Did you ever wonder where "Christmas In July" came from? I sure did when I first heard about it. We were in the middle of a heat wave when I pulled up to a local fabric store to find it decked out for the holidays. We've had neighbors leave Christmas lights up all year, but this was really strange. However, nobody else in the store seemed to think it was odd to have the tinsel on a fully decorated Christmas tree rustling in the cool breeze of an air conditioner. I didn't want to look stupid by asking, so I simply smiled as the nice gal in the reindeer antler headband gave me my holiday discount. It was time to uncover the truth behind this Summertime Santaland, and our friends at Moda agreed! We researched the history, took at look at all the great new holiday fabrics from Moda coming out right now, used three of those brand new collections to create some super cute table linens, stockings and gift bags (perfect items to make ahead), and reviewed the cool Sewline marking tools that can make all your projects go faster... whatever the time of year.
Maybe you've been wondering the same thing. Why Christmas in July? After all, we don't celebrate Mother's Day in November or Halloween in April. It turns out this summer celebration of Yuletide has been a staple in the sewing and quilting world for years and there are some intresting reasons behind it.
The actual origins of Christmas In July as we know it today are a little murky. In the early 1940s, relief groups, planning to send presents to soldiers or missionaries overseas, would gather everything together in July in order to have it ready to ship it off in time to arrive before Christmas.
In 1942, popular film director Preston Sturges released a comedy titled "Christmas In July." It was the story of a poor but generous young man who is fooled into thinking he's won the astronomical sum of $25,000 in a slogan contest. Of course, by the time he learns the truth, he's run up quite a bit of debt. The ending is funny and touching. And the film did much to popularize the term.
In the 1950s, retailers started having Christmas In July sales as a way to lure in shoppers during the long stretch between Father's Day and Back-To-School. A few major retailers still use it, though business analysts say it's not as effective nowadays.
But in the sewing world, Christmas In July sales continue to be successful because they actually make sense. If you're going to be sewing Christmas gifts, you really should be getting your patterns and fabric ready in the summer. Otherwise, at the big family gift-opening, you face the humbling experience of giving half finished projects and then quickly taking them back with promises to return them by Valentine's Day... or thereabouts.
In conjunction with this early push by sewers and quilters, fabric companies release their new holiday collections in time for July shopping. Yes, it seems odd to be choosing sleigh ride prints while the kids next door are running through the sprinkler. But it's always best to get an early start.
Even if you plan on doing super-quick Christmas projects that won't take you months to finish, you should at least be shopping for your fabric in July. Our friends at the fabric companies tell us their most popular choices are often sold out by September.
Finding the perfect fabric for a project is immensely satisfying and often the difference between so-so and so-fabulous results. We look at a lot of fabric when planning S4H projects, and reluctantly have to bypass gorgeous collections because we just can't use them all. Below, we've given you the low-down on the collections we chose for our latest projects, and we've highlighted several other holiday must-haves. If you love them, as we mentioned above, get them while you can. Because like fashionable apparel, popular fabrics come and go; at some point even the most amazing fabrics are no longer in stores or online.
The three collections we chose for our Christmas in July projects
Blitzen by BasicGrey for Moda Fabrics
We're big fans of BasicGrey and fell instantly in love with their Blitzen holiday collection. The color combination is the perfect spin on the traditional Christmas red and green. Blizten pairs a rustic red with aqua, then adds a green that hints at olive, a warm charcoal gray and a crisp snow white. The patterns range from wintery damasks to playful snowman; we love it when there are options for both elegance and whimsy. Blitzen is in stores and online now. Get it before flies away, "like the down on a thistle" - this collection is a true winter wonderland.
Joy by Kate Spain for Moda Fabrics
Joy is aptly named; it's a collection that makes you smile ear to ear. As with Blitzen, we love the fresh take on the Christmas colors. Joy's palette is candy cane bright: rich berry red blended with lime, mint, and marshmallow white. Kate Spain is known for her bold graphics, and this group is chockfull of looping strings of lights, triangle tannenbaums, Christmassy chevrons and striking snowflakes. The collection also includes two 36" x 44" panels: one is quilt ready, the other will create two adorable stockings. Joy is available now.
Dear Mr. Claus by Cosmo Cricket for Moda Fabrics
The old-timey goodness of Dear Mr. Claus reminded us of vintage wrapping paper and cards. The traditional colors are dialed back just the right amount to give them the faded warmth of holiday eggnog with cinnamon sticks. A cornerstone of the collection is a red-cheeked, whistling Santa who looks like he stepped right out of the window display of a 1950s Five-And-Dime. There are also antique ornaments, tumbling snowman, Christmas song sheets and intricate snowflakes. When writing your letter to Santa, you'll want this sweet collection at the top of your list. A June release in stores and online.
Other Moda holiday collections we enjoyed discovering
Nature-themed Christmas Spirit by Holly Taylor, a June release.
Sentiments by 3 Sisters, based on a collection of vintage Christmas postcards, a June release.
Holiday in Kashmir by Sentimental Studios, featuring rich, tapestry style sophistication, a June release.
Snow Days Batiks by Laundry Basket Quilts, feel as if they've been hand-drawn on a frosted window pane, a July release.
Striking Winter Elegance also by Sentimental Studios with its dramatic red cardinals and giant magnolia blooms, a July release.
Tools & Pretty Projects
Our special Christmas in July week with Moda includes three lovely projects. We used Blitzen to make a trio of country cottage stockings complete with ruffled cuffs and matching rustic bows. Joy inspired us to create a patchwork table runner with green pom pom fringe. And, Dear Mr. Claus had the perfect wrapping paper motif to turn it into a series of adorable drawstring bags.
In addition, we have a full review of all the Sewline Marking Tools. These quality fabric pencils and pens make clean, precise marks, and they have all the right removers to whisk them away when you're done.