Midsummer Sampler: month 1
Welcome to month one of the Jardin de Lavande, Parterre Sud.
And our journey begins! This is a quilt inspired by French gardens so we are going to tumble back in time to the end of the fifteenth century to visit our first French garden at Chateau Gaillard in Amboise, a few miles west of Tours in the Loire valley.
The young king Charles VIII, whilst campaigning in Italy, rather envied the exquisite renaissance palaces of the Italian dukes. He returned from Naples with a good deal of looted furniture and artwork, an entourage of Italian craftsman and a Benedictine monk, Dom Pacello da Mercogliano, who had an exceptional gift for making gardens.
Dom Pacello laid out a 'paradise on earth' for his royal patron, creating formal terraces, flower beds and lawns, criss-crossed by gravel paths and animated by fountains. He also introduced potted orange trees to France, growing them in half-barrels that could be over-wintered inside. Dom Pacello went on to serve two more Kings and was gifted the Chateau by Francis I in exchange for a bouquet of orange blossom each spring. Not a bad bargain.
Mary Queen of Scots spent much of her childhood at the Chateau Gaillard - which must have made Scottish summers somewhat disappointing - and Dom Pacello's contemporary, Leonardo da Vinci, also spent his final few years at the French court in Amboise, which is why the Mona Lisa now hangs in the Louvre.
We are making a gentle start to our Block of the Month programme with the Parterre Sud block - and I'm quite sure yours will be a work of art too! - which features Maple Farm's Gwendolyn and Cherrybush prints. The latter has the feel of orange tree leaves to me and I particularly want you to hang on to your scraps of that one, we'll need them in a later block...
But the main item in this month's parcel is the Jardin de Lavande Pattern Book. Andrea and I are excited to share a full colour pattern book with you this year and hope it will whet your appetite for the months ahead.
This month's techniques...
Strip-piecing is a wonderful way of creating lots of tiny little squares without actually cutting & joining them individually. Not only does it save time but the results are neater and more even. Win, win!
Put a couple pins in your strip sets before you join them: it will stop them shifting as you sew, which can lead to a bowed seam (and we don't want that)
And take your time to keep your seam nice and straight when you press it. Pressing towards the darker fabric lets those seams nest beautifully when you make the four patches.