Grandmother’s Flower Garden, 3-22-24

Original flower garden blocks purchased for $12 at a flea market many years ago
6” ruler
Trimmed to 6” – the biggest size I could get out of the original block
6” blocks sewed together side by side – I was one block short so I pieced strips to make a block
I held my breath and put the quilt top on the longarm machine. These old blocks were very fragile and sewed by hand meaning when I cut them down to 6” I was cutting through hand sewing. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Notice that these blocks were not pressed nicely and as hard as I tried I couldn’t get them to lay flat. Seams were stitched leaving seams flipped up – just any old way.
I gave up.
Quilted with straight lines, of course
Edges trimmed
Trying hard to bind the quilt
Bound and finished!
When I squared up the flower garden blocks, I had all the edges left. What could I do with them?
After a slim strip was cut this is what was left over
I cut light strips 1” wide to sew with a print strip
3 pairs sewn together
Waiting to be trimmed
Just a dusting of snow

I was afraid to put it in the washer but I did and tonight I’ll show you the result – it could end up in shreds even tho I washed it on delicate.

This was all a challenge to make something out of basically nothing but I’m really sick of it by now and cannot wait to work on new fabric again and sew something I really want to work on. I’m sure you can understand why I’m not anxious to start working with 41 old Dresden Plate blocks which are sewn terrible and the yellow center is a square of poly cotton laid underneath the circle and topstitched in a very tiny machine stitch which is impossible to take out. I believe I’ve said before that I cannot hold a needle anymore. I did bind a small project last night by hand and I’ll bet my needle came unthreaded at least 2 dozen times. Have you ever “faced” a quilt? I’ll walk you through that in an upcoming post.

Next I’m going to square up those little strip units and see what happens. Again – nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

I had lunch in town with Becky and Jenee who went on to Concord to play music which I declined to do this time. There are basketball games this afternoon or did you forget? Haha!!!

P.S. let’s continue with Points of Interest, shall we? Take a picture or two of something you love in your house, a setting you enjoy or a project you’ve made and send it to my email – If you didn’t have time to join in this activity last winter, do it now!

85 thoughts on “Grandmother’s Flower Garden, 3-22-24

  1. Dee from Shell Rock

    Hi, I went to the Iowa Quilt Museum to see their lastest exhibit. Mary Kerr is the featured artist, she used blocks that were discards and made them into quilted items. So fun. She made the top, her quilting friends used their magic to really make things pop. Great exhibit! They are live on Thursday mornings and you can watch it later. But it’s a great exhibit. And you love your Grandmother’s Flower garden.

  2. Diane, Squeak, and Buddy in Central Ohio

    I really do love the Grandmother’s Flower Garden. I wasn’t sure, but it turned out neat😀😀. I will take a pho or if something I love and tell the funny story behind it😀. OSU women won today—good start! Cold and rainy here😝. But, I made a pillow case, bound a quilt, loved on Buddy and Squeak, and went for a long walk! All good😀

  3. Kathy Burton

    I love how the flower quilt turned out. I wasn’t sure at first when I saw the single block by itself. Quilt is so pretty and will look so nice in your home.
    A long arm is my dream someday. Doing the top quilting on my domestic is not my favorite part of quilting. I do the same two designs every time because I just want it done!! One design I call loops of all sizes and the puzzle design.
    Kathy Burton

  4. Mary in Wichita

    Mary, thank you for saving grandmother’s flower garden! It turned out lovely. I can understand wanting to be finished with that project. It often happens to me when I agree to fix, save or repair an item for someone else.
    Really enjoyed the Oakland, Kentucky game last night, very exciting!
    Back to Easter sewing!

