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From my sketchbook: Lenten Rose...

Updated: Feb 12


There are truly lovely moments when I'm designing a new quilt, when the quilty stars align and the perfect fabric comes along. My new project in Today's Quilter was one of those moments.

The block is based on a traditional design called the 'Rolling Star', which was first published by Nancy Cabot in the 1930s, although it may be even older. Nancy Cabot was the nom de plume of Loretta Leitner Rising, who wrote a daily column for the Chicago Tribune during that decade that featured a new quilt block every day.

Many quilt blocks remind me of flowers and this one has always reminded me of the delicately shaded Hellebore – or Lenten Rose – that graces our flower beds in the depths of winter. The scarcity of blooms at that time of year meant that plant breeders fell in love with these shy little flowers and developed both single and double varieties, varying in colour from slate grey to white and every shade of purple, plum and green in between.

And it just so happened that Moda released a fabric collection called Jardin de Versailles - designed by Kari Meng of French General - that captured that range of colours perfectly. Kari bases her designs on antique French fabrics, which she's been collecting for over twenty years. The gentle, sun-washed colour palette is all her own.

My quilter, Jayne Brereton, loves French General fabrics as much as I do and she found the perfect design with a subtle fleur-de-lis in recognition of its French inspiration. We picked out a linen-coloured thread so that the quilting could be seen on the creamy 'outer petals', just like the markings on a Hellebore.

This design also utilises a technique that I love to use whenever I can, which is to integrate the central design of the quilt with the border. Using a creamy background and picking out a favourite colour in the Layer Cake - French General's Linen Texture in lavender would be lovely - highlights the border even more.

And if you've another colour palette in mind, the Hellebore is a member of the Buttercup family, which also includes Anemones and Delphiniums, so choose your favourite Layer Cake and create a flower bed from the comfort of your sewing room. Gardening gloves optional.

A summery palette: Catalina by Fig Tree for Moda will be here in spring...

Another truly lovely moment is when that new issue of Today's Quilter lands on my doormat and I see that Lenten Rose has made the cover. That's cheered January up no end :-)

Nicola xx

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British designs by Nicola Dodd

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