Victory Garden / Union Jack Quilt

Where do I begin? I bought this quilt pattern from Busy Bee Designs many years ago with the hope of making it for my mom. My mom was Grenadian, a Commonwealth country. She immigrated to England in the 60s at 18 to become a nurse. She later moved to the US in her late 20s and became an American citizen, but England loomed large in our home. I still have an annoying habit of writing things with British spelling because that’s what my parents did and how I learned. My parents did small things like drink tea, say “fanny” for my little girl parts, and zed for Z. There were pot holders and 80s velvet wall art with tourist locations in England around our home. We traveled to England several times when I was a child to visit cousins. My mom would go on about the great quality of English wools, linens and lingerie. Earliest vacation memories are the tube of London and standing in line for Madam Tussauds. My parents videotaped Fergie and Diana’s wedding and that was my entertainment for years. I even had a Princess Diana paper doll book with a paper Spencer tiara I wore until my Jheri curl spray turned it into mush. Despite my annoying posh British accent through college, I’m not trying to pull a Hilaria Baldwin. I’ve just always had a connection to England through my mom and feed it in adulthood with a steady diet of British comedies and police procedurals.

My mama also really loved quilts. I can’t tell you how many times we pulled over in some Amish or Mennonite town to look at quilts. She said when she retired she was going to start collecting them. We went to the Gee’s Bend quilt exhibit in 2007 when it was in Baltimore and wandered around marveling at the artistry. As soon as I started sewing, my mom would ask when she was getting a quilt. Well, as quilts go, I never got this one started when she was alive.

In 2019 my friend Mary and I drove to see fiber artist Chawne Kimber speak in Pennsylvania. While out there I decided it was high time I made this quilt. I chose some really bright colors based on my finished Multicolored Union Jack Needlepoint canvas by Kate Dickerson. I started and stopped with the sewing of this one because it’s quilting, y’all. Garments will always have my heart and eclipses any other kind of sewing any day.

Mary and I chose this Robert Kaufman Fabrics Sevenberry Japan Nara Homespun Style Waves fabric in white for the sashing and borders. I thought it clever since England was known for the navy and an ocean separated Grenada from England.

The back is a chevron red, white and blue I bought from Fabricmart. I think the original is a more aqua print and mine is closer to blue with the red tilting orange. I’m fine with this as the fabric was discounted at FM.

Reviews you find online might complain about fabric wastage. As I’m not a regular quilter and have no desire to have a quilt stash, so I didn’t notice. I will say if you’re particular about the accuracy of the Union Jack flags, this wouldn’t be for you. A real flag has the white stripes in different widths, these are all uniform. That said, someone on IG said they were doing an authentic flag quilt and the different sizes of white was making them nuts.

I finished this quilt top up while we were in Key West over the winter and shipped it off to Michelle at Quilts Made With Love for the finishing touches. I was lucky enough to find Michelle after musing on Instagram that I really wanted to find an African American longarm quilter. Someone tipped me off to Michelle and I’m so happy! She chose “Rumble” for the quilting pattern and also sewed my binding. Her communication was top notch and she happily provided me updates along the way. I will definitely be sending her more quilts in the future, because there will be more.

Image taken by Michelle

I’m starting to have a real quilt collection! I have high hopes for finding a lucite quilt / towel rack like this one I saw at Jordan’s grandpa’s house a few years ago. I’m going to need something (that isn’t a wood, country chic ladder) to display these on soon.

36 comments

  1. It’s beautiful! The bright colors are happy and the variations are well-balanced without being matchy-matchy. Thank you for sharing your work. Perhaps your mom’s spirit is aware of this quilt even though she is no longer physically in this world.

  2. Well the quilt is lovely but the story of your mom is more so, and how you’ve found a connection with her even through the quilt even though she’s no longer around.

  3. I will never see the Union Jack again and not think of this wonderful creation. It makes me smile. A very clever use of color.

