Whilst I'm always excited to see my Postman deliver the latest copy of Today's Quilter, this month I've been waiting rather impatiently because I couldn't wait to share my latest project with you: the Kitchen Garden.
Subscribers already have their copies of issue 46 and it will be on your newsstand any day...
When my lovely editor, Fiona, suggested a row-by-row quilt on a garden theme I immediately thought of walled gardens and old-fashioned allotments. My friend Lou, on Instagram (@thelittleredrobin) has created a stunning and wonderfully productive allotment with her husband Russ and was featured in Selina Lake's book 'Garden Style'. I often referred to her beautiful photos for inspiration.
The gentle colour scheme was inspired by a book I've cherished since I was a teenager: Sara Midda's 'In and Out of the Garden'.
The book is entirely hand drawn, with delicate watercolours of flowers, herbs and vegetables. Every exquisitely composed page is a delight. Even the end papers (left) are beautifully considered. The vegetables, in particular, are painted with a romanticism normally reserved for flowers.
The book is now out of print, but do hunt down a second hand copy if you can.
I chose a gentle Eau d'Nil - Moda Bella Solid in Breeze - as my background colour, combining it with soft sand and off-white for the vegetable beds.
Which left me pondering what I would use to capture the glowing colours of the vegetables. As I've never really been drawn to oranges and purples I had very little of either, but then I remembered that Tilda 'Bird Pond' was just about to be released...the big question was whether it would be in the shops in time. I did have some alternatives on standby from older Tilda lines, but was jumping for joy when these pretty bundles arrived (I had mine on pre-order from Sew and So). Aren't those rich, vibrant colours just perfect?
I augmented the leafy greens with a selection of Moda Bella Solids - Evergreen and Fresh Grass - plus a scrap of Aubergine for the purple cabbages. Luckily it was the perfect time of year to dash out into the garden to check my colour balance ;-)
I also took the opportunity to have some fun taking photos in our own much neglected vegetable beds. We seem to have more success growing fruit - which, frankly, requires less skill - although our attempts at growing veg were much enjoyed by the local wildlife. I should probably make a quip about sewing seeds at this point...
The humble wheelbarrow and garden fork deserved their own blocks too...
Although I was working to a deadline I must say I enjoyed every minute of piecing these blocks. Each row only needs a few blocks and every row is like a finish in itself. I can't wait to turn a few of those rows into table runners this spring. Before I knew it I was driving up to Quilter's Trading Post to see my wonderful quilter, Jayne. I'm always grateful for Jayne's advice on just the right quilting design and - given that it was a busy quilt - she suggested a lovely stipple dotted with tiny leaves that looked like sprouting seeds. And it's actually called 'The Garden'.
I wasn't able to get hold of any 'Bird Pond' yardage at the time so I used an older red print to bind my quilt. You know how much I love a red binding.
And what would we do without our precious garden bees?...
There's also a companion project in The Garden pattern booklet: a fun apron for the Head Gardener in your life. There are lots of options for personalising this project by picking your favourite veg (see what I did there?...).
I hand quilted my apron - appropriately enough with little furrows - and you can find my tips on hand quilting here.
But I couldn't make a garden-themed quilt without including the gardener's constant and inquisitive companion, the Robin. They are singing their hearts out in my own garden as I write, staking their claim to a nesting site and looking for a mate. And so the gardening year begins again...