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Countdown to Christmas

Countdown to Christmas

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In April? Yes. Because (1) it's never too early to start sewing for the holidays. (2) Collecting a scrappy assortment of Reds, Greens and Creams might take a little bit of time. (3) All of these quilts will work in any color palette - for any season of the year.

Countdown to Christmas is the latest book from best-selling author Susan Ache. You might remember Susan's first book, Starts with Strips - Quilts Made with 2-1/2" Strips.

As before, the quilts are based on traditional blocks and designs, and they have a vintage feel. But Susan's talent for color and mixing prints gives these twelve quilts a fresh, updated look.

If you look closely at her fabrics, there is a mix of Fig Tree, Minick & Simpson, Corey Yoder, Bonnie & Camille, Sweetwater, and probably a dozen more designers. Some of the fabrics are new, most are from the past couple of years. (It's the same kind of mix most of us have in our "fabric collection.")

This is Granny's Gift. It's a whole lot easier to piece that you might guess - Susan has that knack. She can take a design that looks complicated and figure out a way to make the design more easily.

By the way, the quilts in the first picture are Crisscross Applesauce and Irma 450. Susan's "make it an easier way" methods mean that the LeMoyne Stars in Crisscross are made without y-seams.

Background Music. Susan wrote... "Often in a quilt, the colors take center-stage. Well, this is one time I wanted the backgrounds to be the star of the show. All those great red-and-white background prints - [aka low volume prints} - you've collected, it's time to use them..."

This quilt would be equally spectacular done in blue-and-white/cream, with black and gray on white prints, and really, in any color palette. Because it's all about the backgrounds.

Christmas Vacation... except this quilt lives in Susan's home year-round. That's the beauty of the quilts in this book - and this book! Christmas quilts - and quilts for every holiday - get their seasonal look from the color palette rather than holiday-Christmas theme prints.

It is all about the color.

Clockwise from upper-left:

  • Ho Ho Ho - made with a red-and-white polka dot and a white solid background.
  • Tiddlywinks - made with a green and ivory Bella Solids.
  • Peppermint Party - made with fat quarters in red, and in light prints, and some yardage.
  • O Christmas Tree - made with fat quarters in red and green, with red charm squares used for the ornaments.

Tussy Mussy Christmas. While most of us know this block as the Nosegay, Susan prefers the alternate name. Just so you know, the tussy mussy dates to the Victoria era, and it is a metal vase specifically designed to be carried. The word "tus" means a "cluster of flowers".

As for this beautiful quilt, there aren't any y-seams of tricky piecing here. There are templates in the book for making one of the units, or you can use a ruler-template to make it even easier.

Tree Farming. Pull out every green fabric you have... then ask your quilty-friends to add to the mix with fabrics you don't have.

And don't be scared off by the long skinny trees! Susan writes, "... there aren't any places in the quilt where points meet other points, so don't worry about chopping the tops off your trees."

I admit it - this quilt has got me digging through my stash for greens. And maybe buying a few fat quarters to add to the mix. (A few? Okay, that probably means a dozen or so. But I'm not counting!)

So that's Countdown to Christmas, or an introduction to it. It's a terrific book and we think you need a copy of it - at least two of you do.

Leave a comment telling us if you do sewing for the holidays - any holiday! Do you plan well ahead and get it finished weeks and weeks before that holiday? Or are you binding on your Christmas quilts on Christmas Eve?

The deadline is Midnight on Sunday, April 21, CST. We'll randomly pick two winners and notify them via e-mail.

Happy Friday!