Some quilts take a long time to come to fruition. Many years ago, I visited the famed Keepsake Quilting shop in New Hampshire. Overwhelmed by the hundreds of bolts of beautiful fabric, I managed to settle on just a small pack of pre cut batik flowers and some batik charm packs, more a momento of the visit than a plan. In the winter hours or when I was on the road, I carried them with me to hand appliqué, enjoying the pairing of pleasing color combinations and the unrushed tempo of hand stitching. With time the stack grew to almost 100, but they were frankly a bit boring. I decided I would add a layer of batting behind the flowers and machine quilt each one with a different pattern. It was a fun exercise that distracted me from daily worries. They still were kind of dull so I added a button center and some embroidery to each one. Now that was fun!
Almost 100 seemed like enough to make something with. At first, I tried throwing all the blocks up on the design wall, with a vague eye to color and value. Then I took a black and white photo to see what was happening value wise.
All these colorful flowers reminded me of three hummingbird blocks paper pieced by one of my customers, Alda D’Amaso, in exchange for quilting services. The pattern for the hummingbird blocks came from a pattern by Linda Hibbert called Humdingers. Combining the hummingbirds and flowers helped me find a direction.
This arrangement helped me see I could group the colors into yellow – red, pink-purple, and blue-green. I was please with the triptych starting out with three long and thin sections, and moving to slightly shorter, wider version upon the suggestion of my friend Melinda.
Once I settled on the layout of the blocks and pieced them together, it was time to add quilting. I chose a finer weight thread in colors that would blend with the background colors, helping the squares blend together and the flowers forms pop. That little bit of trapunto behind each flower was so helpful!
I really love working on a quilt in this way. Start with fabric, pick a theme, make a bunch of blocks and then bunch more. Pull other things from my stash and see if they work together. In the end I was able to us 90 blocks, plus three I put on the back from labels. I love that the hummingbird blocks and flowers came together in such a joyous quilt. Every year my friend Melinda awaits the return of hummingbirds to her garden in Little Compton, so this quilt is dedicated to her. One of my favorite things is to sit talking with her and sensing the whir of the wings as the hummingbirds buzz around us.
Deadlines always help and so a call for Flower Power art at the Brush Gallery in Lowell, MA in the summer of 2023 was the perfect impetus to finish the triptych!