Grandmother’s Flower Garden

Project Flashback / Revisit: 1930s Hexies

1930s GFG Revisted

I can’t even remember the last time I posted about this forever-long, slow crafting project, but I’ve had my 1930s Grandmother’s Flower Garden on the brain lately. I even pulled them off the dusty shelf to stitch a few together over the last week, which I haven’t done in at least a year, I imagine.

I definitely lost interest in this project over time. The thing is, when I started these hexies, I had a completely different outlook on sewing, hand-sewing in particular, and quilting. For one thing, it was my only hand-work project at the time – my little bit on the side, if you will. There was no hurry about it because it didn’t compete with anything else.

But now? Now I have a million hand-stitching projects I want to get into. And basically a million other projects too. The hexies always got put aside from time to time, as other projects took priority, but I would always gravitate back to them as a quiet evening project.

My orange peels took over as my relaxing hand-stitching for many months, but now that they’re finished (more on the quilting of them, finally!, later this week), I have a hand-sewing vacuum. I’ve been considering other projects, and I’ve signed up for the Instagram Hand-Pieced Mini Swap, so I’ll have to get that started soon, but generally? My mind keeps drifting back to the 1930s hexies, feeling a little guilty that they’ve been so abandoned, and then I think … meh.

1930s GFG Revisted

I wondered for a few days why I’ve gone off them so spectacularly, when I loved them so much before, and I think I’ve realized that my quilting style and taste has changed somewhat since then. I wanted that to be a really traditional quilt, as if it came right out of the 1930s. I really thought it should be by-the-book traditional.

But now. I’ve noticed a lot of people using the term “Modern Traditional” lately (I mean, I’ve noticed lately – I doubt that’s a new term), and I feel that does really apply to my sense of patchwork style. Traditional and historical patchwork fascinates me, but I like to think about how those same patterns can be updated with modern fabrics and color combinations. So how is a straight-from-the-feedsack Grandmother’s Flower Garden going to fit into that?

As I was thinking this, I saw this quilt on Pinterest – pinned by my good friend, Christa. I’d always assumed that I’d set the hexagon flowers in paths of plain white, and I considered possibly adding diamond paths in green – but again, a very traditional, soft, 1930s green. But that blue! WOW. That’s clearly an antique / vintage quilt (tracing it down the Pinterest path reveals no specific information about it) but it’s so modern with that intense blue! Just looking at it immediately breathed new life into my hexies.

I have no idea what color I’ll use in the end – I’m sort of considering a deep gray right now, something quite dark like Kona Coal or Charcoal, or maybe even the nearly-black Pepper! The soft 30s colors would look so lovely against a dark color like those. More thoughts on this to come, I’m sure, but for now I’m just glad to have my hexies back on the brain.

Back to Long-Term Projects: Grandmother’s Flower Garden Quilt

Do you guys remember my New Year’s Resolution? Less Projects, More Often. (Which I suppose is grammatically shady, it really should be Fewer Projects, but then you don’t have that cool less/more thing going on.) It’s really been working for me – finishing up projects that have been lingering for a long time and not just going out and starting twenty more.

Grandmother's Flower Garden Progress

For one thing, it’s allowing me to spend some time with my beloved long-term projects, which always had to be put aside for the million other WIPs in the basket. It’s been such a long time since I posted about (or even worked on) my 1930s reproduction Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt, most of you have probably never even seen it! But I’ve finally gotten it back out and I’m up to a whole 33 flowers sewn! By my last estimate, that makes me about halfway finished – with the flowers, anyway. I’ll have to stop procrastinating and start surrounding them all with a million white hexagons pretty soon – and diamonds if I decide to put a little path between them all.

Grandmother's Flower Garden Progress

In the meantime, I’ve put together this little travel EPP box, which contains everything I need to work on my hexies. It’s perfect to just toss in my bag for train rides and pub nights – and even has a teensy-tiny pincushion inside!

GFG Progress

It’s been a while since I shared my Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt progress, and since English Paper Piecing is the perfect traveling / waiting room craft, I’ve spent a lot of time with it over the last few weeks. Seems a good time for a progress report!

