On Stitching a Garden

For the past two years I have set myself a monthly stitching challenge to mark the passing of the year and to keep myself on track. But Life with a capital F* interfered with my best laid plans at the start of 2022. Suddenly it was the end of January and I had not yet started stitching the proposed monthly block.

So, on 31 January (luckily it’s a long month!) I decided to do something about this. The aim is to make a set of 12 bold flowers in appliqué, to be joined together to make a quilt at the end of the year.

This plan is a new version of an old idea. When I retired from full-time employment almost three years ago I wanted to celebrate this by making an Aunt Millie’s Flower Garden quilt. I even wrote about this plan and my newly discovered fascination with hand appliqué. Alas, I found that I do not have the right disposition for neat, needle-turned appliqué and the project was shelved.

But the idea resurfaced in a new form — what if I make raw edge, even rough, appliqué flowers? This thought popped into my head after I unearthed my Aunt Millie pattern book and reimagined the designs as brash, bold flowers. So I have spent the week assembling a bold flower. Here is the process in photographs.

The early stages of January’s flower for the proposed Brash Flower Garden. The block is 50 cm square.

The fabrics have been lightly glued into place and there is straight-line machine stitching around the central circle and larger petals. From here I plan to hand stitch more details onto the flower. See why I have called it my brash flower garden?!

The central, dotted circle was cut from a piece of African fabric. I used this as a colour key for the choice of the plain hues for the rest of the flower. I was also inspired by one of the designs in Johanna Batsford’s Secret Garden colouring in book (see the first photograph above).

To explain the uneven colours and quality of the process photographs above: it was an extremely hot week in this part world and I kept the searing sun out by closing the blind and working in the semi-dark during the heat of the day. It was too hot to use the iron, hence the creases in the background fabric.

The previous years’ projects were a kantha-stitch sampler for each month of 2020 and a stitched concertina book for the 2021 #AreYouBookEnough monthly community challenge.

Finishing line

House Portrait #8. 11 Huntley Street. 24 x 34 cm.

Now that I have stitched our rather complicated house I have been eyeing some of the ornate buildings along the main streets of the town and imagining what they would look like in fabric and thread. It does seem like the next step in my effort to capture something of the historical beauty of the buildings in old Grahamstown.

*This is Athol Fugard’s phrase

25 thoughts on “On Stitching a Garden

  1. Love your hot January flower Maz!

    The house turned out brilliantly. The slight movement in the fabric gives the impression of shadows, adding another dimension to this accomplished piece.

    Happy sewing 🧵🔷🌀💙

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great idea! And I salute you for being creative in this heat. January’s flower is a beautiful start to your garden.


  3. Talented Mariss, oh my gosh, these flowers are so beautiful and certainly brash! Now I see how uninteresting the flower I made for my needlebook is!


  4. Athol Fugard’s phrase (I had not heard that before) raised a wry smile of recognition 😏 Congrats on soldiering on and prevailing despite all of that!
    Your house portrait looks great – it will be an interesting project to take on some of the more ornate houses and ‘fabricate’ them.


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