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.

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!)

English Paper Piecing Mayham*

I think it may have started with my hexagon pouch — which I never showed you, did I? Sorry about that, I totally forgot! Here you go:

Perfect for my embroidery tools! Anyway, I think that project started a little bit of a craze – in my head – for English paper piecing, which has now sort of taken over everything. I really enjoyed making that pouch, piecing it tiny bit by bit, and finally admitted that what I really want to make is a traditional, 30s-inspired, Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. I have a weird obsession with those 30s reproduction fabrics, and have been quietly hoarding them for several years now. Bits and pieces, sale buys, a jelly roll, etc. I think I always knew I wanted to do a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt, but I kind of know it’s insane. I mean, I actually prefer a long-term project over quick-fix projects – or at least like to have a balance – because I love the slowness of a long haul project. I mean, it’s nice to know that you really put your heart and soul into a thing, to watch it grow tiny bit by bit. It’s very satisfying.

Grandmother's Flower Garden Quilt, madness begun.

But this is extreme, even for me. I realize that this will take many years. That I look at it now, brimming with enthusiasm, but will probably hate the sight of it after a while. It’ll probably go away from time to time, when I need a break. But I want it. What’s the point of making something faster if it’s not the thing you really wanted? I’m using my hoarded reproduction fabrics and will keep an eye out for any on sale as I go, and I’ve already finished one flower!

Grandmother's Flower Garden Quilt, Flower #1

Yes, one out of a millionty, but it’s a start. (Sorry for the not-awesome photo there, I didn’t realize it until just now.) I even made a Pinterest board of vintage GFG quilts for inspiration as I go. Aren’t they stunning?

Then my mother asked for some decorative pillow covers for her bedroom, to add a little color to the room, for Mother’s Day (we still celebrate the US version, coming up next weekend. I’m not sure why, now that I think about it). Of course I thought of a paper pieced design, because why would I do something simple when I could make it ten times slower? She helped me pick the fabric to make sure it matches just right – a gorgeous Kona fat quarter pack from The Village Haberdashery – and she wants something of a traditional design. I teamed the solids with a piece of Tula Pink Plume from my stash and I’m going for a Lone Star-ish design, in part inspired by this amazing quilt by Fancy Tiger Crafts. I’m so in awe of that quilt. Mine won’t be a star shape, I’ll continue the diamonds solidly then square it up, if that makes sense. I’m not sure if there’s a name for that or if it’s still a Lone Star design. In any case, I’ve got a little start:

Lone Star-ish pillow covers, WIP

and just over a week to go. Oy. There may also be something going on with some extremely tiny hexagons and two crazy people, but that’s a story for another day!

* No, that’s not a typo. Paulie Walnuts fans will understand. Everybody else, just pretend it says ‘mayhem’.

Big Week Off: Sewing

Continuing my what-I-did-on-my-summer-vacation-esque tour through my week off last week (there’s a mouthful for ya), here’s a few things I sewed.

Because of my ouchy hand / arm, I did a lot of sewing over the week. Sewing is also the thing I often run out of time for, so it was nice to play with fabric for a bit. I’m not really a good sewer (sewist?), and I don’t say that to hint for a disagreement from readers. I don’t mean that I sew badly, more that my sewing skills are seriously limited – and to be totally honest, I’m not especially driven to expand them. I mean, I always like learning new crafty things of any kind, but I’m happy to learn new sewing skills in bits and pieces as I need them.

So anyway, if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (gotthebutton on both) you probably saw some of these in progress. I made a pouch (fabric rescued from a handbag I made and didn’t love) and two box pouch project bags:


I don’t really know what I’ll use the pouch for, I just wanted to save that fabric and this was the best use I could think of for it. The pieces I’d saved were almost exactly the right size. The project bags (yes, that top one needs an ironing touch-up, I just noticed – it honestly doesn’t look that blumpy in real life!) are just adorable and I had to have some. And once you start, it’s hard to stop putting together cute fabric / zipper / lining / pull tab combos. I actually have one more pile that may be made into a box pouch yet! I used a tutorial from It’s A Pretty Modern Life, which was recommended to me by Jaclyn from Urban Crunch (she made some crazy cute box pouches!).

I also pulled out my precious Tula Pink Plume charm pack and some leftover Ikea canvas to make this door stop, using Oh, Fransson’s tutorial:


This was a much more practical project, solving an actual need in the room I work in. I like to keep the door ajar, but it tends to swing back open. I was using a partially full bottle of water to prop it, um, closed; this will be significantly more attractive.

And I couldn’t do any hand sewing, but I played around with the beginnings of this little project:


Oh, how I love paper piecing and hand sewing! I made a whole bunch of these hexagons a while back with a quilt in mind, but then decided I’d rather do something different with them. Typical. So they’ve sat for ages while I think on how to approach the change of plan – until last week when I realized I could borrow a few of them to make … yup, another little pouch.

This one has a specific purpose though – a little embroidery kit. It may seem odd that I don’t already have one, but so it is. I guess I usually keep my tools with whatever project I’m working on at the moment, but now I’m at a point where it’d be helpful to have them in one place. But, see, I’m a giant dork and I like when things match. If I have a variety of project bags, one will match whatever project I want to put in it. But this type of pouch will have to (yes, have to) match all of my stitching projects. So I’m using all natural linens and grays , which just wee touches of muted color. I know, I know. But I don’t even like my pyjamas to clash, so no way I could let it happen to my embroidery!

More on that mini-project as it happens, and Big Week Off stitching progress tomorrow!