Saturday, December 22, 2018

Wonky and Whimsical

The top for the December challenge is complete! I will have to wait to quilt it until next week, however, as I am not at home until after Christmas.
I knew I wanted to do something Christmassy for the challenge, but there weren't any Christmas-themed batiks in Box 2. I let my thoughts of wonky trees percolate.... As has been the case all this wonderful year of being an Island Batik ambassador, percolating on the back burner of my brain has never let me down.
As has always been the case as well, the hardest part after honing in on the design has been the choosing of the fabric. It's hard to pick! And then when I do, there is often a challenge to making the fabrics I've been sent work for the design... but therein lies the challenge and the growth!! And I love this aspect, just love it. All of the fabrics were supplied to me by Island Batik, and the Aurifil thread used to piece this by Aurifil.

So, what did I do? Well if you follow me on Instagram, where I've been this past month a bit more than here in Quilting Blog Land, you'll have seen the beginnings.

Here are my wonky improv trees in progress. I wrote a tutorial for making mug rugs using this method here, when I was part of the blog hop for Amanda Murphy's new Christmas line last year.

Last year, 2017, was a vey tough one in my family: our ex-son-in-law, Brady's dad, had died tragically and unexpectedly in the summer, and on December 9, our beloved Rottweiler, Naala, suddenly took a terrible turn for the worse, and we had to let her go, after having had a steady recovery and healing post-spleen-removal surgery two months prior. That Christmas was quiet and very sad, the worst one we've had. We looked forward however, to 2018 and a happier year, knowing our daughter Dayna was marrying Tyler, so there was that happy occasion to plan for and look forward to.

Then in May 2018 my mum suffered a massive stroke and we lost her within a few days. No beloved nana to come to Dayna's wedding, something they'd been discussing at length. My last conversation with Mum had been about Dayna's wedding, booking flights, and watching for deals and best routes...

This Christmas will again be a sad one, as it's the first without my mum, who loved Christmas as do I, and as do both my daughters. It reminded me that Christmas is not always a happy occasion for everyone, and although I love it and have been having a very good month of Christmas festivities with no end in sight, there is still that underlying sadness.

You may wonder why some trees have grey background (a fabulous neutral batik, oh the quality!) and some have various pinks.
Three of these are from Box 1, two from the Galentine's Day mug rugs I made in February (affiliate link there) and one from the Batik Foundations group we were given. The second from the bottom is from the Paisley Dot brights line.

Those of you who know me, know how I love to play with layers and shadows or super-imposed images in quilting. Added to this is the fact that I just had two lines left in my box to choose from, the Dear William line, which I'd already worked with in August and this Paisley Dots brights rainbow line I did choose in the end. But yellow and orange, pink and bright blue trees? Hmmm...

I had the idea to represent this sad, dark part of Christmas for some of us by having darker trees moving into bright rainbow trees. I can't recall if the idea of the heart representing love that conquers all, that brightens our lives, was born before, after, or basically simultaneously with a very vivid visit with Mum in a dream. She was asking me about the significance or reasons behind leaving a legacy to loved ones, and at the end of our very normal, real, not dreamlike at all conversation, she looked at me and said, "What about just love?"

And I knew it was all tied up with this quilt. There was a lot of geometry involved, a lot of dividing and conquering into straight-line sections, but it came together quite nicely.

The turquoise tree needed a bit of 'fancy' piecing, as the lower pink/turquoise corner extended into the grey background!
When the centre was done, I knew it needed top and bottom borders to float the heart a bit better. I'd had the top of this olive green tree peeking into the 'forest' (Mum's favourite colour was green, especially a rich deep green, and I wanted another representation of her on the bright side). Once I added the top and bottom borders, it didn't look right, so a little reverse-sewing, cutting anew, and piecing again, resulted in the final rendition of the piece:

So, as you see, the darker trees, the sadder part of Christmas, move, in basically rainbow order through love, transforming to the bright trees you see on the right. I made two bigger trees, one in forest green and one in Christmas red, as I did want this to be somewhat Christmassy.

Love the stained glass effect!

I'll be back to show you the finished piece once it's quilted. Meanwhile I'm "simply having a wonderful Christmas time" (Paul McCartney) here at Brady and Brianne's house in Edmonton! Think Christmas music all day, a Christmas movie each night (just like I had at my friend John's a little over a week ago) 😍, Christmas festivities galore from lights, to decorations, to food, to mood!

It isn't the presents, it is the experience, the love that lifts the spirits for sure. Thank you Mum, and thank you Brianne and Brady!

