Christmas always brings a mix of old and new. Year after year, familiar ornaments hang from the tree, favorite dishes are prepared, stories of Christmases past are shared, and time-honored traditions are kept. And yet the year’s changes—growing children, new additions to the family, new jobs, new homes, new friends, new pursuits—merge into our established holiday traditions, transforming each Christmas into a different experience from the last. Perhaps it’s that mix of past and present that makes the holiday so much fun.
Three-time author Cindy Lammon loves everything traditional about the holidays (decorating, shopping, partying, eating, and creating top her list!). But a recent bite by the modern-quilting bug sent Cindy—a traditional quilter since 1981—on a quiltmaking mission. She headed into the holidays with one goal in mind: to combine simple quilt patterns based in tradition with the whirlwind of modern fabrics now available. The result? Simply Modern Christmas, a celebration of both traditional and modern styles for the most quilt-happy holiday of the year.
Today Cindy is with us to share her tips for selecting modern fabrics to feature in traditionally pieced Christmas quilts. Think you can’t preserve pieces of the past while playing with today’s fantastic fabrics? Cindy will show you how.
I took my first quilting class over 32 years ago and I haven’t looked back since. You may not have a long quilt history like mine, but chances are if you’ve been quilting for more than a couple of years, your style has changed over time. I think it’s a good thing! New fabrics, new colors, and new styles keep us interested and never bored with our craft!
Compared to my earlier books, my latest book, Simply Modern Christmas, embraces a new style for me. I’ve always loved simple, fresh, and clean designs. When modern quilting and modern designer fabrics started appearing a few years ago, I was drawn to the fresh colors and simple style. Open to try anything new, I jumped on the modern bandwagon and now consider myself a “modern quilter” with a bit of tradition thrown in.
I’m often asked how I choose fabrics for my quilts. I love this question because it’s my favorite part of the process! Although my style has changed over the years, my method for selecting fabric for a quilt has not. Mine is certainly not the only way, but I’d like to share it with you today.
If you look closely at my quilts, you’ll notice that I don’t use fabrics from just one collection. It’s certainly a great way to get a coordinating group of fabrics together, but I like to buy fabric and I think using my stash makes my quilts unique. I also find it a challenge that’s really fun. So here goes! My process follows these steps:
1. We need a starting point. This can be a focus fabric with several colors, or a color scheme you dreamed up or maybe saw in a picture. The color scheme in my quilt “Joy” started with the multi-colored print in the border.
2. Now it’s time to start adding fabrics. Look for colors in various shades from light to dark. Often we focus on color, but you want to add different print sizes and a variety of print types (geometrics, florals, plaids, etc.). An easy place to start is with some other prints from the same collection.
3. If you’re a fabric collector (like me) you may have some pieces from previous collections made by the same designer. These will usually have the same “flavor” and often you’ll find coordinating colors that will be a perfect addition. My Christmas stockings below include fabrics from several collections by Bonnie and Camille for Moda.
4. Now it’s time to add some fabrics from your stash! I keep a stash of what I consider basics. These are fabrics—usually smaller prints—that are one color in different shades or one color plus a neutral. A good stash takes time to build, but it’s worth doing gradually as your finances allow. I’ve worked at keeping my stash current. As I transitioned to a modern quilter my stash had to transition too! When you have a nice collection of colors in fabrics you like, you’ll find lots of great uses for them!
5. Finally, you may want to visit your local quilt shop. It’s always fun to add something new to a project and you might find something totally new and different that adds some zing to your quilt.
Once you have all your fabrics selected, lay them out, step a few feet away, and simply look at them together. Consider varying the proportion of each color in the quilt. My “Garden Lattice” quilt uses just a couple of charcoal gray fabrics, but without them the quilt may have been a little flat.
My last bit of advice: be willing to change your mind. What looked good in the fabric pile may not look good in the quilt block. Making a quilt is a process. Sometimes you need to tweak it along the way. Enjoy the process!
Cindy, thanks for sharing your fabric-selection tips and your beautiful Christmas quilts with us! See more projects from Simply Modern Christmas in the slideshow below.
What’s your favorite Christmas tradition? Share yours in the comments
and you could win a copy of the Simply Modern Christmas eBook! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win.
Purchase Cindy’s new book today and download the eBook instantly for free.
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Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The randomly chosen winner is Danette, who writes:
“My favorite holiday tradition started out as a fluke! I worked in a floral shop and got off very late on Christmas Eve. I had planned to stop at the grocery store on the way home and pick up a few things to get us through the holiday. Everything was closed so no go! I went home and cried to my husband and felt horrible that I had ruined our first Christmas together. He took me to a little convenience store and all they had was frozen pizza. So we bought it and began our new family Christmas tradition. Every Christmas Eve we have frozen pizza and watch ‘Better of Dead.’ Something my kids have continued with their own families. They all have a copy of the movie and eat frozen pizza and keep the tradition going! I love my husband for being so understanding and helping to start our own unique tradition!”
Danette, we’ll email you about your prize. Congratulations!