Saturday, October 23, 2021


When I signed up for Gail's Quilting Gail PHD programme, I didn't know just how gratifying it would be. Finishing (finally! seven years later) Fleurs is the pinnacle of 2021 so far for me. I avoided it all year, and probably had it not been for joining in with Leanne @devotedquilter #wipsbegone2021 , I may not have got this huge quilt done. But done she is!

A quick refresh: this was a 'self' round robin. We sewed on our own quilts, and each month for seven months, the guild executive told us what that month's round would involve. I liked the challenge, and I liked sewing on my own quilt. I've been in two round robins: the first I was bitterly disappointed and the second, well, let's just say that not all contributors put in the same amount of care, thought and work, though in the second experience it was just one person, not several as in the first experience. 

Fleurs took me a lot longer to quilt than I'd anticipated! I loaded it September 11 and took it off October 17! I need to finish another UFO this month (gulp) or two in November to get back on track for 12 UFO finishes this year.

I had to look back to be sure of all of the rounds' specs. The post where I'd finished the flimsy is here. I mused in that post that because of the length of time I took to finish the flimsy, I should have named her 'Éléphant'! Little did I know it would be another seven years before I had her done and on my bed! 
This was the project the guild I had just joined the previous month had going for 2013-14. These are the seven rounds we were told to do:

Start with an orphan block. Mine was the Rose of Sharon, hand-appliquéd in a class I took in 1999 or 2000. The rounds each month were:
3. appliqué also this post and this post where I showed some of the tremendous amount of work involved
5. add curves OMG if you read only one post about the making of this quilt, read this one. LMAO
6. 4-patches also in this post where I talk about the trellis border too
If you click on them it will take you to the post where I worked on that round. I was only two months late in finishing the years late in finally finishing the quilt!

After these seven rounds I added the final-final 3" finished dark green solid border. A really cool thing to note is that all of the fabric came from my stash. Every last bit of it but for the background for the two appliqué rounds. I am so glad I buy fabric because I just like it, or think it will work into a quilt one day! There are no less than five different ivory background fabrics. Not always do I buy or have leftovers of the right amounts! The background for the Rose of Sharon centre block was just a half metre, because that's all we needed to buy in the class I took at the time. At the time I figured I'd probably turn it into a cushion. Ha! Was I wrong.

There are lots of in-process quilt photos and videos on my Instagram @mmmquilts, and in the hashtag #fleursquilt
It was kind of weird to quilt, in that I had the plan for the solid green, and the trellis, and yet I could only do one edge, and a few inches down the side edges before I had to stop and figure out what I was going to quilt in the round that had been before the trellis round, get going for an edge and a bit down on it, and then roll back, fill in the solid green, the trellis, and then go a little more ahead. When it came to the appliqué round, the one that is done by machine in the four quadrants, I had a fair amount of rolling to do, and so it was good that I had done some stitching in the ditch ahead of time (good planning Sandra!) to stabilize the quilt. The shots below give you a bit of an idea as to what I mean. In the first one, I am approaching the lower edge of the quilt, at which point I decided to quilt the entire round of piano key curves. I had already ditch-stitched to stabilize the quilt around all the 1/2" finished borders. You can see that I hadn't yet quilted the two lower quadrants of the machine-appliquéd round, nor had I finished the triangle quilting design in the 'blank' border.

In the next photo, I was working some more on the feathers. Years ago my quilt friend Judy (Quilt Paradigm) had asked me if I quilt feathers over a couple of quilting sessions, do they change? And the answer was yes! It may not be apparent once the entire piece is done, but I notice, just like one's handwriting or printing may change slightly from one day to the next. So I decided to finish off the round of feathers since I'd done the lines in the piano-key round. Okay, truth tea: I was stalling a bit too at having to do the cross-hatching of the last two quadrants of the machine appliqué round!

It seemed weird to be quilting towards the middle and lower area of the quilt, yet the quilt centre itself, the Rose of Sharon block, hadn't been touched yet, nor had some of the side borders gotten caught up... Are you confused?! Also I used two different Aurifil greens, so sometimes I elected to go a little further before changing colours. I used a third colour, pale dusky rose, for the hand-appliquéd centre orphan block. 
Trusty tools: Slim ruler by Angela Walters; BFF curved ruler by Quilted Pineapple; Aurifil 50 wt threads

The best part of it all is that it all worked out, it's all thematically tied together, and there's no puckers or folds in the backing despite all that back and forth rolling! I was inspired by designs of Angela Walters of course, Judi Madsen, Gina Perkes, and Kathleen Riggins.

