Saturday, December 10, 2016

Holiday Sewing, 2016


Hello, dear readers! It has been a while! 

We decided to  decorate for Christmas a little early this year, right after Thanksgiving. Normally we wait a few weeks longer, but this year,  I think we all needed a little holiday cheer. I generally avoid talking politics on this blog, so I'll keep it brief. This past November: Lord have mercy! That's all I've got right now. Seriously. I am reduced to prayer.

But it's a fact that things seem better when there are pretty Christmas lights flashing in the window when you get home, and the house feels warmer with all of our stockings hanging by the fireplace. Sometimes, you just have to cling to the simple things!










The mini stocking is for our real-life cat, Maria, or Joe's stuffed dog, depending on when you ask Joe. I feel a little bad for the cat that she is so easily replaced with a fake animal ... but not really. She's a cat, she doesn't care about Christmas. Whereas Joe's imaginary dog might!


Most of my Christmas decorations are thrift store or Etsy buys, and every year I find myself adding to my collection. This chipped nativity scene was only a few dollars at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, and I love it!

Every year, I do a little bit of Christmas sewing, too. I figure in about a decade, my house will look like something straight out of a 1982 Better Homes and Garden Christmas issue. At least, that's the plan! My children are too young to find anything weird about this, and love to help me pick out Christmas decor at the thrift store. It's funny to imagine that their own childhood nostalgia may be inextricably linked to my own nostalgia for my grandmother's house at Christmas growing up. I guess that's how it works!

In mid-November, Rachel at Stitched in Color posted on her blog about the tree skirt she recently made, which she did in a "string quilt" zig-zag pattern in lovely Denise Schmidt pastels. Isn't it gorgeous? I immediately fell in love with it and decided I needed to drop everything and make one for myself!

Thus began what turned out the be a Really. Big. Project.

I have a modest pile of Christmas fabrics in my stash, and I dug deeper for pretty blues, reds, greens, and low volume prints from my non-Christmas stash, as well as buying a really lovely bundle of Cotton + Steel Garland fat quarters to supplement (I really love the whole Garland line - the light greens and aquas are the perfect complement to the true red!).
 

This is a "quilt as you go" project, where you sew the fabric directly onto the batting, then cut it into wedges for the tree skirt. Some brief thoughts:

1) This project requires more fabric than you think.
2) This project requires more batting than you would imagine.
3) This project requires three (count them, three) whole packages of bias binding!

You get the idea! I guess, in my mind, I thought of this as a small project, much less work than a quilt. Um, no. It's basically a really large, circular quilt. It is a giant, quilted, circle skirt, like the ones the ladies wear in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (and my respect for the making of those skirts is greatly enhanced). It did put a really big dent into my Christmas fabric stash, though!


Yeah. It's freaking ENORMOUS!! This would work for a Nutcracker-sized tree! I joked with Steve that it's for when we get a mansion and have a giant 12 foot tree. In the meantime, I have to tuck it up around our tree so that we can walk past it and into the room! But after all that work, it seemed far too wasteful to cut it down, and after all, you never know when you might move into a giant mansion? Uh ...


I backed it with miscellaneous Christmas yardage. Did I mention this thing is huge? It's about 65 inches across!! Here it is with Maggie for scale. :)



 This project just kept multiplying itself. I thought I would make it a "little" bigger than the one in the tutorial, and it was only at the end that I realized it was a lot bigger! Everything took longer and required more supplies than I expected. All of that quilt-as-you-go gave me a crick in the neck and exacerbated my tennis elbow (no, I don't play tennis; yes, I am getting old). I had to take breaks from it because it was so physically demanding to work with such large pieces of batting. Etc., etc. You get the idea. Anyway, it got to the point where Maggie was asking me when I was going to finish the Christmas tree skirt, because "there are only two weeks left until Christmas!" and I wanted it out of my sewing space too! No way I was going to cut bias binding or hand sew it onto this beast. Packaged double fold bias tape and a zig-zag stitch came to the rescue, and the epic tree skirt of never-ending-ness is officially DONE!


This was a big project, but I am really happy with the mix of fabrics and colors. It really is cheerful and lovely. It looks really nice under the tree with the sparkling lights all around it.



