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Bedroom Décor: The Making of a Summer Dahlia Quilt

Updated on October 28, 2018
Marie Flint profile image

Marie is a self-taught quilter. She has been making quilts as a hobby since 1970. Her quilts appeared in the West Branch Annual Quilt Walk.

On the Bed
On the Bed

Inspiration for a Summer Dahlia Quilt

It all began in September 2011. My home-care supervisor, who knew I quilted, brought bags of materials left unclaimed from her mother's estate--dusty blues with pink tulip print; another with small, white dots paired in patterns; large floral prints on a white background; and batting.

I thanked her and began studying the fabrics for inspiration. The center, I decided, would be the large tulips, but the piece wasn't big enough, so I sewed a top and bottom together. Next, I framed the sides with the complimentary striped material that came with the abandoned fabrics.

Deciding on a Quilt Block

I found a pattern block in one of my quilt magazines, perhaps McCall's Quilting, that featured a pinwheel-type curve named "Dahlia." I liked it and decided to use it in this quilt.

Tip: When visiting garage sales, yard sales, or flea markets be on the lookout for used quilt magazines. These are very inexpensive and are great for fostering quilt-making ideas.

Quilt Designing Aids in the Kitchen

More measurements and cutting--the casserole baking dishes in the kitchen worked great to create a template pattern for my "Dahlia." I only had to make a quarter of the block and rotate it.

The cover of a long-curved baking dish helped me construct the dahlia block pattern.
The cover of a long-curved baking dish helped me construct the dahlia block pattern.

Arranging the Summer Dahlia Quilt Center

Yellows, peaches, solids and prints--white, of course, for the corner backgrounds. Six "Dahlias"--how nice!

Two Dahlias, one at each top and bottom of the tulip-featured center. Then two vertically sewn on each sides of the center. I had to balance those colors because some of the blocks were not the same.

The dahlia blocks had to be arranged around the center so the color variances would balance.
The dahlia blocks had to be arranged around the center so the color variances would balance.

Designing Summer Dahlia Outer Quilt Borders

From that point, I got a little lazy--no little pieces for me--I used large 12" x 24" pieces of fabric and same-size-as-Dahlias blocks to surround the work in progress. (My technique is a design-as-you-go.)

Eventually, I had to think about the outer corners--a trip to the Ben Franklin Store in East Tawas, Michigan, proved fruitful: pink roses on a peach background. Perfect!

Unfortunately, I'm not a long-distance designer. I tend to express quick fixes, so the corners ended as semi-large blocks in checkerboard design (after finishing the quilt, I thought about how nice a clam-shell pattern would have looked--live and learn!).

Hand Quilting Makes the Quilt

The real beauty of this quilt, as many of my quilts, is in the hand quilting. As a punch (also known as "stab"), one-stitch-at-a-time quilter, my stitches are small, sometimes mistaken for machine quilting.

I outline quilted the flowers in the center. The Dahlias were marked with echo quilting from the center out (about 3/4" between lines). I made my own round wreath pattern for the same-size-as-Dahlia blue blocks (six of them) and followed the diamond-pattern print of the fabric on the larger, dusty blue areas. On the corners, I just paralleled the quilting lines 2 3/4"-3" apart.

A close-up of my hand quilting. This is an original version of the traditional wreath pattern.
A close-up of my hand quilting. This is an original version of the traditional wreath pattern.

How About You?

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Overcoming Procrastination to Finish a Quilt: Movies!

I watched a lot of Turner Classic Movies with the quilt in my lap and working that between needle, a No. 8, sometimes No. 9.

I lost track of time. Each session is like a mantra or meditation for me, but I exalted when I finished the quilting--then the binding, machine sewn and blind-hem stitched to the back.

I finally finished my "Summer Dahlia" quilt 16 1/2 months later on January 12, 2013! And, guess what?

My home-care supervisor fell in love with it after having observed me working on the hand quilting during various occasions. "When I see it, I think of my mother--and you," she said.

"You're emotionally attached to it--it's yours," I told her.

Photo Credit

The pictures of my quilt were taken by my friend Jill MacDonald. Some rights reserved. If sharing the images, please reference as: Jill MacDonald via Hubpages, CC-BY-SA. A link to this article or my profile page would be appreciated.

© 2013 Marie Flint


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    • Marie Flint profile imageAUTHOR

      Marie Flint 

      6 months ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      This article was snipped because I had linked Turner Classic Movies to an available DVD online. Yet, if it had not been for these quality movies, I probably never would have finished this quilt. My linking the product was my way of sharing my experience and encouraging hand quilters, of which there are few in this modern age, to enjoy their hand quilting experience. In my mind, Turner Classic Movies are among the best, the kind that reverberates a thoughtful, heart-felt message.

      I find the snipping experience of my writing discouraging and very impersonal.

      At least one other writer suggested having my own website. Perhaps it is time to seriously research this possibility, as I am very weary of having my desire to share denied.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      The quilting is indeed exquisite on it. I haven't hand quilted such a large quilt, but it definitely makes a big difference in a quilt. Voted up.

