Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Merry Quilt-mas

What's the best part of Christmas?
Christmas trees? 
Christmas trees? 
And more Christmas trees? 

But also: Snuggling up near those Christmas trees, and watching Christmas movies. 
And to do THAT properly-you need a Christmas quilt! 
Well, good news for our family...we have one! But when it comes to all things Christmas (or all things Courtney) is one enough? OF COURSE NOT. 

So it comes as no surprise that as I started to pull out our Christmas decor, I started to feel the urgent need to MAKE. So I went ALL in and started my own unofficial 12 Days of Christmas Quilting event.

And here's the end product of my End Game:


I fa-la-la-la-love it!! The behind the seams details:
  • Quilt Pattern: End Game by Tied with a Ribbon. This isn't a Christmas pattern specifically, but aren't the triangles just the most perfect trees? It was a pretty simple pattern...though it took me a little while to land on my fabric layout. Once I started actually sewing the top it came together super quickly. And I've never worked with equilateral triangles before, but just working in rows across made it pretty simple. (This triangle ruler made cutting pieces SO much faster).

  • Fabric: It's a big mix of things from JoAnn's. (You know I'm all about convenience...and a deal). 50% off Christmas fabric? Yes, I will take them all. The backer fabric has little green trees, and is actually a part of their year-round line: White Sketched Forest Quilter's Showcase Cotton. The white background is also a non-holiday fabric- it has teeny-tiny white-on-white triangles that don't show up in pictures really but add just a hint of pattern/texture when you see it up close: Triangles White On White Quilter's Showcase Cotton. The rest were mostly JoAnn's exclusives, with the exception of one "designer" fabric: Merry Main Street Alexander Henry Christmas Cotton. I knew the minute I saw that I wanted it to have a special spot in the quilt. I love the retro vibes, and the colors are perfect. It's can be fine line between cute and "cutesy" when making Christmas-themed things, so I tried to use just a small hit of this fabric to keep the whole thing modern, and not overly-literal. I love that addition feels a little quirky without being over-the-top.

  • Backing design: I don't know why I insist on doing special designs on the back of all of my quilts. It's double the work...maybe triple, because you have to do two unique sides, PLUS make sure they work together (and it complicates the quilting pattern). But DANG it makes the whole thing more special. So I continue to torture myself, and no matter the mental gymnastics or physical labor, I am always grateful I did it. This one was no exception. I agonized over what to put on the back (ok, agonized might be a touch over dramatic, but I did toy with more than a handful of options for an hour at least, just hemming and hawing and consulting with my studio-mate/husband). I didn't want to recreate the front too closely, but I still wanted them to feel related. I was also working around some fabric limitations/seams on my backer, and I wanted to make sure that whatever I designed would line up with the front when I sandwiched them so I could plan my quilting to work with both. I finally landed on two simple triangles made up of a mix of fabrics, to pull in all the prints and patterns and mimic the shapes from the front. And...I love it. For me- the backer result is always worth the backer effort. 

  • Quilting design: My skills are limited here, so straight lines it is! It's really just a matter of how many, and which way they go. I got inspired by some fancy stuff I saw others doing, but 1: a lot of other End Game quilts use solids, so more elaborate quilting would stand out a bit more. 2: my best skill isn't quilting, so it didn't seem to make sense to pour a ton of effort into something that still may not turn out awesome. At this stage, for this quilt, simple seemed best- so I went with diagonal lines, parallel to one side of my triangle seams. They're about 2.5" apart, evenly spaced with 3 lines across on each triangle. 

