Christmas Gifts

Since all the recipients of my handmade Christmas gifts have received — and opened — their presents, I can now share what I made for my four children. Gifts for adult children and their families can be challenging. Sometimes we’ve given money so they can share an experience, sometimes we’ve purchased gifts for the whole family  — spending hours in the toy aisle at Target — but sadly, most of the grandchildren want something from the toy aisle at Amazon these days.  Other years we’ve given a beautiful Christmas picture book.

This year, we went this way.

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I had leftover bits from my Criss-Cross Christmas quilt, but had to search to find more fabric to make what I wanted, then used an entirely different line for the backing and binding.  When these lines sell out, they are gone gone gone.

I started these in April (in process photos, above) and finished, quilted, and bound them in November and mailed them before Thanksgiving so the families could use them in their decorating (if they wished).  I unpicked the upside-down animals, righting them (as seen in the left photo).

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Christmas Criss-Cross, quilt #219

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We were at my daughter’s for Thanksgiving, and I snapped this quilt, casually tossed on her bed.  I thought it looked great.  I hope to get photos of what the other families are doing with their table toppers/bed accents/wall hangings/whatever.

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We finished up our 2019 Gridster Bee by making these hot air balloon blocks, free from Woodbury Way.  They are for Afton, who lives in an area known for their hot air balloon festivals, so it’s a fitting block for her (although she may just really like them, I haven’t asked).  I was supposed to do Block 4, but things just kind of morphed  into something else once I got going.

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Finally, in other happy news, this is a photo of me dropping off three quilts that were accepted to the upcoming Road to California Quilt Show.

We have quite a group that will meet up there, with Lisa bringing friends from Utah, Carol coming all the way from Boston, Kelley from Palm Springs, and the locals (Simone, Leisa, Laurel and I).  It will be a gathering, of sorts, for a few members of the Gridster Bee!  We generally meet upstairs for lunch, overlooking the gallery of hanging quilts.  This year I’ll have a quilt in that gallery as well, as our Inland Empire Modern Quilt Guild has been selected to provide those quilts.  I’ll have more news about all of this when it gets closer to Road, which will be held January 20-26, 2020.

I have one more Christmasy post on Christmas Day, so until then, keep your spirits Merry and Bright while finishing up the shopping, baking and gathering.  And if you are having a solo holiday experience this year, I wish you lots of good music, great take-out, and quality sewing time.

Jolly Old St. Nicholas • recap

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I recently received an email from a reader, asking me about the details of my Jolly Old St. Nicholas quilt.  Her simple request pointed up a problem all of us blog writers face: how to find things on our blogs.  I do have an index, but she specifically asked for more information about that quilt, which is NOT on the indexed link.

While it may seem strange to have a post about Christmas in June, I will occasionally be going through some long-term projects, and collecting all the information about that quilt in one post, linking to other posts when necessary.  I can see several that are strung out across several months, that would benefit from this coalescing.  So here it goes for Santa.

Santa's Village Pattern

Pattern: I used Santa’s Village, from Thimblecreek, but with many changes.  See Construction Photos section for more info.

Outside Large Green Blocks: I didn’t like many of the pattern’s original blocks.  So I drafted my own in QuiltPro Software, and asked my Mid-Century Modern Beemates to each make me a block, shown in this post, where there are 14 blocks to choose from.  You can download templates (or pattern pieces) for each block on that page.

Construction Photos

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On the original pattern, you can see the top of the tree and the tips of Santa’s toes being chopped off by the addition of their giant rick-rack.  I decided I wanted a cleaner finish as I wasn’t keen about the “chop-offs” on the original pattern.  I measured carefully, placing everything just so, but in the end, I slimmed down the top of the tree (inset) so everything would fit.

I also added a 1-inch red band around the outside edge.  Be careful in your measuring.  The center Santa block needs to finish at 24″ so if you are going to add a one-inch border, then the center Santa needs to finish at 22 inches (cut the center white square down to 22 1/2″ inches to allow for seam allowances).

The feet were a torture to applique, but they make this guy, so stick with it.

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As mentioned before, the blocks were made by my mates in the Mid-Century Modern Bee; here I audition them for their placement around Santa.

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Then it was time to start on the trees and houses.  The original pattern has a lot of funny pieces at the ends of the trees.  Basically  you make a sort of flying geese block, stretched or regular (depending on where in the tree stack it is), then added a spacer at the end to even it out.  I eliminated those end spacers on the top and middle triangle sections as I thought it was a lot of bother.  You can figure this out.

Truth: My pattern is either lent out to someone, or in a proverbial “safe place.”  Either way I can’t put my hands on it, in order to be more specific about this.

Another Truth: This pattern needed several more rounds of pattern testing.  I did talk to the designer at a quilt show sharing with him some of the problems I had with it.  He wasn’t very happy with me.