Remember next Saturday is DrEAMi! where we link up any projects that have captured our attention so much that we literally Dropped Everything and Make it!

Wishing you a very special and memorable Christmas with loved ones, be they family and/or friends.

One last note is that Craftsy is changing their store platform in 2019, something that saddens me. My store will remain open apparently, but I have no idea what patterns will still be available. I suspect they will decide depending on numbers of downloads. More in another post, I hope, (we shall see how busy I am over the next few days) but I've done an experiment for the last two months of 2019, putting a small pricetag of $1-3 on many of my patterns that were free, that had literally nearly 2000 downloads each... Anyhow I want to let you know that if you are at all interested in any of them, please follow this link to my store, or the one in the sidebar, to check them out. I will be working to move them all over to my Etsy store eventually. Craftsy classes are all on sale right now (affiliate link) and there will be a huge sale next week, so be sure to check back here for the link.


  1. I think you captured how love can transform things beautifully with your quilt top. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!!

  2. I love your creation and the thought process that brought it to fruition. Yes, my Christmas is a bit sad this year, too, but life and love do go on.
    Didn't know that about Craftsy although I had seen something in my blog feed about moving your patterns to Etsy. I guess that's why. I had a couple of patterns earmarked for the future - guess I'd better go check up on them.

    So glad you are having a lovely time with Brianne and Brady. Merry Christmas ... and Happy New Year, too.

  3. What a beautiful quilt and lovely thoughts to support what you made! Thanks for sharing your life with us, Sandra. Wishing you a loving and peaceful holiday!

  4. Wonky trees for a wonky year; but love persists. This does exactly as you want....darkness into brightness, shadows into rainbows. And, oh yes, that little bit of Christmas snuck in there. And that, heart, just perfect. I look forward to see how you quilt it. Merry Christmas to you and yours and a brighter new year.

  5. So much purposeful thought. It makes this piece of art even more beautiful.

  6. It's awesome!! So much meaning in a small project. Have an awesome Christmas.

  7. I love how you took the dark side into the light! Christmas is a special time to make memories. Make as many as you can in Edmonton. Merry Christmas my friend!

  8. You have captured the emotions of Christmas so beautifully in your quilt. How fortunate the quilting community is to have you inspire and gently push them on to new ideas. Thank you for a great year.

  9. What a lovely Christmas quilt! Thank you for sharing, and Merry Christmas to you!

  10. Merry Christmas! Thank you so very much for blessing us with your talents. ❤️

  11. Love your post, Sandra. Yes, unfortunately, Christmas isn't the happiest time for many people - more than we probably know. So glad you are with family this holiday. I remember the first one without my mom who passed just 13 days before Christmas. I'll be thinking of you and hoping you have a wonderful time with your daughter and grandson. Hugs, and Merry Christmas!

  12. While feeling some sadness this Christmas is normal, you also have reasons to open your heart to new possibilities and celebrate the year's joys. Your heart/tree project is a good way to channel those emotions.

  13. What a wonderful and special quilt. Thank you for sharing your journey to making it.

  14. I actually cried, "Oh!" out loud when I scrolled to the final flimsy photo. Oh, Sandra! I love the special, unique trees moving through the heart. Of course the rainbow order is part of the design, that's so YOU! Also very YOU to recognize and honor the duality of the season. That all is not joy for every person or every family. But joy remains possible, hope glimmers in the lengthening of the days.

    I wish joy and hope and light, for you and your family!

  15. What a beautiful quilt, a remembrance and honoring those you’ve loved and lost. Thank you. Yes, Christmas isn’t always a happy time for many, esp those who have nothing, and will receive nothing. Those are the ones I think of this time of year.

  16. As always, I enjoy the meaning behind your quilts and the thoughtfulness you put into them. I hope you have many good, warm memories of your Christmas together this year with family and friends, despite the sadness that is part of the season too. Hugs, Sandra!

  17. I remember a few years ago reading about a "controversy" over whether quilts in a show should be judged on their own or in conjunction with the explanation behind them. I suppose a case could be made either way. That's not really my point. But I do know that a quilt like this is all the richer for knowing the story behind it. It's not a story for you, of course. It's your real life. Opened up for all of us. Thank you for sharing this bittersweet time of year for you. I hope the light in that last photo continues to shine through for you and your family as you celebrate Christmas and greet the new year, Sandra!

  18. What beautiful symbolism representing the mixed emotions that can come with Christmas. Wonderful design, Sandra!


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