  5. Diana in Des Moines

    I simply love it! You took nothing and made something. Even if it shreds in the washer, you can say you did your best.
    I pulled my old blocks out – they are 9 patches and snowballs. When I can see again, I’m going to try to sew them together.
    Dr says cataract surgery was good, both eyes, but the left one done Weds is still a tad blurry. Patience is not a virtue I possess. Lol

  6. Marilyn Miller

    I love the old quilt that you’ve finished, Mary. It’s beautiful and has been a labor of love through the years, just waiting to be completed by someone with the patience to do so. Someone up in heaven is smiling upon you! I must admit that I am envious of your ‘play house’ with your long arm, your huge stash of fabrics, your TV in there enabling you to watch your basketball games and other sports and programming, and of course your beloved pets. I’m happy for you!

  7. Connie R. in Wis.

    Mary, I absolutely love how your flower garden quilt turned out. The quilting you did on it fits perfectly and will make the quilt sturdy. If I were you, I’d pass the newly acquired flower blocks on to the reader ,from yesterday’’s blog, who expressed interest in them. From her comment, it sounds like she would be happy to finish the project. Just a thought.
    Enjoy the games!

  8. Sue in Oregon

    What a great idea, Mary. I love your quilt probably way more than the original way of doing it. In fact, I am going to check out my blocks to see if I could do that. You are so clever. One thing though…you must have cut them at 6.5 to get them to match so perfectly.
    I see you have snow again. I saw on the weather channel that you are expecting lots more. Ugh…Hope not.

  9. Vicki Ibarra

    I love the quilt! It is both old fashioned and new at the same time. Your patience is amazing. Thanks for sharing. We had 2-3 inches of snow this morning in Iowa City. Yug! The only good thing is the small amount of moisture it will provide. We did outdoor work Tuesday through Thursday and are glad we did so. Tomorrow I need to buy some groceries. The mundane things of life must get done.

  10. Susan

    Your readers have such fun, clever items in their homes. The stitched cactus piece is so nice.

  11. Barbara Firesheets

    Great job on the Grandmother’s Flower Garden blocks! I love that you were brave enough to cut them into squares, making them easier to piece together – Genious! 😁 Hope it makes it through the wash OK . 🤞

  12. NancyTD

    The quilt looks great finished.. I worked all day at basting a hand appliqué quilt . It just needs to be a hand quilted project. I started the quilt in 2006 as a king. I decided to just make 16 blocks and get it finished. Lots of leftover fabric for more projects.
    Just a dusting of snow here.

  13. Donna Jo

    Your quilt is beautiful! It would make the maker of the blocks so happy to see them finished in a quilt!

  14. Carmen M.

    I really love how the Grandmother’s quilt came out, the colors are Awesome. You did a good thing by finishing that quilt! Hope it does well thru a washing!

  15. Lora

    I love your flower quilt Mary!! They used every possible scrap in those days, didn’t they? My old family quilts have wool, polyester, cotton, etc- all together. I love picking out the fabrics used- my old dresses, grandma’s kitchen curtains and grandpas shirts!🩷

  16. Sunflower 🌻 from Michigan

    Wow, great job on the grandmothers flower garden quilt. I like the straight line quilting on this.
    We got about four inches of snow in southeast Michigan today. The spring flowers already up are frozen, I’m afraid. Hopefully it gets back to spring soon. Our local school was closed and next week the kids are on Easter break so no bus stop visits for Biscuit!

  17. MJ

    Your grandmothers flower garden turned out wonderful! It has a life now!
    I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with the leftovers. I am in awe of all you accomplish.