    • Marie Flint profile imageAUTHOR

      Marie Flint 

      5 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Phyllis, the lady was so emotionally attached to it that allowing her to have the quilt was only the right thing to do. And, she generously paid me for it later.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      5 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Marie, this is a wonderful hub that took me right into your sewing room. I love to make quilts and am always collecting fabrics. Thank you so much for sharing this delightful story of you quilt. To give the quilt to the lady who gave you the fabrics was a lovely thing to do.

    • Marie Flint profile imageAUTHOR

      Marie Flint 

      6 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Thank you, Nellieanna. for your generous sharing. Handwork is something to be admired, and so few people do it today. In fact, a lot of young ladies don't even know how to sew at all, whether it be by machine or hand.

      Now that I'm living with my daughter, I do have scanning capacity. I'll probably call my next hub "My Quilt Album" and feature pictures of some of my other quilts.

      Many blessings.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      6 years ago from TEXAS

      Sometimes I despise my computer's spell checker. It changed "tucks" to "tusks" -- haha. I never sewed a tusk in my life! hahaha! Maybe the young designers of the spellchecker are either not familiar with old-fashioned tucks or maybe the whole language is a bit foreign to them.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      6 years ago from TEXAS

      I'd LOVE to see more of your beautiful quilts! Oh, dear - I've drawers of wonderful fabrics I got for making more quilts, but other things demanded all my time and then my eyes really weren't up to it. I always had to use a light with a magnifier to do the hand quilding.

      I understand the Florida limitation! I did my hand quilting with just the area I was working on in a large embroidery hoop, covering my lap. It really had to be cool weather!

      I never had all the proper large equipment for quilting. I did the layout, and assembling of the layers, attaching the pieced top, the layer of batting and the backing - basting it all together, laid out on the terrazzo floor in our entryway. - on hands and knees. I couldn't do that now!

      I did invest in some lovely templates, rotary cutter & board, quilting rulers, quilting books & small quilting notions, though. My machine work was done on my wonderful Pfaff machine George bought for me, with its good grip for stitching the perfect quarter-inch straight seams with perfect 'points'.

      I've never been a 'hand-work' seamstress so much as a designer & a good sewer-upper. I've prided myself on professional sewing. Mother was so good at both. She did all the wonderful embroidery, drawn-work, hemstitching that girls of her day learned to do perfectly. She also knitted, crocheted, even tatted. I did a little knitting but wasn't drawn to it.

      I liked to do really good embroidery and appliqué. And did my hems by hand and they were 'invisible'. Sometimes I sewed in zippers invisibly by hand, as used to be done on really great designer clothes.

      I made all my college wardrobe one year by hand, but it was just doing the tiny precise stitching I'd have done by machine, but doing them by hand. The things held up the same as if done by machine. Made tusks and small bound buttonholes by hand, and, of course, regular embroidered buttonholes.

      But I look at the things Mother made for her "Hope Chest". The work on the linen tablecloths, multiple sets of napkins, doilies, runners, pillowcases - etc. - was just exquisite. All by hand.

      Her quilts were amazing, too. But many of the best ones burned up in a house fire.

    • Marie Flint profile imageAUTHOR

      Marie Flint 

      6 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Thank you, Nellieanna, for taking the time to read about my Dahlia quilt. Maybe I'll get a chance to post some pictures of other quilts that I've made. Now that I'm in Florida, though, I don't know how much quilting I'll feel like doing in this warm climate.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      6 years ago from TEXAS

      I've a great deal of affinity for quilting and quilters.

      Your hub about the background of your quilt is so interesting and inviting. I admire your resourcefulness and creativity in adapting the design for yourself to the I just love your "Summer Dahlia" quilt and the finishing (the backing) is even pretty!

      I'd love to talk about quitling with your over a cup of coffee, even cyber coffee! I'd so like to share my private website which features my main quilt project, (other than those quilt blocks I had to make as a kid to earn my dime for the Saturday morning Western movie! series)! It's impolite to post one's own links on someone's comment thread, though.

      Glad to have met you!

    • Marie Flint profile imageAUTHOR

      Marie Flint 

      6 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this hub, DreamerMeg. And, for future readers (another tidbit), the finished size of this quilt was 90" x 108".

    • DreamerMeg profile image


      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      I love the idea of being a design-as-you-go quilter. That's my type of creativity too - though I have never done quilting. I wouldn't dare even start on it, for I know it would not be finished! That was very kind of you to let the lady have the quilt and she really must have had an emotional attachment to it for her sleeps to be so much better. What a benefit. :)

    • Marie Flint profile imageAUTHOR

      Marie Flint 

      6 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      The recipient paid me $250 for my work--a generous offer from someone with a small-town background and limited budget. The best payment, of course, was her appreciation. She says her sleeps under this quilt are actually much more refreshing than before she had it.

    • Marie Flint profile imageAUTHOR

      Marie Flint 

      6 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I never spent so much time making a quilt--and this one had its issues: a couple of raw-edged seams that didn't take and were undiscovered until after the quilting had begun (I used clear fabric glue to seal them); quilting soap lines that had worn off by the time I got to that section, and my attempts to duplicate the created pattern left something to be desired. And, of course, I had my new design idea for the corners after the quilting process was nearly finished. But, after washing out my water soluable pen lines (I use a commercial washer on cold without an agitator), it looked beautiful. Sometimes I'm told I have a knack for color. I guess maybe I do!


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