'Jolly Holly' stocking by Amanda Jane Textiles, in use

Ready in September?

It seems very odd, on the sixth of September, not to be thinking about school. For 13 years, as I was growing up, I went back to school in September after the summer holidays and for 13 years (plus one, if you count teacher training) I went back to school in September as a teacher. In between, I clocked up several years walking my children to school at the start of the school year in September.

Amanda Jane Textiles began on 1 September 2014, so since then the start of September has been different for me. The weather has changed here in the North-East of England and there is a definite change of season.

The question is, whether, in September, you are ready to consider preparing for Christmas? This was the display in a central Durham shop this Saturday – they are all Christmas cards!

I was somewhat taken aback to see them and yet I shouldn’t have been, because I am preparing for Christmas myself! I have wanted for some time to design, make and write a pattern for a Christmas stocking. Preparing Christmas stockings for my family was one of the things I particularly enjoyed about Christmas celebrations in the past, so I have put a lot of love into the making of a stocking I am calling ‘Jolly Holly’ and I’m releasing the pattern in really good time for you to make one – or several – before Christmas!

Like many designers, the parts I enjoy most of the process are the designing and making, the experimenting, adjusting, resolving difficulties and perfecting of the physical item. Here’s a photo of the quilting being done:

Writing the actual pattern is rather different. The process is more complex and exacting and takes a much longer time than you could possibly imagine. Although I have now written scores of patterns, each one brings new aspects to resolve.

This pattern needed a template and a construction diagram. I have a light-box, but it’s quite a small one, so in the end I resorted to using a window in our house, tracing paper and masking tape, as you can see above!

Tracing a design against a window

All my patterns include measurements in imperial (inches) and metric (centimetres), so one of my other low-tech solutions is this very small notebook, full of the conversions I have done so far. It’s very handy!

The rest is quite technical: I need to get a good flat-lay photo and a good ‘glamour’ shot for the cover and make sure all the step-by-step photos are clear and well-lit. Good photo-editing software is essential for this. Diagrams are often created with my quilt design software, others are drawn up, scanned and manipulated. Fabric amounts need to be calculated by various means. Finally the instructions need to be written with great care to ensure absolute clarity. Anyone buying my patterns may be quilting for the first time, or may have only just started quilting, so I can’t assume any previous knowledge except knowledge of using a sewing machine. Every pattern is also checked and proof-read – by someone else – before it is published. So here it is, in the Etsy shop now. (Until 7 September 2020, there is a Labour Day sale in the shop, so if you are quick you can pick up a bargain.)

‘Jolly Holly’ Christmas stocking pattern – buy it here

I’m happy for ‘Jolly Holly’ to join the other Christmas items in the shop, pictured below:

…and of course the ‘In the Corner’ quilt I told you about last week (here), which is made in colours verging on the Christmassy!

So, with a very autumn-y feel in the air and despite a continued strangeness in everyday life, due to Covid-19, I am beginning to contemplate Christmas joy.

Let me know what you think!

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