Before we welcome in the New Year there’s just one more little make that I want to share with you. It’s arguably the most important, after all Pip will have grown out of his jumper by Easter, the girls’ hats might still fit them next year, but a stocking, a stocking is for all the Christmases still to come. I’m still using the one my Mum made me some thirty something years after it was first laid out underneath a Christmas tree.
It makes it special, but also means there’s a decent amount of pressure to get it right, to make something that is beautiful, suits the personality of a baby you’ve only just got to know, and will be something that they’ll treasure all through their childhoods.
I know that Kitty and Elma love their stockings because they pounce on them as soon as they come out of the Christmas box and because almost a week later they’re still being used to carry around their dearest treasures and I hope Pip likes his just as much. I like it, and right now that’s probably what really matters.
The inspiration was snow. Beautiful big fat feathery flakes of snow, drifting gently down and piling up into deep powdery drifts, just perfect for snow angels and snowmen and rolling in and all the things I can only dream of because we live in England and the whole country grinds to a halt for anything more exciting than a heavy frost. It was to give Pip a guarantee of a snowy first Christmas and all the Christmases to come, even if the weather won’t quite play ball with my plans.
I started out thinking about appliqué, imagining a dark blue background covered in tiny unique snowflakes, but I couldn’t work out how to get the flakes as fine as I would want them, and I didn’t want to embroider them which seemed the obvious solution so I shelved that plan and started to think in shapes. Stars, hexagons, diamonds, and then, triangles. Equilateral triangles, from a variety of snowy and Christmassy fabric, all sewn together and then cut into a stocking shape. I could do the piecing on the machine (always a plus when time is of the essence) and I even had a couple of red and icy blue fabrics in the stash to start me off.
I love red, white and an almost duck egg blue as a wintery combination; it’s the colours in my christmas quilt and my felt paper chains so it’s not really a surprise that I went with my favourites for Pip’s stocking, adding in a little air force blue and deep midnight for depth and to pull together all of the snowy or starry fabrics we could find in the fabric shop. I’m not sure what any of them are; I bought fat quarters and my quarter didn’t get the selvedge information, but they’re all quilting cottons and there are seven of them.
The triangles are cut following Lorna’s instructions for cutting and piecing equilateral triangle quilts at Sew Fresh Quilts (which are fantastic – really nice and clear, especially the cutting instructions) and then I laid out a pattern that I thought might be big enough to fit my stocking pattern piece. It wasn’t. As I sewed the triangles into rows I started to add to either end, and once I started piecing the rows together I added a couple of extra rows but in the end I had nine rows of triangles with a finished height of 2.5 inches (cut from strips that were 3.25 inches wide). The second side went together much more easily because I wasn’t trying to work it out as I went along and is a mirror image of the first.
Mirrored, yes, identical to the point of seam matching down the spine, not always – I’m just not that good at piecing!
And then it was just a little matter of laying out my trusty stocking pattern, cutting out a front and back and two lining pieces (from a lovely white on white snowflake pattern), layering them up and sewing them together. And as a finishing touch, a little red binding and a loop of snowflake ribbon.
I think it’s got a little bit of that feeling when you stand outside when it’s snowing and stare upward as the flakes whirl at you seemingly out of nowhere; snowfall in a kaleidoscope, beautiful and ever so slightly mesmerising.
ut most importantly of all, and this is crucial, (a) I finished it on time, and (b) it is exactly the same size as Kitty and Elma’s!