This is one Mean Old Lady!

This is one Mean Old Lady!
Self-portrait: 'Quilter on Fire'

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Le Jardin Folklorique

This quilt was completed in 2009.  The quilt top--design, execution, assembly--required 18 months of steady work and necessitated my learning some new techniques in machine applique.  

The project was originated by a friend who suggested that our group make reproductions of a well-known 1950 quilt, "Calico Garden," now displayed in the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.  The original quilt, made by Florence Peto, is a crib quilt made with three-inch hand-appliqued blocks.   I was not particularly fond of the original quilt, but I was fond of my group.  I decided to participate, making a queen-sized quilt  for our guest bedroom by enlarging and redesigning the original blocks.  (I planned to exclude the blocks I did not like, however, so right from the beginning I was Not Following the Program.  

The design I eventually chose did not work out entirely as I expected.  And along the way, inevitably, I abandoned the original designs entirely to add blocks of my own.  (For one thing, there were no birds in any of the original Calico Garden blocks; what's a garden without birds?)  

I enlarged the quilt further when my husband said he'd like this bright quilt for our king-sized bed; I added outer borders to achieve the necessary size.  When at last the quilt top was assembled, I sent it to a hand-quilter.  I felt that the quilt 'deserved' hand work, but the time it would require (and the strain on my wrists and hands) made my choice sensible.  I added the binding and label after the quilt was returned to me.  Now we are much more reliable about making the bed because it's such a treat to walk into the bedroom and enjoy the sight of the cheerful quilt.  

One thought:  large 'album' quilts are perhaps more interesting in person because it is easier to see the individual designs.  

If you would like to see all the blocks, go to my friend's --and use the drop-down menu entitled Calico Garden; there are two Elaines, so select Elaine W. 

My favorite blocks are the 'woven' basket (lower right in this picture) and the cherry thief.  

To answer a possible question:  no, machine applique is not one bit faster than hand work!


  1. What a beautiful quilt! Yes, I would make my bed everyday too just to be able to see that wonderful, bright design. (Well, I do make my bed every day, but it's a cheerless exercise.) And what a sense of accomplishment you must feel. Isn't it a great high when those creative juices are flowing freely? Brava!

  2. OK, this is a great incentive. I need to take my car to the shop and then plan a day FOR ME to come up and enjoy your art. Soon I hope to get my act together...


  3. That looks like a serious lot of work. It's beautiful, though.

  4. @Donna
    I should probably mention that my children are grown and out of the home--hence there is time for quilting. My first large quilt, once it was layered and basted, was no longer portable. I kept joking that I would finish it in time for our daughter to take it to college. After a while, it stopped sounding funny, and in fact, I finished binding it the night before we drove her away to enroll for freshman year. People asked why this (relatively simple) quilt took me 16 years to complete, and I tell them it was because for 15 of those years, I never sat down! (I know you understand.)


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