Thursday, February 7, 2019

"In the Garden"—Wisteria Border and Quilt Assembly

In November, this wonderful group of ladies completed the final class of our Block of the Month quilt, In the Garden, at Primitive Homespuns Wool and Needleworks in Frederick, Maryland. We had such an awesome time together—stitching, sharing stories, learning new skills, and just having fun. Our last class was a bit bittersweet for me (Teri), as I'd come to look forward to meeting with the girls every month. But there will be other classes.

Our last session focused on assembling the blocks into a quilt, as well as how to make the wisteria border. Kathy, the owner of Primitive Homespuns, always has everything kitted for the classes, but this time, we decided it might be better to give everyone the opportunity to choose the color for the lettering. I was thrilled to see all of the choices. I am a green person, but we had purple, teal, and red letters in the top border—and they all looked fabulous! Every quilt would end up unique and personal to its maker. Some stitched the letters with matching thread, and at least one chose to stitch with a contrasting color thread to make a pop of color. I loved it! Our top is pictured here, with borders and pinned to prepare for quilting.

Here is a brief synopsis of how we worked the wisteria border:

I used a ten-inch square of wool—with a fusible ironed to the back—for my letters and arranged the word patterns on the wool. I stapled the patterns on the wool inside the letters and carefully cut them out, using sharp scissors. I fused the words onto the border strip (pressing on the front and the back) because I knew the long strip of wool would be handled a lot in the stitching process, and I didn't want the words to shift. (Shift happens!) This helped to keep everything lined up correctly. I used a matching wool thread with a blanket stitch all around the edges of the words, which gave a nice clean edge to the lettering. 

I used sari silk ribbon for the wisteria vines, twisting and pinning carefully before stitching.

I used a matching thread and stitched the smaller vines first, and then proceeded to the larger vine, removing pins as I stitched. 

Here, the first smaller vines are pinned down. I folded a piece of sari silk in half and twisted it, pinning so that the raw edges would be beneath the larger vine.

The larger vine is made with a long piece of sari silk, folded in thirds so the edges overlap in the center, as pictured here.

The center section is lightly twisted and pinned, and then the ends are twisted and shaped using the pins to secure.

The tighter you twist the silk, the more gnarled the vine will be. Stitch the smaller vines first, and then the larger one. I added some seed stitches throughout, using a matching 30-weight silk thread, to add more texture to the vines.

I used pearl cotton for the stems and leaves, and floss for the wisteria blooms. The petals are made with bullion-knotted lazy daisy stitches and some French knots for the smaller buds at the tips. 

The pattern includes the sari silk needed to make the wisteria vine and will be available on the website, along with all the patterns for each of the blocks. I know this post is a wee bit—okay, waaaay—overdue, but I wanted to have the quilting finished before posting it. So I hope you'll forgive me for taking so long. A quilter I am not. (Thanks, Yoda!) But I was determined to tackle this one, trying big-stitch quilting for the first time. Valdani #12 pearl cotton was my choice, and I loved the way it stitched.

First, I outlined all of the motifs. Then I used painter's tape to mark my quilting lines for the cross-hatching. I thought it would be fun to add little flowers, sprinkled through the cross-hatching, so every so often, I'd make a little bloom with five lazy daisy stitches and a knot in the middle. After the first row, I made little notches in the tape where I wanted to stitch the flowers. 

One important tip if you quilt using painter's tape: it's perfect because it isn't too sticky, but it does like the silk ribbon, so I found it worked better if I didn't press the tape directly onto the ribbon. I put a scrap piece of tape upside down where the tape would go over the ribboned sections. 

And finally....I have finished!!

In the Garden—a wool and ribbon appliqué and embroidery block of the month series


You can purchase all twelve of the individual block patterns on our website. If you purchase all twelve patterns, the Wisteria Border and Quilt Assembly pattern is free. And remember: all the hard copy patterns come with any ribbon needed to create the block. But you can also purchase digital copies of the patterns if you have access to the ribbons yourself. It is never too late to join us In the Garden!

Stop back tomorrow for a synopsis of the individual quilt blocks!

PS—If you have been following along and have purchased each block throughout the past year, please email us. We have a list compiled of about ten people who have bought all the blocks and will receive the final pattern free. Email us before you purchase if you think that you are on that list!


  1. A beautiful job. I too use painters tape to guide my hand quilting.

    1. Thanks! I love the painters tape because it leaves no marks behind. For straight lines, I really like it.