Christmas Craft: Better Late Than Never . . . a Holiday Table Runner Finished!

Whodda thunk? I’ve actually completed a holiday table runner with my paper-pieced Santa blocks.  Yes, it’s December 28, but 48 hours or so from Christmas counts, doesn’t it?

Project-J:  Completed holiday table runnerIt certainly helps to have a close friend with a long-arm sewing machine and a very generous spirit. My dear buddy Cyndy Rymer rescued me when my first machine-quilting effort turned into a disaster. (The less said, the better about that!) We opted for snowy hills and swirlies and now I’m thinking a judicious sprinkling of iridescent beads would be nice as well.

Project-J:  Three little Santas in a rowMy three Santas and two Christmas trees placed on point and finished with setting triangles ultimately measured 60″, a pretty standard table runner length. However, I wanted 90″ for my dining room table and so I added borders on each side in 15″ increments. Standard table runners measure 60, 90 and 120 inches, thus adding multiple 15″ borders will grow the runner very quickly.

Project-J:  Detail view of folded table runnerI thought a lot about somersaulting the Santas and trees across the runner’s surface so the guests on every table side could enjoy the figures, but I opted instead for a straight setting because I liked the look better for this version. If I ever did toss the Santas head over heels, then I’d make sure I had a quartet of Santas to hit all four positions.  Hey, I’m a writer, I like completed thoughts.

Project-J:  Holiday table runner front and backPhotographing ninety skinny inches of table runner is an insane challenge. This view at least gives you a peek at the backside. Just a couple more tiny details including a label and I’ll be ready for next Christmas!

Enjoy the rest of the holidays!



Merry Christmas from See How We Sew With a New Paper-Pieced Angel Block

Paper-pieced angel following the format of my recent seasonal blocks

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’re the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains . . .

Detail view of angel face:  pink flower sequin for mouth, beads for eyes and hair, hand-stitched face details.
Detail view of angel face: pink flower sequin for mouth, beads for eyes and hair, hand-stitched face details.

Recent events have made me think about sweet little souls becoming angels too soon. To remember them and our loved ones, a paper-pieced angel pattern. The paper-pieced block is available as a download in our Pattern Library.

Wishing you the very, very best this holiday season! I’ll be hugging my grown sons far more today than they typically tolerate, but they’ll just have to put up with it!


p.s. I found a sweet, pared down rendition of Angels We Have Heard on High on YouTube. Billy Gilman is the singer–I wonder if his voice is as clear now that he’s in his twenties.

Need a Last-Minute Gift or Stocking Stuffer? “Check” it Out!

Need a last-minute Secret Santa or gift-exchange goodie for that party tonight? Stumped for a little “something” to present your holiday hostess? Searching for just one more “stuffer” for that special stocking? Here’s a quick and clever solution to all of the above: a smart and stylish checkbook cover! It’s an easy variation on the iPad case from my November 23 post; one that you can probably whip up in an hour or less.

The finshed cover as shown measures approximately 7" x 3 1/2"...perfect for a standard book of personal checks
The finshed cover as shown measures approximately 7″ x 3 1/2″…perfect for a standard book of personal checks

What You’ll Need:

Cotton batting, fusible web, lining fabric: one 7″ x 13″ piece each

Fusible web, outer (front) fabric: one 9″ x 15″ piece each

Fabric and fusible-web scraps, decorative threads, beads, buttons, trims, and other embellishments as desired


1. Fuse lining fabric, right side up, to batting using the 7″ x 13″ piece of fusible web.

2.  Apply 9″ x 15″ piece of fusible web to wrong side of outer fabric.

Left: cover fabric and fusible - 9" x 15"; right: batting, fusible, and lining fabric - 7" x 13"
Left: cover fabric and fusible – 9″ x 15″; right: batting, fusible, and lining fabric – 7″ x 13″

3. Center prepared batting, lining side up, over fusible-web side of prepared outer fabric. Starting with the two long sides, turn outer fabric to the lining; press to fuse. Repeat for both short sides, squaring the corners; press. Clip excess fabric at corners on the diagonal.

