Sunday, December 9, 2012

SewCalGal Quilter's Christmas Party

Hi everyone! I am posting to participate in SewCalGal's virtual Quilter's Christmas Party, which benefits Operation Homefront.

She suggests quilters get together to share tips, insights, tutorials, or holiday traditions.  I thought I would share my latest Christmas finish and a little bit about gifting traditions in my family.

I just finished this little wallhanging last night. It is paper pieced (or foundation pieced, is there a difference?) with some fun embellishments. I really enjoyed putting it together and I definitely want to do more paper piecing in the future.

full wallhanging

The little train, now with wheels!


Tree with its lights.

I really have very few Christmas decorations in my house because I have just started living on my own - this is my first year with my own Christmas tree! So I decided my goal will be to do one new decoration a year, no need to rush through making a bunch of things. Last year I made a chickadee wallhanging, which is more wintry than Christmas-specific, and this year I have this new wallhanging!

Here are some tips and insights I learned while making this wallhanging:

1. When paper piecing, save all of your trimmings. This wallhanging involved so many tiny pieces that I often dug through my trash can to find a leftover that I had trimmed off of a previous seam so as to not waste fabric.
2. Most people already do this, but definitely set up a little ironing station at your sewing machine so you don't have to get up to press every seam open. I had a little mini iron and mini ironing board handy for this purpose.
3. I wanted to put ribbons on the presents, but didn't want to go through the pain of stitching such tiny ribbon down.  I actually did stitch down such thin ribbon on a previous quilt and it was a HUGE pain.  I ended up finding this stuff:
 It is a very narrow band of fusible web, only 1/4" wide. It was perfect! I didn't have to sew down any of those ribbon pieces, this was quick and easy to apply, and appears to be bonded pretty strongly.

Here is an in-progress shot of fusing the ribbon on.
What I didn't think about was that metallic ribbon did not react too well to the steam from the iron, so each piece of ribbon shriveled a little when I ironed it. But not enough to be a real problem.

4. Quilting! You can't see it in the photos, but I used a holly design in the border. I really like the design because it's easy and doesn't involve travelling, so I wanted to share it with you.  It is based on Leah Day's "Prickly Holly" filler. I drew a little sketch to show how they can go in a  line for a nice border stitch:
5. Final quilting tip: If you haven't tried The Bottom Line thread by Superior, you really have to! It's awesome. I bought one grey spool as a tester and now use it in my bobbin thread for practically everything. I never have tension problems, the color blends in with everything and never shows on the top of the quilt, and I've actually had even fewer tensions problems with this thread than with using the same thread on top and bottom together! I am in love! On a side note, the Superior Threads website had tons of information for quilters. They have flowcharts for what type of thread to use for what purpose, and for every thread on their side they give suggestions for tension and needle settings. Oh, and their "Thread Therapy" instructional dvd is free for two more days.

Okay those are all of the tips in insights about my Christmas wallhanging. Hopefully you will find them helpful.  :)

I wanted to share a little background about gifts in my family. Growing up we always made handmade gifts for family. Every year, grandparents would get a homemade article of Christmas decor. Most of the photos of us working on them weren't taken with digital cameras, but I did find one on my computer:
This was a little paper pieced santa wallhanging, from sometime in high school.

Now that I'm grown up I'm carrying on the tradition of homemade gifts, but I figured everybody has a lifetime supply of Christmas decorations, so now for Christmas everybody gifts something they can use year-round. Two years ago it was little wine vests:

Last year it was chickadee wallhangings:
And this year I decided that I really hated making five of the same thing, so everybody is getting something a little bit different!

I would love to hear about your Christmas traditions, and don't forget to visit the other quilters on today's Quilter's Christmas Party. 


  1. love the wall hanging... That is one of newest things, I am trying to make one for each month of the year..

  2. Beautiful work! Love your wall quilt ... :) Pat

  3. When I first saw the picture I thought it was a panel, it's so cute. I really need to try paper or foundation piecing, did you get an answer if there is a difference? Thanks.

  4. Your new wallhanging is so pretty and nicely done! The individual panels would make great hangings on their own too, for small areas. Great job!

  5. I hate making the same thing over and over again too! I love your chickadees wall hangings though!

  6. The wallhanging is beautiful! Part of the fun of starting out on your own is creating your own holiday decorations. You're off to a great start!

  7. Heather, I'm delighted you came to the Quilter's Christmas Party. Your Christmas wallhanging with the cute little train is absolutely beautiful. Love it. And your chickadee project, wine bottles and others are all delightful. Thanks for all the tips.

    I to remember what it was like my first Christmas in my own place. Takes awhile to build up your own collection of decorations, but looks to me you are making some wonderful treasures that you will surely enjoy for many years to come.