Pam’s Nine Patch Garden

Pam’s Nine Patch Garden is one of the quilts I inherited from my Mom. I first introduced my readers to this quilt eons ago. Way back in March of 2017 I had the pleasure of spending a number of days at the Woodland Ridge Retreat Center in Menomonie, Wisconsin. While there, aside from many excursions, my attention was focused on five quilts passed on to me by my Mom. All of them were in various stages of completion. If you would like to read about my adventures at the Center you will find them here. My original story about this quilt can be found here.

This quilt is extra special to me for two reasons. First, my Mom is a big fan of flowers. My Mom is well-known for turning the majority of her lawn into garden space. Those gardens were always overflowing with flowers. Her love for gardening and for flowers was passed on to me.

The second reason is because my Mother is also an avid cross-stitcher as well as a seasoned embroiderer. This quilt has twelve blocks that have been hand embroidered by my Mom. All of them are of various flowers, many of which she has grown in her own gardens. Her love for flowers along with her talent for stitchery are why this quilt is dear to my heart.

When I received the quilt, in it’s plastic package, the twelve embroidered blocks were all that were finished. Not yet assembled were the twelve nine-patch blocks. Included with these items were several lengths of multiple fabrics. Whether or not they were meant to be used for the 12 remaining blocks was unclear. My Mom’s recollections on the status of her quilts is sketchy.

Since I wasn’t really fond of the enclosed fabrics I decided to go out on my own to select options I felt seemed more appropriate. I pulled specimen after specimen from my fabric stash to audition as candidates. By the time I had finished I had accumulated enough fabric to complete all twelve blocks with fabric to spare.

I chose a variety of fabrics from the green, yellow, orange, white and blue families. The fabrics were adorned with flowers, birds as well as catchy phrases that seemed to match well with the quilt’s theme. Among the phrases or words of encouragement were:

  • find true love
  • have more fun
  • love
  • make a quilt for my children
  • peace
  • smile more

One even has a mini bucket list printed on it.

With my fabric choices conquered it was time to create the nine-patch blocks. Typically I would assemble strip sets to create them. In this case I wanted to be more strategic in the arrangement of these fabrics. I wanted to make certain I had a well-rounded distribution of color as well as printed phrases. To facilitate this outcome I individually cut squares and hand placed them in groupings of nine. Once I was satisfied I stitched them together.

The embroidered blocks and the nine-patch blocks were then laid out on a table and juggled around until I was satisfied with the appearance. They too were then stitched together into rows and finally into one piece.

To the 24 blocks I added first a small border of hand-dyed orange fabric. Next I added an over-dyed border of blue. With the last border in place it was time to load the quilt onto my longarm machine for quilting.

Since it is obviously impossible to pack up and take my machine along on trips, I think my husband would shoot me if I asked him to do that, the quilting had to wait until a later date.

Fast-forward to December of 2017. This was the first opportunity I had to even contemplate accomplishing this task. I chose a pretty floral batik from my inventory to serve as the quilt’s backing. After loading my carefully pressed top, batting and the batik on my machine I set to work adding a variety of stitches.

Pam’s Nine Patch Garden Quilt

In the outermost border I stitched a swirly pattern using a color coordinated thread. The bright orange border was treated with a soft flowing line of cream colored stitches. In the nine-patch blocks I stitched a meander of angular lines. To polish off the remaining blocks I first added a row of stitching around the outer border. Next I echoed around each of the flowers giving them a dimensional appearance with the same cream colored thread.

Curious what the stitching looks like from the back?

Back of Pam’s Nine Patch Garden Quilt

This last photo was included for three reasons:

  1. I wanted to give you a closeup of a flower block so that you could see both the embroidery as well as the longarm quilting
  2. I thought you might like to see one of the nine-patch squares with the phrase, “make a quilt for each of my children” and most of all because
  3. The sunflower is my all-time favorite flower. I was tickled pink to see that an embroidered sunflower was incorporated into the pattern.