Step 2

4. Fold unit in half, lining sides together; press. Unfold, and then fold both ends of the unit inward to about 3/4″ from the center fold; press.

step 3

5. Unfold.  Quilt and embellish as desired. The second area from the bottom will be the front cover. (Note: If your intended embellishments include raised items–such as buttons–close to the side and/or bottom seams, you might prefer to add those after completing the next step.)

step 4

6. Refold the two “flaps” back toward the center, lining sides together. Starting with a few backstitches, topstitch a 1/8″ – 3/16″ seam all around the perimeter of the unit.  Finish with a few backstitches.

checkbook cover_step 5_a

7. Insert your check register in the top pocket and your checks in the bottom. Finished!

finished checkbook_open

cover finished front

Honestly, making these little cuties is addicting! Once I had completed the pink and green version up top for a gift exchange, and finished up the step-by-step sample for this post, I found myself thinking…hmmmm…who else?

My British friend and co-author Chris Porter loves the stagecoach- and covered-wagon checks that she selected for her American bank account, so I dug into my stash, and made this coordinating cover. (I just knew I’d find a good use for that boot button one day!)

Chris checkbook cover

My childhood friend Christy, whom I wrote about in my June 15 post, loves cats, so I made this to tuck into her holiday card this year.

christy's checkbook cover Then there are my “baby” sisters, to whom I’ve dedicated my book, Cuddle Me Quick.

My sisters Loretta (left) and Charlie (right), circa 1961. I'm sure they'll be THRILLED to see this photo ;-)
My sisters Loretta (left) and Charlie (right), circa 1961. I’m sure they’ll be THRILLED to see this photo 😉

After verifying their favorite colors, I went to work.

A purple cover for Ret; a green one for Charlie
A purple cover for Ret; a green one for Charlie

Then, of course, I needed one for myself as well…

my cover

I hope you find a moment to treat yourself to something wonderful during this busy, festive season. Have a peaceful, safe, joyous, and healthy holiday…and “Happy Birthday” to all you Christmas babies out there!Darra-signature

A Holiday Quilt with “History”…and a Wonderful Seasonal Concert!

Back in 1993, I designed a Sunflower-themed wall hanging for my series “Tradition with a Twist” in Quilting Today magazine. (If you’re a longtime quilter, you may remember both the series and the now-defunct magazine.) The design was a blend of two classic patterns: North Carolina Lily and Dresden Plate. I called the quilt Kansas Garden and it appeared in the June 1994 issue.

Quilting Today spread

As I worked on that quilt, I thought about how a few simple modifications and a totally different color scheme could transform the design into an ideal Christmas piece.

Shortly after I finished Kansas Garden, I received an invitation from Missouri quilter Bettina Havig to participate in the 8th Annual Wall Hanging Challenge at Silver Dollar City, which at that time hosted a large national quilt show. The theme for the challenge that year was “holidays,” and my choice–no-brainer here!–was Christmas. Not only did my family celebrate the season in a big way, but I’m also a Christmas Eve baby, born on December 24 (in a year we shall not mention).

My birthday angel, a treasured childhood memento
My birthday angel, a treasured childhood memento

The specifics of the challenge were pretty simple. Fabrics were provided by Springs Industries/Springmaid Fabrics and batting by Fairfield Processing Corporation/Poly-Fil. The specified size was 36″ square, just an inch smaller than–you guessed it!–Kansas Garden. The result, with a different palette, and just a few minor modifications in applique motifs and border width, was December Fantasy.

December Fantasy, 36" x 36", made by Darra Williamson for the 1994 - 1995 Silver Dollar City Wall Hanging Challenge
December Fantasy, 36″ x 36″, made by Darra Williamson for the 1994 – 1995 Silver Dollar City Wall Hanging Challenge

Once completed, the quilt was dispatched to Missouri for the SDC’s annual show, and then traveled for a year with the other eight challenge quilts to various venues around the country. It also appeared in a souvenir pocket calendar.

