My Aunt Elsa’s ‘Merry Christmas’ Memories

Sewing and Crafting Seem to Run in Families…

I am guessing that most of you quilters out there do more than quilt. Perhaps you knit, cross stitch, sew clothes, or perform other creative feats. I am also guessing that you grew up around people who also did crafty and creative things, even if they never quilted.

Aunt Elsa's BannerThat certainly has been true in my family. I have shared some of my Great-Aunt Ebba’s work with you, as well as my own mom’s. I know that my paternal grandmother had a loom. Like many of you, I also sew clothes and occasionally knit, among other things. And I will not start on the cooking and gardening interests we probably all inherited as well.

Aunt Elsa's Banner Detail 1With the holidays upon us, I took out my copious supply of ornaments. Unwrapping them, I was struck by how many were made by my mom or her sister. I have tons of Scandinavian ones, and many handcrafted ones from friends, but the ones that family made hold special meaning for me.

My Aunt Elsa loved to make things. She embroidered napkins and tablecloths, made fabulous padded hangers, and I have several small, stitched ornaments from her. But the Merry Christmas banner was her masterpiece, in my opinion. Actually, several times over, as I know that her children, grandchildren, and most of her nieces and nephews also received one of these special works from her. I think she made ten or twelve of them altogether.

Aunt Elsa's Banner Detail 2That may not sound like much, but I recall her telling me that each one took nearly sixty hours to make. That makes these a real part of her legacy, something she has handed on to the following generations.

The Merry Christmas banners are simple in concept. Mostly created in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, they show the love of beads and sequins that was common at the time. Each letter is three by five inches, and they are strung on a six-foot ribbon. I have seen most of these banners, and no two are detailed alike–each was subject to her current mood and her sequin supply. The beads are hand-stitched on felt, and that piece was then stitched and glued to a larger felt letter, giving dimension and a big pop of color.

Aunt Elsa's Banner Detail 3Every year, as I hang this on the wall, I think of Aunt Elsa, her sister Ruth, and of my mom Louise as well. I never knew their mother, but I suspect that she (and her sister Ebba) had a lot to do with inspiring this creative streak in Elsa, Ruth, and Louise. What a privilege to be able to hold and enjoy something that came from these ancestral hands!
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot com
I would love to hear about the special family-crafted holiday things that you cherish and display every year. Are there youngsters in your life who are learning to sew, knit, bead, or craft? Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot com
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About thecuriousquilter

Quilter, sewer, writer, gardener, mother, sister, friend, always learning, always curious.
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11 Responses to My Aunt Elsa’s ‘Merry Christmas’ Memories

  1. Tennye says:

    My Grandmother made the most beautiful hand sewn felt Christmas tree skirt and many felt ornaments for our tree. We also have some cute pins that we all wear at Christmas of Santa, and Mrs. Clause and the elves. My other Grandmother and her sisters were quilters, and my great grandmother was a quilter and embroiderer and she crocheted as well. I have so many little things in my life that I take for granted, and they were gifts from my extended family. Thanks you for sharing your lovely things from your extended family.

  2. What a beautiful legacy your great-Aunt left you. My Aunt Jean made Christmas stockings out of felt for me and my siblings (4 altogether) using a similar technique with sequins and beads. Same time frame – late 1950’s I think. She made graduated sizes. Since I was the oldest, I got the biggest one. I wish I knew what happened to those stockings. They held the memories of so many Christmases

  3. Brenda F. says:

    This is great, Mary! I’m sure the rest of the family will find great joy in this. Way to go!
    Take care, Brenda

  4. Gretchen says:

    Thanks, Mary, for the wonderful tribute and memory about “Aunt Elsa” -also known as my mother. How she loved making and then giving all those decorations, handkerchiefs, hangers et al. How she had time also to be a biblical scholar and lecturer, inveterate reader and book reviewer, great cook and leader is still amazing to me. And how she adored you and your sisters.
    Love, Gretchen

  5. J. Johnson says:

    So lovely, and a wonderful family treasure. I have dresser scarves my grandmom tatted, and I love them dearly. Congrats on your 200,000 hits too, Mary, your blog is always fun to read and full of treats.

  6. Oh dear…feeling my age! I made a jeweled and beaded felt advent calendar which my daughter has, a teddy bear wreath and my son has and lots of little jeweled felt ornaments the kids have. Retro indeed…but I guess I am too! Thanks for a trip down memory lane!

  7. LaVoice says:

    I dearly love and own a lot of hand work..Quilts are my weakness. I just do not make those type things. The ones you shared are great.

  8. coloradolady says:

    This is just adorable. I love anything with beads and sequins that involves Christmas! Reminds me of my childhood I guess!! This is a lovely piece!! Happy VTT!

  9. Pingback: Merry Christmas, Times Four! | The Curious Quilter

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