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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!


If 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!

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