Show and Tell … Garden and Quilts

Today I have some progress pictures and some new antique tops and as usual in the summer some more garden pictures

First the basket quilt I have been working on.  Hand quilting circles with 12 weight Aurifil thread, and I am now using Big Stitch Needles by Pepper Corey for Colonial Needle…they are great!


Big stitch quilting goes pretty fast…I am doing about 6 or 7 stitches per inch….which for big stitch is actually rather small….I would say that the stitches can be 1/4″ with about 1/8″ between stitches….it really depends on the desired look.

Here is what I have done so far


The back shows the quilting better


I have also been working on the Basket of Lilies (Carolina Lily)


I am pretty close to finishing…I do need to guilt several of the sashing pieces and one basket and a few more of the setting triangles…but the end is in sight


I got a few new antique quilt tops….This string pieced top is very interesting because as of now I am unable to find a pattern source for it.  The top is from about 1900 and the published patterns I can find for similar designs are from much later


It is interesting to look at these old tops and imagine what they looked like when new.  In this case when it was new the sashing would have been red.  Dyes at the time often had the problem of fading to this rather odd peachy tan.  This happened on it own…this top was never washed buit the dye faded anyway.

The fading is often irregular…this picture shows an area where more of the red remains


and this shows a much more faded area


The block have a nice variety of fabrics, some more worn than others, since the top has never been washed I have to assume the make used some fabrics from old clothing along with some scraps of unused fabrics to make the top.

DSCN2236 DSCN2235

The next top is an Eastern Star, designed  by Home Art Studios in Des Moines, Iowa, 1932-33.  It’s No. 4001 in the Barbara Brackman Encyclopedia of pieced quilt patterns. 


It is far from flat….the star in the center is made in a circle and then has pieces added to the corners….notice all the bulging around that circle.  It will need to be re worked to make it quiltable.  I imagine that is why it was never quilted.

The emblem of the female Masonic organization, the Order of the Eastern Star. The symbol is a complex one, and is said to represent the Star of Bethlehem, symbolizing the descent of spirit into matter- the divine in man, or even the presence of God on earth.

According to The book and pillar in the center of the star represent the Masonic Lodge’s “volume of sacred law” which is placed in the east.  


The five implements typically pictured represent the five biblical women and their respective representation of Masonic virtues:

The sword and veil represent Adah, and the virtue of “obedience to duty”


A sheaf of barley represents Ruth, whose virtue is adherence to religious principles.


The crown and scepter represents Esther, who embodies the virtue of loyalty.


The broken column represents Martha, and the virtue of “endurance in trial.”


The “golden cup” represents Electa, and the virtue “endurance of persecution.”


I find the top very interesting, mainly because it is the first one of this design I have seen other than the picture of the pattern.

Last We have Teddy to show you his garden


Welcome to my garden  Click pictures to enlarge


Happy Quilting/Gardening

28 thoughts on “Show and Tell … Garden and Quilts

  1. Helen Beall says:

    Wonderful string quilt! Enjoyed Teddy’s garden tour, too. Now I must look for those Big Stitch needles and try going in circles…

  2. Janie Sears says:

    Tim, I’m just curious. You reference Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopdia every once and a while. Do you have her book or do you by chance use her Blockbase program? I do not have her Encyclopedia book, but have been tempted to purchase her Blockbase program. I do not know anyone who has it and I just wondered if perhaps you do and if you would recommend it. Thanks so much much.
    Janie in Ky
    P.S. I love your blog and Teddy, too!

    • timquilts says:

      I have them both….the block base is on my desktop computer and have recently started my blogging from my laptop because it is newer and faster so I have gone back to using the book….I do love the blockbase software and I need to get it on to the new computer….unfortunately I think I will need to buy another copy…but worth it

  3. Cindy Nelson says:

    I would gladly come, pull weeds, in exchange for classes to hand quilt. Your garden is almost smell-able.

