Christmas Tree Skirt

christmas-tree-skirt-2014

Christmas Tree Skirt 2014
Quilt #141 on the 200 Quilts List
(Post updated August 2019)

Comparing oldnew Christmas Tree Skirt

Here I laid out the old Christmas Tree Skirt on top of the new one;  it was made in the early 1970s out of pre-quilted fabric with a tricot backing, and homemade bias tape.

Christmas Tree Skirt wo Binding

I was inspired by Betty’s skirt that she made last year, as well as others.  The original inspiration was a tree skirt from Fat Quarterly 2013, but since I didn’t have a pattern and it was all proportional squares, triangles and rectangles, I just started cutting. Here I’ve laid an embroidery hoop so I could judge how the center circle would look.  It took me about two days to get all the houses and trees arranged, partly because I wanted to use my stash and it that necessitated some color and value balancing.  I have a piece of fabric from my first quilt in here, as well as some scraps from dirndls made from German fabric (which I love).  I even have scraps of fabric from cotton I’d purchased in Rome, Italy some 14 years ago, as well as some Japanese fabrics, also purchased on a trip.  Build your stash, everyone.  It’s a fun place to visit.

UPDATE 2019, BASIC DIMENSIONS:

Fuse a series of fun fabrics to Steam a Seam II.  I cut everything a bit larger, then trimmed to make sure the fusing covered the back completely.

  • Basic skirt circle: 52″ diameter (piece some white cotton fabric to allow for this dimension of circle)
  • Center hole is a traced 6″ circle embroidery hoop.
  • Tall Skinny House: 9″ tall by 3.5″ wide
  • Pointed triangle roof is 6.6″ wide and 4.5″ high.  Follow the basic directions for tall Christmas Trees to cut yourself a wonky triangle.
  • Two-story house, short: 7″ tall by 6″ wide
  • Two-story house, taller: 9″ tall by 7″ wide
  • Trapezoidal Roof measures 8″ across the bottom, 3″ across the top and is 3″ high.  So, cut a rectangle 8″ by 3″ and fold in half.  From the outside lower corner, draw a line so it ends 1.5″ from the fold.  Cut that section off and you’ll have the roof.
  • Pointed Roof for two-story house measures 7″ wide by 4″ tall.
  • Tall Christmas Trees: Cut a rectangle 7″ tall by 4″ wide.  Fold in half lengthwise, and cut from lower outside corner to the center fold at the top, making a Christmas Tree shape.
  • Medium Christmas Trees: 6″ tall by 4.5″ wide (cut as above)
  • Stacked Christmas Trees are formed the same, but the dimensions are 3.5″ tall and 3″ wide.
  • Christmas Tree Trunks are 3.5″ tall by 1″ wide…but some are shorter (like 1.5″ tall).  Cut them to your liking.
  • Wonky-cut stars (Do a search for a 2″ pattern online; trace the outlines onto fused fabric, then cut).  —-> Or use this one: 5-sided-stars    <——

Use my photograph at the top of this post to plan and map our your pieces, but cut some different dimensions if that’s what you like (like making a shorter, skinny house).

WARNING:  Prewash your reds!!!  I did them once with Dye Catcher Sheets.  I should have done it three times, so my tree skirt suffered.  We still use the tree skirt, as the discoloration is up near the binding in the center circle, but I wish I’d washed them more than once.  Now we call it Christmas Tree Skirt at Sunset.

Deciding on Binding

I thought I’d use a large red/white dot for the binding, but when I cut it on the bias, I got this effect.   So I went with a narrower stripe than the one shown, cutting it on the bias so it would go around the curves.  I pieced it, then folded it in half, then sewed it to the back and topstitched it to the front.  A trick I learned in Clothing and Textiles in college was to press a curve into the bias tape.  It went on like a charm.

Christmas Tree Skirt 2014_detail1

In working on this, I zipped through two books and am in the middle of one more.  The two I couldn’t wait to listen to were both Inspector Gamache mysteries, set in Canada. One was titled Still Life and the other was titled A Fatal Grace, both by Louise Penny.  And I’m halfway through The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.  Fitting, isn’t it?

