A Tall Order: Grandmother’s Garden Project


Our first snow of the year is currently falling outside! I couldn’t be more thrilled, even though I was trying to do a small outdoor photo shoot of my Bricks and Bunnies Quilt when the first flakes (more like sleet balls) started to fall. Oh well, I love snow more than anything and I will never, ever turn it down.So…remember that colorful fat quarter I recently showed you? This one?

I’m ready to reveal what I plan to do with it. I want to document my plans here, because right now this seems like such a tall order that I am not sure I will ever be able to complete it.

I want to make a grandmother’s garden quilt with that fat quarter (and lots of other fabrics, of course). My grandmother’s garden quilt will be a replica quilt, based on this one:

This is a quilt that I came to own when my family’s beloved lake cabin was sold about 5 years ago. There were a couple old, tattered quilts there that nobody wanted. I took them. I had a lot of good memories of cold nights spent under piles of those old cedary-smelling blankets. I didn’t sew at all at that point in my life, and the quilt held little interest for me other than as a really warm, old blanket.

here you can see just how worn out it is in places 😦

Recently, as the weather turned cool this year, I took the quilt out on one particularly cold night. The next day, as I smoothed it over the bed, I realized just how pretty it looked, and how much work someone, sometime, had put into that tattered, old item. Right then, I decided that I would do three things:

1. I would research this quilt. I would try to find out anything I could about it: who made it, when it was made, what fabrics were in it, what pattern was used.

2. I would restore the original as best as I could.

3. I would make my own replica quilt based on the original.

So…a tall order indeed! Of the three items mentioned above, I actually think that #3 will be the easiest to do. Although I have NO IDEA how to make hexagons, work with them, piece them, or anything, I am ready to learn. #1 may be the most difficult part, and I may never know much about the original quilt. I assume my grandmother made it, but that is just an assumption. As my grandmother has been dead for over 20 years, the only people I can think of who *may* know anything about this old quilt are her children, my father and his sister. I have done enough research to find out that the pattern is called “grandmother’s garden,” and that it became very popular in the 1930s. Many grandmother’s garden quilts were made on green backgrounds, as the green symbolized the green grass.

I plan to post about my progress over the next few months (year), so stay tuned. I am coming to realize that this project will be largely HANDMADE, with little machine work at all, so it will take a lot of time. But I am very excited to do this – the same way that my grandmother or whoever made the originial did it way back when.

it really is a pretty old thing, isn’t it?


Raggy Squares Quilt

I haven’t sewn in such a long time! Seriously, it’s been 10 or 12 weeks since I’ve worked on any (sewing) projects at all. Life has been busy! Anyway. I am starting a new project. I’m calling it The Raggy Squares Quilt. I’m so excited!!!!
For this quilt I am using just one line of fabric, which I have never done before. I generally don’t care to work that way. But this seemed like the perfect project to change my ways. I am using the Sherbet Pips line by Aneela Hoey. These fabrics are just too cute! I especially love the dogs! I had two layer cakes and some extra of my favorite prints (the dogs) to work with, and I needed to cut 475 (475!!) 3-inch squares. I cut most of them during an especially brutal recent Vikings game.

laying out 475 squares one recent night at “our” Lake Superior condo

Just this weekend I decided on binding and backing fabrics, and I got extra yardage from Hannah Johnson Fabrics in Duluth, MN. This summer, I saw that they carried the entire line there, and I was just hoping they would have some left. I had second and third choices in mind, but they did end up having my first choice for backing fabric, so SCORE!!! And they were having a hunter’s widow sale, and everything was 20% off, so that was great, too. Since everything was on sale, I just had to pick up this adorable Alexander Henry home dec print as well. I took the rest of their bolt, and I am planning to make a large duffel bag with it. (I think….maybe a purse…hmmm…)

My husband and I each chose a fat quarter just because. This was my choice. You’ll never guess what I have in store for this little piece of fabric!! Stay tuned.

Bricks and Bunnies Series


These are my Bricks and Bunnies quilts. The bunny is from a Bunny Hill Designs pattern (Binkies on Broadway) which I haven’t made yet. Instead I kidnapped that bunny to applique over the bricks that I sewed together and staggered over the quilts.

The key to (and the absolute funnest part) of Bricks and Bunnies is the fabric choice. Fabric choice is my favorite part of quilting, hands down. This is where you can really make a project your very own one-of-a-kind piece, so have fun with it! I imagine there are myriad ways to go about choosing your perfect fabrics. I generally try to get an idea of what color scheme I want to go with. I might have one particular fabric in mind and work off of that, or I might just have a color or set of colors in mind. Then I go upstairs and look through all of my fabrics (and I have a fair amount of fabric in my stash, so this process can take awhile!) I pull out any fabric that I think I might even slightly want to use. I usually end up with a decently-sized pile of fabric to narrow down. I am generally quite decisive at this stage, too, going through each fabric one more time and giving it a quick yes or no. There are very few that I agonize over, and this I can’t really explain. I just know what I like, and I know what I don’t, and it’s difficult to articulate a process that is much more instinct than anything else.

In both Bricks and Bunnies quilts, I chose my fabrics and then cut my “bricks” with different directionalities, so some of the striped bricks had stripes going horizontally, and some were oriented vertically. I thought this would give the quilts a lot of visual interest, and I was really pleased with the results. I like to make the binding and the bunnies out of fabrics that are not otherwise in the quilt. In the blue/green Bricks and Bunnies quilt I ended up using a navy fabric that has found its way into a lot of projects I’ve made. I love the way it turned out. The Easter Bricks and Bunnies quilt has light green corduroy bunnies and binding. I hadn’t worked with corduroy in a quilt before, so it was a new experience. The color wasn’t ideal – it was a little light – but I still really like the end product. The Easter Bricks and Bunnies quilt also has a pieced backing. The backing is made up of three of my favorite fabrics in the quilt. I love it!

I’ve never been a fan of using collections of fabrics to make a project. I like to pick and choose one fabric here, another there. These quilts are perfect for honing your fabric choosing techniques. Bricks and Bunnies are my own way of playing with fabric and color. I know I will make more in the future, because I just love them so much and they are too fun to make.