One more garden

8 11 2013

I recently fell into the abyss that is Pinterest.  I searched “hexagon quilt” and lost an hour looking at all the fabulous pictures of vintage as well as modern quilts using hexagons.  Very, very inspiring . . . almost as much fun as the paper pieced diamonds.

This fall inspired me to post another from my vintage collection, this variation on the traditional Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt pattern.

I could not resist this top when I found it in Houston.  The quilter has done a great job of distributing the colors within the diamonds, and I love the bold use of the orange and royal blue hexagons for emphasis.  I’m even having trouble imagining this quilt without them.  (But I have no trouble seeing this with light blue in place of the pink.  Too boring???)

Flower Garden in Diamonds, date unknown 75" x 80"

Flower Garden in Diamonds, date unknown
75″ x 80″

This detail shows the wide variety of 30’s fabrics used, as well as the nice hand quilting by Quilting Plus.

Flower Garden in Diamonds, detail

Flower Garden in Diamonds, detail

I remembered hearing that the hexagons that separate the “flowers” or “diamonds” in a Grandmother’s Flower Garden were called stepping stones, but I cannot find that fact through quick research.  Perhaps the “stepping stone” label is used when these motifs are separated by diamonds instead of solid hexagons.  I’ll continue my research and update as necessary.

In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy using these fun quilts.

Grandmother’s Flower Garden

1 11 2013

Here’s another of the “vintage” fabric quilts, but this one was not a top that I purchased;  it started as a small pile of finished blocks and scraps found at an antique store.  By the time I came across these beauties, I also had a small collection of vintage fabrics, so I hand pieced many more, enough to make a quilt.

This quilt was hand quilted by Quilting Plus and they did a wonderful job.

Grandmother's Flower Garden, 1993 72" x 79.5"

Grandmother’s Flower Garden, 1993
72″ x 79.5″

I can identify the blocks that I made from the different yellow in the centers.  I could not find an exact match, and had to settle for a duller, paler hue.  Most of the other solids are vintage.

The red block was in the original set I purchased.  Even though it stands out so dominantly, I just had to include it.  Love the scrappy look!!

Grandmother's Flower Garden, detail

Grandmother’s Flower Garden, detail

I remember piecing them together into the top while on vacation at a friend’s cabin in Tahoe, along with very young children.  It was a relaxing time.

Vintage Indian Hatchet Quilt

11 10 2013

This vintage Indian Hatchet quilt was made from one of the very first quilt tops I ever purchased.  It was one that Eli Leon was willing to sell back in the late 1980’s, before I had discovered that there were antique quilt and quilt top sellers at many major quilt shows.  Click here to see Eli’s great quilt site.

Indian Hatchet, date unknown 72" x 83.5" Photography by Sibila Savage

Indian Hatchet, date unknown
72″ x 83.5″
Photography by Sibila Savage

I love this quilt for so many reasons:

—it is so humble.

—it has lotsa red, duh.

—the simple block, repeated four times within the larger blocks, gives direction to the quilt.

—it is made from many, many scraps, including solids.

—it is wonky.  Your eyes are not fooling you;  this quilt is leaning to the side, not quite a rectangle.

12C_IndianHatchet_2Indian Hatchet, detail

The above detail shows the hand quilting done by Quilting Plus, which I thought this quilt deserved.  I think this may have been the first top that I had sewn by these wonderful stitchers.

I have another hypothesis about this quilt, even though I am not an expert in quilt history.  I think this top-maker increased her scrap collection by purchasing fabric scraps by the pound from a clothing manufacturer, a common practice in the 30’s and 40’s.  The crosshatch fabric, seen above in dark blue and red, appears elsewhere in the quilt in the green colorway as well.  Also, the fabric in the lower right of the detail is misprinted, and would have been discarded by a garment maker.   These clues lead me to think that this is not the fabric stash of one quilter.

Regardless of these “imperfections”, I love this quilt like crazy.

Trip Around the World

20 09 2013

This classic example of a vintage 1930’s Trip Around the World quilt was made from a quilt top that I was delighted to find at an antique show in the early 1990’s.  I was delighted because the quilt was fabulous and the price was very reasonable, mainly because the quilt was unfinished, a pile of unjoined quilt sections.  I can finish this and have a beauty, I thought.

On the drive home, I panicked.  What if it’s unfinished because the quilter got halfway through and found that the pieces didn’t fit together?  Crisis averted—the pieces fit, and only needed hand-stitching to complete.  Having learned my lesson on a previous quilt (see story here), I took the time to add blue triangles all around the edge, so that it could be bound more easily.

This quilt was hand quilted by Quilting Plus in 1993.

