By Donna di Natale
This past weekend, I tried and tried to think of a topic for my blog, but Mother Nature kept distracting me.
Spring is in full bloom here in the heartland. The crabapple tree in my backyard is loaded with sweet smelling pink blossoms. Hyacinths add their perfume to the air.
Baskets of pansies, petunias, impatiens and lantana made their way from the garden center to my car, along side pots of geraniums. Looking at these beautiful flowers, it is easy to see why they’ve made their way into so many quilts.
Whether you look at quilts from the early 1900s or today’s modern quilts, you will find flowers. I have a book that dates from the late 1940s or early 1950s that is a combination catalog and pattern book by Taylor Made. This was before rotary cutters, freezer paper and inkjet printers. The instructions said to trace the patterns onto sandpaper or blotting paper and to use the exciting new “scientifically layer-bilt batting.”
On the cover is a lovely Morning Glory quilt. The quilt combines a full blossom block with an almost art deco design of a sideways bloom. Other floral patterns in the book are Rose Bud Wreath, Buttercup, Dutch Rose, Grandmother’s Flower Garden and Grandmother’s Tulip. Designs related to flowers or gardens are Butterfly, Mystic Maze (or Garden Maze) and Palm Leaf.
Examples of flower quilts from my collection are May Tulips, a Marie Webster design; Iris, by Ruby Short McKim; Rose Point; Dresden Bouquet; Spring Tulips; State Flowers; and the list goes on. If I were to include flower basket quilts, the list would be even longer. Seems that baskets full of flowers – appliquéd, embroidered, or a simple floral fabric background -– have never gone out of style.
A favorite flower quilt is this gaily ribboned bouquet design. This was a kit quilt from the 1930s. In fact, it shouts 1930s with its Nile green, candy pink, sky blue and lemon yellow solid fabrics. The quilting is also 1930s – 1-inch grid in the center and diagonal lines spaced 1inch apart in the borders. If this quilt doesn’t say spring, I don’t know what does.
Donna di Natale is an author and editor for Kansas City Star Quilts. She writes every Wednesday.