Grandmother's Flower Garden Quilt

When I was young, my Grandmother (we called her Me-ma) showed me the most beautiful quilt I had ever seen in the whole world. It was an astonishing collection of hexagon pieces sewn together creating blocks that looked like a whole garden patch of flowers. At the time I did not know the name of the design, only that I had to have a quilt like that and how much work it would take to make it.

Favorites from my quilt blocks

When Me-ma was busy making quilts they did not cut the little pieces with rotary cutters or sew them together by machine and they certainly did not quilt with a long arm machine.  It was all done by hand.  The little hexagon pieces were cut out one at a time, and hand pieced. When I was twenty-something I started using my scraps to create hexagon pieces to make my own Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt.  I could not remember if Me-ma's quilt had any repeated flowers in it but I decided that mine would not.  It was about that time I realized the reason for the name was that no mater when you started a quilt like that, you would be old enough to be a grandmother by the time you finished it.

I made several blocks for my quilt, the block stack grew over the years, but I still did not have enough blocks to make a quilt yet. By that time we had a king size bed, which would need even more flowers. One day, when I was in my 30s I visited my Grandmother and we looked at her quilts again.  This time when I looked at her Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt I realized that she had made her flowers out of about two inch or larger hexagons.  My hexagons were considerably smaller.  I realized then that I would need even more flowers.  I might be more like a great grandmother before I ever finish this quilt.

Years have passed and I have not done anything with the blocks.  I think I will start putting them together soon. I have decided the quilt will be as big as the quilt is, whatever that turns out to be.  I am not going to let it cause stress if it is too small. Because it has been completely hand stitched, I will hand quilt it. It will probably be the only quilt I ever make completely by hand.  My kids are in college now, if I am lucky, maybe I will finish this quilt before I am a grandmother.

Prints to match with a solid and sew and pattern template

One flower in progress with completed blocks and pieces

Finished blocks


Portable Hug

When my daughter was younger, she said she did not get enough hugs.  That just seemed too sad so besides giving her a hug, I sewed a dark rose color flannel shirt for her.  I told her it was a portable hug to go with her and keep her warm.  My hope was that she would wear it and feel loved.

Original Portable Hug

Portable Hug, enhanced with corduroy print vest.

Now that winter has arrived with snow and cold temps, I decided I needed a portable hug too.  I found an old piece of flannel in the stash. It has a busy floral pattern over a dark blue background. There are roses in an odd fleshy color with maroon, darker rosebuds and turquoise leaves. It must have been an 80s fabric reject.  The shirt is not attractive and I am sure it would win in an "ugly shirt" contest, but it is warm and fuzzy, like a hug.

Portable Hug 2012
Portable Hug 2012 with vest


Tumbling Leaves Quilt

I've been working on my quilt that was inspired by the autumn colors. Here is what I have learned so far.

It started with a plan and supplies.  Pictured below my straight edge ruler, rotary cutter, 60 degree diamond template, a cutting mat, fabric and thread.  Not in the photo, but equally important are the sewing machine, iron and ironing board.  The iron and I are spending a lot of time together on this project. First I cut all of the pieces.  That took a while and I have to admit I started it before Thanksgiving.  Then I sewed the diamonds into hexagon blocks, but that was as far as I had gone. I think it is safe to say that I got the pieces cut in a week and sewed the blocks in the next week.  

Tools and Supplies
After cutting out the pieces, I made color combination selections, trying not to have any duplicate blocks.  It is possible that when sewing the blocks together, reverse blocks may look exactly like another block. I am working through the blocks trying to make sure this does not happen.

Block before sewn together.
As you can see from this this pre-pieced block, there will be "Y" seams.  Experienced quilters would probably advise not to choose this kind of pattern, however, I have always been a fan of Charm quilts. Charm quilts have pieces that are all cut from the same shape.

Matched Points
I have discovered for best results to get the points to match like this, it is necessary to start sewing the block matching it first to the point where there are six intersections.  This means the first block sewn on each row is not in the position of the first block of a row. To line up the block, I place it above the "valley" between two other blocks.  See below.  

Block Placement 
I have also changed thread for each seam, matching the thread to the diamond pieces.  For example if the top fabric is gold, but the bottom fabric is green then the needle color is gold and the bobbin color is green.  Because all of the seams are small I have used thread on bobbins for both sides.  It makes constant thread changes easier.  Thankfully my machine will thread its own needle.  Otherwise I would probably be using clear nylon thread, which I really do not like.  I will keep you posted as this quilt top progresses.  



It's the first Saturday of January 2012, the year is already a week old.  And a busy week it has been.  My son and one other person told me they had started a project for the whole year.  One of those "I am going to do this activity everyday of this year" kind of projects.  Some of the bloggers I follow have also listed things they are going to do everyday this year. My son's choice was to draw a cartoon everyday, a friend is writing in her blog everyday, others are sewing something new each day, another is taking a photo everyday.  You may have something you have committed to do every day too.

I promise you I will not write in my blog everyday, but I think I should step it up and write at least every week. Maybe if I take at least a photo a day, the blog will be easier because I will have things to show.  Right now I have lots of ideas that I want to work on and several are quilts.

My current project is a quilt that I was inspired to make because of the intensity and variety of the fall colors this year. It will have more colors in it than I would have used on any traditional quilt, but I think they will work.  Normal  fall colors in Colorado are usually bright yellow aspen or cottonwood leaves contrasted with the dark blue-green of the blue spruce trees, like you can see in the first photo below.  Here are some examples of my inspiration for the quilt.

Blue Spruce behind a cottonwood.

An Ash tree in the park. 
Cottonwoods, aspens, weeping willow and others in various colors.

 The fall colors I am using in my quilt are helping me through the cold days of winter. Here they are before I cut them up. I still have a few blocks to sew before I can start sewing them together.  

In the bottom photo you can see part of the pattern I selected. I really like the hexagons in the grandmother's flower garden quilt but I wanted to work with larger pieces so I chose a 4-inch 60-degree diamond.  When three are sewn together it forms a hexagon and resembles the tumbling blocks pieces. This quilt will not follow the same rules with the light and dark shading as a tumbling blocks quilt would. I decided each tree will be represented by one block of three diamonds. No two blocks are exactly the same in the whole quilt.   I am not sure how that will work when I start sewing the blocks together.    

This quilt will look more like the fall tree colors in the Midwest, where each tree is beside another kind of tree and the colors look like paint splashed across the hills.  I will post more on it as it advances. I plan to give it a green border with a few appliques to represent leaves tumbling along. I may have to call this one "Tumbling Leaves".