Do you admire quilts - but shiver at the thought of sewing one? Our
faux Thanksgiving Quilt has all the plush charm of a primitive quilt,
and none of the sewing. The Styrofoam™ company has long promoted this
craft technique of tucking fabric into slits in
a foam form (called the "quick-tuck" method),
but we took it a step further. You print the center fabric panel on
your home inkjet printer, and cross stitch a Thanksgiving sentiment to
- first we said no sewing, and then said you have to cross stitch on this Thanksgiving quilt.
stitch isn't really sewing in our book. It is needlework. Much
more leisurely and there's no sewing machine to figure out. Still, if
the cross stitch aspect scares you, you can always imitate the cross
stitch design with fabric paint.
And we found the cutest little Pilgrim, drawn by Ellen H.
Clapsaddle around 1909!
Butter knife or flatware knife (with a smooth,
non-serrated back edge).
Fine-tooth saw or sharp bread knife for cutting
Quilting pins (long pins, with round plastic
Glue or hot glue (optional).
Black marker pen.
two copies of the quilt pattern on plain paper, tape the two halves
together to form a 10" square pattern, and pin it in the
center of the Styrofoam™ square (1" in from all sides). With a craft
knife, cut along all solid pattern lines, 1/2" deep into the foam. Save
the paper pattern pieces for cutting the fabric. (These
also printed on the template).
the cut lines on the Styrofoam™ with a black marker.
to cross stitch! See the tips
below for some general guidelines. The word patterns we provided will
be your models. The first step is to measure and mark on the Aida
fabric where you want to cross stitch your words. Use the
embroidery transfer pen to mark four (4) rectangular panels, 7.5" X
2.25". Then, to help you center the words, mark the horizontal and
center lines on each panel. If the whole idea of cross stitching gives
you hives, you can paint the cross stitch design on plain fabric (see Tips).
the Aida fabric in the embroidery hoop, to show two full panels. Now,
read up on cross stitching as we suggest in the tips
below - and start.
this is "counted cross stitch," which means you have to count your
stitches to match the pattern. Begin from the center of each panel,
horizontally and vertically, so your words are centered. Also note: we cross stitched over two threads on the Aida cloth, skipping every other hole.
All done? Did you wash and iron your cross
Great! Now it is time to cut your quilt panels.
Begin with your finished cross stitch fabric.
of the four (4) C patterns over the exact center of each cross stitched
word (the short side of each trapezoid is at the bottom of each word).
Trim around each pattern with pinking shears, leaving a 1/8"
border on all sides.
the four (4) A patterns to the red print cloth. Pin the eight
(8) B patterns to the gold print cloth. Trim around each
pattern with pinking shears, leaving a 1/8" border on all sides. Cut a
16 1/2" square of green print cloth for the back and frame.
Cut a 3 1/2" square of cotton batting and place
it on the center (D) square on the foam.
for the tucking. Center the Pilgrim image panel over the batting on the
center (D) square on the foam. Hold the fabric steady, and with the tip
of the butter knife, push the edge of the fabric into the slit in the
foam on all four sides and the corners.
Continue with the Aida cloth panels. These are
heavier fabric, and it is important to keep the fabric
centered as you tuck around the sides, as it will tend to pull out of
the opposite side as you tuck.
and tuck in the remaining fabric pieces on the pattern.
Lay your green print fabric face down and
center your foam square on it. Pull the sides of the fabric up and over
the edge of the foam, and tuck the edges into the slits in the foam,
leaving the corners until the end. Gather the fabric at the corners and
neatly pull it to the front (you may have to trim a little so you have
about 1/4" past the slit). Tuck the fabric into the corner slits.