I was recently reading an essay by Charles Dickens, called "What Christmas is as We Grow Older," very Victorian and sentimental and pious, as you would expect, but of course, that's what we love about Dickens! He says that as we get older, the magic of Christmas fades, but in its place, we feel "the spirit of active usefulness, perseverance, cheerful discharge of duty, kindness and forbearance!" I would add, as parents, we create that magic for the next generation. Which seems like a good sentiment for this winter season, 2016, whatever holiday you celebrate.

Happy holidays, dear friends! Are you doing any holiday sewing this year?

15 comments:

  1. Gosh that is big isn't it! But lovely, and you will use it for years. In your mansion :D I love your Seven Brides for Seven Brothers reference. I love that movie. In the 'so terrible it's awesome' kind of category. You just have to suspend any feminist ideas and go along with it.

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    1. I love that movie too! I feel like the plot is so outlandishly laughable, it cannot be taken seriously, and therefore, feel only minimal feminist qualms watching it. Plus, the skirts!!! :)

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  2. Your tree skirt looks amazing!
    I made a christmas quilt this year. I started it way back in August and finished it up right after Thanksgiving! I'm excited to get it out every year. One of these years I'll have to try my hand at a tree skirt...

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    1. Thank you Emily! You were so smart to start your Christmas quilt back in August, instead of waiting until Thanksgiving like I always do before starting anything Christmas related. I'm even worse about gifts - it's mid December and I haven't started shopping. I expect if you've done a Christmas quilt, you could tackle a quilted tree skirt no problem. I know I whine a lot - you have to remember I'm not much of a quilter. I make a couple quilted items a year, and I am always amazed at how much work it is! I have enormous respect for all you "real" quilters!

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  3. This tree skirt is so so awesome! I love it! And I am so glad you blogged! I've missed you! The skirt was definitely worth the effort. It will cherished for many years to come. And what a find with the nativity set! Also that's some serious sewing street cred when you're so hardcore you aggravate your tennis elbow! High five!!!!

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    1. Hahahahaha! Actually, everything kind of aggravates my elbow. Tennis elbow turns out to be pretty annoying, who knew?

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  4. I know exactly what you are talking about in the first paragraph. I still have that stunned, "are you serious?" feeling. Christmas spirit is just the ticket. And you have done a beautiful job. I love seeing you sewing projects. I find it remarkable that your children model so beautifully, smiling so naturally.

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    1. RIGHT?!!! It's definitely a "AYFKM" moment in history. Thank you for the nice compliment! And as far as my kids, there are always a lot of outtakes, and they can do a goofy "cheese face" with the best of them!

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  5. I love your tree skirt!! I've made two in recent years, and both are a little small if I'm honest. In fact, my daughter wrapped one around her waist and it looked like a cute 50's circle skirt. She threw a fit when I wouldn't let her wear it to pick out our Christmas tree. (It was a bit indecent at the back where it gaped). So, to summarize, a larger skirt is better than a smaller one!

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    1. Thank you, Emma! Yes, this would be a midi length skirt on me, and more than full length on my daughter! Is it crazy that I read your comment and was thinking, "well, she could have worn it over leggings, because that DOES sound appropriate for picking a tree ... " HAHAHA! When I first told Maggie I was making a "tree skirt" she thought I was making her a skirt with a tree on it ... not quite!

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  6. That's an interesting quote from Dickens. Thasnkf or sharing. Congrats on making your own version of the tree skirt. I'm honored to have inspired you! =)

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  7. I'm really really impressed. Not only did you finish it, but it's really beautiful too! I made a pieced tree skirt four years back and it only had eight pieces but it felt like it would never end. And we don't use it because I didn't understand the concept of different values in a quilt and made the.most.garish tree skirt ever. Right now I wrap a piece of fabric around the base and call it good.

    Also, that Nativity scene! What a find!

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  8. I know that this was probably a pain in the butt to make, but it really came out beautiful! And you're going to be so excited to pull it out every year. We have a sad little piece of fabric that we wrap around the bottom of our Christmas tree and you've inspired me to get my butt in gear and make a tree skirt one of these days. Although, I probably shouldn't enlarge it, right? :)

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  9. Also - Lord have mercy sounds about right!

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  10. This is so spectacular! And now you get to love it every year!

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