Christmas Tree 2014 w new skirtWe finally finished decorating the tree, and I’m enjoying the new tree skirt!

 Bobbin Statistic: 5 (in other words, how many bobbins it took to get this thing quilted)
Quilting: First I stitched through the quilt sandwich on the raw-edges of all the house and tree shapes, letting it be slightly wonky as I went.  Then the top-stitching on the stars.  I switched to white thread and did a loose, large meandering quilting around all the shapes.

QuiltCon/Quilt Show Fun

Road Booths1I’ve been entering quilt shows since about the time I moved here to Southern California.  The closest one was Road to California, and in those days, I always was accepted.  Schooling interrupted my quilting, and when I got back to my craft, the ground had shifted underneath me.  I couldn’t get my quilts accepted any more.

I felt pretty badly about this the first time it happened, especially since the quilts I saw at the show seemed to be all spangle and sparkle and glitz and flash, along with quilting that was perfection, due to the advent of the longarm-quilted piece.  To say I was discouraged would be an understatement.

Grading Research Papers

I kept trying, and kept getting rejected. It felt a lot like grad school, where I’d write up my short story, or poem, and take it into workshop and they’d get out their figurative knives, blades, guns and other weapons and slash my pieces to bits, then shoot holes in them.  I think I cried all the way home that first time, but it got easier to separate myself from my work, and take the critiques in stride.  Some were helpful.  Some were NOT helpful.  I had to know that my writing still had value and worth, and to keep going.  It was the work that mattered.

Fast forward to this week, watching the feed blow up on Instagram as people cooed or moaned about their acceptances/rejections to QuiltCon.  Whether the organizers like it or not, they have created a couple of problems and I was watching the fallout happen in realtime, in people-time, as comments started flying.  The problems most prevalent appeared to be:

Sign Quilt Show

1) Too many entries.  This came about because there was no limit on how many quilts could be entered.  I haven’t checked every show, but the ones I’m familiar with limit how many quilts you can enter.  Because QuiltCon had 1300+ entries, and maybe only space for 400 quilts, well. . . you do the math.  But the odd thing was this line in the rejection letter (yes, I got rejected on all three of my quilts): “Please do not be discouraged. We received more than 1,350 quilt submissions and the jurors had to make many difficult decisions.”

This was weird how they commented on the recipient’s emotional state and then flipped it around so that the person being rejected should feel sorry for the jurors and their difficult work of wading through over a thousand quilts in order to chose the ones they wanted for their show.  Just the facts are necessary: “You didn’t get in.  It was a good effort.  Try again next time.”

TarrSnapshots
Timna Tarr’s Valley Snapshots

2) The perception that there is a mysterious criteria that determines who gets in and who doesn’t.  The key word is “perception.”  And the perception, judging by what I read on IG, is that this mysterious set of rules is not given out to mere mortals, but only those in the inner circle, the claque, the clique, the friends and buddies of those running the show.  I can hear the snorting going on now.  Yep.  But this problem persists because the modern quilt movement can’t figure out what it thinks is a modern quilt enough to be able to describe it, or communicate it to the masses.  People like me.  And then they hold a contest in which we are all supposed to submit, which feels very much like going to the top of a busy freeway overpass and throwing our quilts over the edge, watching them sink down into the morass.

On top of that, there seems to be an overabundance of graphic artists at the helm, or with some graphic arts training.  Might this not mean that the graphic punch, that visual snap, the elements of high contrast off the grid have become ascendent?  Maybe.  Then put that into the judging/juror criteria and disseminate it.

When I entered, I was surprised to see there were really no categories to select into.  Yes, there are categories, but I didn’t get to nominate my entries into any of those; the assumption is that those on the other end of my internet connection will do that for me, further confusing the experience.  So I don’t know if my quilt was judged against other similar quilts, or if it was thrown into the pool of 1300+ entires, with bleary-eyed jurors watching quilt after quilt pass by their eyes, until the whole thing collapses into Let’s Get This Done, sort of like I feel when I’ve graded too many papers in a row.  I have total empathy with the jurors, but perhaps there are some solutions that might rectify this difficult situation. I hope they find them.  And I hope the show I’m about to see in Austin in February will put aside some of my concerns and be a great experience.  I am happy for those who got in, and can’t wait to see the quilts.