Trip Around the World


Trip Around the World
74″ x 87″
Photography by Sibila Savage

This detail will show how amazingly this talented quilter used all the flecks of colors in a very wide variety of  printed fabrics to make the transitions from one solid color to the next.


I have always assumed that the quilt top I bought was made from a kit, where all the wonderful fabrics were provided to the quilter.  Although a possibility, Audrey and Douglas Wiss suggest differently in their book Folk Quilts and How to Recreate Them, 1983.  I found this book at EBHQ’s  library sale, particularly interested in the picture seen here:

eThese authors suggest that scraps of pastels “must have been saved for years before this piece was attempted”  and “Only through careful planning and arrangement of the shades of these solid, calico, and striped materials was the quilter able to achieve this delightful, almost kaleidoscopic effect.”

Unfortunately, the true story of each of these quilts is lost forever.  I guess this loss is part of what fuels this blog and my attempt to include as much information about my works as I can remember.

Fabric postcards and a quilt

17 05 2013

I finally found a large enough block of time to work on a group of fabric postcards for the EBHQ Voices in Cloth 2014 quilt show.   Here’s my favorite one from the recent group.

This vintage martini fabric is perfect for a postcard that was inspired by some relatives of mine   !!!

martinisThese cards are lots of fun to make.  Since the design area is compact, the work needs to be simple—a whole new challenge.  As I work through this process and find other ones that I feel are successful, I will post them here.

And now, here’s another vintage quilt story. . . .

The Sunflower Quilt


Let me say right away that I do not know for sure why I love this quilt.  I puzzle over it every time I hang it up for display.  But I did fall in love with this sunflower quilt top when I purchased it the first time I went to the quilt show in Houston (Hi, Edy!!).

Because this quilt seems unusually busy for its time, I wonder why it never got quilted.  Perhaps the maker had one of those what-was-I-thinking moments when she saw the overall effect of the background fabric she had chosen.  The sunflowers fade in and out of that fabric, sometimes making parts of them disappear.  I think this quilt’s background fabrics is one of the reasons I like it so much.

Here are details of two of the blocks, showing how wonderfully complex they are.  Note how different the same light orange fabric looks in each of these blocks.



Having decided to have this top hand-quilted, I was so happy to have it returned from the quilter, until I opened the box.  The quilting was irregular, and not the usual high quality that I was accustomed to seeing.

When I asked about my options, knowing that I wanted it quilted properly, I was told that they offered to  re-quilt it if I sent it back, meaning, of course, that I would have to take out the first stitching if I wanted it replaced.  My quilt mini-group at the time volunteered to help, and we held a unique, day-long event–an Unquilting Bee.  (Lily, did you help with this?)  Now quilted beautifully, the Sunflower Quilt is a fine addition to my collection.

One more item, to follow up on the Postage Stamp quilt post of two weeks ago:

I did not crop myself out of the picture of the newly finished quilt and my daughter Maggie;  I just wasn’t in that shot, so I dug around and found another view, posted here just for the fun of it.  Twenty years—-wow.


Postage Stamp Quilt

3 05 2013

Finally got around to getting photographs of some more of the quilts/quilt tops I have collected.  Here is one of the very early ones.  Now, as I see the photos of these collected quilts all in a digital file, I begin to see how much many of these works influenced my journey as an artist.

04-Dague_4-2013medPostage Stamp Quilt           70.5″ x 87.5″       Photography by Sibila Savage

The year is 1991.  I had first seen this quilt top in the display window of Sharks, a used clothing store on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley.  It was part of a Christmas display, and was tagged “Not For Sale.”  In May, the quilt top was on the store’s shelf of linens for sale, and I jumped at it, probably overpaying at $85.  Didn’t seem to matter, since I thought it was marvelous.  According to my journal, I “ran home with it and put it on the wall to stare at it.”

Then began an exercise that I can hardly begin to comprehend now:  I started hand quilting it, using an Aunt Grace fabric for the backing and 100% cotton batting.  This quilting took at least two years, and  I was approaching the time when I would begin machine quilting, having taken a beginning class at Cotton Patch, a fabric store in Lafayette.

See the detail below for the tedious way I decided to quilt this beauty.  Perhaps this labor was why I was warming to the idea of machine quilting.

PostageStampDetailPostage Stamp, detail

And, as if hand quilting wasn’t enough for me to take on, I decided to bind this quilt without squaring it up (and using coarse feed sack fabric) JUST BECAUSE I KNEW HOW TO DO IT.  A true what-was-I-thinking moment ! ! !  It took forever.

Actually, the choices were either whack off the entire outside row of triangles, or hand sew a new row of squares all the way around that I would be willing to cut in half, or bind it like this. This whole project was finished in 1993.


Headless Susan and daughter Maggie (age 4), posing with the finished quilt

Click here to see how I used this same pattern, using larger squares and putting the patches on point.