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I’m showing you both of these photos, so you can see the types of spacers between the house and the tree.  I had to put one on each end of a house-tree strip in order to make them fit (different from the pattern), so don’t hesitate to make adjustments if needed.  You can see what I’m talking about if you look at the original pattern, where the tips of the trees in the corner are touching the houses.  Mine don’t touch.

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Since my reader asked me about the center Santa, I thought I’d throw in a couple more photos showing how cute he is.  Yes, sir.

And that’s Jolly Old St. Nicholas!

 

Criss-Cross Christmas Quilt Top

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Criss-Cross Christmas Quilt, top finished December 2017
59 ” by 68″

It all started when my friend Leisa gave me a mini-charm pack of Merrily fabrics by Gingiber.  Then the Fat Quarter Shop had the fat-eighth stack, and then when my making dictated more, I scooped up a layer cake of the line, and I was set (and I still have some left).

I added Kona Snow, and got creative.

I’d seen a variation of this quilt in my Instagram feed, but I changed up a few things to use up all my ideas.  Basic construction was to take a 10-inch square, and cut it either way: into four squares or four triangles.

But then I wanted to use the mini-charm pack, so I bordered them in strips, then cut them at an angle.

The “criss-cross” filler strips are cut at 1-1/4″ wide, so they have some presence, but don’t overwhelm the structure.  I seamed two squares or two triangles with the filler strip, then seamed those units together into a block, as I wanted to have the “criss-cross” pieces be random–the best of improv quilting.  I trimmed up the block to 9″ square, making sure to “center” the ruler as much as possible, so they aren’t wonky at all.

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I ended up not liking that seamed-up business in the solid portion of my mini–charm square block, visible in the upper right block.  I discarded all those triangles, and just went with the ones shown in the lower-left, with no visible seams in the solid.

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Still wanting to use up more of the mini-charm pack, I made my own “squares” of fabric and let them stand in.

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I just started making…and putting them up..and making…and deciding to enlarge it…

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Then I moved around the blocks, making sure the light of the mini-charm-square blocks were balanced against the heavier “filled-in” blocks.  At some point I decided I was done.

I sewed them together, stopping mid-way to celebrate Christmas and get the flu. Because the flu shot is only partially effective this year, more people will probably get the bug.  The good news, though, that by having had the flu shot, the duration and intensity will be lessened.  I hope so.

I’ve got some year-end sewing to do!

Oh! Christmas Tree Quilt

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Oh! Christmas Tree Quilt
Quilt #175
Began January 2016 • Finished December 2016

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It’s finally finished.  I started this once I saw the QuiltMania magazine it was featured in.  It is a pattern from Wendy Williams of Flying Fish Kits.  I had a companion in the making of this, in Wendy Welsh from New Zealand.  She was about a month ahead of me in construction and was such a great help, especially in untangling the borders dilemma.  All of the posts about the making of this quilt are referenced in the Quilt-A-Longs tab, up above.christmas-tree_2

I did finish it by my goal of December 1st, but had to find the right locale accessories, like the lumber-jack looking guy above.  (By the way, the most important man in this photo is unseen, holding up the Christmas Tree quilt.  Thanks, dear!)christmas-tree_3adetail

I had written about how I quilted the center: a meander with tiny stars here and there.

oct_fmq-for-starsAs usual, I printed out my quilt with partial transparency and doodled and doodled, coming into a dead end always.  But finally, inspired by an idea from  *here,* I chose to do swirls around my stars with a spiral in the center, linking them all together.christmas-tree_3detail

I quilted the cream background fabric around the wool felt appliqués, then in around those red triangle points, leaving them unquilted.  I did outline them in a straight stitch, helping them to stand out from the background.

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My husband Dave and I went out for a photo shoot as the sun was dimming, first hitting the tree lot at Teen Challenge (below), a charity near our house.
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And then we went looking for more evergreens for backdrops, a near herculean task in Southern California.  We finally found these pines in the university parking lot.  I told my husband that Marsha, in Vermont, could photograph hers out in the woods amid the snow, but that typical to our climate and locale, we have to pose in an asphalt parking lot.

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The back is a series of panels and fabrics from Cori Dantini from her Merry Stitches line, purchased at Quilt Market this past May and available now.  It’s fun to use them on the back.christmas-tree_front1

This quilt (or parts of it) have gone to Spain, all around my town, and then finally tucked in at home to be finished with the quilting. I took inspiration from all of those who followed along on the Quilt-A-Long and on Instagram, but am indebted to my husband for his love of my quilting and constant support.  Lastly, the design for Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus are found here on the blog. Uusually we say that what’s important about Christmas isn’t found under the tree.

But in this case, it is.

I hope your Christmas season is merry and bright and filled with the love of our Savior.