Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Creating Christmas

It's been a week of wonderfully wild weather... snow, rain, ice, snow again. As I write this installment, there is another winter storm watch and a fine persistent snow started about an hour ago. So all the errands were done early and we can just enjoy the comforts of home as Mother Nature transforms our landscape yet again.

But what better weather to spend some quality time in your sewing room? These two stylish kitties agree. It's best to lounge close to the heating vents on your favorite blanket than freezing your cute little tails off! They were stitched according to a free pattern by Chicago designer, Hilary Lang. Don't you love their funny faces?

Here are several pin cushions using the Prairie Gothic fabrics in a pattern by friend and fellow FreeSpirit designer, Heather Bailey. The ribbons are a nice finishing detail. I think they would make nice Christmas tree ornaments, too.

These soft reversible baskets are good for holding just about anything. They are simple squares of fabric over a square piece of Timtex with the corners cut out. The contrasting ties create the walls by mitering the corners and jazz things up, too.

This mantle skirt is a Victorian inspired project. It has been hand-quilted with nice big stitches, which adds to it's charm. The front panels feature the sunflower fabric alternating with the large Queen Anne's lace design. Sunflowers were popularized by William Morris and other Arts and Crafts artists. They became one of the most popular motifs of the Aesthetic Movement in Victorian England. Note the 3 dimensional bee applied to the farthest flower.

If you have been following this blog, you know how much I love to make pillowcases with my fabrics. Last year I made them for everyone in the family. It is fun to choose the design combinations according to the recipient's personality and interests. Here are six different Prairie Gothic coordinating combos. These pillows are filled with good dreams.  

Remember last weeks napkins? Well, here they are again modeling their decorative new Yo-Yo napkin rings with covered buttons and ribbon trim. Thanks to Santa's elves who helped make all the goodies this week!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Spirit

The transformation is complete! Winter weather has arrived. For too many years the winters in the Midwest have been uneventful, but last year we had a season reminiscent of childhood. This year holds the same promise... snow before Christmas. Greg went out with his brother and cut our tree on Sunday. Here it is in the front of the picture. You will see it transform in the next few weeks.

In this months posts I will concentrate on homemade gifts, which have always been a part of our family celebrations.  Handwork and craftsmanship are a way of life in this house. Above you see the Winter Tree pattern,  a contemporary interpretation of a classic image. Below you will see another delightful translation of my pattern!

Here it is done as a small wool rug hooking by Patricia Smith and was eventually made into a pillow. We met at the North Carolina Quilt Symposium in Wilmington this year. When I learned that she was a "hooker",  I hinted that the Seasons patterns would be perfect for both mediums. I think she did a nice job converting the design into wool... especially the snowy background. I would love to see them done as hand appliqued felt/wool "penny" rugs, too.

My first holiday project was to whip up a tablecloth for a new seasonal look. I have never been into the fussy old fashioned Christmas style. I prefer a clean, contemporary and fun look, so the red home decorating "Night Life" fabric was the natural choice. It was the perfect wideth and the big white pom pom trim is a fun finishing detail, like snowballs!

We have had this Christmas creche since the kids were little and is always one of the first decorations to come out of the closet. The heat from the candles make the windmill turn and the shepherds march after their little lambs. But those candles are always a dilemma, because they inevitably drip and every tablecloth gets damaged. So this year we have a new solution. 

This is a handsome wooden Ikea tray which costs about $15. I cut a paper circle as my pattern and to make sure of the size. Then I cut a fabric circle which was Mod Podged (matte finish) into place. It takes several coats, but it is easy and fast. Best of all, it cleans easily and wax doesn't hurt it. Plus it looks really great and could make a dramatic and useful gift.

Next, I made a set of checked napkins to match the tablecloth. I cut 21" squares and hemmed them with double folded edges. I think there are several other great napkin fabrics in the Prairie Gothic line. A set of  eight napkins would, also, make a wonderful holiday gift.

Here they are in a table setting with a twig and berry accent. Below is a simple ornament made by one of my favorite elves, Melissa. This would be a fun project to make with the nieces and nephews and less fattening than baking cookies!

So hopefully the holiday spirit is taking hold! If you still need goosing, I recommend an evening with Christmas in Connecticut and Holiday Inn. These movies will even soften-up Mr. Scrooge!