew the stocking itself was a manifestation of her love for us. Besides that, the nuts, fruit, and candy in the stockings were a relatively large part of our presents. Last but not least, we were allowed to open our stockings immediately,Ā because Santa filled them!

When our son was born, it was important to me that he have a stocking, too. I didnā€™t have the creative skills of my mom, so I bought one for him, which he still uses when at our home. On his first Christmas, Santa brought him one present, a small stuffed Curious George doll that fit just right into the top of that stocking. Iā€™ll never forget the look of wonder on my sonā€™s face when he locked eyes with the little monkey.

Last winter I made our son a new Christmas stocking, since he was far away. This year I made one for his girlfriend.

I wanted to keepĀ with traditional colors, with fabric from my stash. However, I don’t stash Christmas fabrics, so I chose a mottled wine red for the stocking, and plaidĀ for the cuff. The backing is a plain white muslin. Cotton battingĀ makes it soft and pliable.

First I quilted the fabric with my long-arm.Ā Because the fabric is plain, I wanted to make the quilting a little fancier. After looking at a couple of my books for inspiration, I decided to draw flowers andĀ leaves with the thread.

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Here is the finished stocking.

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The other photos and instructions below are for Son’s stocking from last year. The pattern and process I used are all the same.

After quilting, I traced around my pattern. The pattern was drawn using the stocking he got as a baby, and it has a seam allowance included of approximately 1/2″.
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I drew and cut out two. Remember you need two sides to the stocking, and the foot needs to face both ways.
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To keep the edges corralled, I stitched quickly around the edges of each part separately. Then I pinned them, right sides together. Using my walking foot, I stitched around, leaving the top open.
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Then next step was to create a cuff. I decided how deep I wanted it (4.5″), doubled that (9″), and added an inch (10″). The inch was the seam allowance for both edges that would attach to the top edge of the stocking. I cut the piece 10″ deep. I also needed to know how long to make it. Honesty: this was a bit of fudging. What worked fine was using the width of the finished stocking, doubling it, and adding something like Ā 1 1/4″. Because the cuff needs to fit around the stocking, you need a little extra leeway. Then I sewed my cuff alongĀ the 10″ edges, right sides together, to make a tube. The seam allowance here is probably a fat 1/4″. As I said, I fudged a little.
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I turned the cuff and folded it to make a tube half as deep, with right side of fabric on the outside. I pressed the fold edge all the way around. Then I tucked a piece of batting into the folded tube to give the cuff a little poof. You could skip that if you prefer.

With the stocking turned inside out, I pinned the cuff to open edge of the INSIDE of the stocking.
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Again using my walking foot, I stitched the cuff down around the top edge, back-stitching at the beginning and end to secure. Once turned right-side out, the cuff lies nicely around the top. Finally, I used a piece of grosgrain ribbon to create a loop, attaching it with zigzag stitching.

Here is the finished stocking, featuring Son’s first Christmas present from Santa. Next to it on the right is his original stocking, which served as the model.
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A New Christmas Stocking

Our son lives far away and won’t be here for Christmas. However, he will still need a Christmas stocking. I’m not ready to send off the one he grew up with, so IĀ madeĀ  a new one for him.

I chose fabric from my stash. The foot of the stocking is brightĀ red, with whimsical instruments drawn in white. I used this fabric a few years ago as an accent in a quilt made for Son’s best friend. (They were in high school band together. Dan played trumpet (and soccer!) and Son played sax.) The cuff is from a Christmas print, one of the very few I have in stash. The backing is a plain white muslin. The batting was a scrap of some low-loft, low-density polyester, and it gives it just enough padding.

First I quilted the fabric with my long-arm. It’s probably just as easy to use your DSM, or even buy pre-quilted fabric if you find one you like.

