Dear Little Dipper Blog Reader,
Every time I pop into to visit the Little Dipper Guru in her sewing suite, I pause to count the hexies. One day it was four or five scattered on a table. A few days later, 27 had arranged themselves onto a quatrefoil background.
“I used to hate hexies; they were boring,” said the Guru. “I mean, look at the old style quilts.”
She’s right. Of course. These hand-made, 6-sided pieces are the foundation of “Grandma’s Flower Garden” pattern: one hexagon, surrounded by 6 pieces, surrounded by more pieces. Like flowers. Many, many flowers. You’ve seen these quilts on your great-aunt’s bed and on eBay.
If you associate antique quilts with 1930s and 1940s, you wouldn’t be wholly right: this pattern harkens back to 18th century quilts in France and England. According to one historian, “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” was, “the first pattern ever publicized in lady’s book.” In England. In 1835.
In the States, these quilts became popular in the States in the 20th century, when many a war-time and recession quilter sought solace in needle, thread, and scraps of fabric to weather what were otherwise tough times. Today, with our economy limping along after the worst economic times since the 1930s, perhaps this is one reason why these pieces have begun to flourish, even taking on a nickname before scattering themselves on quilting tables everywhere waiting to be pieced… and pieced into what?
And that, perhaps, is the best part of hexies! They can be pieced so creatively, in so many ways: modern flower gardens, shaped into sheep and thanksgiving turkeys and bees, turtle pin cushions, adorable coin purses, Christmas trees, butterflies, stars and myriad of shapes and patterns not yet described Mariam Webster. Quilters are finding new, creative and exciting ways to assemble these traditional, usually hand-assembled pieces, into modern works of art.
“Look at the old-style quilts, now look at the news,” says the LD Guru as we count 99 hexies sitting on her quilting table… I, for one, cannot wait to see how she assembles them!
Laura + Team at Little Dipper
PS: If you would like to make your own hexies, be warned! They can be addictive! That said, we like Bee in my bonnet's tutorial!
(Old quilt v. new quilt!)