December 11, 2019
Hello! It’s been a long time since I blogged about what I’m working on! The reason for this is since April I have been working on secret stuff. I can’t show you all of it just yet. But I can show you this!
In January my friend Annette showed a Christmas quilt that I thought was so nice. In 40 years of quilt making I have never made a Christmas quilt. I just didn’t feel all that red and green cutesy stuff was me.
And it isn’t. But my friend’s quilt wasn’t cutesy or all red and green. Hmmm… the wheels started turning.
So, I decided that I would make our four children and their families a lap sized Christmas quilt. I wanted each household to have something they could snuggle under, drip hot chocolate and cookie crumbs on, and know how much they are loved.
I wanted to make trees. “Simple” I thought! I would randomly cut three different sizes of trees and sew them all together. In May I asked my friend Sharon to go fabric shopping with me. We went to two quilt stores and I found a package of 10” precut squares that I liked. I collected 12 one-yard cuts of various fabrics that went with the theme of the 10” squares. I pulled some browns from my stash for the trunks.
As you can see it there are no red and green cutesy fabrics anywhere to be seen. In fact, most of these fabrics are not considered “Christmas” fabrics.
In May I was invited to go on a sewing retreat at my friend Brenda Papadakis’ home in San Antonio, Texas. My friend Kathy would be joining us. Kathy, Brenda and I had worked to together at a quilt store called Quilt Quarters in Carmel, Indiana in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The store was owned by Kaye England. It was heady times in the quilt world. Young women were getting involved in quilting, it wasn’t just for grandma anymore. It reminds me of the current new era in quilting, Modern Quilting. Oh! Did I mention that Kathy, Brenda and I had not seen each other in 26 years? Of course, we’ve kept in touch and when I arrived in San Antonio it was like we had seen each other the previous week. Quilt friends are the best!
Before I left for San Antonio, I packed up the 12 one-yard cuts and the 10” squares and shipped it to Brenda’s home. I started work on cutting the trees at Brenda’s home. I decided to cut three strips each of the 12 fabrics 8 ½”, 6 ½” and 4 ½”. I paired two different rectangles on top of each other and randomly cut triangles of various angles. This way I had a tree and a background to mix and match. I started sewing the trees and backgrounds together with Brenda’s Bernina and accessories. I cut and sewed for three days, all the while chatting, laughing and reminiscing with Kathy and Brenda. When it was time to go home, I packed up 48 large trees, 72 medium trees, 96 little trees and the left-over fabric and shipped it back home!
When I got home, I made trunks for all these trees. Around early June I had 216 trees!
As usual, I was winging it, with no specific pattern or design to get all these trees sewn together into four quilts. I started by dividing up the 216 trees into four piles. I called them “sets” as in set 1, set 2, etc. I started with set 1 and began moving the pieces around on the design wall and drafting each section onto paper so I would have a “pattern” to follow for the other three sets. Here’s a picture of set one partially pieced.
At this point I realized I needed a background filler. All these trees jammed together was too much chaos, even for me! I found a lovely cream solid fabric and was ready to get sewing!
Here’s set one top done.
Only three more quilts to go! Argh…
By this time, it was July and hot! I was asking myself why I had thought making four of the same quilt was a good idea. When I got to set 4, I didn’t take any pictures of it! But I remembered my goal. To make a quilt for each family so that they knew that I loved them whenever they snuggled under the quilt. Onward!! Keep sewing!
When I had four quilt tops, I went in search of backing fabric. Each quilt top was 56” x 46”. I found a green fabric that was 108” wide so I could get two quilt backs side by side. And, there was enough from the sides to use for binding! Luckily, I had taught my “quilting girlfriend husband” how to spray baste quilt tops to batting and backing. It’s the one thing about making a quilt I don’t like to do. His expert help makes it so much easier.
Now it was late July, heading into August and I was going to be quilting these four quilts on my home sewing machine. That means the bulk of the quilt will be in my lap. I was nice and cozy. (Hot!)
I had lost track of which quilt was set 1, 2, 3, or 4 and at this point who cares? They just needed to be quilted! I quilted the first quilt with a tree type of pattern. I decided the other three quilts would be simple wavy lines lengthwise down the quilt. I quilted each one with cream thread and then went back and added red and green thread wavy lines. Here’s the first quilt completed.
And here are two wavy line quilts.
Binding quilts is warm work! I enjoy binding my quilts by hand. It’s the last time I will get to work on the quilt, trim stray threads and add my love.
Once the fourth quilt was quilted and bound, I did a happy dance! It was late August and I was done with Christmas!!
I really wanted a picture of all four quilts together. I don’t have that much space in my home. But, my good friend and neighbor Dawn, is an amazing photographer and she has a fence! In fact, she has the only fence in our neighborhood. I asked her to photograph my quilts and she said “of course”! It was a September day with a beautiful blue sky.
Seeing all the quilts hanging together made me so happy. All that time, effort and love I had put into them for my cherished children and grandchildren. It was worth all the effort.
I was able to give three quilts to three of the families during a Carroll Thanksgiving in Texas. One child got hers early as she couldn’t make it to Texas. Two quilts are loved in New Jersey, one in Texas and one in Washington.
And… remember my goal? I think it has been reached.
If you’d like a Christmas quilt for your loved ones, email me. firstname.lastname@example.org
May you find love and joy in this special season! geneva