Bride's Gift Ornaments

According to German tradition, brides receive a set of twelve "starter" ornaments for her Christmas tree. Each ornament has a meaning. For multiple meanings, pick one!

This would be such a cute wedding gift! I'm going to try it the next time I have a wedding gift to make. I thought you'd like the idea, too. Enjoy! (No one has come out with a set of patterns, however. I did suggest to Thea Dueck that she do some! Nothing yet, though! It looks as if I may have to gather my own charts when I'm ready to make these.)

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Update, 2012: Fast forward 13 years. As it happened the wedding I next encountered was the wedding of my son! I am making a set for his wife. The motifs are about 2" x 2".

I will update later with a picture, as well as a list of where I found the charts. (That was quite a hunt, especially the fish!)

Meanwhile, in my quest for a suitable fish chart (my stash and all my magazines that was a chore, folks!), I found this leaflet (and bought it immediately, of course): 150 Itty-Bitty Motifs by Jorja Hernandez (Leisure Arts; she is/was part of the Kooler Design Studio). Most motifs are about 1" wide/tall. If you want to make a mini set, here you go!

As to finishing these small ornaments (leave a border of about 1/2" - 3/4" of blank fabric all around the motif), here are some ideas.

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Update, 2013: Finally I made my set! Here they are.

I goofed on cutting the project cloth (embarrassing details, below), so I stitched a border of running stitches three stitches from the edges of the motif. Therefore, most have minute differences in size. A couple are also different shapes because the motifs were not always square-ish.

I put metallic gold on the ones representing God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. I like that each motif is a somewhat-different "style."

I used charts from the following books. They're all must-haves for your stash, in my opinion, even if you don't do the bride's set, because you often have need of a little motif, especially when stitching Christmas ornaments, samplers, clothing items, tiny samplers or other picture-type pieces for gifties, etc. When I can find the others in the Hillis and Busa series, I'll be getting those, too.

I decided I wanted motifs about 2" x 2" so the ornaments would not be huge. Some of these motifs were 2 " to 2 ", but I decided that if the ornaments were slightly different sizes it wouldn't be a deal-breaker because they wouldn't be hanging next to each other on the tree.....but one could put them on a "feather tree" as a display item. Even so, any slight differences in size shouldn't be a problem, especially if the slightly-larger ones are put on the bottom "limbs."

I had the "pillows" in mind as my finishing technique. I calculated very carefully the size fabric I needed to buy, including making allowances for the bolt fold (which is nearly impossible to remove). I basted for the cutting lines, re-measured, the whole nine yards. I didn't want to make any errors by cutting directly without basting and risk getting the project fabrics too small (which I am prone to do). I was stitching the second ornament before I was smart enough to ask myself why I had such a small amount of margin to work with. I had cut the working fabric too small!! Duh, duh, duh. Every single piece, including the backs! Duh, duh, duh. I had cut on the line that was supposed to be where the chain stitches were to go (for chain stitching joining)! Duh, duh, duh. Drat, drat, drat. I wasn't about to re-stitch what I had done, so that's when I came up with the idea of fusible web and the backing fabric! I ended up stitching a row of running stitches around the motifs to give each ornament a more definition at the edge.

Here's where I found my charts, what I used, and changes I had to make:

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Here are some other books of small motifs. You might find something here you prefer.

You can never have too many books of motifs, so, as I have, you may wish to add these anthologies to your stash.

If you want Americana/18th-century sampler motifs, look at these books.

You may come across Donna Kooler's Seasons in Cross-Stitch. This one will not yield motifs you need for this project, as they are all huge pieces (from which you would pluck what you need). Also, not all the motifs you need are present or "convertible." The charts are incredibly difficult to read! The backstitch lines are bold, and there is no grid (just stitch symbols). I got it because it said "four seasons." I am greatly disappointed in it and haven't used it. For bride's ornaments, this book won't work. In my opinion.

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In my research, I found some additions to the traditional twelve I didn't use these because I don't particularly care for them and like tradition, anyway, but you might! As far as that goes, why not add some of your own symbols and meanings?

And, I discovered, after I started my eclectic set, that Brooke Nolan, has come out with a set. They are exquisite, as is all her work. If you want soft colors and an ultra-feminine look, check out hers.

No, Thea Dueck still (as of January, 2013) has not presented us with what I am sure will [eventually] be a gorgeous set, probably loaded with Hardanger and lots of fancy stitches. Ahem, Thea.....

Update, June, 2013: Thea e-mailed me that she has completed her set! Here is her wonderful bride's ornament collection, complete with a chart for a beautiful box lid featuring all of them! Thanks, Thea!

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Now you have NO reason not to stitch a set of bride's ornaments, whether you collect charts on your own from different sources or use someone's collection! No bride on the horizon? Stitch a set for yourself!

copyright 1999-2015, Martha Beth Lewis
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