Wednesday, June 2, 2010

the quilt catalogue: grandmother's flower garden pattern

beautiful handmade grandmother's flower garden quilts!

row one
karrielyne's day 93 close up
grandmother's flower garden by jill in cottonwood
grandmother's flower garden patch 3 by michelle conley

row two
grandmother's flower garden vintage quilt via ricracandbuttons
grandmother's flower garden 1 by twiddletails
grandmother's flower garden precut quilt kit by scrappykwiltkits

row three
grandmother's flower garden via robholland
grandmother's flower garden quilt via craftster
quilt kit by mysunshinecottage


ah, quilting & patchwork! it's one of my true delights in life. and the patterns that have shaped the vibrant history of quilting thrill me. i love when modern works build on the strong foundation of historical handmade arts. in this young rikrak studio series, the quilt catalogue, we'll be exploring some fabulous traditional quilt patterns, the stories behind them, a dozen different takes on the theme, patterns to make one yourself, and an opportunity for you to share your own quiltworks! read installment #1: the pinwheel pattern. so sit back, and let's meander down a wonderful handcrafted needle-arts path!


as spring gardens explode to delight those of us in the northern hemisphere, nostalgic thoughts fill my head. i walk down the street and see flower after flower that i first came to know & love in my own grandparents' splendid country garden. ah, our grandmother's flower gardens! aren't they an amazing thing!

for more then 100 years, quilters throughout north america have loved the nostalgic charm of these fond garden memories, too, and have stitched those fond images into the well-loved grandmother's flower garden quilt!

certainly one of the best loved vintage quilt patterns around {in my humble opinion!} the grandmother's flower garden is also known also as the hexagon flower garden, or the French Rose Garden. Famous quilt historian & scholar Barbara Brackman states that "the Grandmother's Flower Garden was the most popular pattern {in North American quilting} after 1925" and that " many women who never made another quilt finished a Grandmother's Flower Garden."

I've personally always thought it to be one of the loveliest, yet most terribly daunting, patterns! All those tiny little hexagons, so perfectly pieced! EEK! So ... let's explore!

the basic formation:
this pattern is a hexagon or honeycomb tessellation pattern, usually stitched by hand.
most often, the "English Paper Piecing" technique, that stabilizes fabric with a paper template, is used to make each of the hexagons, and guarantee accuracy! In short, { via the illinois state museum site } "(the english paper piecing) method involves a paper hexagon placed on the wrong side of a fabric hexagon and held with a pin. The fabric is cut 1/4 inch larger than the paper on all sides. The extra fabric is turned down over the edge of the paper and basted in place. This process is repeated for every small hexagon in the quilt. " Learn more about the English Paper Piecing technique here.

top: english paper piecing techinque
middle: isn't this fabulous? look at all of those amazing antique pieces of paper used as foundations in this quilt! it's a whole history unto itself! love it!
{via the state museum of pennsylvania}
bottom: fabulous visuals by sunshinecreations on the english paper piecing method by hand.


after that, each small hexagon is pieced to the next, creating the overall pattern, dependent on the fabrics used, and their colour placement.

i would agree also with that very few new grandmother's flower garden quilts are made, as it's such a labor intensive quilt pattern, usually pieced and quilted by hand. i haven't made one (yet!) but i sure do adore the one my own master quilter grandmother made!

a little history on the pattern writes: "In the 19th century hexagon quilts were known as Mosaic quilts, Honeycomb quilts or Six Sided Patchwork. By the 20th century hexagon quilts were usually made in the Grandmother's Flower Garden pattern. These contained a center hexagon circled by six colorful printed or solid hexagons with another row of 12 hexagons around that. The centers were sometimes yellow to represent the flower's center. Between each flower was a row of colored solid hexagons to represent the background."

the "grandmother's flower garden" name fits well into the popular notion of traditional quilt patterns reflecting the homelife & outdoor aspects of the quiltmaker's daily lives! ( i think of the dresden plate, log cabin , churn dash, hole in the barn door, pinwheel, and rail fence to name a few everyday life patterns.)

and just as my own personal aside, i think the familiar nostalgic feel of remembering our dear grandmother's beautiful flower gardens gives an extra-precious feel to this pattern and the quilts made. i think of my own grandma talking about the flower garden quilt she made, years ago, while remembering her own grandmother's flower garden. and when i see that same quilt now i think of my own grandmother's beautiful garden, and the memories: hers, mine, others', intricately sewn into it. i think it's an amazing piece of art (and history!) that can move us so emotively like that!

now... let's make one! { some great how-to's!}
:: a visually helpful pattern with instructions on ::

:: make your own quilting pattern here on ::

:: watch kaye wood's helpful HELPFUL hexagon cutting video! ::

:: new to quilting? tune into one of alex anderson's helpful
simply quilts episodes on hgtv online for lots of tips, tricks and more! ::

:: here's a great VISUAL tutorial on sunshinescreations for english paper piecing. ::

:: i really enjoyed reading's visual flower garden quilt progress.
so nice to see the quilt coming together step by step!

:: visit the flickr English paper piecing photo group for lots of helpful images and ideas!

:: and check out the world's biggest hexagon quilt! ::

have a grandmother's flower garden quilt story to share?
have you ever made one?
ever tried *english paper piecing?*

i'd love to see it!

happy stitching, nicies!
Pin It


  1. WOW! It does look challening. I didn't know that's what paper piecing meant! Good to know - thanks.

    I like this series so much. I'd be interested in reading more about the Log Cabin pattern if you're looking for an idea. We have one of my Grandmother's. It's always interested me!!

  2. If knitting didn't take up all of my time I'd learn to quilt. I think the pinwheel pattern is my favorite also I love the intricacy of it. A close second would be the windmill pattern (I think thats what its called?)
    I find the history facinating.

    Great article as always!

  3. I don't think I'll ever take one on, but my mom's had one in process (machine piecing) since I was a toddler. I expect it'll be passed on to me one day to finish, although the last time we pulled it out she decided she may one day find the time.

  4. I have one that belonged to my Father, although we don't know who made it. I haven't started quilting in life, but I think the pinwheel would be the first one I would attempt.

  5. I'm working on my GMG, I've started 4 years ago. Honestly I 'm not working on it on a regular base but it helps to clear my mind. I love it.

  6. I've one GMG on, it has been on for a while: 4 years! But i love it soo much. I'm not working on it on a regular base, it really helps to clear my mind. Hopefully I'll finish it


thanks so much for your comments, nicies!
it's a joy to read what everyone writes here.
thank you!