Sol LeWitt's Patchwork Primer_finalone of my rejected quilts

But in the end, what matters?  Are you only as good as your last rejected quilt?  Or are you the sum total of your work, the cutting, the sewing, the creating?  Given the number of times I’ve been rejected, I could have melted into a puddle on my floor.  But my training in grad school, although sometimes painful, gave me stories like this one:  a famous author used to mutter to himself “I’ll show them this time,” every time he started a new novel.  And the knowledge that I am more than just my latest quilt.  And that I won’t melt if someone tells me “no,” although it feels really good when they tell me “yes.”

colorwheel blossom beauty shotanother rejected quilt, soon to appear here on the blog for the first time–stay tuned!

One lovely side effect of all this sturm und drag (storm and stress) is that I have loved the reading on the #quiltconreject and the #rejectedbyquiltcon hashtags on Instagram.  I’ve been introduced to some fine new quilters, and fallen in love some new works from familiar quilters. It’s been quite the wild ride.

JosephCampbellBigQuestion

Yes, the modern quilt movement may or may not survive the problems I mentioned above.  But it’s not really my concern.  My concern is to get going on the next quilt, to say a hearty yes to this creative adventure.

Mini Sew-Together Bag

Mini Sew Together Bag_1Woohoo!!  It’s a Mini Sew Together Bag! A Mini Sew Together Bag has two pockets and is smaller than its big sister.

Mini Sew Together Bag_2 While I love my regular-sized bag, I really wanted one that was just a bit smaller.  After I hatched this idea, I wrote to Michelle, of SewDemented, and received permission to write about this on my blog, as I thought others might like to make a Mini Sew Together Bag. Mini Sew Together Bag_3

(Two Regular Sew Together Bags and Four Mini Sew Together Bags)

But how to do this so I don’t “steal” anything from her stellar pattern?  I made up a worksheet that will help you convert the measurements of the big version to the small version. Yes, you’ll have to use your calculator for about 2 minutes, but then you’ll be able to charge ahead.  And, yes, to make a Mini you have to have the original Sew Together Bag pattern, found *here.*    To obtain the worksheet for the mini, head to BluPrint but then come back here for the tutorial parts.

UPDATE: I have updated the pattern on BluPrint to include a pattern piece for the smaller side panel, as that was difficult for some users.

Mini Sew Together Bag_4 openI was able to crank out four Minis in about a day and half; I think it went so quickly because I had already made a couple of the bigger bags. I still referred to The Quilt Barn’s Tutorial when I became stuck. Mini Sew Together Bag_4b end pattern To begin, trace off the included side panel piece onto a manila envelope, making sure I transferred the dotted line markings. Mini Sew Together Bag_4d Marking After you sew together the side piece and its lining, as per the pattern/tutorial, lay it back onto your pattern and put pins at the dotted lines mark, as shown.  Go the ironing board and iron in a crease on those lines. Mini Sew Together Bag_4e zipperZippers for the Pockets:  Buy the same size zipper you normally would, but shorten it after installation by doing a thick zig-zag stitch at the end, as shown above in white thread.  Cut off zipper evenly with the edge of the pocket pieces.  If you have the pattern/tutorial, this step should be apparent.  Again, these photos are not meant to replace the pattern/tutorial, but simply to show you places where I deviated from the pattern slightly to accommodate the smaller Mini. Mini Sew Together Bag_4cZippers are in both pockets (yes, I am showing about three different Minis, with three different fabric sets). Mini Sew Together Bag_4e1 Attach the side pieces, lining up the pockets with the ironed-in crease on the side pattern.  Refer to the tutorial for more information. Mini Sew Together Bag_4f zipper

