Something a Little Lighter

Vintage Grandmother's Flower Garden Blocks and Yo-Yos

Vintage Grandmother's Flower Garden Blocks and Yo-Yos

Thank you all for the comments on my previous post.  It's a little scary to put your feelings out there so I appreciate all the support.  I have replied to the comments and you can go back and read them if you're interested.  Today I thought I'd talk about something lighter.  This project came about after a request for me to put together a quilt for a special event.  I'll talk about that later, but for now this post is a little bit about the process so far.

I had recently gotten the book Textile Collage by Mandy Patullo.  It's an absolutely beautiful book and very inspiring.  I especially love the cover image and the other animal pieces in the book.  I have an old cutter quilt that I've used in various ways over the years, including the Christmas ornaments I made last year.  I had a piece that was big enough for this new project, but I needed some vintage quilt blocks to play with.  My idea was for a quilted garden, so Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks would be perfect.  I took a nice day in March to make a trip to Sisters to browse the antique shops for some blocks.  

Before I got to the stitching I tea dyed the vintage cutter quilt piece, the flower garden blocks and the yo-yos to give them a bit more of a vintage feel and to harmonize the colors.

My first task was to applique the flower garden blocks to the cutter quilt.  I wasn't keen to applique around all the edges of the outside hexagons, so I trimmed all the blocks to circles (though some were a little wonky, as you can see above).  This had the added advantage to leave me with some tiny bits and pieces which would be useful later on.  

Once I had the large flowers appliqued down (along with some bias tape stems), I thought it would be good to do some quilting through the blocks and the cutter quilt.  At this point there was no other backing on the quilt and I decided I would add one later, so I could leave knots and such on the back and they would get covered up later.  By not adding a backing at this point I had the fewest layers possible to make the quilting a little easier.

As it was, some of these vintage fabrics were very loosely woven and some were even coming apart at the seams.  These were all hand pieced hexagons and pieced with a running stitch rather than a whip stitch which would have likely made the seams stronger.  However, some of the fabrics were densely woven and a real bear to hand quilt through (case in point- that plaid below).  On the ones that started to come apart at the seams I did some very rough mending.  It's noticeable and even in contrasting thread.  Some might think it's the work of a novice stitcher, but I really did it that way on purpose.  You'll notice it especially in the photo above on the flower with the pink center and black and white petals.  I did some simple hand drawing of the quilting lines on the flowers and quilted with pearl cotton, size 8 or 12.

The next stage was to add some denizens of the garden.  All along I had planned on a bunny, but as I was getting ready to do the bunny it occurred to me that the garden needed birds too.  Don't know why I didn't think of them earlier.  I did these birds with the techniques from the Textile Collage book.  This is where the tiny scraps from the flower garden blocks came in handy.  These were so much fun to stitch and just full of personality! I can't wait to do the bunny as well.

Once the animals are done I plan to add a backing fabric.  It will be a thin Kaffe Fassett shot cotton because it will be easy to stitch through. I'll add some quilting lines around the flowers and animals, but the quilting will be fairly light.  Some might ask why I'm adding a backing at all.  The main reason is that the cutter quilt's backing is very tender.  It's already starting the shred, so it needs some more support.  The finished project also needs to be fairly sturdy, but this cutter quilt is so soft and drapey at this point I wasn't sure how it would do.  

The last stage will be binding and adding the yo-yos in various places to fill in the garden.  I will also add some embroidered ladybugs and bees a la Sue Spargo.  I wasn't sure if my plan would work in the beginning, but I feel like it's coming together well. More on the finished project in a few weeks!