    1. Jeanne in Co.

      Mary, after hand piecing a queen sized Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt and then hand quilting it, I cringed when I saw you cut that first block into 6” squares. But, I have to admit, the finished quilt turned out great. Only you would have been that creative. Once again you have inspired us to ‘get out of our box’ and try something non traditional. Did you wash it in the machine or did you hand wash it? Also, what kind of batting did you use in it? I always wash my quilts in the bathtub, after folding them accordion style in the tub with Orvis soap. My hands do the squeezing and little agitating that is done. Drain the dirty water. Then, two rinses with clear water. Gently squeeze out all the water I can and spin on gentle cycle in the washing machine. Fluff up in the cool dryer on gentle for 5-10 min. Remove and finish drying on the line. How do the rest of you wash your quilts? I never use my quilts as blankets, but fold them over the foot of the bed til morning when they are used as bedspreads. So they don’t get too dirty, but get oil from my hands.
      I can hardly wait for the Iowa women’s basketball game this weekend. Bet there are lot of your bloggers who will be joining us, Mary, even though they have no Iowa connections. Go Hawks! Jeanne in Co.

  18. Jeanine from SE Iowa

    I agree with everyone else that your transformation of the Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt looks amazing. I would never have thought to do what you did to those blocks, but they look great. If you don’t want to mess with the Dresden blocks, send them on to the one who expressed an interest in them on your blog yesterday, as someone else mentioned here earlier.
    Thanks again for the blog. So enjoyable!!

      1. Jeanine from SE Iowa

        Her name was Carol Rife.. Maybe you already found it. I have been away from my computer all day.

  19. Li

    Bold choice to be sure. Fabulous results. To top it all off, it is finished. Well done Mary.

  20. Gloria from CC

    Your quilt turned out beautiful Mary. But I wouldn’t have expected anything less from you. Go Hawkeyes Sunday afternoon.

  21. Cheryl

    The Dresden plate is just lovely. Very scrappy which is my fav! Can you tell are they feedsacks? I’m guessing it is a sewing lesson for a young lady long ago! Just lovely!

  22. Sunflower 🌻 from Michigan

    I forgot to mention, I have made the Green Chicken Enchilada soup twice and we loved it. Thanks for the recipe!

  23. Barbara Yarnell

    I have 24 blocks very similar to yours that I bought at a flea market and I did manage to get a few bordered with muslin before I put it away. And there it has sat, for years. Your idea is brilliant! I can’t wait till their number gets called for Dirty Dozen.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Barbara – so what number are those blocks? I’ll make sure it’s called next month!!!

  24. Nikki Mahaffey

    I think the grandmothers flower garden quilt is heavenly!!’
    I know the challenge of working with old blocks, have done more thank once & at the end of each project I claim never more, lol, but I must forget after a long period of time as I have 3 or 4 small quilts that I treasure . My azaleas survived all the mistakes of gardening I threw their way, remember I never claimed to be proficient at gardening, & are in full bloom & dispute my care are beautiful. For the moment my pansies are loaded with blooms. Elephant ears & calidums went in large planters. Planted some moss rose in planter & this morning notice 3 flowers on the plant. Am anxious to get some hanging baskets & have some beds put in the back as is just a square of grass with no decor or personality right now. First time since bought house have not been hospital or recovering from health event during spring gardening seasoning. Will be hiring out the major physical work as still restricted to what allowed to lift, etc ( nothing over the weight of a gallon of milk). Lucky for me I am good at giving direction, lol, some might say bossy.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Nikki – I am so happy to hear you’re busy and spring has arrived at your house. It will be weeks before we can plant anything – it snowed last night! Is your house all done? What about your son and wife? And you’re healthy – what good news!

  25. Kris in WI

    The Granny Garden quilt looks as though the first spring flowers are popping up through the snow!
    I agree with Marilyn Miller, someone up in heaven is looking down, smiling, and saying, “Well, would you look at that. Evie’s yellow dress from first grade…my favorite apron… Kip’s puppy pajamas…Never did like that piece — why did I put that in…Oh, the green Easter bunny dress for Elaine…Well done, Mary, thank you for finishing the quilt I gave up on years ago…and it’s the perfect size to cuddle under for a nap.”

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Kris – oh, what a sweet thought – it hadn’t entered my mind but I guess you’re right. Fabrics are from the thirties and forties.

  26. Vicki in Seattle

    Mary, your quilt is lovely! ! What a great plan for those blocks.

