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On the eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, eight Maids a-milking

Having met all of the birds from the song for the centre of our quilt, this month we move on to the borders, starting with the busy milkmaids with their yoke and buckets.

In days of old cows were milked by hand in the field. The pails of milk were then carried to the farm dairy by the milkmaid using a wooden yoke - fully laden they could weigh more that fifty kilos - where the cream was skimmed and butter was made. Twelfth Day festivities would require plenty of both, so a team of milkmaids would be rather useful.

As well as being valued for their hard work, Milkmaids were also admired for their beauty and good health. Qualities that were based on one fascinating fact: exposure to cowpox gave them immunity to the devastating ravages of smallpox which, if it didn't kill it's victims, left them badly scarred. A fact that inspired 18th century Gloucestershire doctor, Edward Jenner, to use a cowpox lesion from the hand of a local milkmaid to develop the first reliable smallpox vaccine. Definitely worth singing about!

This month's parcels include a teal solid fabric for the milkmaid's bodice, navy ribbon for her yoke and the Tilda Doll Fabric we'll be using for all of the figures in the border. You will also need some scraps of the grey print we used for the Goose's nest and some print scraps for her skirt (I chose the teal print we used for the Turtle Doves).


Those of you using the dark grey background will also need two 2½" x 4½" cream scraps for the milkmaids' aprons. We had every intention of popping those into your parcels but forgot to: please accept my apologies for that oversight. Needless to say, you have a second parcel winging its way to you!!

No self-respecting Milkmaid would be without a clean apron...

PLEASE NOTE: Andrea and I have also included the remaining  yard of background fabric in this month's parcel, which we will need when we assemble our quilts in August, so keep it safe until then.

This month's technique...

This month we will be embellishing our hard-working Milkmaid with cotton satin ribbon, which will be appliqued onto our block.

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I glue basted my ribbon in position and then machine-appliqued it in place.


Next, I changed my usual ivory thread and bobbin for navy, then reduced the tension in my top thread - down to 1 on my machine -which allows the ribbon to 'sit' on the surface of the fabric and stops it puckering.


Lining the ribbon up with the inside edge of the presser foot, stitch in place (I like to turn down the speed on my machine for this step).

Twelve Days of Christmas: month 7

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