  4. Hi Tim, I enjoyed all the eye candy! I love the big stitch idea and watched your video on that. Very helpful! That string top is interesting. I’m wondering if it has two makers? The first one made the strings and then those unit’s were inherited by someone who put them in the more modern set? Sometimes you can tell by looking at the stitching in the piecing?! That’s why I love buying old top. Besides the price they contain more info. to observe. The Masonic top was interesting too. I particularly liked all your info. on the embroidered symbols. I did not know any oft that stuff even tho’ my g-pa was a mason. Loved the shots of your garden and Teddy is the cutest terrier I’ve ever seen! cheers, CW

    • timquilts says:

      Glad you liked the big stitching…hope you give it a try. The top was made all by the same maker….all the stitching matches, its all done by had so it is a lot easier to see that it was the same hand…The fugitive red dyed fabric fits in with the era of the other fabrics as well. It is an interesting top in that I haven’t seen the pattern before but I am sure there are more out there….new ones show up all the time…sometimes I get lucky enough to find one 😉
      I have no Masons in the family but it is fun to read about so this top lead me to learn a few new things..I am now looking to find a picture of a finished one so I can see how they quilted it
      Teddy is a ham….he love to have his picture taken…he follows me around every time I have the camera in my hand!

  5. Pam G says:

    Beautiful quilts! Beautiful garden! Oh how I miss Michigan in the spring. Thanks for the tour Teddy… Have a question for you Tim – would you encourage or discourage using the big stitch method on a grandmother’s flower garden quilt? I got bamboo batting to use with it.

    • timquilts says:

      I have not done one myself (but have a few tops in that pattern) and I think it depends on how small the hexagons are…the smaller they are the more I would recommend a regular sized stitch and thread. It is traditional to quilt around each hexagon individually…about 1/4 from the seams…that seems not to fit the big stitching. I will also add that I have never heard anything but regrets any time anyone has used bamboo for hand quilting (for a number of different reasons)…I would consider saving that for another use and go for a cotton batting.

      • katechiconi says:

        For my hand pieced grandmother’s flower garden quilt, I did an overall 2 inch wide clamshell design in big stitch quilting, but smallish big stitch. I didn’t like the look of outlining the 1 inch hexagons, and I’m very happy with the result. I’d agree about bamboo; it’s harder to pierce with the needle than cotton, so best used when machine quilting.

      • timquilts says:

        Thanks …now I know it can work sounds beautiful

      • Pam G. says:

        OMG! I’m so glad I consulted you. Thank you so much for your advise! My mother made this quilt top (possibly in the ’80s – in Battle Creek, MI) & it has no 2 fabrics the same. I hope I can complete it in my lifetime, but I need to get started.

      • timquilts says:

        wow that really sounds like a treasure!….you are so lucky to have a quilt top that your mother made!!…mine are all unfortunately unidentified makers….hope the quilting goes well

  6. katechiconi says:

    Very interesting post, I do love the historical background you provide when you talk about your antique quilt tops. And your peonies are magnificent!

    • timquilts says:

      I am pretty pleased with those peonies! a few are not the variety that was on the tag at the nursery….but Love them none the less

      Im sort of a history nerd with my quilts…but I am glad you like it 🙂

  7. Carole Y says:

    I think the string pieced top is a variation of the Kansas Dugout pattern. That was the first impression I had when I saw your pictures.

    • timquilts says:

      Same piecing Idea, although that pattern is most often made with much smaller blocks….it is also very much like Ocean Waves (2628 in Brackmans encyclopedia)…string pieced rather than with triangles…there is also a Block called the wishing ring (2626 in the encyclopedia) which is the exact block but not string pieced….it could be a variation of any of them…or there could have been a published pattern …almost every publication had quilt patterns, this could have been published in a very rural paper so there were many less copies….hard to know for sure

  8. KerryCan says:

    Everything looks wonderful–quilts and garden. I have two questions: do you wash the antique quilt tops before you quilt them? And do you know how old your climbing hydrangea is? I have a young one and have no idea how quickly they grow. Thanks!

    • timquilts says:

      I do not was before quilting…..the quilting adds strength to the top by adding new backing fabric and batting…if they are really bad I might give them a soak and then air dry but never in the washer.
      The hydrangea is about 10 I think ….the last few years it has really grown a lot…they do take a while to get going…the first 3 years I was quite slow growing

  9. Pat Long says:

    The quilts ,as usual, are beautiful.How will you fix the bulging on the star? The garden is awesome!

    • timquilts says:

      I think I will have to take off all the borders and the edges around the circle…and try to press it and then go from there….that might make it flatten out enough…then I can put it back together …I wont know for sure until I start to take it apart


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