Greetings, Sewing Secrets Followers:
A big ‘thank you’ goes to Coats & Clark for inviting me to participate as a guest on the ‘Sewing Secrets’ blog. I appreciate the opportunity to share some of my thoughts about sewing and quilting with you.
In chapter six of my debut novella, ‘A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom,’ a colorful handmade quilt is given to the injured seven-year-old girl, Mary Noel. The quilt is described in detail in the book. Pinwheel blocks, four-patch blocks, a center block featuring a hand-embroidered angel made to physically look like Mary Noel, and the use of print and solid fabrics in the girl’s favorite colors of blue, pink, and purple.
I enjoy learning the ‘why’ behind a designer’s creations, so I decided to share my thought processes while designing the quilt. When I taught Kindergarten and first grade, my students made paper pinwheels each spring when we learned about the wind in our weather unit. The children giggled with delight when we took their pinwheels outside to give them a spin. They’d run around the play yard trying to see how fast they could get their own pinwheel to rotate. Ever since then, I smile whenever I see pinwheels fluttering in my neighbors’ yards or decorating the midway at the county fair.
Choosing the colors for the quilt was easy. My favorite color is the same as Mary Noel’s—sky blue (imagine that!). The majority of young girls I taught over the years declared that pink was their favorite color. If they chose a color other than pink, the majority of the time their favorite was purple. I love the combination of blue, pink, and purple, so I used those three colors in the quilt. It seems many designers and quilters have a preference for either solids or prints, but I enjoy using them both. I especially love combining solids and prints to get the illusion of movement, such as the pinwheel blocks in this quilt.
Mary Noel simply adores angels. I decided to include her affection for angels while I was writing this Christmas story because many people find peace and comfort in angels. When I was young girl, I was in our church’s children’s choir and Christmas pageant each year. Usually, the girls were dressed as angels, and we sang ‘Angels We Have Heard on High’ or ‘Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.’ Each year, the choir director sent home a newspaper print pattern for our mothers to use in making our angel costume out of a worn white bed sheet. Now that was upcycling at its finest! These happy memories led me to make Mary Noel’s affection for angels a central focus of her character and her healing.
Since the purpose of the quilt in the story was to cheer and comfort Mary Noel, Mrs. Wrightmann, the maker of the quilt, hand-embroidered a delightful angel in the center block of the quilt. She took care to give the angel golden hair and fair skin so it resembled little Mary Noel. This block was my favorite part of designing and making this quilt. I enjoy drawing, and I don’t often take the time to draw for pleasure anymore. Hand-embroidering this block was so relaxing and enjoyable. Making this little angel rekindled my love for embroidery.
I love using buttons for embellishment on many of my projects. Dill Buttons of America supplies me with their high-quality, colorful buttons for my creations. I used some of their flower and square buttons to embellish the blocks on Mary Noel’s quilt. For safety reasons, I do not recommend sewing buttons onto a quilt for someone under the age of six or for someone who has younger siblings at home who may try to remove the buttons using their teeth or fingers.
I used a very soft piece of sky blue flannel with a snowflake print as the backing of the quilt. It’s so soft and cozy. I always back my baby quilts with flannel because it just feels so nice against a little one’s skin. The batting is a Warm & White Needled-Cotton Batting supplied by The Warm Company. I used this product because some of the fabrics on the quilt front are transparent. The Warm & White batting looks really pristine when used for this purpose. Usually I choose the Warm & Natural Needled-Cotton Batting for projects where the batting will not show through because it is unbleached.
As far as my preference for hand-quilting versus machine-quilting, I enjoy using both processes in my projects. I wish I would have had the time to hand-quilt the center block and the remainder of this quilt. Unfortunately, with all of the editing, marketing, and promoting of my book leading up to the release date, I was short on time. I wanted to have the quilt photos and instructions posted on my website the day after the book’s release. Therefore, I chose to machine-quilt the angel block and complete the most basic of machine-quilting on the four patch blocks. Maybe someday soon I’ll have an opportunity to machine-quilt the remainder of the quilt.
Please visit my blog at: http://www.junemccraryjacobs.com/mary-noels-quilt-project/ to download the complimentary patterns and instructions for Mary Noel’s Quilt. Experiment by making the angel resemble your little angel by changing her hair and skin colors. Use your little angel’s favorite colors to make the blocks. Machine or hand-quilt the finished product as desired
To receive Facebook notifications of my free monthly sewing projects posted the first Wednesday each month, ‘Like’ my Facebook page. I frequently share my sewing tips, review books, and write about my other adventures and endeavors on my blog. I send out a link each time I post something on my blog, and I welcome new followers with open arms!
Autographed Book Giveaway
Autographed Book Giveaway:
The publisher of ‘A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom,’ Cedar Fort Inc., has generously offered to give a hardcover copy of the book, autographed by yours truly, to one lucky Coats & Clark follower who resides in the United States. For your chance to win, post a comment on this blog post, post a comment on my blog. For extra entries, like my Facebook page and Coats & Clark’s then comment again here to let us know that you did. Contest closes on November 29th. The book will be mailed to you in time for Christmas. Thank you for your interest.
Happy Sewing and Happy Holidays,
About the Author
June McCrary Jacobs has been using and enjoying Coats & Clark threads and zippers since she began sewing in the late 1960's. Nearly one hundred of June's original sewing, stitchery and crafting designs have been published in books, magazines, e-newsletters and blogs during the past six years. Visit June at her 'Writing & Sewing' blog to download complimentary sewing projects and read her sewing tips at http://www.junemccraryjacobs.com. You may contact June via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.