Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, Japan

If you happen to be a Jewish quilter, or are a quilter with Jewish friends, you may already know that there are lots of Chanukah fabrics out there.  It's harder to find Passover fabric, and forget about Rosh Hashanah, or - what a concept! - Yom Kippur. (Hmmm, the latter may include all fabrics that make you feel guilty, but lack food?) 

Many Chanukah fabrics involve dreidels. As a result, Jewishly-interested quilters have waaaayyy too many dreidels. We're always looking for ways to use them up. 

Super-quilter Cheryl Lynch did a brilliant job reducing her Chanukah fabric stash by making fabric-intensive table runners, here. The blues look so wonderful together. 

Above and below are some fabric postcards I made for an online exchange a few years ago. It was not only a lot of fun, but also a tremendous dreidel-reduction opportunity. 

I started by making a large background of crazy-pieced Chanukah fabrics. Once all the pieces were joined, I painted them with a translucent Setacolor blue paint, so they all became a similar dark blue tone.

Then I cut the backgrounds into postcard sized pieces - just a little larger than 4" x 6"

Fused the background pieces onto a strong, thick, craft stabilizer, like Peltex, again cut slightly larger than 4" x 6". 

From unpainted Chanukah fabric, I cut out the dreidels, backed them with paper-backed fusible web, then fused and stitched them to the painted fabric rectangles.  Cut the cards to exact 4" x 6" size. Added embellishments. In the card above, on top of this article, I stenciled spirals, and stitched on small metal coins. 

The card below also features stenciled spirals and a crazy-pieced painted background. 

For the next card, I criss-crossed a translucent wired ribbon on the card, and stitched that dreidel smack-dab on the intersection. (I'm pretty sure I took the wire out before stitching the ribbon onto the background.) 

Here, I appliqued three large stars, and stenciled small stars around them. 
After a bunch of cards like that, I needed something different. 

So I played around with foiling. In this card, the dreidel is created with a variegated silver foil. The message ('Hanukah sameach' = Happy Chanukah) is stenciled, as are the hands; there's a coin embellishment on the lower right.  
Foiling involves stenciling or painting a special glue onto the fabric, then ironing or rubbing a sheet of shiny colored foil to the sticky glue area. It's easy and a lot of fun, though, with a non-variegated foil, I can't say the effect is wildly different from using metallic paints. (Learn more about foiling here. No financial affiliation. I use Jones Tones foil paper and glue.)

Finally, I made a one-off. I had printed the lyrics to 'Rock of Ages' on fabric, for a different project, and didn't end up using it. I combined the lyrics with a sincere little guy from fabric I'd bought in Japan many years ago: 
I strongly suspect he's a marcher in a traditional Japanese festival. But he looks like he's as impressed by these lyrics as I am. Alternatively, he's eager to mop dreidel scuffs and chocolate gelt crumbs from the floor. 

Making fabric postcards is one of the most fun things in the world. You still have time to make some for the end of Chanukah, not to mention plenty of time for Christmas postcards that can double as ornaments.  Fabric art postcard tutorials abound, and I liked these two, at: 
If you're longing for your own dreidel fabrics, or other Jewish fabrics, my website has a list of shops that carry them. Start searching at

And, whatever you celebrate, may most of your dreidels (fabric, spiritual, or real), come up gimel.

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