    Did you see the end of the Colorado/Florida game? WOW!! March Madness is so fun!!🏀🏀

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Vicki – yes, wasn’t that something? And more to come!!!

  27. Kathy in western NY

    To see the stages of work you did finishing the quilt was a fabulous idea to show us . I am a visual learner to see each step would inspire me to tackle vintage blocks into a quilt. Yours turned out very sweet! I had a vintage quilt top made of my moms dresses that was HST and my long armer said to layer it and quilt over all the seams coming apart and to not bother trying to fix them. Just meander quilt squiggles all over the thing. I did that and it came out just fine to use now too.

  28. Martha W in WY

    Mary, I hope you received my email that had a jpeg attached to print the bracket off. I sent it this afternoon.
    I think your “new” quilt fits in perfectly with your decor.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Martha W – I don’t see an email from you but I did get a bracket printed out.

  29. Sheryl Harrison

    Grandmother’s Flower Garden is beautiful! I love the finished quilt pictures with the snow. I am thankful we didn’t get snow because I had to take mom’s kitty Suzi to the vet. I don’t drive in bad weather but ran into a downpour. It was a good day to be home!

      1. Sheryl Harrison

        Unfortunately it wasn’t a routine visit. Suzi has had a little trouble with her back legs, not walking normally, and she wasn’t eating much. After a good examination, the vet said she has osteoarthritis. She got an injection and seemed to be walking a lot better this afternoon. She also has an infection in her mouth so she is having a tooth removed Wednesday. I am giving her an oral antibiotic. Thankfully she doesn’t seem to have pain. She is snoozing away right now.

        1. Mary Etherington Post author

          Sheryl- I’m sorry to hear that. Pets get old age ailments, too, don’t they? Please don’t let her go on too long with too many. Health problems. It’s just not fair to her.

          1. Sheryl Harrison

            No I won’t let Suzi suffer. She doesn’t act like she’s in pain. My brothers and I discussed this yesterday after her vet visit. My gray cat Bella had UTI’s and I vetted her from May to October in 2020. One of the vets is an older gentleman and is so kind and caring. He is a small man and told me Bella’s weight loss would compare to him losing 30 pounds. I knew at the time he was preparing me for the end and we discussed it. One night I listened to Bella crying and knew it was to the point of being cruel holding on. It is a hard hard decision. I’ve read some guidelines are: is the pet eating? is she in pain? does she enjoy your company? Sadly most of us had to answer those questions.

          2. Sheryl Harrison

            Thank you. I follow 2 animal shelters on Facebook and after my last dog passed, I was so tempted many times to get another dog or cat. Suzi was my priority because she would need a home if something happened to mom. All she knew since she was a kitten was mom’s apartment. I told the vet yesterday it breaks my heart when I see pets kicked to the curb when grandma dies. When I brought Suzi here a little over 1 year ago, she spent the 1st 7 hours under the bed then that evening, jumped on my lap and was “at home” ever since. I’m sure it helped that she knew me.

          3. Mary Etherington Post author

            Sheryl – your mom is so happy Suzi lives with you!!! I hope she gets better. I recently talked to the owner of the local funeral home and told him to call me if there was a pet left after an older person passed away to call me. Not that I’m looking for more but now we don’t even have a shelter to take them!

  30. Sue

    Mary I absolutely love what you did with the Grandmother’s Flower Garden blocks. Your creativity is amazing. I love that you made something of nothing. Would love to know the story of those blocks. I swear there’s more than 24 hours in your day!

  31. Lisa in northeastern Washington state

    I LOVE how your flower garden quilt turned out! It’s really beautiful!

  32. Linda Of Temecula, CA

    You have caringly put together someone’s many hours of loving hand stitching into a quilt. I’m sure they are in heaven looking down & saying “Well done, Mary! Thank you for finishing my quilt!”

