Inspiration Series: Vintage Wildflowers

Blue in a garden is always a happy surprise for me!

I was inspired by a beautifully stitched vintage tablecloth for this quilt. I loved the variety of happy colors in the flower palette…especially the blue. Blue is not very common color in flowers and nature in general. Therefore, blue in a garden is always a happy surprise to me! Stitched linens of this style and in these colors were common in the 1930s, so it only made sense to use 30s reproduction fabrics for this wall hanging. This made fabric choice simple, as they naturally complemented the threads in the tablecloth. I combined this tablecloth with another table runner linen I had. It is in the purple blocks in the top two corners. Combining stitched and printed linens in the same quilt is not only possible, but adds variety, texture, and interest.

A palette of soft colors for a dainty garden.

“Like wildflowers; You must allow yourself to grow in all the places people never thought you would.”

– E.V

Achieving a scrappy look is easy with reproduction fabrics, as they all “go together.” Rather than randomly raiding your stash for any pink or blue or purple you can find, having fabrics clearly in a series, such as these, makes it easy to pull off a scrappy look without having outliers which stand out after a project is completed. The way to achieve contrast with a scrappy look like this, is to combine different colors together or lights and darks. This makes parts of blocks distinct. Sometimes, I don’t like to have a sharp contrast. I like to have a mottled, blended look. Both of these looks are achieved in the various blocks of this quilt. See if you can find them!

Insider Information

I used both a printed and a stitched vintage textile linens for this quilt, neither of which was perfect. (Ask me if I care!) The printed, purple linen in the top two corner blocks was badly faded. However, you can see in the finished product, it hardly mattered. Would you have noticed¬†if I hadn’t pointed it out? The stitched, floral tablecloth had a “vine” stitched in heavy, black yarn. It was truly awful! I couldn’t have a big, black line piecemeal throughout the quilt. While the black “vine” made sense when the linen was whole as a tablecloth, once it was cut up, it wouldn’t have made sense to have bits and pieces of a black line spattered around the quilt top. Once cut up, the black line would have seemed random. Solution? I made good used of my seem ripper and pulled that sucker out! I did this after I cut out the pieces so I wouldn’t have so much to do. A close inspection of the quilt would reveal the holes from the stitches of black yarn, but that’s okay. It looks better with out it, as typically you view from a slight distance anyway. My point being: please, don’t sweat the imperfections in vintage linens. Embrace them and work with them to give them new life. And please, forgive me for not having a “before” photo of the linens. I made this long before I made plans to have a website to blog about it!

Finally, I chose these two linens and created this pattern for a purpose. I wanted simple blocks which would highlight different sizes of the flowers and prints. In using this pattern, I was able to use 8″ – 4″ – 2″ squares. This made for the best use of these particular linens.

What about you?

Floral prints abound in the fabric world. It’s also easy to find vintage linens with flowers on them. No doubt colors in nature inspire our color palettes as we design our sewing projects. The happy, bright colors in this stitched tablecloth certainly inspired me to purchase it. What inspiration have you found in your garden and in nature that has inspired your fabric and color choices?

Close-up images of the faded textile incorporated in this scrappy quilt.

Up close, you can see the holes left from the black yarn I took out. Not noticeable from a distance. The black yarn would have been much more visible and distracting.

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