But the story doesn’t quite end there. In 2007, my husband and I were enjoying the debut webcast of a wonderful holiday concert, Christmas in a Small Town, produced by and featuring quilting buddy, Ricky Tims. Lo and behold, as Ricky began playing “I Saw Three Ships,” what should pop on the screen as part of a photo montage of holiday quilts but December Fantasy! What a lovely surprise!

Christmas in a Small TownIf you’ve never seen Christmas in a Small Town, you’re in luck. It’s currently being shown courtesy of The Quilt Show website, and you can watch it by clicking here. If you like what you see and hear (and I know you will), you can check out the companion CD by clicking here.

Enjoy the final countdown to the 25th, and do check back on Friday, when my post will feature a simple last-minute gift idea that you can whip up in an hour or less. ‘Til then, happy stitching!Darra-signature

It’s a Wrap!

C: Stock Christmas PhotoWould you agree that we probably do 95% of the gift wrapping for the entire year during the next couple of weeks? Are you looking for a few ideas to increase the “glam-factor” under your tree? I’ve always been a fan of cool wrappings and over the years have tried a few that worked, and some that didn’t. If your idea of gift wrapping is sticking one of those atrocious pre-made bows (the ones that come in a bag of 50 for $2.99) onto a package then stay with me; I’ve got a few ideas that may improve your wrapping score. They’re all simple to do, you just need to have the right trimmings (be sure to pick them up when they’re on sale and keep some stock on hand).  For the first one, select a pretty paper, wide curling ribbon, and a few small coordinating ornaments to tie into the ribbon:

The teal and green stars were selected to coordinate with the teal stars in the paper.
The teal and green stars were selected to coordinate with the teal stars in the paper.

Here’s a similar wrap styled for a child, with bright paper, wide curling ribbon, and a cute little penguin ornament tied on:

Polka dots are my favorite and this little snowman was too cute to pass up.
Polka dots are my favorite and this little penguin was too cute to pass up.

This next one is what I call “folk art,” with simple brown postal paper, raffia, and a wooden ornament. This style is ideal for packages that have to be mailed (it’s already flat) and has an old-fashioned feel. Doesn’t it make you want to have cocoa with marshmallows?

This is one of my favorites.
This is one of my favorites.

If you’ve been following See How We Sew from our launch in April 2011, you might remember my May 9, 2011 post on fabric flowers. They’re made with the Clover Sweetheart Rose Maker (the large size). All you need to make them is the tool, a strip of fabric, a few folds, stitches and twists. When added to packages they’re quite lovely. Here are three of them, along with raffia and curled paper (more on curled paper later):

Fabric flowers can be lots of fun and very impressive!
Fabric flowers can be lots of fun and very impressive on packages for any occasion!

The next one is elegant and classic with traditional holiday colors. It’s a foil paper, wire ribbon tied in a simple bow and a holiday pick tucked in:

C: wrap pick
Classic holiday colors!

The last package is an example of curling paper. Years ago I attended a gift-wrapping party. The woman who gave the presentation came in with huge tubs of elaborate papers, ribbons, foils, trims, and everything you could possibly imagine to wrap the most gorgeous packages. The technique that impressed me most was that paper could be curled just like ribbon. Just cut strips of wrapping paper–anywhere from a 1/2″ wide to about 2″ wide–and approximately 15″ long, and then curl them with your scissors from the center (just like you curl ribbon)! Once you’ve got enough strips, use narrow curling ribbon to tie the strips together in the centers and attach them to the package. The more strips you add, the better! Who would have guessed paper would curl? I’ve used this technique for years and it never fails to impress. Hint – it works best if the paper is fairly heavy (very thin paper tends to rip).

Curled strips of paper - who knew!!
Curled strips of paper – who knew!!

You might have noticed a theme in my posts this week (rounding up and wrapping up). That’s because these are my last posts. I have been so fortunate to collaborate with three very talented women. We were challenged both creatively and technically to launch See How We Sew and I’m very proud to have been part of this journey. The past two years working with my blogging-sisters Laura, Darra and Jennifer have been very rewarding. I appreciate and value their support and friendship and wish them continued success as they move forward with See How We Sew.

