Sew Exhausted: Last Minute Christmas Quilts

If there is a reason to comfort, quilters are ever ready to pick up needle and thread to provide love and security in the form of a quilt. However, some of us (a-hem!) may be better than others at the art of quilting project management. Christmas quilts and other holiday giving always seem to get down to the wire. We asked our staff to share their own personal gift giving mishaps. Perhaps these stories of gift making gone awry will make you feel a little better about your own time-management skills.

Photo credit: Getty Images/SJacobson

“It was Christmas Eve 1998. I am a young mom with meager sewing skills and a few small quilts under my belt, and I decide that I should take no time to whip up a few Christmas stockings for my kids—complete with appliquéd names, naturally! I finally get the kids off to bed and start stitching. Of course, I had to cut the names out twice because I didn’t know about reversing the letters on the fusible web. At 2 a.m., I am in tears because I am so tired, but I can’t stop because I am halfway done. I get them basically stitched (I’m pretty sure the lining wasn’t finished, but hey, done is better than perfect, right?), stuffed and hanging on the mantel just in time for Santa to arrive at 4 a.m. or so.
“…Then my mother-in-law shows up at 8 a.m. the next morning with store-bought Christmas stockings for the boys. Good times!”
—Tracy Mooney

Getty Images/AndreajaD

“I was sewing some white pillow shams for a client, running right up on the deadline. I was tired, but decided to sew for another 30 minutes—after all, that’s all the time it would take to finish the shams. I started winding one final bobbin, spaced out, and stuck my finger into the thread take-up area of the machine (why, who knows?). The arm hit my finger and ripped the fingernail completely out. My husband had to take me to the hospital because I was going into shock. But, the great news? There was not one single drop of blood on those beautiful white pillow shams.”
—Anissa Arnold

Getty Images/chairboy

“I am fortunate to have married a man with not just a terrific mom, but a terrific stepmom as well. For Christmas 2016, I decided to make a quilt for each that I would be able to give them in person, since we were planning to spend the holidays in my husband’s hometown. My stepmother-in-law loves bright, gorgeous colors, so for her quilt I put the emphasis on the fabric rather than intricate piecing and made her a large, strip-pieced throw using a jelly roll of Kate Spain batiks. I finished piecing it three weeks before Christmas, then turned my attention to the quilt for my mother-in-law, which I finished piecing four days before we were to leave town. It was time for some tough decisions. Since most quilting motifs would get lost in the bright batiks of my stepmother-in-law’s quilt, I finished hers with simple chevron quilting.

“I got that baby basted, quilted and binding attached to the front in a 36-hour period, a personal best, and packed it along with supplies to hand stitch the binding to the back. We stayed with my father-in-law and stepmother-in-law, and I tried to steal time to stitch in private when I could, but was not able to finish by Christmas morning. I wrapped it and gave it to her with the caveat that it wasn’t done yet, but she didn’t care—I got precisely the reaction every quilter hopes to get when a gift quilt is unwrapped. I spent the rest of that lovely Christmas day sitting in front of the tree, stitching away while surrounded by family.”
—Mary Kate Karr-Petras

Photo Credit: Getty Images/South_agency

“And there I was…3:00 a.m. Christmas morning, holiday stress still peaking. I jolted awake when the sewing machine needle hit the middle of my index finger. I’d been making camo jackets and pants to complete the wish for a couple of special little boys. No need to say much more about this memory—other than they were wrapped and under the tree, just barely in time.”
—Tricia Patterson

“I cross-stitched football team logos on sweatshirts for two of my sons when they were in middle school. One of them was a Raiders fan. The other was a Cowboys fan. I didn’t start working on the project soon enough so there I was, stitching madly on Christmas Eve. I didn’t finish until after 2 a.m. Then, in my extra-tired-and-in-a-hurry state, I put Zac’s tag on Gabe’s present and vice versa. They were not thrilled…at all. Even after I told them to switch sweatshirts. Way to go, Mom!”
—Lori Baker

Are you still working on your Christmas quilts? You’re in good company. Check out this free pattern for stockings or repurpose some quilt leftovers with inspiration from Anissa Arnold here. Thinking ahead to next year already? Finished up your holiday sewing? Click here for a round-up of our editor’s favorite cookie recipes!

Sew long,

Comment (1)

  • Susan E

    My Mom always watched everyone unwrap their gifts, then looked at either my sister or myself and said where is your…. what ever.
    When we answered we did not get one. Mom would say – well go look under the bed in the front room. Sure enough the missing gift was there. Now I am becoming my Mom and I have to count gifts under the tree.

    December 26, 2018 at 9:34 pm

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