  • Timeline: I wasn't kidding when I said it was the 12 Days of Christmas Quilting. I bought all my fabric on Friday November 12th, and wrapped it up late Tuesday the 23rd (just in time for Thanksgiving). That was a lot

  • Media of choice while I worked: Netflix Christmas movies, obviously! I watched Love Hard, Single All the Way, Father Christmas is Back, A California Christmas, and The Holiday Calendar. I sprinkled some Disney+ in there too (The Sandlot, Saving Mr. Banks) and when that all got too saccharine-y, I made a HARD pivot, and binged season 2 and 3 of You. A stalker/serial killer series is probably not the most appropriate background track for a Christmas quilt, but I've learned that I sometimes prefer having a series to watch while I work, rather than movies, because it gives you more uninterrupted hours of content. With movies I had to figure out something new to watch every 1.75 hours, but with a series (especially one with multiple seasons) you can just leave it on indefinitely.
  • New thing I tried/learned: Well, I've apparently made my own binding before, but that was on my very first quilt, back in 2013, so my memory of that is pretty much nil. Typically I use pre-made bias tape, but I knew I wanted candy cane stripes for this one (and didn't want to spend time or money on an Etsy order) so I thought I'd try making it myself. I found some easy tutorials and while it definitely took more time than store-bought tape, I really am proud of the result. For this design it needed to be on the bias (to get the stripes to be diagonal) but in the future I think I'll try just cutting regular strips of fabric in order to have custom colors or patterns.

  • Final thoughts: This was SO fun to work on. I've been quilting a LOT over the last month or two (I still have another finished project to share...) which has gotten a little overwhelming at times (it's a lot of late night hours). But mostly it's been a happy place for me. I love doing something with my hands, getting into the "flow", and the feeling of accomplishment that quilting provides. And after making a lot of quilts for other people, it's fun to have one that I get to enjoy! This holiday time is so special...and so is having a keepsake like this.
And just for fun- here are some shots of my two Christmas quilts together. I love how they work together without being too matchy. They're both already getting lots of snuggle time, so I can attest they look just as good mashed up in a big ball on the couch.

Ooooh- P.S. While I was in the Christmas crafting mood, I whipped up a couple gifts for a friend's new twin babies. I made some truly tacky terrible stockings for Dustin and me our first year of marriage (I think I finally donated them to Goodwill last year after leaving them stuffed in the bottom of a bin for years) but other than that I've never tried stockings. When Katie said she really wanted some faternal twin stockings for her fraternal twin babies, I figured I'd give it a shot! I mish-mashed two free patterns together- mostly this patchwork one, using the shape and finishing methods from Suzy Quilts. It ended up being a touch harder than I thought...but maybe just because I tried to get them done in a matter of days (and I picked a pretty labor intensive design), but all things considered, I'm so pleased with how they turned out. Love the idea that my work gets to be part of people's lives and traditions. (All of the fabric is collected from my two quilts, and the inside lining is the white fabric with little trees. So cute!)

All Sources/Details:

Pattern: End Game by Tied with a Ribbon
Finished size: 62" x 72" (designed to be a throw)
Total Time spent: About 29 hours. But that includes lots of "think time"- incluidng choosing fabric,
Cost: Honestly...I don't really know. I am not greaaaaat at keeping track of such things (maybe I don't want to know?!) but I also had some issues with my e-receipts getting lost so we'll just say it was a gift from Santa.

Fabric: All JoAnn's. With enough leftovers to make some other this tree skirt. NEXT year.
Binding: Made from red and white stripe fabric, using this tutorial. (I am not kidding when I say the tip on how to press it into double fold tape BLEW MY MIND). Mr. Domestic also has a reel that shows the process well. And I always follow Cluck Cluck Sew machine binding tutorial.
Batting: Pellon Nature's Touch Cotton Batting Twin Size 72"x90". (It was cheaper to get pre-packaged, vs. by-the-yard even though it was a bit larger than I needed it. The extra was more than enough to make stockings with, and I still have some big-ish scraps I can use for something.)
Tools: For those of you looking to get some of the basic tools of the trade- here's what I can't quilt without.

  • Triangle ruler - this was fairly specific to this project, but even if I never use it again (which I honestly am already planning to) it still would have been worth it to sail through the cutting process.
  • Scissors - Is it weird to have a favorite style of scissors? Well...then I'm weird. These are the
  • Cutting Mat & Rotary Cutter- Must haves.
P.S. See more quilty goodness: here on the blog, or on IG via #bowdenismsews
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