The centre was the last area I quilted, because I did not know WHAT in blazes I'd do there. I mean I wish I could show you just how beautiful my hand stitched appliqué is here, like it's totally invisible unless you manipulate the fabrics with your fingers. I couldn't replicate it today as my eyes are just not what they were 20 years ago. I looked in Angela's books that I have, and watched her on an American Patchwork & Quilting Youtube about how she treats appliqué, and studied Gina Perkes' quilting in a book I have of hers for ideas as to how to treat this special centre. Less is more on appliqué so I had the idea to try to define petals of a sort on the light pink, echo-quilted the fluted centre of the rose, and just outlined the purpley-pink narrow part. I left the green leaves and stem (I'm sure all these parts have proper botanical terms), and sepal (I looked that one up) alone except for a wavy line through the leaves. Echo, echo echo, is a mantra of Gina's I believe, three times at least, so that's what I did and then did a background fill.

Okay 'thematically tied together'... you'd think I would have sat down and made the overall plan. Nope. Just a couple of vague ideas as stated for the dark green outer border and the trellis. So, I will walk through my quilting process and thinking with some up-close shots of the quilting I did in the various rounds, working from the final round in to the centre.

In the final dark green border, I did a dot-to-dot design of Angela's.

In the trellis round, I knew I wanted to do straight lines to emphasize the weave effect. What to do in the background though? I hit upon the four-petal flower idea when the quilt whispered to me - hello, my name is fleurs! As well as stitching in the ditch in
I did an arc in the ivory triangles.

In the 4-patch round, I picked up on the arc idea, using four of them to make a curved diamond shape inside each 4-patch. Every single seam is also ditch-stitched here too, as are all the long seams in the entire quilt. Arcs went in the green triangles here too. Notice the play of on-point shapes? The Rose of Sharon orphan block itself is set on point, so setting the 4-patches on point tied these two rounds together nicely.

For the 'add curves' fifth round, I knew I wanted to tie the stripes first round with it. Those stripes had thrown me off at first because I didn't think they went with the Rose of Sharon. At all. So I pulled them out into this fifth round, making a ton of piano keys using the fabrics already in the quilt and adding in more that toned in. I then made the piano keys into gently undulating curves. The 'in' of the curve is a better arc than the 'out' because I hadn't cut the keys tall enough. Here was some improv, and making it work as best I could. The quilt had taken on a bit of a fun vibe, not so serious as the centre would dictate, when I did the machine appliqué round, so purposely angling the stripes in the piano key curves round carried that fun, little bit funky, vibe as well as not having the curves symmetrical. To quilt this round then, I ditch-stitched every seam, 1/4" echoed every one and then did a straight or angled line down the approximate centre of the key. It really ended up making a cool effect.

As for the quilting in the negative space that was created by making the piano keys into curves, I knew from creating it that I'd quilt feathers there! I also love the repeat of the 1/2" finished 'zinger' borders, first one dark green, second one eggplant, and third one turquoise. That turquoise pulled through the blue of the flower centres and little circles on the stamens in the appliqué round.

In the 'put words on it' round where mine was the name of the quilt, 'fleurs', I used a Judi Madsen design from the book Sarah of Confessions of a Fabric Addict sent me for H2H this year. That's two quilts inspired by the book since June, so thank you Sarah! I modified it slightly as my border wasn't as wide as Judi's where she used it. Isn't that a cool corner design?
Alas, when I was going back through my blog to find the posts of where I had constructed these rounds, I discovered I HAD A QUILTING PLAN for the fleurs round. The 'f' Word was the title of that post, fittingly so, as I could have muttered it when I read it... my thinking at the time was to quilt ghost 'fleurs' as in the word, on the other three borders! Zut alors, as they would say en France. Ah well, I echoed the letters, and used Judi's design and I'm okay with it, really. The feathered design in the triangles and corners of this round echoes the feathers in the curves round as well as the swirled feather in the flying geese round, while the lines that are in alternate triangles provide a link to the lines in the piano keys.