  33. Rita In Iowa

    Mary I love your Grandmothers Flower Garden quilt. What an inspiration you are to all of us.

    Glad we made it home from Texas yesterday. Had over 6 inches of snow today. I liked it better when it was warmer.
    Sorted fabrics and pulled any fabrics that were less than a fat quarters, (well mostly), sometimes you know you will use that piece somewhere. I will then cut those pieces down to sizes I want to use.
    Just needed to fondle some fabric.
    Made Beef Barley Soup for lunch. Great for a cold day!

  34. Marsha from Kansas

    First, I would love to thank everybody for the kind thoughts.. I’ve enjoyed reading them. I am home with Home Health.

    Mary, I love your Grandmother’s Flower Garden. I started one in 1985. I made the blocks while listening to the radio, the KC Royals games and subsequently the World Series. I finished blocks and they are nicely stored away somewhere. I haven’t seen them for a while.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Marsha – see? That’s what usually happened to Grandmothers Flower Garden blocks because they were so much fun to make and easy enough to hold and transport. But putting them together with more hexagons was hard and not fun so there are orphan blocks at every flea market. I’m so glad you’re home – hope you are comfortable and can watch tv – games or whatever. Take care of yourself and keep us posted.

  35. Connie R.

    Mary, Carol Rife in WA commented in yesterday’s blog (at 10:10 am) that she would be interested in your new flower garden blocks. She said she would appliqué and make a quilt for charity. Might be the answer for those new blocks.

  36. Lynn

    How did you get the blocks to be square after receiving them? It looks like the side pieces were pieced.

  37. Meylonie

    Hi Mary. Since you hate the final flower garden and it was a trauma for you to make I was wondering if you’d be interested in selling it to me. I absolutely love it and it’s jumbled riot of patterns and colors. I can only imagine the personality of the person who originally made it. Not only did she not follow any of the rules about color or pattern placement but she also skipped those pesky directions about pressing the seams and finishing the darned things. I am enamored with people who are brave enough to follow their own magic as I do not have that much courage myself so try to collect pieces that show me the spark. And your bravery in finishing the masterpiece in the way you did is also an inspiration. Thank you for considering my request. I’d be honored to own such a masterpiece and would cherish it as a wonderful piece of art

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Meylonie – that’s a real compliment and in time I’d be willing to sell it but right now it has to live here just as a sign of endurance. Thanks for asking tho’

      1. Meylonie

        Thanks Mary. If/when you decide to sell it please contact me I’d love opportunity to to own the daily inspiration from two courageous artists, the original maker and the woman who dared to try something new with the bones of the project. You and your simple straight line quilting made it better than it began. Quite the collaboration from a vouple of brave strangers and quilt artists. M

  38. patti

    my compliments also on the saving of the quilt. i think it will survive the washer – maybe gentle? though i admit, i wash every quilt i’ve made as soon as i finish it. regular wash in cool water and tumble dry low til almost dry. maybe i’m lucky or God is watching over my quilts. today i got the borders finished on the mystery quilt from alycia in colorado – stars over spaghetti is how i call it. it has six stars and off center log cabins in diagonal rows. i forgot to take a picture. i laid it across my king size bed for dh to measure – 67.5 x 79.5″. by the time it’s quilted and washed, it won’t be big enough for the new cooking school charity. oh well, it will work for my grandson who will be 5 next month. he needs a quilt for the big boy bed instead of the over-size baby quilt. hopefully i can get it quilted and bound. will try to get a picture this weekend. have to hunt for a back for it. maybe flannel just for the snuggle factor. i like flannel even tho i’m in florida. he’s in texas. keep quilting. patti in florida

  39. Charlotte in No. California

    Your Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt is beautiful. You are so creative. I’m glad you finished it. I want to watch the Iowa girls’ basketball game tomorrow.

  40. Karen

    I loved what you did with the Grandmother’s Flower Garden blocks. When I’m gone, I hope someone will take my “leftovers” and make something as beautiful as you did!

