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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 Town

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!


#RickyTims #TheQuiltShow #holidayquilts #SilverDollarCity #ChristmasinaSmallTown #TraditionwithaTwist

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