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Talking with Mary Jane Carey About Christmas Sparkle

You guys!  It's time!  Happy Friday After Thanksgiving!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you're ready for me to talk about Christmas-related goodness for the next month.  I've been waiting for this since January!  I love Christmas decorations, Christmas foods, Christmas projects--everything Christmas, except for "Little Drummer Boy."  I wanted to start off by talking with Mary Jane Carey, the designer of the amazing projects in Christmas Sparkle.  My sewing skills leave a lot to be desired, and I haven't seen that many seasonal quilts.  I mean, there are pillows and a runner and some wall-hangings in this book, but there are also some full! size! quilts!  And they are quite lovely.

Mary Jane Carey was also quite lovely, and I had a wonderful time emailing her about Christmas Sparkle and learning a little bit more about her work.  Enjoy! 

Why Christmas?  Instead of choosing a theme of something more general like 'winter' or 'spring', what is it about this particular holiday that made you want to open The Christmas Shoppe and design Christmas sewing patterns?

For my whole family, and especially my dad, Christmas was such a joyful time.  Dad was like a little kid and would get up earlier than my sister and I wanted just to start the day.  We had what might be thought of as a "meager" Christmas by today's standards because we didn't have lots of presents under the tree.  It was more about family and lots and lots of homemade cookies that my mom made. So naturally I am drawn to Christmas things.  I've designed quite a few Christmas patterns and I don't think I'll ever get tired of it.  The Christmas Shoppe is the retail side of my business and Holly Hill Quilt Designs is the name I use for designing patterns and also for the fabric lines I have done with Henry Glass & Co., Inc.

I don't normally think about quilts as something that would sparkle.  What made you want to add some flair?

When I designed the cover quilt from Christmas Sparkle I just knew that the Christmas tree needed something shiny.  I wanted to make it look like there were red lights on the tree so the crystals worked out nicely.  They definitely sparkle and now I'm addicted to putting crystals on quilts.  My husband recently asked me if I was going to put "those things" on everything and I said, "Yes, I'm thinking about putting them on your recliner."

What advice would you give to a new sewer?

Just have fun.  Don't be afraid to experiment.  Not every quilt you make is going to be a masterpiece.  There will be duds--I've made them myself--but sometimes trial and error is the greatest teacher.  And it doesn't have to be perfect.  If you admire antique quilts, you will see that quite often the points aren't perfect, etc.  But that doesn't mean they aren't beautiful and created with love by someone.

What would you say about sewing to someone who doesn't sew at all?

Go to your local quilt shop or Adult Education at a local school and take a beginners class.  Even if you don't have a sewing machine, you might be able to "borrow" one from the quilt shop.  You can see how you like it.  But beware: quilting can be an addiction so be prepared to love it and give up having a clean house and sometimes good homemade food.

Do you have a favorite design from Christmas Sparkle?

I am particularly fond of the cover quilt [Starry Cabins] and the Christmas Tree pillow.  But then again,  the Holly Log Cabin quilt (pictured above) has yo-yos and I do love those too.

I think all of the designs are amazing, and so full of Christmas cheer.   I would highly recommend trying some of them out if you love sewing, or Christmas, or attractive projects.  Really, who wouldn't want to just flip through this book sometimes?!  (That's what I do.)  
Big, big thanks to the very gracious Mary Jane Carey for doing this interview and letting me know a little bit about her approach to her craft and her personal connection to this designs for heirloom-quality masterpieces.

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