GFG update

At the last flower count, I had ten finished. Now there’s 21! Whee! And two more in progress:

GFG update

And a little while back, I cut 285 hexagons from fabric in preparation, which is another 15 flowers-worth:

GFG update

That’s basically how I’ve been working this quilt. I start by laying out my whole collection of 1930s fabrics and pairing prints for flowers. I was really excited about it this time, because I had some new fabrics to add into the mix: a couple I picked up in Amsterdam, a lovely gift from a friend (thank you, Karen!) and some pieces donated by a kind stranger in answer to my plea for scraps (thank you, Rebecca!)! Then I cut hexagons from the fabric over an evening or two, for as many combos as I can come up with. Then make the paper-pieced hexagons and bundle them into little stacks with rubber bands (as you can see above), then start sewing them together. Lather, rinse, repeat. By the time I finish this whole stack of cut hexies, I’ll have 36 flowers sewn.

GFG update

I also finally laid them out on my bed today, to get at least a vague idea of how many flowers I need to make. It’s only a basic estimate, and doesn’t really count the amount that I’ll want to hang over the sides of my bed, but as a start, it looks like I’ll need to make 70 flowers. In theory, it’ll actually be more than that, but that’s a good number to aim for. This is actually not nearly as bad as I’d expected! Once I finish all those cut hexagons, I’ll be about halfway finished – with the flowers, at least. That’s, like, 5 years ahead of my estimate. Sweet!

But. (There’s always one in every project, isn’t there?) My flower estimate is based on one round of white hexgons as the garden path. Like this one. But if you look at my GFG Pinterest Board, you can see that’s not the only option for the path, and I’m suddenly not sure what I like best! Double-white path? Diamonds between whites? Aaak, too many choices! At least I know I can keep making flowers for a while before I have to decide. What do you guys think?

One flower at a time!

Grandmother's Flower Garden WIP

Continuing my show-and-tell of slow crafts, my biggest slow project is definitely my 1930s Grandmother’s Flower Garden reproduction quilt. I first posted about this project last May, when I’d made just one flower. It’s going on a year later, and now I have ten finished, half of which are pictured above. (The other half came out blurry but I have a cold-ish thing and no energy to retake it, I’m afraid. They’re just as cute, trust me.)

Oh, dear. This really is a slow craft, eh? But I do love it so much. I was right in that post last year, it will probably take several years. But as long as I love the process and the project, that’s all that counts. Ever since I hurt my neck a few weeks ago (it’s much better now, by the way), I’ve been working on this project a lot and it’s made me really think about how much I love sewing by hand.

Grandmother's Flower Garden WIP

I know most people don’t have the patience for hand-stitching when you could sew by machine – and it’s not like a quilt sewn by machine is a very fast project for most of us anyway! But I do love the way sewing by hand takes a commitment; you have to really want it to spend so much time on it, and with it. I love how hand-sewn stitches are just that tiny bit more visible, how you leave a little more of a mark of yourself on the project.

Grandmother's Flower Garden WIP

I’ve always assumed I’d make this as a full-size quilt, to cover my double bed. I have a theory that the projects you put this much time into should be sure to never go out of style, and a reproduction quilt shouldn’t. But then a friend pointed me to a hexagon calculator, which told me I’ll need around 2500 hexxies to complete a full-sized quilt. I was a dummy and chose to use 1″ hexagons back when I started just because that’s what I had handy and clearly didn’t think about how long it would take with such small pieces. Well … I’ve got 190 sewn into flowers now, another 30 basted / partly sewn together, and 70 pieces cut and ready to baste. That makes almost 300 – not all finished, but in progress.


Grandmother's Flower Garden WIP

Yes, an extremely long-term project. But if you’re gonna do it, you might as well really do it, right?

(P.S. – My quilt is short a few specific scraps — on the off-chance you’re a 1930s reproduction fabrics fan too, and have some scraps in your stash that you might donate to a worthy project, would be you be so kind as to check out this photo and see if any look familiar? Thank you so much!)