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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Dear Sun Bonnet Sue: Grandmother's Garden

Dear Sunbonnet Sue:
I have a question about quilting which I've been asking for awhile which either doesn't have a correct answer, or no one knows! I bought some partly finished hexagon blocks which are probably from the 1920's at an auction sale. There were enough pieces of fabric in the bag to finish a lot of blocks. I found sugar sack type fabric at our local thrift shop one day, which would set the the blocks nicely. I handpieced the rest of the top over a number of years and it's now waiting to go to a Mennonite group for handquilting, hopefully in the fall. But, my dilemma do I press this quilt? Which way do you press seams on a hexagon (grandmother's flower garden) quilt?

Here are three close up pictures of the quilt top. The quilt was not done with paper of the green/coloured 'flowers' were completed, some by sewing machine; others by hand! I continued doing it by hand figuring it was a nice small hand project to take along when I had some stitching time. I bought a plastic template with different sized hexagons on it, used that to trace the shapes on the white ( the coloured and green were all cut out using a cardboard template). I used the pencil line to sew along by hand.

Thanks so much!
Jacqui VMS

Dear Jacqui:
There are 2 methods that people use when making this quilt. English Paper piecing and the American method. Paper piecing requires the fabric to folded and basted to a paper hexagon templates and each piece is whip stitched together. When the templates are removed the seams stay open and flat.

But yours is done without paper piecing templates. I did a bit of research and a bit of experimentation and it would appear that it should be pressed in a spiral with the centre block flat. I think it would probably have been better to press each flower block before joining them together and then probably ironing them as you go, maybe row by row. How to press the newly joined pieces would be up to you. I don't think there is a hard and fast rule. I think it will be a fussy bit of ironing to do. Good luck :)

This photo shows the backs of a paper pieced flower (left) and the American method (right).

Here are a few links for more information on hexagon or Grandmother's Garden quilts:
Better Home and Garden, and Brandy's Video's for a video demonstration and I found a blog, Simply Quilted, that had a great photo of the back of a hexagon block, pressed in the spiral way.

If anyone out there has any thoughts on this subject please feel free to use the comment option at the bottom of this post to add your experiences or email me your comments and will post them myself.

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