  4. This is so great! I have a quilt lingering that needs to be finished so I can completely imagine the huge sense of achievement it feels to finish a project like this!! Haha! Also, I come from a family with very tenuous ties to England, but we are all total Anglophiles! All the British TV all the time!!! My Auntie has a vanity plate that reads “IBABRIT” but to the best of my knowledge she’s never set foot in England 😂 I love this quilt as a testament to your “mum”. It’s lovely.

  5. I especially like how the quilt and needlepoint match. Also thanks for explaining your connection to the UK. I’ve always wondered why it was so strong. So do you have your next quilt project picked out yet?

  6. It is beautiful!!! I, too, am happy to know all the background about your mom, dad, and all the things British. Umm, why can’t you have the Lucite holder from Jordan’s grandpa? As an elder, I’d be happy to give up most anything if someone younger wanted it.

      • This looks wildly challenging, I say as someone who has made quite a few crib size quilts! All these triangles and bias edges! And the colors are inspired.

        ceci

        • Lol! I think the most challenging part was keeping track of ALL the different strips of fabric! If I ever sew this (or my next quilt) my big lesson learned is to cut everything out the first time. I found myself having to go back to cut a few more times mid-construction and that stank.

  7. What a great quilt! Again you motivate me – to pick up my “millennium stars” quilt. Two guesses when that was started! I also like needlepoint. You’ll enjoy this often!

    • Such a lovely story about your mom and your quilt journey.
      I love the colors so much, I could base my spring/summer wardrobe off of the colors in your quilt.

      • I must say, working on this made me realize how DRAWN I am to bright colors, not necessarily on me. But really stark, high contrast colors are my favorite. And I think I’m not really a printed pattern person when it comes to quilts. Everything I want to quilt is a solid.

  8. The quilt is fabulous; colours are beautiful. While home schooling, my son and I had to draw the Union Jack and the different white widths was a pain in the backside. I’m British, and can tell you we NEVER say fanny for butt (or bum as we’d say). Fanny is a child word for vagina in the UK, so the American usage is a source of endless amusement. Glad to hear your mum kept up with tea!

    • Doh. I got it mixed up. So, my mom would tell me to ‘wash my fanny’ for my vag, so when kids school would say “fanny”, I’d get REALLY confused, lol. Thanks for straightening me out.

  9. The quilt is beautiful and as a new ‘lockdown’ quilt maker I can appreciate the hours of work and accuracy that is needed for a good result such as this. There were so many senior nurses from the Caribbean when I trained back in the 1980’s at St George’s Hospital in London – they were all so welcoming to us student nurses and I have many fond memories of those days. And here is a very useless piece of information – it is said that the Union Jack is only a Union Jack when it is flown from the mast of a ship when it is not in harbour – otherwise it is known as the Union flag.

    • I deeply appreciate useless random information and will remember this one, Claire. Thanks for that memory! I think my mom was at St Mary’s hospital back when nurses formed. She even told a story about wearing her white nurses cape for a coat her first winter because she didn’t have enough money to buy a proper coat. She still had her nurse hats from there and would let me wear them as a kid to play hospital. Thanks for letting me reminisce a little. I hadn’t thought of that cape story in years.

  10. What a lovely quilt, with beautiful memories associated with it. What a joy it will be in your home!

  11. Your quilt is gorgeous, and is such an accomplishment–I know how loaded emotionally such projects can be, and while they’re hard to start, there is a deep soul-filling at their completion. If you save searches for “quilt rack” and “blanket rack” on ebay, I think what you’re looking for will find you, and you might also consider spray-painting a metal quilt rack in a bright coordinating color as an option.

    • Ohmiword. It was so loaded and I didn’t fully realize it. But when I finished, I just started thinking about my mom and was totally overcome. You’re absolutely right, it was soul-filling to finish.

  12. Oh my, this is amazing. As an English woman I have quilt envy and want to make one for myself. I really don’t care about the white stripes not being accurate it is about the spirit of the quilt. The bright colours make it sing. x

    • Whew! I tell you what, it would have driven me mad keeping track of the different widths. I’m usually a stickler for accuracy, but I’ll take your lead and say the spirit of the quilt is there!

  13. Just love your quilt and the story behind it. Be careful quilt making can become addictive.

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