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


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

  1. Have a very Happy Birthday Darra. I probably still have that copy of Quilting Today since I usually hang on to any when I know the quilter who wrote the article. Thank you for all the wonderful patterns! Donna Klessner


  2. Hi Darra! You have given me a breath of fresh “peaceful” air today! Thank you! I also have an “eve” birthday in December…New Year’s…12/31/44…oh well,we do need to admit it sometimes!
    Quilter’s really do seem to come together in mysterious ways…the one and only quilt I have
    submitted in competition was chosen last year as a traveler “First time entry” category for the Hoffman Challenge. I named it Garden Rhapsody. You have given me renewed spirit to get going again after a “slow” period of quilting activity. Happy Birthday to you!!!


  3. I just finished some Dresden plates from a class with Edyta Sitar. I fell in love with the possibilities of the classic motif. I’m going to set my “plates” in a square on point and do some kind of applique (maybe a bird on a branch) in the center and corners.

    I love the Christmas design – I love the holiday too.

    And I wrote my Christmas cards with Ricky’s concert playing on my computer!


  4. Darra: Did Jennifer tell you she has another friend (me) who was born on Christmas Eve? I have a similar December figurine, but it’s the birthday girl. Thanks for all your great information and inspiration.


    1. Thanks! I do love Kansas. It was always a fun place to visit back in my teaching days. The quilters and the quilts were wonderful!


    1. Thanks, Barbara. The pattern was originally published in that issue of Quilting Today, but that was long ago. Perhaps I’ll look into it. Happy holidays! Darra


  5. Holy cow Darra…..what a familiar blast from the past…..how many people even remember Silver Dollar City or Quitling Today Magazine…both of which I contributed to often as well. As we approach another new year, it’s marvelous to take time to reflect on our quilt experiences….all of which led us HERE!!


    1. I know, Mary. (It’s amazing what I turn up when I actually attempt to clean my sewing room/office a bit 😉 Those were wonderful days–as these are–for quilters.


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