Combined together I believe all of my added touches created a magnificent quilt; one with which my Mom would be well pleased. I did have the chance to show it to her early in December of 2017. She was overjoyed to see the quilt and extremely thrilled with its outcome. I asked if she remembered doing the embroidery and she did.

I set myself a goal to finish all five of my Mom’s quilts before she is no longer with us. She’s getting on in years so I know the timeframe I have to work with is limited. Finishing this one meant I was one step closer to reaching my goal.

I am very happy to say that the other four, one of which was The American Flag Picnic Throw, have been completed as well. I will share their stories in the coming weeks.

American Flag Picnic Blanket (Quilting)
American Flag Picnic Throw Closeup

This wraps up the story of my Mom’s Nine-Patch quilt. I hope that you have enjoyed reading about its history as much as I have enjoyed sharing it. They say that behind every quilt is a story. This quilt is certainly no exception.

Thank you for spending time with me as I revealed this story. I’m so glad we had the opportunity! Be watching for the quilt number three of five.


Day Two

After arriving yesterday, unpacking and taking a break for supper, I sat down at my sewing machine and got the ball rolling. As you may remember my plans for the retreat were to, one by one, conquer my Mom’s unfinished quilts. At the top of the pile was this one.

I chose this one first because I absolutely love flowers and embroidery. If I had saved it until the end it would have been like saving the best to last. I, however, wanted to eat my dessert first. So first it was.

The hardest part about working on someone else’s quilt is figuring out where they left off. From what I could gather the only part my Mom had finished was the hand stitching of the flowers. That’s not to say that what she had finished was in any way less important than the rest of the pattern.

The next logical step was to remove the blue ink that had been the template for her stitching. I did that rinsing them in lukewarm water until the ink had disappeared. Each block was then placed on a towel to dry. Once they were dry I set them aside for their trip to the retreat.

Before heading to the retreat I had to decide if I was going to use the fabrics my Mom had purchased for the nine patch blocks or choose something else. The decision wasn’t really all that hard because I really didn’t like what she had chosen. So I set out to put my own spin on fabric colors.

I dug out my pre-cut fabric strips to audition specimens. Spread all over my kitchen counter were numerous piles of fabrics. Each one was carefully chosen to compliment the colors of thread used in the flower blocks. Once I was satisfied with my selections I carefully packaged them in my traveling case.

Fast forward to the retreat: when I packed up my supplies I assumed I was being extra cautious and wouldn’t forget anything. Unfortunately I was disappointed when I realized I wasn’t as careful as I had thought. From the tubs I was able to retrieve the hand stitched flower blocks, their accompanying patterns, the instructions for the outer borders as well as my hand chosen strips of fabric. What I didn’t find were the directions for the nine patch blocks or the dimensions for trimming the hand stitched flower blocks. Drats! Time to improvise.

After measuring the hand stitched flower blocks I decided they needed to be trimmed to 6 1/2″ square. I also figured out how I was going to cut and assemble the nine patch blocks. Once the brainstorming was complete it was off to the races.


Here’s the pile of nine patch blocks waiting to be sewn in rows.


A photo of the blocks ready to be stitched into rows and eventually the quilt top.


Finally a not so great photo of the finished quilt top with two added borders.


While it’s not to easy to see the picture hanging alongside the quilt (I promise the photos of the quilt, once the longarm quilting and binding are done, will be much better) I think you can still see the difference between the pattern and my version.

The owner of the retreat center, Chris Daly, has a mini store where she sells her hand dyed fabrics, among other things. I shopped her store looking for fabrics that might compliment my quilt top. Fortunately I found two colors that matched my color scheme quite nicely. The orange was one that Chris had dyed and the blue is from Turtle Hand fabrics.

That’s a wrap for today. Daylight has come and gone and all of my sewing buddies have gone to bed. I guess I should probably do the same.

Cindy Anderson