Thinking It Through
For me, when I think of Christmas, the first thoughts that enter my mind are “What do I make? How much time do I have? Who needs something made by me? Should I quilt, sew, bake?”.
I do realize many people do not like, and in fact, can be offended, when gifted an item that is “handmade”. I’m not passing judgment . I understand a handmade item is not always available and often is more expensive. What saddens me are those who completely overlook the time and thought that went into making something and instead place their focus only on the physical item.
The time and thought that goes into the creation of a One-Of -A -Kind (OOAK) item for a OOAK person, embodies the true spirit of giving.
I feel very fortunate to be one of so many, many talented makers. Their creations inspire me to learn something new and give me hope when I start to lose hope in humanity. Most everyone looks forward to Christmas but for those of us who craft, quilt, sew, etc., Christmas offers a special opportunity to be creative.
When I first learned the “Christmas Eve” fabric line by Vanessa Goertzen (aka Lela Boutique) was due to arrive in fabric shops in May 2023, I saw so many possibilities – a quilt, wall hanging, table runner and placements, etc.
What sealed the deal was how Vanessa used the Aurora quilt pattern by Melissa Corry to showcase this fabulous fabric line.
Yes, it’s only 1 week before Christmas and I have only 2 blocks made but, the fabric colors and quilt design is so eye catching, I’m finding it easy to carve out extra time and spending every spare minute I have to, hopefully, finish by…Christmas Eve!
The blocks are composed of “X”‘s and “O”‘s (see below).
If I wasn’t already in a festive, holiday spirit, just looking at this quilt is enough to have me singing ‘Jingle Bells’ and feeling like I’m riding in a one horse open sleigh!
I will admit, the blocks are a bit tricky – there are MANY moving parts and MANY points to match up.
For those interested in making the Aurora quilt, the pattern I’m using comes from pages 25 – 33 of Melissa Corry’s book, “Fast and Fun Lap Quilts – 9 Patterns for 10″ Squares”.
So far, I’m not finding this pattern to be fast (My definition of a fast quilt is one that can be completed, start to finish in a weekend or less). This one is taking loner – a lot longer. However, watching it come together is incredibly fun!
The “O” block below shows he number of moving parts:
And here below, the “O” and “X” blocks sewn together. The points don’t match (except for 1 or 2) but at a distance they look okay. Once quilted, I’m hoping it looks great!
Keep reading below where I share more tips not just for this quilt, but to successfully complete any quilt project.
As soon as I finish this quilt I’ll post pictures and pass along any tips or lessons I learned so you don’t make the same mistakes I did!.
When it comes to creating Christmas gifts, if it’s an item to used year round, I tend to use fabrics that align with the recipient and the function of the item.
My favorites are mug rugs. They are smaller than a typical placement but larger than a coaster – the perfect size for a mug and snack.
They are the perfect size for many reasons:
1) Require small amounts of fabric (great for using up scraps)
2) Require small amount of time – many can be finished in just a couple of hours.
3) Add a mug, an envelope of hot chocolate and a cookie – voila’ a gift is made!
4) They are useful and can be easily washed and reused.
Mug rugs are just plain cute and fun!
A mug rug, as cute as they are, will not fit the bill for everyone so…enter my next favorite item to gift:
Below are a couple of the small sized pouches I put together yesterday.
They are a just-right size when you need to store a few small items
I frequently use the medium and large sized pouches shown below to keep things organized in my sewing room.
Sewing these little cuties offers another benefit: When I feel overwhelmed before starting another project, I can make one or two of these and quickly regain the confidence and momentum I need to get started on the next “big one”! You can read read more it here.
I’ve discovered these are not just for kids but are great for those of us that are still kids at heart.
I began gifting these these little gems after I discovered a pillow made by Melissa from Polka Dot Chair a few years ago. Follow the link where it will take you to her updated version.
Below is the most recent reading pillow I made:
Keeping It Organized
On the subject of organization – and I can’t emphasize this enough – organization is the key to enjoying the quilting process and successfully completing those Christmas projects.
With this pattern, labeling has saved both the quilt and my sanity. I used simple peel and stick blank labels (Avery) that are typically used in a printer. In fact, if you are considering making more than one quilt from the same pattern, it would be super easy to pull up the label template, type in the information and print. You would have this on file to print out anytime and would be a huge time saver.
Here is how I used them with the Christmas Eve fabric and Aurora quilt pattern:
Every now and then I feel compelled discuss organization and since there are SO MANY options to accomplish this, you may find it helpful to go here and discover a new strategy!
Tips to Ensure Success With Holiday Quilt Projects
1) Labeling (as described above).
2) Start your projects as early in the year as possible. Sure, non-quilters will have a thing or two to say if they see or hear that you are buying holiday fabric in April or May but to those of us who quilt won’t bat an eye. We know ALL projects need to be started before the end of July or they won’t complete in time for Christmas.
3) Purchase more fabric than you think you will need.
4) Make sure you have the thread, the thread colors, plenty of starch and extra rotary blades on hand. Don’t get to the last 2 or 3 steps of a project and have to put is aside to retrieve one or more of those must-have items.
5) Starch, and I mean STARCH all fabric that will be used to piece the top. It may seem like a step that will be too time consuming and unnecessary but take it from me…it is time well spent. You can spend time waiting for fabric to dry or take time to rip out seams and re-sew a bunch of times trying to get points to match up.
AND…starched fabrics ensure a MUCH more accurate cut!
Final Note: Label and date your finished project. The emotional value tied to the gift makes it a memorable, treasured item – an item that cannot be duplicated and one that no one else has.