Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Grandmother's Flower Garden

"If quilts have taken the country by storm, then the hexagon Flower Garden, or Grandmother's Flower Garden, or the French Rose Garden---whatever your locality calls it---well, it's a whirlwind."

"Listen in on any group of ardent quilt fans and you will hear frequent mention of this most popular pattern of the day and it is not hard to see why." 
Romance of the Patchwork Quilt - 1935 (From Patterns From History)

When I was asked to quilt a vintage Grandmother's Flower Garden for a friend I was excited... and then I was nervous.  Would I really be able to quilt it in a fashion that would match the hand-piecing done by a Mennonite quilter from Missouri?  I would do my best.

I had discussed with the owner of the quilt top about doing some posies in the flowers and helped her find some fabric for the binding and then set to the task of sandwiching the quilt.

I searched for photographs of other vintage flower garden quilts to see how they were quilted. The vintage quilts had traditional quilting in the hexies, but when I removed the word "vintage" there were Baptist fans, there were feathers and more... making feel better about my suggestion of posies and vines. 

I started with doing some vines in the "garden" background areas and then made my free-motion "posies" in the flower.

I had originally thought that the fabrics spanned several decades... the purple on the right I thought at first glance was some flower sack fabric from the 1930s and 40s, but after having a chance to really stare at it as I quilted, I realized it is not 100% cotton and probably from the 1970s... like much of the fabric appears to be.

So this begs the question... how old is "Vintage"?  Would this quilt be considered vintage?  Or just antique?

As I typically do while quilting, I let my mind wander... it again took me back to simpler times... time well before I was born... the 1940s and my grandparent's farm.  My Dad frequently talked about what a good cook his Mom, Katherine Schleich, was.  This fact was confirmed when some of the German Officers from the POW camp located near Trinidad, CO would argue about who would get to go to the Schleich farm for the day...

One day she had made doughnuts and one of the Officers had gotten powdered sugar on his shirt. 

She went to brush it off but he stopped her because he wanted to go back to the camp and brag that he was one of the lucky ones that had been with Phillip and Katy.

When the POW camp was disbanded and the prisoners were sent back to Germany my grandparents received letters for three years (1946-1949) from the men that had worked at their farm.  

The conditions that the men described in their letters after they returned home were awful...  

Did you catch that second paragraph???

Some of the men's letter had them practically begging for a care package from the US... one Officer even asked Philip and Katy to sponsor them so that he and his family could return to the US (Trinidad area specifically) and become citizens.  

I have a notebook of nearly 20 letters from the men that worked at my grandparent's farm.  But not all of them are in English.  (Not an issue for my grandparents since German was their first language)  I have ten letters that need translation.  Do you know anyone willing to do this???  Email me at if you are willing to help me out.  I would love, Love, LOVE to be able to read the remainder of these letters.

Once the quilt was ready for binding I considered finishing by machine, but decided that this hand-pieced quilt deserved a hand-stitched finish.

I love look of the backing... 
the way the flowers match the binding makes my heart smile.

I had fun with the photo shoot...  Here are a few of my favorite shots.

This was at my Uncle's cabin in one of the back canyons of the area... His last name is Teegarden... he is a tea drinker (and a quilter & was featured in my Quilters Through the Generations series) !  How fun is that??? It is all about gardens!  💓

Below is another shot on one of the wood piles...

There is so much to love about this quilt...  the work and time that went into the piecing, the selection of the fabric that, as my husband said when he saw it, "screams 1970's", the fact that the owner of the quilt appreciates this so much and thought that it deserved to be finished.  And I feel good that it will have the opportunity to comfort those that will have the opportunity to snuggle up under it.  

Some quilters "rescue fabric" from the fabric stores and take it home to live in their stash and hopefully finds it way into quilts...  

I enjoy this as well. But I really love to rescue unfinished quilts and help them become finished!  Taking them from a closet or trunk  and allow them to be loved.

Leave a comment for me!  I love to hear from all of you in cyberland. :)  Did you know that you can catch up with me over on instgram and facebook?  I try to not cross-share, so you just never know what I might be up to or what you will see.

Quilt Happy!

Melva Loves Scraps - Home of the Quilters Through The Generations series

Linking with:

What I Made Monday at Pretty Piney
Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
Moving It Forward Monday at Em's Scrapbag
Colour & Inspiration at Clever Chameleon Quilting
Mid-week Makers at Quilt Fabrication
WOW at Esther's Quilt Blog
Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter
Magic Crafts at Ulrikes Smaating
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts
Needle & Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Off The Wall Friday with Nina Marie
Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
Brag About Your Beauties at From Bolt to Beauty


  1. I've not long found your blog and find it very interesting! Great stories. How precious that you have the letters from such a long time ago that speak so much of our family's history. I love what you have done with this hexagon quilt, how good that it can officially now be enjoyed.

  2. How great of you to finish this quilt. Did you think about how creative the original piecer was? I'm in awe of the red flowers with the stripes. She carefully placed the stripes to create a specific look. And, the two red stripe blocks I can see up close had different treatment. Very clever piecer. I love your location for the photo shoot. It really is a lovely place. Re antique or vintage... I hate to think that a quilt from the 70's would be an antique... I lived those years! I hope you find someone who can translate your letters for you. The history is so interesting.

  3. Love this post, Melva. Thank you so much for sharing all the stories!!! I love your quilting. The quilt looks so happy to be finished. That binding is PERFECT!!! Well don.

  4. What a beautiful post this is, Melva. I got tears in my eyes reading about your grandparents, the wonderful cooking and those men who so appreciated the food and kindness. Of course, I loved the quilt and quilting also.
    As an aside, I enjoyed the series, Friday Night Lights and the young actress who played Julie Taylor. I always noticed what a pretty name she has...Aimee Teegarden. Anyway, thanks very much for sharing this today.

  5. Great post!! I could check with my German exchange daughter if she would translate those letters for you if you still need someone to do that.

  6. The letter is a very tender thing to read. What an impression your family made on those men. I wonder if the local high school teaches German? If advanced students would like the practice in translating, or if the teacher would. Or perhaps there's a German foreign exchange student? We had one once, and before he went home, his English was good enough to have done it. I don't remember enough to be helpful, but there are wonderful memories there for you to learn, I'm sure.

  7. Great job on the quilting and the letter and history are fascinating! I believe that technically an object needs to be at least 100 years old to be considered an antique. Objects and clothing that are not current but are younger than 100 years old would be considered vintage.

  8. This quilt is definitely vintage but not antique. But regardless of age it is beautiful. It is such a timeless design and looks so wonderful all finished, great photo shoot! :)

  9. What a great story! Love the Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. Not sure if it's vintage or not but it sure looks it! Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.

  10. Do you still need a translator? On Etsy, Vintage is at least 20 years old, so antique is older than that, but I'm not sure what age. Love your quilt. It's featured tomorrow on Finished or Not Friday!

  11. Hi Melva! Those letters are just fascinating. I already follow you on Bloglovin' but I suspect that won't be enough to be sure I see your QAL. How wonderful of an opportunity. I look forward to participating. ~smile~ Roseanne