This transition will enable me to focus on pattern design, so please drop in to visit me at Artichoke Collection. I might pop in for a guest post once in a while, so stay tuned. As a “blogger emeritus,” I’ve been given visiting privileges whenever I’ve got something to share!

Happy holidays and all the best for a creative, healthy, happy new year.

C-Christie's Signature

2012 Block of the Month Roundup!

Take a peek at a few of the finished Sew How We Sew Block of the Month quilts using my 2012 BOM patterns. Here’s a photo of my first quilt, made primarily from the pink/orange fabrics in the “Happiness” line by Kathy Davis from Free Spirit.

C: bom pink rev

Up next is my quilt using the gray/citron color palette (initially inspired by the colors in a tree trunk).  I’m very pleased with a fantastic fabric find for the border which coordinated perfectly with the citron/gray colors and added a bit of interest with hints of green, brown and orange. It’s called “LuLu” from Michael Miller.

bom gray rev

Sally Garrison has finished two of her three quilts. If you recall, she selected three different color families from the “Paris Flea Market” line (being re-released in January) by 3 Sisters from Moda. Sally opted to make a narrower border on her quilts, which looks great. Here are photos of the aqua and yellow quilts:

bom aqua rev

bom yellow rev

Margaret Fritz was one of the first to finish her quilt (she’s working on two more). It’s made with a jelly roll in the “Porcelain” line by Lynne Wilson from Moda.

bom mfritz

And in case you missed my October 9th post, here’s Allison Johns’ quilt, made from a jelly roll in the “Hometown” line by Sweetwater from Moda.

C: bom allison rev

You can catch a glimpse of one of Jennifer’s BOM quilts by visiting our current photo tour of “Quilting in the Garden” on the Gallery tab above.

As you finish your Block of the Month quilt(s), please send us a photo to display in our gallery. You can email your photos to our address (be sure to include your name and where you’re from).

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this project and many thanks everyone who made the journey with me. If these quilts inspired you, all the directions can be found in our FREE patterns library.

I hope it brought you . . . 

C: bomjoy

Keep sewing!

C-Christie's Signature

My Favorite Baby Blanket Pattern . . . and Knitted Booties

It is definitely baby season in our family. A new one arrived seven weeks ago, and two more are on the way. It’s so very exciting. Not my own babies, of course, and not even grandchildren, but these great nieces and nephews are equally special to me. There is never a question as to the gift to make for these new arrivals. Babies can never have too many blankets and this pattern is one of my favorites.

Baby Warren is showing off the blanket for his new cousin.
Baby Warren is showing off the blanket for his new cousin.

This one has been around for awhile, but I think it is worth sharing again. It’s quick, easy, and oh so snuggly.

Here’s what you will need:

Two fabrics: 1-1/4 yd. for backing and border and 7/8 yd. for the front. I have made these using two different flannel fabrics, but today decided to use a flannel for the back and minkie for the front.


Backing fabric, cut to 40″ square.

Front, cut to 30″ square.

Construction: I used a walking foot on my machine to prevent slipping while working with the minkie.

1. Use pins to mark the centerpoints on the sides of each piece.

2. Work on one side at a time. With the front fabric on top and right sides together, match the centerpoints of the fabrics. Secure with additional pins. Note that there will be an extension of the backing fabric beyond the corner of the front fabric. Starting 1/4″ from the corner of the front fabric, stitch the two pieces together to within 1/4″ of the opposite end. Begin and end with a few backstitches to secure.

Begin and end 1/4" from each end of the front fabric.
Begin and end 1/4″ from each end of the front fabric.

3. Repeat for the remaining three sides, leaving an opening along one side for turning right side out.

4. Working on one corner at a time, fold the fabric exactly as shown and mark a line that extends from the folded edge to the stitching line.

Mark a line on the wrong side of the backing fabric.
Mark a line on the wrong side of the backing fabric.

5. Stitch along the marked line, ending with a few backstitches to secure, and then cut the excess fabric 1/4″ away from the stitching line, as shown. Repeat for the remaining corners.

