Finding and finishing (well, supervising the finishing…) of the “Heirloom Tree Skirt” pattern by Bea & Chris (anybody out there know anything about them?) felt kind of like a trip through time—an archeological dig into the deep, dark history of cross stitch design in the late twentieth century. As such, I thought now would be a good time to point out
some of the changes in cross stitch designs that this pattern highlights.
There are so many more colors of DMC floss now, not to mention all the overdyed flosses and silks and rayons –oh my! The color palette of this pattern is extremely limited, even for its time. For example, follow the use of that obnoxious orange used for the wagon wheel in “Santa with bag of toys on back” and again for the doll’s hair in “Santa with Christmas tree over shoulder.” This orange was also supposed to be used for the hobby horse head in “Santa with bag of toys open as if to offer toys to little children” but I couldn’t stand it so I frogged it and changed it to a rusty brown before I’d “allow” my roommate to sew the lining and fringe on. Nowadays, most designers, I believe, would go ahead and call for three different colors for these three objects, and none of them would be that obnoxious orange.
And, for a naturalistic piece (one that was attempting to make the Santas look realistic) the
juxtaposition of the colors, including shading, is so much more crude than it probably would be today.
In my own growth as a stitcher, I realize that nowadays I would have known right-away that I was never going to sew all of the skirt fringe and the backing together. If I bought this pattern today, I would go ahead and buy the pre-made Tilla Christmas Tree Skirt. I think it was $40 fifteen years ago, which seemed at the time to be an exhorbitant amount for someone on a grad student’s salary. Nowadays, I would buy the pre-made tree skirt and wouldn’t even think twice. I can’t tell if that’s progress or not. You tell me.