Monday, October 6, 2014

Day 1 - the "Holiday Hostess Table Topper" tutorial!

Before we begin our 5 day class to make the "Holiday Hostess Table Topper", I want to explain one thing.

When I taught myself to stitch and quilt late in 2005 I had a very enthusiastic 11yo Blossom by my side, also eager to learn. In the nine years since then nearly every skill I've acquired came about through trial and error, flukes, aha moments discovered on other blogs, and occasional tips shared by friends.

 Since I began designing in 2009 the flow of emails asking me "how" to do certain things in this craft has dramatically increased. 
It's because of those lovely ladies who have a heart to learn that I decided to put together this longer-than-normal tutorial. 
I won't get to answer all the questions, but I hope I answer most. 

There are other designers who may follow one or more different methods than mine, so please understand that what I'm sharing this week is 'my way', the routine I personally use, and if it doesn't suit you that's okay.
May you be blessed!

Printing the pattern 'to size' is a surprisingly common question, and though all printers are slightly different, these photos taken on mine may help you to print the pattern sheet correctly no matter what country's paper size your printer uses.
For example, in Australia it's A4, but the USA has letter size which is slightly larger.

Open the pdf pattern on your computer screen...

Go to the top left side of the pdf and click on 'File'. 
Scroll down and click on 'print'.
When I click on 'print' this is the screen that pops up...

Mid way down the page there is a button which says 'size'. Click on this...

Another option will appear, and this time if you have the same option as my printer offers, choose 'actual size'...

If you don't have 'actual size' then it's possible you have a 'Page Scaling' button on your open printer page, and if so be sure to choose 'none'. This will automatically give you a print out the same size as my original.

So now we have the pattern page printed, it's time to trace the design!

You will need a piece of background fabric to stitch the design onto. A 10" square will be perfect as we'll trim it back later. I'm using a 0.3mm Zig Millenium pen in brown to trace the block.
Lay the pattern sheet down onto a light box, and secure with masking tape. Place the fabric over the top and secure it as well...

If you don't have a light box you can tape the pattern sheet to a window and then tape the fabric over it...

When you trace this design you will be omitting the poinsettia petals...

See how I've just made a small dot with my tracing pen where each petal ends?

The next step is optional, but I do advise following it because it gives a nicer finish to the block and also helps with fabric stability when you begin embroidering the design. 
I use either Whisperweft (a woven, and also my favourite)  or Weaveline, which is very  slightly stiff and more like a fine white lawn. It's also known as Staflix...

Fuse a piece of fabric stabiliser behind the block. 
Fabric stabiliser has a very fine heat activated adhesive  on one side of it, and it is that side which you will lay the back of your traced block down onto. The stabiliser should be the same size as the block or up to 1" smaller...

Fuse the block and the stabiliser together with your iron set to 'dry' and 'cotton'. It only takes about 10-15 seconds...

The final step in today's tutorial is the choice of fabric and threads.

To make this table topper in the traditional red/green Christmas palette you will need one fabric that blends with your block background, and one that 'pops' with contrast colour.
I've chosen a red daisy on white as my blend, and a very old vintage style red as my contrast.

NOTE:  Another feature of the red fabric is how perfect it is for fussy cutting, and that's another lesson we'll be going through this week. If you have a fabric that you think will fussy cut really well and can fit inside a 6" square, then consider using it.

Just for interest I am also making a second version of the 'Holiday Hostess Table Topper' in more of a washed-out vintage colourway using Tilda fabrics and variegated threads...

Make sure that the fabrics and threads you choose are ones that you love.

Tomorrow we'll begin the embroidery so you will need to gather your threads.
I have used 5 different coloured threads, each chosen to blend as closely as possible with my fabrics...

The mid-brown will be the tree trunk, but the golden brown used in the garland and poinsettia flowers was chosen because it blended so well with the women's hair in the contrast fabric...

Two greens are used in this design. One is darker and matches the green in the fabric - it will be my tree outline.
The other green is lighter and a little brighter because I want it to 'pop' out from the tree as the poinsettia flower's leaves...

Finally, the red thread. It's a little darker than the contrast fabric...

Follow these steps and you will be ready to embroider your prepared "Holiday Hostess Tree" block tomorrow...

I haven't forgotten to share this week's free Lord's Prayer block, or my belated 10th block of the Shabby Roses Stitchalong! 

Both are HERE in my shop ready to download...

See you tomorrow!


  1. WOW!!
    Loving your post today :)
    Its brilliant! For me just starting out along the quilting path, your step by step guide is brilliant.
    Thank You ever so much :)
    I will be following your other classes!
    Smiles :)

  2. Thanks Jenny. Can't wait to stitch this. Hugs,xx

  3. Thanks Jenny...for the tips! :)

  4. awesome Jenny,thankyou.xx

  5. Wow! Such a good step-by-step tutorial, beginners will love it and old pro's check for extra tips they may have missed when they learnt! Brilliant!

  6. Can't wait to begin, Jenny. will pick up supplies in town tomorrow
    Love this!!

  7. What a lovely gift you've given, Jenny. I hope to start this later this week.

  8. Thanks, Jenny. You've really out-done yourself with this tut. Though much was 'too' much for me (lol), I'm sure that new stitchers will find your step by step instructions absolutely wonderful. Thanks for the tree pattern. I can't wait to see how your two colorways come together!

  9. It was very useful to see the second colour option you have chosen.
    Is it any wonder your blog is so popular with lovely things like this so freely shared?

  10. Excellent Jenny, you are very good at this my dear - and I'm drooling over your light table, I have one on my Christmas list and I remind the boys constantly, lol!!!

  11. Lovely Jenny... can't wait to stitch this. Your tutorial is fantastic and so clear, especially for the new stitchers. Well done xx (love, love, love that fabric he he xx)

  12. JardindepatchworkdeRosaOctober 6, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    Gracias y mil gracias , tus manos son Maravillosas .

  13. Thank you Jenny. I start right on it :-)

  14. This is gonna be so cute....

  15. Thanks Jenny. I am ready to trace. I see you have the same printer as me, so everything good.

  16. Really fabulous, Jenny. I love the tree. Thank you so much for all the things you've shared this Monday!

  17. Thank you for your quick pencil resopnse. I will research it. I love your work. Can I stich on plain muslin or any favric? 2nd can you give me insight on redwork?

  18. Thanks so much for the tutorial on tracing. Not to get busy!!


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