With the passing of Thanksgiving each year, the world begins to pay more attention to light. Lights on palm trees along the sidewalks in towns our southern towns. Lights on trees in our homes and store fronts. Ornaments begin to appear too. One can get lost in the Christmas isle in Target picking up and turning over ornaments of all shapes and images…Disney Princesses, Star Wars characters, pianos, country themed, sparkly hearts. There is no limit to the stock available. As fun as they are…it has always been a little uncomfortable to me that these ornaments are related to the reason we celebrate Christmas – Literally “Christ” “Mas.”
The one limit to what you can find. Chrismons. No one, that I have found, sells Chrismons.
What is a Chrismon? In 1957, Mrs. Frances Kipps Spencer, designed Chrismons for her congregation, Ascension Lutheran Church, in Danville, VA. You can read the history here. In addition, this page is a wonderful resource of knowledge, and there is no need for me to “reproduce” it. The symbols are explained, as well as the colors and materials used for Chrismons.
Making Quilted Chrismons
Last year the idea of quilted Chrismons came and went. I got too busy to follow through. In an effort this year to continue my journey to feeling more centered, I decided to follow through. Below I explain my process, with the hope that if you too would like to make your own, you will be able to do that.
I downloaded and printed this resource from www.whychristmas.com. Click here to download and print.
I used my lightbox and traced the desired images with a pencil onto “gold” fabric. I used Essex Linen Metallic. You could purchase that here. One yard is plenty. Trace them so you can minimize the amount of space needed, but leave a 1/4″ around each of them. I placed the printed patterns one at a time on top my lightbox (a window would work also). I laid my fabric over the pattern and then traced it. Also, remember when you are tracing, that the Steam-A-Seam Lite 2 is 12″ wide. If you can keep them in rows within 12″ you can minimize waste.
I use Steam-a-Seam Lite 2 as my preferred fusible. It is available for purchase here on my site, as I use it for all my raw edge applique patterns. One yard should be enough for all the patterns if you trace close. Steam-a-Seam Lite 2 has two sides. Starting at one corner and peeling back as you go, begin removing the paper from the side of the fusible that does NOT have a grid. Carefully “stick” it to the back of the gold fabric. Be sure there are no bubbles. Do small sections at a time and then continue peeling the paper away. Once all is smooth, it is time to press. And I mean PRESS! Hold that HOT, NO Steam iron on there for a LONG time. Read the directions for your fusible and TIME yourself. I know I am making a big deal of this, but it is really important. It takes that long for the glue to set. If it doesn’t set completely, you will get little gunky globs on your sewing machine needle. You will also be more likely to break thread.
Cut out all your fused pieces. The GRID side of the paper on the fusible is still attached. Cut on the outside line. IF there is a section inside the image that needs to be “cut away” go ahead and do that as well. In the image below, I cut away the inside pieces.
On a pressed and starched solid white piece of fabric, use a ruler and grid out ornament “areas” large enough to accommodate the various sizes of the ornaments. Most of the images will safely fit inside a 7″ square, however, you need to allow for more area. I use a square rotary cutting ruler with at least 8″ on all sides. Before removing the second side of the paper fusible, lay the image in the middle of a square. IF the image has a straight side, use that edge to square up the image with the square of your grid on the white fabric. Allow for a minimum of 1 1/2″ around all four sides of the image. Once you are measured off, draw a line around the outer most edges of the Chrismon background. Remove the paper backing and place the ornament, sticky side down, on top the right side of the fabric backing. Make sure there are no bubbles. Lift and adjust as needed prior to fusing it down permanently. Once all your images are down, press them, holding for the specified amount of time – most like more than 15 seconds. In these images you can see how they are places close to each other, but allow space for cutting out the full ornament.
Quilting the images is my favorite part. First, let go of your perfectionist. This is raw edge applique and you will NOT be able to stay in the lines. All that is “required” is that you go around all the edge just one time to make them stay down. Personally, I feel it looks better, more artsy, if you go around each edge 3 or more times. the lines weave in and out of each other. Some areas you may want to “quilt in” detail or “darker areas,” as in the images above. I used Aurifil Thread 50 wt in the color “brass.” One large spool is more than enough. You can order it here from Craftsy. Plug in item/color number 2975. It is not metallic, so it will do well in your machine, and it goes great with the Essex Linen Metallic.
Now it is time to quilt the “background.” If you put all your images on the same piece of backing, you can just quilt up and down the entire piece. I used simple wavy lines with minimum wave. This is great because you don’t have to be consistent. Lines and be close together and farther apart. It is best, to help make the images pop, for the lines you quilt to be closer together than the “width” of the lines on the images. You will need to stop and start (break thread) to quilt the inside images that you had to “cut away.” I used Aurifil 50 wt in white. I have that for sell on my site, just click here.
Cut out each image with it’s border and seam allowance. Using a ruler, measure out 3/4″ from the edge of each side of the image. Start with a a side of each image that has a straight edge. Use each newly cut side to square off the next. Notice from the image below, the 3/4″ is from the farthest edge of each side of the image.
Cut a 4″ string or cording for each ornament from white cording or yard. For each ornament top, cut an equal size square from solid white fabric that will be the back of the ornament. Place the backing fabric piece, right sides together with the ornament front, lining up all edges evenly. Clip or pin in place.
Fold the 4″ cord in half. Insert the curved side of the folded cord beneath the backing fabric, but over the ornament front. The two “ends” of the cord need to be lined up at the top of the ornament at the center. Clip in place.
On one side of the ornament, begin sewing one inch from the second corner. At each corner, with the needle down, lift the foot and turn the ornament 90 degrees. When you get to the “ornament hanger, decrease the stitch length to less than a size 1 so that the cord is sewn through completely. Increase stitch length and sew around the last three corners, stopping one inch from the forth corner turn. This will leave an opening on the side of the ornament for turning.
Clip all four corners to decrease bulk. Press to set all stitches.
Turn the ornament right side out. Use something soft and carefully pock out the corners. Press the opening seams in so they match the sewn edges. Clip closed. The hanger should stick out from the ornament.
Sew around the entire ornament at a 1/8″ seam allowance using a top stitch.
STEP 15!!! HANG THEM UP!