Grandmother’s Flower Garden

One of my quilt-related passions (yes, I have many) is to rescue old quilt tops, orphan blocks, vintage fabric, and other linens, and make things out of them. 

If I get a top that’s good enough, I’ll just finish it as it is. If not, and most of the ones I collect are not in good enough condition, I do something else with them. Just what I decide to do depends on the actual condition and useful leftovers of whatever piece I’m deciding on.

As a recent example, here’s an old doily I rescued and remade into one of my Pay It Forward gifts. This linen doily has a hand-crocheted edging, but the linen circle in the center was too big for the edging, so it buckled in the middle and wouldn’t lay flat.

I removed the edging, redid the linen circle, and reattached the edging so that the piece laid flat, then I embroidered the little teapot in the middle. I gifted this to my pal, Jocelyn, since I know she loves vintage things and teapots.

My current rescue project is a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. Well, actually, several Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilts and many orphan Grandmother’s Flower Garden blocks. I bought, from a friend of mine who deals in antiques, a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt top that was in horrible condition. It was approximately twin-sized, but had never been finished. Some of the fabrics in the flowers had completely disintegrated until nothing was left except holes where the patches had been. Some of the fabrics were so weak and threadbare that they were headed for the same fate. The white in between was mostly stained and fairly weakened as well. However, I still saw its potential! 

I handed over $25 and brought the top home with me. The first thing I did was cut all the flowers apart, right through the white background pieces, since I didn’t want to salvage any of that white background. I threw away the disintegrated flowers, and here’s a sampling of what I ended up with when that first step was finished.

Here’s a close-up of one of the blocks . . . aren’t they wild?

Since every seam was weak, there was no need to pick the pieces apart, so instead I cut the patches apart close to the seams. This, naturally, makes each patch smaller than it was before, so in order to re-use them, my flowers were going to need to be smaller. So . . . I designed my new Grandmother’s Flower Garden to use half-inch hexagons. Using the English Paper Piecing method, I’m remaking all the flowers from the original quilt just as they were, and I’ve added fresh new white background fabric around all mine. Here’s some of the blocks I have finished . . .

. . . here’s a close-up of one of them.

Since all my new flowers are smaller than the original flowers, it’s going to take more flowers to bring it back up to size. But . . . I also had lots of other orphan random Grandmother’s Flower Garden blocks in my collection, so I’m remaking and using all those in it as well, and then adding fabrics from my vintage fabric stash to make up the rest. 

I’ve recently begun working on this quilt again as my carry-around project, so I figured I’d show it to you. You may not see it again for a long time, because it will be awhile before I have it finished. I’m also debating how to quilt it. Should I hand quilt it since it’s all hand pieced? I’m taking votes on that, so leave me a comment and let me know what you would do in this instance . . . hand or machine quilt, hand or machine quilt . . .

I also purchased another entire Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt top unquilted. Isn’t this a lovely thing?

It’s in good enough shape, that I think I can just finish it like it is. I’m going to check it over good and make sure that there are no weak seams, and patch any places that might need it. I think it’ll be fun to work on. Then I’ll end up with TWO Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilts!

Published in: on February 25, 2010 at 1:11 pm  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Machine quilting is a blessing–sturdy, quick. But, some quilts deserve hand quilting, and this would be one of them.

  2. Wow, that’s an ambitious project! It’s going to look great when you’re done.

  3. Awesome flower garden projects! I would vote for the hand quilting. I have a flower garden quilt too that was a vintage top. I had it quilted by the retired nuns and they did beautiful work. I am sorry to say that I cut off the extended parts of the flowers when I put on the borders. I don’t know what I was thinking.

  4. What a cool quilt! Have fun with making it!

  5. Boy, I don’t know how to hand quilt, but if I did, I would hand quilt it. It just seems to fit the quilt, and it’s all hand pieced, so why not? I just discovered your blog and am really enjoying it. Thanks for sharing. Stephanie

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