Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A "Mushroom" Quilt

Hi Everyone,

One of my favorite authors is Diana Gabaldon.  She is getting lots of attention as her first novel, Outlander, is being filmed and shown on Starz.  If you are a fan, we are all excitedly waiting for Saturday night when Claire and Jamie are getting married.  If you aren't a fan, you should try reading the books--they really are great.

Anyway, I mention Diana, not just to chat about Outlander, but because the woman is such a great writer that I would read her grocery list if she published it!  A few years back, she published "The Outlandish Companion" as a supplement to her books, and I think it was in that book that I first read her descriptions of character development.  She said that the characters that she creates for her books fit into three major characters:  One is the Hard Nut:  characters that are necessary, but that are difficult to "see."   Another is the Onion--a character who continues to develop over the course of the story--revealing themselves in layers, like an onion.  And finally there is the Mushroom:  characters that just pop up, fully developed, seemingly overnight.

I love these categories so much because I think they can also apply to quilts, and I've been doing that ever since I read Diana's thoughts.  We all have Tough Nut projects--they are the ones all the way in the back of our UFO shelf!  The Onion is that quilt that you aren't too sure about in the beginning, but just keeps getting better, and/or otherwise changes as you work on it.  (This is my favorite kind of project) and then there are Mushrooms.  These are quilts that I had no intention (or plan) to make, and yet suddenly there they are!"  The quilt I'm sharing today is just such a project.

I was at the weekly "Sit and Sew" a couple weeks ago at my LQS, working on my applique and visiting with the ladies.  One of them was cutting and folding panels that had arrived in the shop.  I was sitting in such a position that she (and the panels) were in front of the shelves of fabric.  As I looked at her, my eyes would drift behind her to the fabric, and it seemed like there was just the perfect fabric for the panel right there!  I had no intention of making a quilt like that, though.

It's not that I didn't like the panel--it was quite pretty, actually, but I just have other things to do.  But I kept looking at that bolt of fabric.  Finally, when she completed her task and went to do something else, she left one of the panels behind.  So I got up and took it over to that fabric that caught my eye, and yes, it was perfect!  Was there any more?  Before I knew it, I had a whole collection of fabrics piled up that went beautifully with it!  Before I knew it, I was taking home three of them and a panel.

I got home and the next day I began.  I cut the panel apart and made patchwork.  I had the entire top done in an afternoon.

The panel is made so that you could cut the rectangles apart and sew them together to form an entire, complete scene of a tree full of birds, but I wanted to keep the rectangles separate, framed with patchwork, so I did a nine-patch detail.

Here is the finished top taped to my living room wall.  I was really pleased with how it came out!  The border fabric was a bit of a risk, yet in my opinion, it really works.  The next week, I took it in to show, and now it is living at the shop.  I "unintentionally" created a shop sample!  It's pretty exciting!

How about you?  Have you ever done a "mushroom" quilt?  (By the way, if you are an Outlander fan, and you've never heard Diana's character description before, you can find it online here.)

Have a great day!


  1. This panel looks so nice with the sashing you used. Sometimes things just insist on being made! Maddening isn't it? But satisfying when they turn out this well! : )

  2. I love the description of the characters and quilts - I make a lot of mushroom quilts! And speaking of mushroom quilts what is the information on that panel - I NEED IT.... right now! I love birds and these are beautiful. Would it be possible to purchase one from the shop you got this one at? My credit card is at the ready!

    1. I found a panel of those lovely birds today at a quilt show in Lawrenceburg IN -- can't wait to sew them up - thanks for the inspiration!

  3. This is such a pretty panel and you did a lovely job in creating something so beautiful that just jumped off the shelf.

  4. I've read most of Diana's books but not the one you mention - very interesting to apply it to your quilting! Love what you've done with the panel - we need customers like you at our shop - ones who create surprise samples for us!!!

  5. Wow...great job with that "mushroom" quilt! I love those descriptions. So accurate. :)

  6. How fun--love the birds! I read Diane's first book and watched the first episode free online--so good! We don't subscribe to that channel, so I will have to wait for the DVD :-(

  7. Very pretty! The funny thing is, I was at a quilt show in PA today and quite a few of the vendors had this panel but no one had it made up into a sample. I was tempted but could not quite figure out what I would do with it - wish I has seen your version yesterday!

  8. You transformed that somewhat plain panel into a beautiful quilt! I love the little 9-patches inside the sashing.

  9. Great job with this panel. I haven't seen it locally - do you know what line it's from? I liked the description of the characters/quilts. I sure do have a few "tough nuts"!

  10. This looks great! You did a fantastic job with it--love the sashing!

  11. Contratulations! It's beautiful! Maybe that's the best kind of quilt to make! One that really grabs us that we didn't see coming! I made a tiny scrap quilt once that was just going to be the size of a placemat, but I kept going and going with it. I finally added a border and entered it in a quilt show and it won a prize. My first entry and my first prize! I was totally shocked!

  12. What a beautiful quilt, JoAnne. The colors you chose to go with the printed panels are perfect.