Cross-hatching went behind the machine-appliqué round, (it took forever) and I outline-stitched all 44 of the shapes in each quadrant. I did a wavy line or two for veins in all of the leaves, a swirl in each flower centre, and used the outline stitching to travel so I broke thread as little as possible. I just love how the cross-hatching turned out. Again, worth all the hours. 

Zooming in a little closer, you can see the feathered swirl design (Angela Walters) that I did in the four corners of the flying geese round. This pulls the quilted feathers together thematically. I did dot-to-dot in the geese, echoing the dot-to-dot same design in the outer solid green border.

For the stripes round I just stitched in the ditch and left the stripes alone. This border is 1" finished, as is the green spacer border between the 4-patches and trellis. Betcha didn't even notice I sneaked in yet another round, or border, there did ya?! Also, the cross-hatching is 1" spaced. I echoed 1/4" inside the stripes to define the centre a little further, and after outlining the appliqué shapes, and echoing those three times, filled in with a paisley design.

Final zoom in to show you the freehand simple 'petals' I quilted with pink thread and the echo quilting in the pink fluted shape.

It wasn't until uploading this photo that I realized I didn't go back in and fix an 'error'. The quilt was loaded sideways, remember, because of the two seams in the backing? So when I first did my echo-quilting, I had a very tiny space left to fill in (see right side of photo)...what to do? I just stitched two straight lines in a 'v'. Again, I used the shapes in the flower sepals as inspiration. That was the first of the four inner 'corners' I did. I then filled in with the paisley design travelling around the centre, and at the second inner 'corner' I had the idea to do a few tiny paisley designs in there (see left side of the photo, which, in actuality was the fourth inner corner I quilted due to the quilt being sideways...are you with me?!). I meant to rip out the straight lines, and go back in, quilting a few tiny paisleys... Well, I will fix it on my Bernina. I already did those straight lines I forgot to do if you recall, in the one triangle in the words round!

I just love the happy fabric I bought in September 2014 for the backing! You'd also never know where those two seams are, and no, though I'd bought six yards, I didn't have enough fabric to match the pattern.

I used a very light olive green, The Bottom Line by Superior Threads in the bobbin, such a great thread.

I machine stitched the binding to the front and spent 7-8 hours hand-stitching it to the back. I finished season 2 of Ted Lasso, soaked up the sun on our deck, enjoyed quietly stitching in the living room with the dogs snoozing by me, a good use of time.
If I could only figure out how to read my current book, The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, and stitch, I'd be finished the book now too! I know, I know, audio books, but this is such a good one, and it's huge, nearly 800 pages, and I'm living in it in my head 24/7. Speaking of good ones, that green binding fabric is SO perfect, isn't it? It's a Patrick Lose one I've had for a little while. Oh the Vault of Happiness comes through again!

Here's the label pre-quilting:
Love the Pigma Micron pens for writing on quilts; they're finer than the Pentel gel roller for fabric, though those are good too.

Here is one final photo. This took four or five takes: I set up my phone on the timer (we need more than 10 seconds, Apple, just saying), CHARGED up onto the deck, up the stairs to the upper deck, grabbed my corner of the quilt from MacGyver, who was already holding his, and we tried to straighten and level it, though cropping and straightening on the iPhone helped. It's hilarious to watch the outtakes on Live mode. Anyhow this was the best one we got, and we still didn't get the entire top edge in! The upper deck isn't high enough for this huge quilt! To get the first shot in this post, and the full shot of the back, I ended up setting our patio chair cushions on the ground for the quilt to rest upon, so it wouldn't get any dirt on it (it had rained in the night and this morning, and the grass isn't that lush at that spot).

Did I mention how HAP-HAP-HAPPY I am with this quilt?!

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: Original design around a traditional Rose of Sharon block
Size:  pre-quilting - 90.5" square; post-quilting - 89" x 87.5" (isn't that strange? Do I 'pull' it a bit tighter crossways on my frame than lengthways? Remember I loaded it sideways.)
Fabric: stash and scraps and two pieces of purchased ivory fabric
Backing: 'London' by Dena for Free Spirit Westminster Fibres
Batting: Hobbs Heirloom 100% wool batting
Quilted: on Avril, 380 251 stitches
Threads: pieced with various; quilted with Aurifil 50 wt; The Bottom Line in the bobbin.


