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.

Insider Info

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!

Check out Patsy Thompson’s class on Craftsy

read about my time in otavalo, ecuador

the amazing john c campbell folk school

Please follow and like us: