Friday, June 11, 2010

Grandmother's Eternal Flower Garden

Ideally, I would have prepared some handwork for my convalescence. But I was too rushed to do the machine work for the binding of my baby quilt in progress. Otherwise hand stitching the back side of that binding would have been the perfect project for my recovery period. And finishing the redwork for the other baby quilt in progress would have been a good choice too. But my sewing room is such a mess right now that I just couldn't find it!

Fortunately, I also have some long term hand sewing projects that I've been working on forever. Like Jane Austen, they never let me down because they are always at hand and ready to go when I need to take something with me to keep my hands busy.

The first is my Grandmother's Flower Garden. I started it early in my quilting career. I was at the Glendale quilt show when I fell in love with an antique GFG in a vendor's booth. It was beautifully pieced and quilted, and I instantly fell in love with '30s prints and Nile Green. Alas, the price was more than I could afford even had I been willing to fling caution to the wind. But then I said to myself, "I may not be able to buy this quilt, but I am a quilter -- albeit a new one. I ought to be able to make this quilt."

Being an omnivorous reader, I already knew that English paper piecing was the easiest way to make a GFG, and that the only skill required was the ability to sew a fine whip stitch, something I'd been able to do since childhood. As yet, I had no '30s reproduction prints in my stash, a lack I immediately set out to remedy.*

Having a specific project in mind is a wonderful justification for indulging the hunter-gatherer instincts inherited from our ancient foremothers. (I think that's why we women enjoy shopping so much!) And in the course of digging through fat quarters in quilt shops and vendors' booths, I discovered that I could also buy my hexagons ready made -- and die-cut from card stock for accuracy. And I learned that by basting through only the fabric layers at the corners, it was possible to pop out the hexagons to reuse them -- not to mention quicker and easier on the hands. I also committed myself to buying '30s repros for several years. After all, I wouldn't be able to get the proper degree of scrappiness merely by buying what was on the shelves that season!

My first flowers consisted of just a single ring of pieces around a central white hexagon. I used two contrasting modern fabrics for each unit. I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do with them, but every now and then I get them out and flip them over so that I can admire what tiny whipstitches I used to be able to make when my eyes were less -- ahem -- mature than they are now. Fortunately, I'm a quilter who is in love with the process rather than focussed on finishing the project.

The picture at the top shows some of the twenty-one Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks which I someday intend to set with white background hexagons and a Nile green "path." My mother keeps asking me who it's for and when it will be finished. (She's a "project" person.) Well, this quilt is for me, and it will be finished when it's finished.

*I wonder if I've spent more on '30s style fabrics than it would have cost to sew the original antique quilt? No matter! I'll have the left over fabric which can go into countless other quilts.


Rebekah said...


Your blocks look perfect! I do hope you will be able to finish the quilt someday because I would love to see it. :D


Catholic Bibliophagist said...

Thanks! They are such easy blocks to do and perfect for a take-along project. I used to take them with me when my husband was doing cancer treatments. They got a lot of attention both from the nurses and the other patients -- a real conversation starter. Everyone seems to love them -- unlike, say, Sunbonnet Sue whom people either love or really hate.