Friday, December 24, 2010

White House Christmas

(Photo from AP)

Sorry for falling off of the face of the Earth for the last few months. I thought for sure I'd be able to keep up with this project during grad school but, as it turns out, school is a lot of work! This past quarter was absolutely insane. I was constantly researching, writing, drawing, painting, sewing, embroidering, printing, and going to lectures. It did not leave much time for extra curricular artwork.

I figured I should post something now that the blog has been mentioned in the Free-Lance Star, Fredericksburg's local paper. ( )So I'm turning the focus of the blog from my Year in Stitches project to just a documentation of all of the artwork I've been doing in school. Hopefully it will also still include AYIS style pieces from time to time.

But now on to the real reason everyone came here today: I designed and embroidered the tree skirt for the White House Blue Room Christmas tree!! While there are 19 trees in the White Hose, the Blue Room tree is the official tree and the center piece of all the holiday decorations. The theme this year was "Simple Gifts" which, according to the White House, "calls for Americans to reflect and celebrate the everyday gifts and blessings that surround us - in family, nature, music, and food." Ricki Dwyer and Holly Sexton, both seniors in the Fibers department, were chosen to design the ornaments. I was eager to help Ricki with her portion of the ornaments because they involved free motion embroidery, a technique about which I am passionate. Because of the work I did on her ornaments, I was asked to submit a proposal when it was decided at the last minute that SCAD should create the tree skirt as well. The powers that be like my design and I set out with only 48 hours to construct an 18 foot wide circle skirt with 50 feet of six inch high embroidered text, the lyrics to the Obamas' favorite song, "America the Beautiful."

It was a grueling amount of work. Luckily, the girls in the Fibers department at SCAD are all so awesome and I had a lot of volunteers to help me. I got to focus mainly on the embroidery and let other students construct the skirt with the pattern I had made. The materials we used are 100% wool felt in white and taupe, and cotton and Lurex thread.

So here are some pics I pulled from the AP wire as well as some that I took during the whirlwind construction process.
(Photo from AP)

We embroidered the text on banners of felt that we hand stitched onto the skirt. I wanted the banners to be dimensional and look like they are flowing around the circumference.

Between the ornaments and the skirt, I sat in front of this machine for the better part of a week.
We spread the skirt out over 5 large studio tables to hand stitch the banners. This was at 1 am and we wanted to play under it like a blanket fort. One day I'll tell my grandchildren that I made a blanket fort out of the White House Christmas Tree skirt.

Both my grandmother and my art history professor insisted that I work my signature into the skirt somehow. I attached my initials on the underside of the top layer.
This is the Virginia ham ornament that I embroidered. We named a lot of the ornaments, this one is Franklin. Isn't he sweet?
This is the only I could find of the Obamas in front of the tree. Sorry it's so small. Checkout for the official SCAD press release and a slightly larger version of this pic.

Below is a time lapse video of the tree being decorated. It's really cool and you really get an idea of how insane the skirt is when you see numerous volunteers installing it at the end.


  1. That is so cool! What an interesting thing to be such a big part of.

  2. Enjoyed the story in the FLS. I love the simplcity of the skirt and the way you made the banner flow around the edges. Beautiful! And now you're part of history--maybe one day this will appear in a Smithsonian exhibit as well.

    Best wishes in the New Year.

  3. I hope you are super, super proud of yourself. I'm so happy for you.