Grandmother’s Flower Garden Instructions
First of all, let me tell up up front, that I didn’t invent the method that I am about to share with you. This brilliant idea came from a clever and creative lady named Pati Shambaugh. She sells die-cut hexagons of various sizes on her website, quiltpati.tripod.com . I just chose to cut out my own.
Preparing the Hexagons
You can download free hexagon shapes or use one from a pattern you already own, and trace around it onto a plastic lid from a yogurt or ice cream container. Placing a piece of double-sided tape on the back of you hexagon pattern will help hold it in place while you trace it.
Now, if you’ve ever tried to write on plastic, you know that the ink just beads up and wipes off. So you will actually need to scratch the lines into the surface using something sharp, like the point of a compass, or a sewing awl.
Here, I’m scratching the pattern onto the lid from a Chinese Take-out soup container.
Mark the first one “Pattern Only” and use it to trace the rest. Use a hole punch to punch a hole somewhere in the hexagon. It doesn’t need to be centered, just going as far as your hole punch will reach is fine. DO NOT PUNCH A HOLE IN THE ONE MARKED “PATTERN ONLY”. That way it won’t get mixed up with the rest. Also, drawing all of your hexagons from this one pattern, helps to minimize discrepancies between hexagons. (I speak from experience.)
Choose fabrics with nice contrast. Either a light for the center, and medium to dark for the petals, or vice versa.
With fabric wrong side up, place a hexagon on the fabric. Be sure to leave at least 3/8” around all of its edges. Using a small pin, (I use tiny applique pins because they don’t get in my way.) secure it to the fabric. Cut out, about 3/8” wider than the template, all the way around. (It doesn’t have to be cut neatly either, because it won’t be seen after the flower is appliquéd.)
- Thread a needle so that you will be sewing with a single thread only. Make a quilter’s (tiny) knot. (In these photos, I used a very dark, contrasting thread just so you could see it better. I usually use a neutral color, like beige, to baste my hexagons.) Place your needle in the center hole. This just gives you a place to rest your needle, which comes in handy later. (See top photo under direction #2 below.)
- With one piece of “petal” fabric wrong side up and a hexagon pinned in the center, fold top edge of fabric down over edge of hexagon. Hold top left corner with right thumb. Working in a counter-clockwise fashion, fold down the fabric edge that is just to the left and hold the corner securely.
- Remove your needle from the center hole and secure the corner with a backstitch. Insert the needle into the hole again.
- Rotate hexagon/fabric one turn in a clockwise direction so that you can work on the next section. Again, hold down the left corner of the fabric with your right thumb and fold down the edge of the fabric just to the left and hold it securely. Remove the needle from the center hole and backstitch that corner as you did the first.
- Repeat steps 3 and 5 until you get to the last corner to be folded then stitched.
- Remove the pin from the center hole. This relieves any pull in the fabric.
- Hold left corner securely with right thumb and fold down last edge of fabric and hold securely at the corner. Backstitch that corner.
- Rotate the hexagon on more time in a clockwise direction and backstitch twice at the same place as your first backstitch. Hide the thread under the backstitches. Before you cut your thread, make a quilter’s knot near the fabric. Then cut your thread. Your needle and thread are now ready to make the next petal.
When you have enough hexagons made to complete one flower, (6 petals and 1 center) it’s time to assemble.
- Using thread that matches the darkest fabric, thread needle to sew with a single thread as before.
- Place a “petal” on top of flower center, right sides together. (Sorry about the blur.)
- Whip-stitch along top edge only. Be careful to just barely catch both fabric edges inthe whip-stitching.
- (If you whip-stitch too deeply, your stitches will show on the open flower.) Open petal to lay flat.
- It you are right-handed, rotate flower counter-clockwise. If you are left-handed, rotate in clockwise direction.
Repeat steps 2 through 4 until all “petals” are attached to center.
- When all petals are attached to center, carefully remove the hexagon from the center only. A chopstick works great. Insert the chopstick into the hexagon’s hole. Firmly hold one petals/center intersection and pop hexagon out.
- Fold the flower in half so that the sides of 4 petals line up.
- Using a thread that matches or blends with your petal fabric, sew, using a whip-stitch. Make one stitch through the petals, then into the center hexagon.
Then, whip-stitch petals from the flower center out to the edge. Make a knot close to your stitching and hide your thread under the fold of the fabric. Make a quilter’s knot, then, cut your thread. Turn the folded flower so that you can whip-stitch the petals on the opposite side from the center out as before. Open the flower to lay flat.
- Fold in half in another direction to align new petals.
- Whip-stitch as before, repeating steps 7 through 9, until all of the petals are sewn to each other. Leave the hexagon templates in the petals until ready to appliqué onto the background fabric. This helps them keep their shape for literally years!
- Don’t worry if the outside edges of your hexagons are not exactly lined up. When you are ready to applique the flower, simply pop out the hexagons, pin the flower to your background fabric, and tuck the uneven edge under slightly until the edges match.
I’ve shown a close-up photo here to show that, since my hexagons are Di-cut (traced and cut by Di-ane), they are not perfect. But, this slight imperfection really doesn’t matter because they can be aligned in the applique process.
If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’d love to hear from you!