  41. Marlene P Armbrecht

    Mary, maybe you remember me from doing the Dear Jne quilt with you many years ago – from Rockwell City.?! Anyway, I love reading your “musings” but have not commented before. I have been quilting for at least 45 years and just recently someone showed me how to “marry my needled to my thread!” Wish I could stop at your house or shop and show you but that has changed my life with EPP and binding. I’m sure you can google it and watch a Utube video. It is simply tying a knot to the end of the thread at the needle end to keep the thread attached to the needle so it doesn’t come unthreaded. Simple to do. I am currently using a milliner’s needle with #50 Aurifil thread so knot is very small – needs to be as small as the needle , of course. Hope this helps you! LOVE your GFG quilt. Hope it survives the wash!! Maybe just pass on the Dresdans to someone else?!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Marlene -of course I remember you and I’m so glad you left a comment. If I recall you are an excellent and very precise quilter. You had to be to make Dear Jane. I do know about the technique you mentioned and I should try it. I would need some practice. I think I’ll just sit on the D. plates for a bit – maybe until I gather my strength? Haha! I hope you feel you can comment any time. Loved hearing from you.

  42. Peg in MO

    Oh Mary! What a beautiful result from those fragile old blocks! Well done! ❤️

  43. Linda in MI

    I never would have thought of squaring up the grandmothers blocks but I sure do love the finished quilt! I think it is gorgeous. Sorry it wasn’t a pleasant experience for you but you did someone’s tedious work a huge justice.

    The Dresden’s sound like more of a dilemma; you will do something fabulous again. Don’t short yourself!!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Linda x the Dresdens are going to wait in the wings for now.☹️🫤

  44. Donna O

    You transformed those flowers into a lovely quilt! I liked that you squared off each piece nicely instead of trying to piece them together as is.
    About 10 years ago I had wanted something to hand sew during the winter months so I paper pieced some hexi flowers mats. I made some to use as plant mats and some to give as Christmas gifts. It was so fun and relaxing to work on as a small project that maybe I will attempt making a wall hanging for next winter.

  45. Judy - Michigan

    Greetings Mary, I absolutely love that Dresden Plate quilt. Cutting the blocks down was a great idea. I also have some older fabric Dresden Plates and that is exactly what I am going to do! Genious idea!!!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Judy – you meant Grandmother’s Flower Garden blocks, right? The ones I just got are different – they are the Dresden Plates. Just FYI.

  46. Jan in Arizona

    Mary, I love the Grandmother’s Flower Garden finished product! It reminds me of my grandmothers’ quilts colors. Touching comments from several about the created idea and you, who took the blocks and ran. This saying was on a placard at a quilt show.
    ” Respect quilts of all ages and beauty, for each reflects the soul of the maker.”
    Mary, you took a 20th century quilt idea and brought it into the 21st century a completed piece, honoring the creative artistic beauty of two talented women. Thanks for showing us and sharing the process, bringing completion to someone’s quilt dream.
    Love March Madness Games – 5 hoping to watch today. Rooting for Iowa and Arizona teams!

  47. Sandy

    Hi Mary, went to our quilt guild yesterday and scored a copy of one of your books, Country Threads from the quilt shop series, published 1992! Lovely to read about the farm animals, bags of wool to buy and how your interests haven’t changed, pets, church and basketball! I hope the old quilt survived the wash, maybe pass the dresden plate blocks on and do what you want to do in the quilt room, if lifts a weight off your shoulders to get rid of quilt blocks or tops that are a burden. Take care everyone. Best wishes from Sandy

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Sandy – that book established us as a premiere quilt shop and people arrived in droves with their books in hand to have them signed. It was nearly magical and we have Nancy Martin and Martingale Publishing to thank.

    2. Mary Etherington Post author

      Sandy – forgot to say that book is hard to come by so I’m glad you got it!

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