To hang your Thanksgiving quilt, center the
bottom of the foam on the ribbon, and pin (or glue) the ribbon to the
bottom and two sides. Tie the two ribbon ends into a bow, and hang it
up! Even our mailman stopped to tell us how impressive this
Thanksgiving quilt looks on the front door.
is only one manufacturer of craft foam shapes - but I've never seen any
brand. Their board shapes come in several sizes. The one we used was
labeled 15/16" X 11 15/16" X 17 15/16". We cut it to size with a
fine-toothed hacksaw, but a sharp bread knife would work as well. We
called our final trimmed size 12"
X 12" X 1", which is close enough.
Aida is a stiff,
open-weave fabric, created just for embroidery. There are
holes at the intersections of the warp and weft threads, making it easy
to position your needle. The thread count (18 count/inch) specifies the
number of holes in an inch, which determines the size of your
cross-stitch design. We chose 18-count, because it resembles burlap,
and by cross-stitching over two threads of the cloth, our design came
out the right size.
For the colored shapes, we used simple cotton
fabric with a small print in colors to coordinate with the
Pilgrim image. Iron your fabric before you do any cutting, to eliminate
the fold lines.
Here's an important tip about
imagine that we know anything about it. You are
the sum total of our experience right here with this simple cross
stitch. Still, there is the outside chance that you know less than us,
so here is what we learned from the experience:
An embroidery transfer pen has ink that
disappears when you wet or wash the fabric. Very mysterious but
Measure your Aida panels carefully, because
you don't want to cross stitch everything and then find out your panels
are 1/4" too small to tuck in to the pattern. Bigger is better.
the horizontal and vertical center lines on each panel. Cross stitch
letters in the center of the word first: The word "GIVE" was stitched
in the order
of V, E, I, then G. Count the number of vertical stitches in
the first letter, and center it vertically with half the stitches above
and half below the center line.
embroidery hoop is a good thing, although using it may make you feel
like someone's old, spinster aunt. The hoop should be wider than your
design, so ours was 8". To "hoop" your fabric: Lay the inner ring on
the table. Lay your fabric over it, positioning your design in the
center of the ring. Place the outer ring on the fabric, and
press it down
the inner ring until they are flat against the table, then tighten the
This cross stitch pattern is simple, block
and the technique is called "counted cross stitch." You don't
need a fancy pattern on a grid - you just count the number of stitches
you make in each direction to reproduce the design.
Standard embroidery floss comes in skeins
about nine yards long. One skein is just enough to do this project -
but buy two just in case.
strand of embroidery floss has six loosely-twisted threads. Cut an 18"
length of floss. any longer and you'll be battling knots. You'll use
only two threads at a time, so separate two
threads from the others and pull apart gently. Once you
separate about 5", hold the separated ends with one hand, and
slowly run your
finger down between the threads, letting them untwist slowly.
An embroidery needle has a very large eye,
you'll bless that fact when you try to thread it with two threads.
knot embroidery thread: It leaves a lump under the design. just leave a
tail of thread on the back when you start, and make sure you stitch
over it once or twice as you cross stitch.
18" of thread is
about enough for a single letter in this pattern, but we often found
ourselves ending and starting thread in the middle of a letter. No
problem. End by running your needle under a few stitches on the back
and snipping it off. Start again by running the needle under a few
stitches to hold the thread.
You'll make mistakes. You'll miscount the
holes in the Aida fabric. You'll start a letter too low. Proudly cut
out your mistakes and do it again. With cross stitch, you really can't
get away with
imprecision. It shows.
Hand wash your finished piece and iron it
dry with a medium iron. This will shrink the weave and tighten your
If the whole idea of needlework and cross
stitching makes your eyes cross, you can imitate the cross
stitch design with fabric paint. Start with plain, natural
white cotton. Mark out the four 7.5" X 2.25" panels. Lay the cross
stitch word pattens on a light table (or tape them to a bright
window). Center and tape your fabric panels over each word so you can
see the pattern clearly through the fabric. Paint over the cross stitch
pattern with brown or black fabric paint or a paint pen, imitating the
tiny cross designs. It is cheating, but who's to complain?