Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Christmas Story

Today my step-daugher and all the kids came by to spend some time with me for Christmas.  It was a wonderful day and it is amazing to see how much the great-grandchildren have grown.  Jeb is turning into a wonderful young man.  He has grown so much taller and has lost that *baby-face look*.  Kaitlyn is quite a little lady these days.  It was so much fun spending time with all the family.  After they left I began thinking about past Christmases  and decided I would share a few memories with you.

                                        A Christmas Story

Once upon a time there was a nice (and very sane) Lady who lived with her Darling Husband, Bo, in a very small town in South Carolina.  She was a Registered Nurse by profession but since a job related accident had left her disabled she spent most of her time reading or cross stitching.  One fall day while looking through her favorite needlework magazine she noticed all of the Christmas ideas and she decided to stitch her small family nice, heirloom quality Christmas stockings.  So she began looking for charts.  First she chose one for her Dear Son, Jason.   Even though he no longer lived at home with her, she continued to hang his stocking each year.  She then found one for her Darling Husband and then one for herself.  The chart designs complemented each other and were perfect for her family.  She began to stitch right away and with each stitch she placed, she added love.  She stitched night and day until at last she was finished.  She was so proud when the last stitches were put in the final sock.

So off she went to the fabric shop for lining and backing fabrics.  Although she did not really like to sew she knew she could do a creditable job assembling the stockings.  She chose a beautiful dark red baby wail corduroy for the stocking backs.  With backing and lining fabrics, interfacings, pins, scissors, and thread she began her task.  Washed and pressed and ready to go…pin, cut, baste, stitch, rip…rip…rip…baste, stitch, clip, turn, press.  Repeat.  Repeat.  As she finished each one a smile of satisfaction crossed her lips.  “Not bad” she thought to herself.  “Not bad at all.”  She could hardly wait to hang them!

She then decided to cross-stitch a Christmas tree skirt to complement the stockings.  As an avid Santa collector, she decided to stitch one that would also complement her collection.  So she began her search for the perfect design.  Although she looked through all of her magazines and searched out the local needlework shop (LNS) she was unable to find one that she liked.  So she began to create one of her own.  Using various Santa, ornament, and border designs, she compiled the charts she wanted to use.  Then she thought out the size, shape and finishing ideas for the skirt.  She had decided to use a scallop design with the Santas and ornaments centered in each curve.  She chose her fabric with care.  She had a piece of Aida large enough but she didn’t want to use Aida.  If this was going to be a work of art then she wanted it done on something worthy of her efforts.  She seemed to remember buying a large piece of linen for a grouping that she planned to do but she couldn’t remember the dimensions.  She began to look for it and finally found it in her WIP (Works in Progress) cabinet.  She measured it and discovered that it was indeed large enough.  So she began to graph it out.

She planned a skirt with a 40 inch diameter.  She began trying to figure the size of the scallops and finally determined that the only way to do it was to cut it out first and “play” with it.  She found a piece of white broadcloth and folded it and cut the circle.  Then she cut 6 inch, 7 inch, and 8 inch circle patterns from card stock.  With the circle folded into quarters she began to play with the patterns until she found the 8” circles could be made to fit if she removed one “wedge” section.  This would allow for the seam and make the skirt lay properly around the tree.  She cut the linen circle and then the scallops.  She stay-stitched around the entire skirt to prevent fraying as she cross-stitched the designs.  Then she lay the linen against the broadcloth and cut it to use as the lining.

As she planned out each design, she realized that she had a major problem that she had not foreseen.  Some of the scalloped wedges were off-grain.  When she stitched a design it would be crooked!  She had already cut the linen and she couldn’t afford to buy more so she went back to the drawing board.  Suddenly it came to her.  She would use designs that did not have a certain orientation—for instance a wreath, “couching” a bow at the top after it was stitched.  So once again she began searching for “appropriate” designs.  Finally, she had enough.  She began to stitch and saw the skirt coming to life.  The days were flying by and when the last of them was stitched, she was pleased with the results.  She washed the piece and pressed it and hung it to air dry.  Then she searched for the lace she planned to use to finish it.  She had also purchased some red ribbon to tie for bows at the junction of each scallop.

The next day found the Lady at her sewing machine once more.  The lining fabric, linen and lace were pinned together, then basted and stitched.  The skirt was turned and pressed and the final handwork completed.  She decided that she would attach the small ribbon bows with tiny safety pins so that they could be removed for laundering.  When the last one was in place, she looked at her “masterpiece” and was astonished at how beautiful it was.  It was lovely and definitely one of a kind.  She couldn’t wait to see it around the Christmas tree.

She decided to do a set of ornaments.  They were “antique Santas” finished as ovals.  The Stitcher replaced the red cording with lace to match the tree skirt, and added gold cording for hanging.  These seemed to complete her collection.

As the holidays fast approached, the Stitcher began to look forward to the family gatherings ahead.  First they would celebrate with DH’s family.  Her Step-daughter  (Wilma), her step-grand daughter (Pam) and her husband (David), her step-grandson  (Brad)  and his wife (Kathy), her two sisters-in-law (Betty Lou and Mattie Sue), and a brother-in-law (JC) would be coming to her home to celebrate on the Sunday before Christmas.  Then they would go to Mom’s on Christmas Day to celebrate with her family which included Mom, her brother (David) and SIL (Erlene), and five nieces.  She began to decorate and make her plans.  She loved Christmas and always used plenty of live greenery and color.  When she began to decorate the mantle, she arranged the boxwood and holly and magnolia leaves with Nandina berries, candles and ribbon bows.  The red and green was stunning.  As she hung the stockings she thought how well they coordinated with the overall look of the fireplace.  She was pleased with her accomplishment.  She received great compliments from everyone who saw the stockings.  DH’s family really raved about them.  An idea began to form in the back of her mind.  She filed it away for further consideration.

To be continued....

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