On Stitching Christmas Trees

Christmas is coming and the shops are stocked to the brim with shiny things and luxury foods. My pre-Christmas indulgence has been to make small Christmas tree quilts (as a variation on the theme of my tree-stitching obsession). Both happened as if by chance. First the photographs and then the stories:

The first quilt came about because a pile of red triangles accumulated on my sewing table while I was trimming the corners for card wallets in Christmas fabrics. How could I throw them away when they were shouting “Happy Christmas Tree” at me.

Examples of the card wallets made from Christmas fabric.

The idea for making card wallets to sell at the Hogsback Christmas market was prompted by a post by Tierney ( https://tierneycreates.com/2019/10/13/the-madness-returns/ ) on her blog called Tierney Creates ( https://tierneycreates.com/ ). Thanks for the inspiration, Tierney. It was also a good opportunity to use up the Christmas fabrics in my closet!

I arranged the triangles on a background of gold lame and machine appliqued them down without thinking too much about it. Lame (with an umlaut) is surprisingly stable and is (I repeat) my favourite shiny fabric. I also like it because it takes on magical properties when it is hand quilted.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

The second Christmas Tree also came about through a set of happy coincidences. At the Christmas dinner with my quilting group, the QUOGS (Quilters of Grahamstown), I chose the “Secret Santa” gift that was wrapped in lame fabric and this very fabric became the background for the next tree. At the same occasion I was given hand dyed perle thread in shades of red and orange. So, what does a girl do with a piece of gold lame and a skein of red thread in the weeks before Christmas? She stitches a tree.

It struck me that the Kantha stitch called “stepping” could form a nice neat triangle and therefore echo the shape of a traditional Christmas tree. So I drew a triangle onto the fabric and started stitching from the outside, at the bottom left of the triangle towards the centre line and then down the other side of the triangle to the bottom right. And then back up again, row after mesmerising row. I did find that stitching at night under electric light was a little hard on the eyes because of the reflection from the gold lame.

Again, the lame held up against the intensive rows of stitching. It obviously felt different to stitching through soft cotton or silk (in the more traditional Kantha style) but was not unpleasant. I used a very thin layer of batting between two layers of lame. The tree is reversible as the stitching shows on both sides.

I struggled to get a decent photograph because of the reflection off the gold fabric. When photographing it flat in the shade did not work, I tried hanging it up. There was a breeze and the quilt kept moving, which gave me the idea of making a short video. Alas, I have not been able to upload it, so will have to be satisfied with showing a still photograph.

The Kantha style Christmas tree, titled “Happy Christmas Tree #3”

I know I have at least one reader who will have spotted that Happy Christmas Tree #1 is missing from this post. That quilt was made a year ago. I did post a photograph of it last December, but here it is again for good luck and because it’s nearly Christmas.

14 thoughts on “On Stitching Christmas Trees

  1. My only experience with lame was using it sparingly as part of a Christmas ornament block. I love what you did with this fabric! The hand quilting does make it magical. I have some Christmas scraps that I would like to try out on lame on a very small scale. Thank you for the inspiration.

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  2. Those Christmas trees cards and a little wallets are awesome! I’m so glad that I could be of inspiration on the wallets 😀
    Oh and looking at the Happy Christmas Tree art quilt makes me happy!

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  3. Mmmm, love the idea of developing a signature through stitching, Laura. The garish and slightly stiff nature of the lame fabric was a bit of a distraction — nevertheless, the act of stitching and watching the pattern unfold was still meditative. I am thinking of a new Kantha style piece, and that will definitely be on softer cloth

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  4. I love them all but particularly Happy Christmas tree#2! It’s got super proportions, love the jolly fat triangles and your border . Well done.

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  5. Of all your work, I love these trees. Especially XT number 3. Love the gold lame (with umlaut). What cheer they will bring to someone this Christmas. Lucky fish whoever that is.

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  6. Hi Maris,
    I really like and admire your simple gold lame tree, I just think that the Kantha stitching works so beautifully here, thanks also for showing the rich quilt from last year – very Gustav Klimt.

    Happy New Year, Janet

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    1. Dear Janet,
      I appreciate your noticing and commenting on my Kantha stitched Christmas tree and for associating the earlier work with Klimt. I am glowing ! Best wishes to you too for 2020. Here’s to stitching.

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