Inspiration Series: Citrus Garden
The vendor and I at the Textile Market. It was a profitable day for her when I showed up!
My travels through Ecuador led me to their famed Textile Market in Otavalo. There, I stumbled upon a vendor selling beautiful embroidered linens. Among others, were these bright flowers reminiscent of sunflowers. I bargained for a bundle of embroidered linens I couldn’t leave behind, politely asked for a photo with the cheerful vendor, and stashed the loot away in my backpack.
An orange palette reminiscent of a citrus garden
I had never heard of Otavalo, Ecuador when I first envisioned my post-divorce sabbatical in South America. I zeroed in on it while perusing through my gigantic, Bible-sized, South American tour book. A twice-monthly Textile Market so renowned it brings vendors and buyers from all over the continent! Show me a quilter who can resist that and I’ll doubt their true devotion to the craft. Mind you, there was no “quilt fabric” for sale. My passion, however, lies in using a variety of textiles incorporated into a quilt. My creative wheels were turning before I even arrived!
It was several months before I was able to put these citrus-colored flowers to work in a quilt. While readjusting to life in the US and job searching after my arrival home, I took advantage of the free time to begin working with my loot. The sunflowers spoke to me first!
One reason I call myself a scrappy quilter is because I always work with fabrics in-house before purchasing new fabric for a quilt. That’s kinda my own personal “rule.” This quilt ended up being entirely from my own stash of fabrics purchased years before. I never needed to purchase anything new for this quilt, even for the backing! I love it when that happens. It feels so freeing, so frugal, so minimalist…but I digress. Bright, sunny, gardeny is what I was going for in this quilt. My sunflower fabric was just the thing to accompany the orange and yellow flowers in the embroidered textile feature.
I wanted to frame the center feature pieces, so I cut a width of green fabric one inch wide, folded it and sewed it directly into the seam. This is a great technique to use to frame pieces without adding height and width to a quilt, which can throw off your dimensions. It is kind of a 3D effect. I also added orange cording before the border. This also adds a dimensional effect. I added my own 3D sunflowers because I did not have enough linens to finish the look I wanted. I used the other side of the square to stitch these on myself. So there is a bit of my own embroidery and 3D applique involved as well! The orange flowers in the border are from a vintage fabric I had in my stash, and it was a thinner, flimsier texture than modern quilt fabric. This made it a challenge to quilt without poofing out a bit. Finally, I couldn’t resist the handkerchief in the top right corner! I love using antique handkerchiefs in my quilting projects. I worried about breaking the orange flower trend in the other squares around the border, but the color fit the scheme and I liked the texture it added, so I had to have it in there.
I did struggle with the placement of the napkins, or the smaller embroidered fabrics. I was not able to center them for various reasons, the bulk of the edge of the napkins and the lack of a seam allowance if I had cut it off. In the end, I chose to leave the edging on and let that show, while cutting off part of the flowers. Not ideal, but the choice I made.
I had a lot of fun quilting this piece. I had just taken Patsy Johnson’s quilting with feathers Craftsy class, and I was eager to put my new feather skills to work. I really enjoyed using feathering to fill the spaces around the flower textiles. Never thought I’d be able to feather quilt, but she was a great teacher. I also used a variegated thread for the green areas.
advice from a sunflower
Be bright, sunny, and positive. Spread seeds of happiness. Rise, shine, and hold your head high.
Challenges with the off-centered placement of the stitched motifs on the napkins.
don’t be afraid to cut into those linens!