Cut 1/4" away from the stitching line.
Cut 1/4″ away from the stitching line.

6. Carefully turn the blanket right side out. Press the seam in the direction of the backing/border fabric.

7. Use a straight or decorative stitch to hold the seam allowance flat. Additional stitching lines can be added if desired.

I like this serpentine stitch on my machine.
I like this serpentine stitch on my machine.

It’s just that easy.  Make one or two as holiday gifts or for an upcoming baby shower.

If you are a knitter, you might consider adding a pair of booties to make a lovely gift package. There are many simple patterns available. The one shown where is from a pattern I found on

Simple knitted baby booties.
Simple knitted baby booties.

Until next time, I wish you all a joyous and peaceful holiday season.


The Cat’s Out of the Bag! I’m the 2013 BOM Teacher for Craftsy–Enter for a FREE Class

L: Craftsy logo-LearnItMakeItI’m so happy to be home for the holidays and catching up with family and friends. This past month has been a whirlwind of traveling and teaching. It was so much fun but I have to agree with Dorothy on this one . . . there’s no place like home.

In my last post, I hinted at some exciting news that I was not able to share at the time. Since then, I have traveled to Denver to the studios of Sympoz where I filmed 11 lessons for the 2013 Block of the Month series with Craftsy. If you are not familiar with this popular website, you must take a minute to check out the many workshops and class offerings available. Not only are there quilting classes, but also classes in cake decorating, knitting & crocheting, woodworking, spinning, paper crafts, and jewelry making. There is something for everyone.

I thought I was good to go but each night my hotel room looked like this as I had some last-minute tasks before filming the next morning. I should have taken a photo of the floor. Yikes, it was covered with threads!

We learn to work in whatever space is available.
We learn to work in whatever space is available.

My Block of the Month series will go live on January 1st and the good news is that it is FREE! You just need to visit the site and set up a username and password and then click on the logo for this class. You will be able to access it at your leisure, as many times as you like and for as long as it is available, which apparently will be for many, many years.  There is no expiration date. A new lesson will be available the first day of each month. I really hope you will join me in this exciting new venture.

I had a very short turn-around time from when I was asked to teach to the actual filming dates. There was so much to do–from selecting fabrics, choosing patterns, and writing instructions. I selected a variety of blocks that would teach many of my favorite techniques, including curved piecing, y-seam construction, partial seams, 45-degree and 60-degree triangles and diamonds, appliqué, and drafting. I feel there is an exciting line-up of patterns included in the sampler quilt.

I can’t reveal the actual quilt project yet but here is a sneak peek at the lovely fabrics they sent me to play with. I just love polka dots, so working on this project was so much fun.

I love these dots by Robert Kaufman fabrics.
I love these dots by Robert Kaufman fabrics.

When I arrived at the studios, I was deeply touched that a workspace was all set up with many of my favorite things. They made me feel so comfortable and right at home.

Such a cute workspace. Wish my own was this neat and tidy!
Such a cute workspace. Wish my own was this neat and tidy!

Many thanks to some of the nicest people ever to work with: Alissa, Nicole and Jarrod and my lovely makeup artist Danica (not shown). I had the best time and can’t wait for the release of this new series.

Alissa (producer), yours truly, Nicole (film editor) and Jarrod (camera).
Alissa (producer), yours truly, Nicole (film editor) and Jarrod (camera).

Giveaway-Green:RedCraftsy is generously offering a Free class (up to a $49.99 value) to one of our readers. Simply hop on over to the website and browse through the abundance of class offerings. Then post a comment by end of day December 20th telling me which class you would like to take. I will announce the winner in my Jan 1 post.

I hope you will plan to join me in January. It’s a perfect time to begin a new project. I will give you lots of tips and hints to help with the success of your quilt. You can go onto the Craftsy website now and get set-up; then you will be ready to go.

Almost forgot – The four lucky winners of copies of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks from today’s top designers are: Linda Dixon, Cindy Wendt, Miss Moozie (love this name!) and Helen Petrik.

Happy Holidays everyone. Be well and safe. Hope to see you next year in the Craftsy classroom.