Thursday, July 2, 2009

Binding Grandmothers Flower Garden Quilt...

Machine Quilting by Day.........Hand Binding by Night

It is Amazing what a Deadline will do for you!

Click Images to Enlarge:

Grandmothers Flower Garden Quilt
90 x 100 inches

1993 - 2003 This Grandmothers Flower Garden quilt traveled everywhere with me. It was my "Take-A-Long" Quilt. It has traveled on planes, trains and automobiles. Using the English Paper Piecing method, I hand pieced over 12,000 half inch hexagons at: football games, basketball games, wrestling tournaments, the dentist & orthodontists offices, the pediatricians, family vacations, at Seattle Mariner was my constant companion......many times I was tempted to piece a hexagon while sitting at a rather long stop light in town.

I only pieced this quilt while I was away from it turned into a 10 year take-a-long quilt project. After the top was all pieced, I began to hand quilt it, but the pain in my wrists and hands from carpal tunnel soon let me know that I would never be able to complete it. I removed the hand quilting stitches and sent it off to a highly recommended long arm quilter in Idaho. She quilted feathered circles in the center of each flower. I used a wool batting and the quilt is absolutely yummy.

My personal quilts tend to get put on the back burner. The quilts that have deadlines are the ones that get completed quickly. I have never set a deadline for one of my own quilts. My quilt exhibit in September has given me a BIG DEADLINE to complete my own personal quilts. It is just the push I needed to get this quilt out and get to work on it again.

Yesterday I sewed the bias binding on the top side of the quilt with the sewing machine. Last night I brought it to the house and began hand stitching the binding to the backside.

I use hair clips to hold the binding around the edge of the quilt. The clips help to relieve the strain on my hands and wrists while I am stitching the binding in place. I don't struggle trying to hold the binding in place, the clips do that for me. I am able to bind for hours without any fatigue to my hands.

This is my Binding Tin.......I found it years and years ago at a garage sale with hair clips already in it. I added a small pair of scissors, a wooden needle case, Thread Heaven thread conditioner, and thread to match my binding fabric. All of these supplies live in this little red tin and are always ready when I need to bind a quilt.

The best part of this quilt is........the yellow center in every flower block is a piece of fabric cut from my grandmother's house dress......making this TRULY a Grandmothers Flower Garden Quilt. I have named it......In The Presence of the Past.

P.S. To answer a few of the questions I have rec'd since posting this:

1. I started out with a fanny pack around my waist. It contained a zip loc bag with fabric hexagons and paper hexagons, thread, needle, nail clippers and beeswax (I later switched to Thread Heaven conditioner). I was able to sit quietly and piece hexagons, going mostly unnoticed at any event I was attending. I sat in a church at weddings and pieced and nobody even noticed. This gets addicting once you get started. Every idle minute you have away from home, you want to be piecing on your take-a-long quilt.

2. These are mini-hexagons, each of the 6 sides measures one half inch. A standard hexagon is 2 inches on each side....much quicker to put together.

3. There are 63 mini hexagons in each flower. A flower takes about 10 hours to hand piece. There are 150 flowers in this quilt........1,500 hours to piece the top.

4. 5 spools of thread.....2,500 yards of thread to piece the quilt top.

5. This is made entirely from scraps of fabric. Over the years I rec'd fabrics from people who knew my history with this quilt, had watched me work on it for years, and wanted to add to the quilt........I gladly included the donated tiny bits of fabric in this quilt, which makes me cherish it even more.

5. ALL of my nieces helped with cutting hexagons from fabric, pinning the papers to them and putting them in zip loc bags for me. They enjoyed choosing the fabrics and designing flowers for me to sew. I cherished my time with my nieces. Two of them eventually became quilters! LOTS of warm and wonderful memories come to mind when I look at this Grandmothers Flower Garden Quilt.

In My Cozy Spot Binding,

To see my New Work CLICK HERE

To see the Thread Shed CLICK HERE

To see my Exhibit Quilts CLICK HERE

To see Tutorials CLICK HERE


  1. What a wonderful - love the history behind your stunning quilt! And the double-decker bus tin is just too cute.
    Have a great 4th of July!

  2. Hi Luann..Well, It's absolutely georgeous! What a project. Well done for keeping on with it. I love all your quilts and have enjoyed receiving your feeds. I am inspired to have a go myself! Regards Jillx

  3. You are a girl (at ONLY 50!) after my own heart! Your Take-a-Long piecing projects are wonderful! Keep up the beautiful work.

  4. Hi from Brooklyn, NY.

    I have 2 vintage Grandmothers' Garden quilts that need quilting and developing carpel tunnel in exchange for my niece receiving an awesome heirloom isn't a risk I'm willing to take.

    Do you mind disclosing the contact info for the long arm quilter in Idaho? Your quilt is beautiful and the feather quilting is perfectly complementary.

    Sue B.

  5. Hello Susan from Brooklyn,
    I was born and raised in NJ.......about 20 minutes from the Lincoln Tunnel. Our school field trips always included visits to NY.
    My long arm quilter has moved and I don't have her new address. There are so many wonderful long armers out there. Check out some of their work....find one that LOVES to do feathers, she will be your best bet. It should be simple for her to do a feathered circle in the middle of each flower. You are welcome to share my images with her to show her just exactly what you want.
    Good Luck To You,
    LuAnn in Oregon

  6. Hi
    My name is Pratima and i an from Delhi, India. I just stumbled upon your beautiful blog while hunting for apple core quilt tutorials. I have been reading your blog and have booked marked to read later on. I just love your passion for your work and the way you carry your work where ever you go. This Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt is gorgeous and love the history behind making this beautiful work.
    You inspire me to go ahead nad complete my very first Yo Yo quilt.
    Best wishes.