I'm not usually one for getting into Christmas early. I might pick up the odd present through the year, but usually I refuse to seriously consider it until after James' birthday, which is exactly 2 months out. But when working with magazine deadlines, that changes! Australian Patchwork & Quilting's Christmas issue (Vol 23 No 1) is out now, which means you still have time to make your own version of my Christmas tree in time for the big day!
My Christmas version of my seasonal tree is called Maligayang Pasko. It means simply 'Merry Christmas' in Tagalog, the main language of the Philippines. My family lived in the capital, Manila, for 3 years when I was a child in the late 80s and early 90s - and it was there we were first introduced to the idea of decorating gardens, homes, trees and public buildings with thousands upon thousands of fairy lights. While the idea is gaining popularity in Australia, it simply doesn't compare with what we experienced in Manila - where undecorated houses were a rare exception, rather than the other way around. I remember walking around the streets near our home, or being driven around the commercial centres, and being amazed by the quantity and creativity of the lights each Christmastime.
To enable the strings of fairly lights to be held in the tree, I manipulated the layout a little and redesigned all the branches to end in little curlicue 'hooks'. This also has the pleasing result of giving the tree an entirely different feel. Then I set the whole thing on a dark background and added a few hundred Swarovski hot-fix crystals.
It's hard to photograph the crystals well, but they sparkle beautifully. I had originally planned to first quilt the string for the lights, but in the end decided it would detract from the crystals. While technically incorrect, it is probably more visually accurate!
I also added a few most Christmassy details; a star on the (now carefully centred) top branch, the all-important presents piled around the base, and a little quilted stocking hanging from one of the lower branches, which is probably my favourite part:
It took me ages to decide on colours for the presents. I used some scraps of a beautiful batik backing and the leftover ends from binding another quilt which matches the binding on this one, which worked out rather conveniently!
The ribbons and bows were made from some stiff, non-fray ribbon I happened to have lying around, and were quick to add by machine.
I'd intended to quilt some holly leaves and berries into the background, but forgot while I was doing it - and in all honesty, they wouldn't have shown up much on the black and charcoal anyway.
The quilt is bound with a very glittery damask print which leaves bits of glitter everywhere
And as always - if you do make your own version, please remember to share a photo!