  1. Happy, elated, totally smitten, and so much more!!!! This is the beauty of all times, the details, the fabrics, the design and the final flourish for "Fleur" that quilting extraordinaire . I hope this is an all time keeper for your home, and on display or in use every single day.

  2. Wow - congratulations on such a beautiful finish - worthy of such a lovely detailed post. And well worth the wait too!

  3. Congrats on finishing this beauty! The quilting on 'Fleurs' is beyond gorgeous! I like how you treated the applique, simply stunning. I don't always have a plan when I start quilting a quilt, but boy do I love what you did. Like you I ditch stitch every seam, it can be a pain but I think it is a necessity.

  4. You have every right to be happy with this quilt, Sandra! It's gorgeous. I enjoyed reading through your process (and that curves post - LOL - I could see myself cutting both borders and ending up with the same dilemma!). Great finish!!

  5. Is there a better word than WOW? It is fabulous from the rows you added to the the out-of-this-world quilting. Enter it in your state fair — you'll win a blue ribbon for sure. Congrats on a wonderful finish.

  6. Absolutely gorgeous, perfect piecing, imaginative quilting. Show it everywhere-every quilter deserves to see it.

  7. Oh my Sandra ~ this is an absolute masterpiece! I loved reading about all the technical challenges, especially that curvy border, and you certainly overcame them with this beautiful quilt. This was well worth the wait!

  8. Oh. My. Word. No, I don’t have words, but one. Magnificent. I will definitely be spending some quality time going back and reading all those posts you listed. This is blue-ribbon work, Sandra. You must be over the moon with it. (And bonus to have backing fabric with such a lovely print that the seams don’t even show. So much prettier than the wide backs that are around these days. )

  9. It's just gorgeous and the quilting is magnificent.

  10. Wow. Your quilt is beautiful and the quilting is amazing. Leanne's wipsbegone2021 has helped me to get some projects to finishing stage too.

  11. It's amazing!!!!! You should be ecstatic as it's beautiful & all the hard work has paid off. Take care & hugs.

  12. This is absolutely, gorgeous, Sandra!! Love, love love ALL the borders, and the medallion is stunning - not to mention the fantastic quilting!! Fantastic all the way around. If you can't find a home for it you can send it my way! LOL Thanks for linking up with TGIFF!!

  13. What a beautiful quilt, Sandra. All that time spent thinking about the motifs and executing them was so worth it for this quilt. The way you quilted it and how each round relates to the next is stunning, and I love, love, love getting to see all your hard work on the back of the quilt. Congratulations!!!

  14. Definitely a masterpiece! It is absolutely stunning, and a record of your skills over time. Possibly, it's just as well it took years; the applique was done when you could see to do it, and the quilting, when you had the skills to make it fabulous. Congratulations!

  15. This is a stunner Sandra. Congratulations on sticking with it - that's an accomplishment worth noting.

  16. WOW!!! that is amazing!! I am so glad you got to it - as it is just amazing to look at - so detailed!!

  17. This is a stunner! I love everything you did and all the great motifs you used and all the care - going around each shape, stitching in the ditch and then the other quilting...well worth it. I think you have outdone yourself on this one. Sometimes, it is good to take so long to finish something - as it got the best treatment ever - and maybe that would not have happened if you had done it sooner. Just think how much your skills for quilting have improved!

  18. It took me a couple of days to read the post and all the associated posts. But wow. I think it is fabulous.

  19. What an accomplishment! Oh, this is magnificent. I am amazed at all the "rows" you added, each with so much detail. I especially learned a lot from your curved borders. Thanks for all the links to your previous additions. AND then, you quilted it. Holy Cow! Taking 7 years I totally understand, but it was worth it. Congratulations on this great quilt!

  20. Hi Sandra, what an amazing finish. I've been watching on Instagram. That is one big project but I love the idea of the personal round robin. Take care.

    1. Thanks so much for linking up to Free Motion Mavericks! I'm loving my morning, which is taking the time to read blog posts for a change :-)

  21. Holy Toledo, Sandra! That is stunning! Fantastic, awesome, fabulous, gorgeous! Beautiful, I could go on and on, but you understand! Wowza!

  22. That is one very impressive round robin! I can't believe that you had a vague plan as everything works so well together. Well done!

  23. Hi Sandra, I just featured your quilt "Fleurs" on this week's Free Motion Mavericks. Thanks for linking up!