6 May 2010 to 14 November 2010
Hallie and Remy
Grandmother's Flower Garden
Level of completion: 
Completed and given away

This quilt will have a very long gestation period. This is the second of two sets of quilt pieces that Hallie is letting me finish. These are entirely hand-pieced in white thread by someone with very neat and clean hand-sewing, and the fabrics are 1930s -- many of them are probably feed sacks. Like 'Continuity,' Hallie's family thinks these were made either by her great-aunt or her great-grandmother. Any more specific information has already been lost.

There are not quite enough completed hexagons to form a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt, so I went to Atlanta and shopped for some 1930s reproduction fabrics that would blend well in color and design with these fabrics. I believe I will need to tea-dye some of them to speed the appearance of aging; the fabrics look right, but they look too new.

I am leaning toward carefully dissecting a few of the 'flowers' into their individual hexagons, and mixing them in with the new fabrics, to facilitate blending -- thus the name.

Bonus? These pieces exactly match a 2" hexagon quilt template set I already had. I don't have to construct templates ... just cut a lot of blank hexagons.

Major update (July 25, 2010)

Normally I'd start a new entry for this note, but I think I'd rather put everything together here. I finished sewing the quilt top today. I have an afternoon reserved on the longarm quilter six days from now; getting this quilt top quilted and stabilized will be my next Saturday.

I think this quilt will fare reasonably well, once it's all bound together. I was hesitant to handle the fabrics because the feed sack fabric was coarsely woven in places, but as I got the pieces together and surrounded with muslin, I started getting more confident about the future of these pieces. At first, I worried if they'd stay together long enough to get sewn, but once the raw edges were bound off, I realized they were pretty sturdy. I wasn't interested in taking chances, though. Instead of leaving the zigzag edges sometimes seen on Grandmother's Flower Garden quilts, I filled out all four sides with hexes made of plain muslin. I didn't want any of the hexes taking on the extra stress of being attached to the binding.

I did indeed gut the old half-hexes, like so:

These are the inner portions of the original 1930s half-hexes after I (slowly!) picked the seams apart. The half-hexes aren't of any use to me, so instead I'll remix them, blend in new fabric, and get as many whole hexagons as possible.

Blog entry about this quilt-in-progress:!


When I unpicked the half-hexes, I tried to preserve as much work as possible by leaving the work in sections. 

The folded pieces I don't have matches for, so I'll need to completely unpick the rest of the seams and use them for interiors.

More info: awaiting salvaging

['Exteriors awaiting salvaging']

Once I had a full set of 60 hexagons, I slowly joined them together in groups:

The goal: make an even blend of completely old and partially-new hexagons. In the end, if you can't tell which fabrics are vintage and which ones are reproduction, why should I tell you? Till your garden a row at a time

['Till your garden one row at a time']

until I had chunked the hexes into four sets:

These rows won't be next to each other in the final quilt, I don't think, due to the duplication, but it gives you a feel of what the finished quilt will be like.  Long side here is short side of the finished quilt; it'll be my usual queen-sized quilt.

Can you tell which fabrics are authentic 1930s and which ones are reproduction fabrics?The garden grows slowly

['The garden grows slowly']

Since I'd just killed all my half-hexes, I opted to fill the top and bottom with a little bit of decoration instead of full half-hexes:

The fragility of the bare vintage-fabric hexes fades a bit when they're surrounded by new, fresh muslin. I'm filling out all four sides with muslin to make a rectangle.  Much easier to bind that way.

The quilt is approximately 80% vintage pieces, 15% blended new-and-vintage, and 5% wholly new.

Blog entry:, little ones? My plan.

['See, little ones? My plan.']

I joined quarters into halves, doing my best to avoid putting any unnecessary weight on the fabrics; I'm still trying to treat them gingerly and delicately until they are quilted, and have a strong batting and backing to help take the stresses of everyday use:

Close, so close. Now for joining these pieces together and slapping on end caps. Mind if I froth at the mouth?

['Mind if I froth at the mouth?']

I haven't shown the backing in any of the photos, have I? I picked something fun and bright that's period to the 1930s:

The fabrics needed to match the existing ones in several ways. I wanted similar colors, and similar patterns. I also wanted the prints to be on approximately the same scale as the old prints, so that I'd get plenty of full repeats when I cut them down into small hexagons.New fabrics to match the old

['New fabrics to match the old']

The red-and-blue bubbles are the backing fabric for the quilt. I'll bind it in the bright red I used in a few hexes on the quilt top, for a sense of continuity. If you look closely, you'll recognize all of those fabrics, save the backing fabric, as having made a few appearances in the quilt top.

Overall, I'm pleased. I like knowing these pieces will finally see the light of day. They deserved to be used and loved and jumped on by little kid feet, not set aside in a pretty box for a few more decades until someone else came along and said, "These should be made into a quilt."

They've waited a long time to come into the light. I hope they love it, now that they're here.


amazing.  i'm sure the great-grand-aunt or whoever started this is totally impressed with your work. 

I know ATL isn't exactly in your backyard, but seeing as you do go there for fabric shopping, i thought I'd mention.. I have an excellent long-armer in Marietta, just north of the city.  she blogs at, and I cherish (and show off) everything she's ever made for me.  Keep it in mind for the future, ok?

That's good info, actually. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers will need a sure and creative hand when I'm done assembling it, and I am open to suggestions for someone who would take this strange and new layout and love it as much as I do. I think a standard meander or pantograph would be a waste, but I'm equally unsure of what to do in its place.

I'm whimpering a little at the thought of re-quilting Remixed. There was a huge, awful, dreadful snafu in the quilting process - I got partially through quilting on the longarm quilting machine locally and (I kid you not) the machine blew three fuses within a five-minute span. I couldn't complete the quilt, and I felt like I'd wasted about $60 in rental fees.

After I had a couple of weeks to sulk about it, I realized I wasn't happy with my work, and should treat the blown fuses as an opportunity. I kept my frustrations in mind as I tried rearranging my kitchen table setup to see if it was even possible to quilt a full-sized quilt on my machine at home. It turns out that if I'm careful, I can indeed do it.

I think it likely that I will re-quilt Remixed from the start, using a less contrasting thread color and a more careful seam line echo pattern. I'm not happy about the extra work, but when this quilt is done, I want to be able to hand it to Hallie and say, 'it was done, and done well.' Right now I can't say that.

This is a baaaaad hobby for perfectionists!

I found you via littleshika. Wow! What impressive work on this quilt! I've reworked vintage tops and pieces too. The amount of work is somewhat overwhelming at times, I've 'frogged' entire quilted quilts to get them right. But when it's finally done and spread on the bed, somehow I forget all that effort. I know what you mean about being a perfectionist! I hear (someone) in my head saying - if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing right. bah... :)