For last year’s Christmas swap at work, I decided to make a decorative reindeer silhouette cushion. I chose to go scrappy, to practice using the Scrappy Bits Applique Techniques in the book by Shannon Brinkley before taking on another more challenging project. I picked out a fabric that I had purchased at Len’s Mills a couple of years ago, and pulled from my stash to get the rest of the scraps I needed.
I spent some time searching for the right silhouette and finally settled on this guy but without the birds (can you imagine cutting those out!)
My computer was acting up so I had to print off the image and enlarge the size with our printer’s photocopy function. Then I traced the shape onto fusible interfacing (Steam a seam), and packed everything I needed in a bag for an upcoming pre-Christmas babysitting night at my girlfriend’s house.
My daughter Kira and I had fun covering the silhouette with little bits I had cut up while baby Luke, our charge for the night napped away. We worked silently, side by side, in the dimly lit livingroom, with a concerted effort not to disturb the precious baby snoozing in the playpen nearby. The quiet moment of concentration and creation got me thinking about one of my friends, whose father was terminally ill in the hospital. As I placed each piece, my mind kept returning to her. I had lost my father the previous year, after an extended illness, just after Christmas. The similarity of the circumstances made me feel such empathy for her, going through the death of a loved one this time of year. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that this project was meant for her.
Because the subject of the project was a deer, I thought of Harry Potter and his patronus, a powerful protective energy that appears in the form a light-emitting stag. For those of you who haven’t read the series, Harry became an orphan as a toddler, and his father, who is an animagus, was magically able to transform into a stag named ”Prongs”. Throughout the series, Harry is helped overcome some of the most difficult challenges in his life by the patronus, whose form clearly was, in some way, the spirit of his father. Though his father is gone, he is always there for Harry. I wanted so much for my friend to feel comforted knowing that her father will always remain with her, even when he passes on.
I came home with a completed cut-out-and-fused-onto-the-background applique deer, ready to topstitch, and the necessity to dream up a new project for the Christmas gift exchange at work.
The next night, after everybody was tucked-in, while listening to a Stephen King book on tape, I zig-zagged over every single raw edge of the scrappy bits. I just about went blind in the glare of the bright lights of my BabyLock Elizabeth, straining to see the monofilament thread, but at long last it was ready for action.
When I pulled the project out to quilt and finish, I opted to make a square pillow cover, so I needed to add a small strip of background fabric to the left of the silhouette to square it up. I chose monofilament thread and a grid motif. I lazily pinned with straight pins because it is small.
I looked up how to do a hidden zipper closure and found a good tute by s.o.t.a.k. handmade here . I found some leftover Michael Miller Luxe fabric from their 2016 challenge that would do the trick for the backing. I had to match the polka-dot patterns of the fat 1/8 ths together to get the right size for the backing needed, but I was pleased with the result. I put in the zipper, stitched on my label and called it a day!
To see my original Finish-A-Long list click HERE.