(Tab end of zipper)

The long zipper’s placement is 4″ hanging over each side of the Mini Sew Together Bag.  If you have a light colored zipper, you can mark the zipper with pencil at the stop end (below) and then do that thick zig-zag to secure the end.  You can use a 16″ zipper, but I just cut down my 18″ zipper. Mini Sew Together Bag_4g zipper

(Stop end of zipper)

Mini Sew Together Bag_4h zipper end

I sew the zig-zag stop, then attach the side binding, THEN cut off the zipper.

mini-sew-together-bag_tab-end1a

For the tab ends, I didn’t necessarily slide them all the way to the end of the zipper before I sewed them on (and by the way, refer to the pattern for an easier way to make them, rather than the tutorial).  Instead I played with the tab ends a bit, sliding them up and down the zipper, seeing how big of a “handle” I wanted.  Most of the time I placed the zipper about halfway into the tab end.

Mini Sew Together Bag_5 And that shiny thing in front?  For those of us teachers who use white board markers, you know what a mess the eraser makes in your tote bags. The Community College administrators where I teach give us the white board markers free at the beginning of the school year, but we buy our own erasers. If you leave yours in the classroom, you can kiss it goodbye, so we carry the erasers (and markers) back and forth to class.Mini Sew Together Bag_5aTo keep my sew together bag clean, I made a clear vinyl pouch, sewing a self-binding fabric strip around the top to hold my eraser.  The dimensions were 7″ by 6 1/2″ of clear vinyl; sew two folded strips along the 7″ sides, then with WST, sew the side seams.  Yes, I did a tiny “boxing in” of the bottom corner to accommodate the eraser. Mini Sew Together Bag_5b stuffed Mini Sew Together, fully loaded for school.  But this would also be great stacked with hexies, or other smaller hand-sewing projects.  Because the Mini is a smaller size, it will fit into…smaller places! Mini Sew Together Bag_8 Mini Sew Together Bag_8aI also made a matching tote bag to go with this for a gift, as California will be phasing out our plastic grocery bags.  I used my Grocery Bag Tutorial, found *here.*  The usual request applies: don’t embed the pattern on your blog, refer your friends back to OPQuilt.com to download their own.  And if you Pin anything from this post, please use the correct post address. Many thanks! These little Minis are fun to make and fun to use, and sew up quickly for a cute and fun Christmas gift!

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Circles Block #6 duo In case you are looking for the Circle EPP Quilt-A-Long, because I gave you two renditions of the block in November, we are taking a vacation in December.  Merry Christmas all you EPP-ers and we’ll see you in January.

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I get my zippers from ZipperStop in NYC.  There are other places to locate good quality, inexpensive zippers mentioned on other quilty blogs and in the comments (so check them out), but I can highly recommend Zipperstop, having placed several orders from them.  The zippers arrive quickly, and in the color range I like and I like the prices!

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Lora’s Quilt

Lora Quilt_frontTo Lora, with Love
Quilt #139

Pieced by Elizabeth Eastmond, Quilted by Lisa J (Lora’s niece and my friend)

Quilt for Lora_quilt top

This was the quilt top, and it measures 54″ tall and 43″ wide, before quilting and binding.

Lora quilt with bow

Lisa was headed up to Utah to see her Aunt Lora, so after she finished the quilting and binding…

Lora Quilt Label

. . . she sewed on the label I made, wrapped it up and took it over to Lora’s assisted living center to present it to her.  (More about Lora’s situation can be found *here.*)  Lisa and her two daughters arrived the same time as a lot of other cousins, so the room was full.  As soon as Lisa brought out the quilt, Lora began to weep.  Lisa read the label to her — more tears — and by the time they unfurled it and showed all the signatures, nearly everyone in the room was crying, too.

Lora receiving quilt

A few days later, after Lisa finished telling me the story, she gave me a big hug and thanked me for thinking up the idea of the quilt, but really, we thought of it together.  I’m really glad we did, as it obviously brought the message to Lora that we loved her and cared for her.  And we do.

AdcockLora

Lora