Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Grandma's Flower Garden Quilt ~ I'm Doin' It!!!

I always admire hand-pieced, hand-quilted Grandmother's Flower Garden quilts when I see them in museums. They make me happy... VERY happy!!! Circles of hexagons, flowers, bright pastel colors, sweet/cute little prints with animals, children and posies... what's not to like?!

My quilting friend, Christy, who has a stash of 1930's reproduction fabrics, recently began basting scraps of fabric onto paper pieces, 3/4 inch hexagons. Her plan is to make a small, wall-hanging quilt. As I've watched her stitch, so portable, so satisfyingly mindless, I've begun to develop project envy.

These fabrics are new... reproductions of designs/colors from the 1930's

I started a 30's reproduction quilt more than a year ago, one based on a historic quilt with 25-patch blocks. Oddly, I've never taken any pictures of it... Or if I have, I can't find them. But a few of the fabrics are shown above. I'm hand quilting it, slooooooowly making progress. However, it's NOT portable. A large quilt, it needs a lot of table space to work on it. It also requires really good lighting, because I'm quilting an intricate design with white thread on white fabric for the sashing and borders.

My husband likes to watch TV... and likes me to join him in that pastime for several hours each day. Watching TV, even good movies, is waaaay down, near the bottom, on the list of things I like to do. So the only way I can comfortably sit with him is when I can do handwork at the same time. Knitting works pretty well; I can do simple patterns with only dim lighting. But, having gone through a 2-year knitting spree, I'm knitted-out. What to do???

You guessed it! Grandma's flower garden quilt, here we go! Perfectly portable. Works for TV, waiting in line for the ferry, ferry rides, and quilt gatherings. And... I get to use the scraps from my other 30's reproduction quilt! Whooo-hoooo!

Step 1: Go to Paper Pieces, and buy die-cut, 3/4" hexagon paper pieces. I'm starting with a bag of 1,500 pieces, although I'll need at least one more bag to make a bed-sized quilt. The cost is $20/750 pcs. or $35/1,500 pcs.

Step 2: Get out fabric stash and cut 2" strips. Cut these into 2" squares. Using one of the paper pieces as a guide, snip the corners off the squares to make roughly hexagon-shaped fabric pieces. For my arrangement, it takes 6 pieces of print fabric and 1 piece of solid fabric to make one flower.

Step 3: Pin a fabric hex to a paper hex.

Step 4: Turn the fabric seam allowance around the edges of the paper piece and baste in place. Knots should be on the right side.

Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4 to make a bunch of fabric hexagons. Play with the arrangement of them to make a pleasing design. This is my plan, so far. There will be a white pathway around some of the flowers, other will have green print "leaves." What do you think of this arrangement? It's not the most familiar style. But it would not require quite so many boring white hexagons.

Step 6: Whip stitch the hexagons together by hand.

Step 7: Remove the basting stitches and paper pieces.

Step 8: Figure out how to deal with the uneven (hex shaped) edges. Layer the top, batting and backing.

Step 9: Hand quilt.

Obviously, I haven't given much thought to steps 6-9 yet. I have much TV to watch while making more than 3,000 fabric hexies before contemplating the finishing steps, although I will start whip-stitching the flowers together to give a little variety to my handwork.


Do you have scraps of 30's reproduction fabrics in your stash? I need pieces that are at least 2x12" or 4x6 inches... except for the green background fabrics... for greens I only need 2x8 or 4x4 inches. I'd be happy to trade a few bags of glass rings for some scraps! Email me at robin[at]robinatkins[dot]com.

Want to see more examples of Grandma's Flower Garden quilts? Check out this link to Google images!


  1. I had sooo much fun looking at that link to the quilts! It was eye candy. :-D

    And the ones I came back to over and over had the double row of petals. My favorite was this one, so colorful, yet a feeling of continuity amidst all the variations:

    It'll be fun to see how yours develops.

  2. Oh, I forgot to ask: are you going to embellish it with beading??
    I did a wall runner quilt about 10 yrs ago, and added a little beaded embellishment here and there, and loved how it gave it that 3D texture and subtle sparkle.

    Course... that is not traditional for this kind of quilt. :-}

  3. Anonymous9:23 AM

    Wish I could accommodate you with the scraps but I have to hang onto the precious few I have! So much patience with that quilt...my mom made one once. again, so much work! You must have tons of patience!!!

  4. thank you for posting that link. Eye candy, indeed. I don't have old fabrics, but I love to see the reproductions.

  5. Robin, those are adorable fabrics! I'm in love with the one with the chicks.

    I wish I could help you out with fabrics! Sadly, mine come from 1990 and on.

  6. More power to you Robin! I love the fabric choices.

  7. Love the fabrics, Robin. It's going to be a fabulous quilt. Thanks for commenting on my blog. I'm enjoying finding yours that way! And I'm with you . . . can hardly sit without some handwork. Happy quilting and beading.

  8. Your quilt will be wonderful. I did a larger scale hexagonal quilt a couple of years ago and was surprised by how quickly the handstitching went. I might have some fabrics for you - I'll check the stash and let you know.

  9. I really like the subtlety of those prints and their gentle tone - the 30s knew what it was all about!

  10. Happy hexing! Those are lovely fabrics, and it seems that I spotted lots of cute little bunnies ... Unfortunately, I have nothing suitable in my stash to send you.


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!