Then I traced around my pattern, drawn using the stocking he got as a baby. The pattern has a seam allowance included. It isn’t very exact but for approximation’s sake, let’s say the seam allowance is 1/2″.
20151208_164350_resized

I drew and cut out two. Remember you need two sides to the stocking, and the foot needs to face both ways.
20151208_164726_resized

To keep the edges corralled, I stitched quickly around the edges of each part separately. Then I pinned them, right sides together. Using my walking foot, I stitched around, leaving the top open.
20151208_165734_resized

Then next step was to create a cuff. I decided how deep I wanted it (4.5″), doubled that (9″), and added an inch (10″). The inch was the seam allowance for both edges that would attach to the top edge of the stocking. I cut the piece 10″ deep. I also needed to know how long to make it. Honesty: this was a bit of fudging. What worked fine was using the width of the finished stocking, doubling it, and adding something like 3/4″. Because the cuff needs to fit around the stocking, you need a little extra leeway. Then I sewed my cuff alongĀ the 10″ edges, right sides together, to make a tube. The seam allowance here is probably a fat 1/4″. As I said, I fudged a little.
20151208_175618_resized

I turned the cuff and folded it to make a tube half as deep, with right side of fabric on the outside. I pressed the fold edge all the way around. Then I tucked a piece of batting into the folded tube to give the cuff a little poof. You could skip that if you prefer.

With the stocking turned inside out, I pinned the cuff to open edge of the INSIDE of the stocking.
20151208_181114_resized

Again using my walking foot, I stitched the cuff down around the top edge, back-stitching at the beginning and end to secure. Once turned right-side out, the cuff lies nicely around the top. Finally, I used a piece of grosgrain ribbon to create a loop, attaching it with zigzag stitching.

Here is the finished stocking, featuring Son’s first Christmas present from Santa. Next to it on the right is his original stocking, which served as the model.
20151209_120726

Christmas Stockings

[In the last few days I’ve been thinking about Christmas stockings and what to ask Santa to bring this year. Son always gets a Hot Wheels car, and lately I’ve been getting sudoku books. Son and FFDIL usually get some kitchen gadgets. I think this year there may be a whisk and a silicone handle grabber, for Son’s cast iron skillet. Caramels and peppermint patties are on the list for Jim, too.

I published this post about a year ago. I hope you enjoy it.]

When I was a kid, the Christmas stocking was a feature of our family holiday celebration. My mom, an incredibly creative woman, lovingly made our stockings, decorating each differently. We all knew the stocking itself was a manifestation of her love for us. Besides that, though, we never had a lot of money, and the nuts, fruit and candy in the stockings were a relatively large part of our presents. Last but not least, we were allowed to open our stockings immediately, not waiting for the rest of the package opening ritual!

When our son was born, it was important to me that he have a stocking, too. I didn’t have a sewing machine, nor the creative skills of my mom, so I bought one for him, which he still uses. I chose a plaid stocking, with plaid representative of his Scottish heritage. On his first Christmas, Santa brought him one present, a small stuffed Curious George doll that fit just right into the top of that stocking. I’ll never forget the look of wonder on my son’s face when he locked eyes with the little monkey.

After he got engaged to his high school sweetheart, he asked if I would make a stocking for her. Her parents live a few blocks from us, and she has a stocking there, so I hadn’t planned to. But she is part of our family now, too, so I did anyway.

I started by visiting the local fabric store to see if there were pre-quilted fabrics I might use. Late in the season, all choices were gone.

Instead I decided to quilt my own. I had a couple of Christmas fabrics in my stash and chose one with leaping reindeers. I like it to represent her because she grew up as a dancer, and I see the deer dancing across the fabric. I also found fabric for the back (the inside of the stocking), and I quilted it on my long-arm. For this small of a project, it would be easy to use a DSM, too.

Next I used his stocking to make a pattern, adding about a half inch all the way around to make a seam allowance.

I drew around the pattern with chalk, reversing the pattern for the back of the stocking. I cut on the chalk line to make the front and back of the stocking. With right sides of the fabric together, I sewed around, leaving the top open. It looks like this when turned right side out.

The cuff came next. I didn’t have any white eyelet, which was used on his so sweetly. I decided to use a contrasting piece of Christmas fabric. Ultimately I might update his with a cuff like this. Once the cuff was constructed with a thin layer of batting inside, I attached it to the top.

Last step is to wait for Santa to fill it with goodies.

Do you have memories to share of Christmas stockings? Did you get special trinkets or gifts, fruits, crossword puzzle books? What do you like to fill stockings with now? Who do they go to in your family — just the little children?