Stunning flower quilts – to quilt by number!

Geraniums quiltSome quilters love traditional blocks. Some adore folk art. Others love a good ol’ dose of country style, while still others fancy eclectic, scrappy looks. Different strokes for different folks, right? But no matter what kind of quilts you enjoy, there’s one motif that’s so versatile, it’s been featured in every genre mentioned above (and then some). And that’s why most quilters would agree: everyone loves flower quilts!

In her book Cutting-Garden Quilts—just re-released by popular demand—designer Melinda Bula relies on a tried-and-true method for making her stunning flower quilts (like those jaw-dropping geraniums above). And it’s very possible you’ve already tried the same technique, in a roundabout way: quilt by number. Same concept as the paint-by-number sets you may have loved as a child, but you use fabric instead of paint to cover your canvas, along with fusible-quilting techniques. (And in this case, letters instead of numbers.)

The process starts to look easier when you see Melinda’s “fabric keys.” As an example, here’s her gorgeous “Coneflowers” quilt:

Coneflowers quilt

And here’s the fabric key that goes with it:

Fabric key for Coneflowers quilt

Simply match fabrics to the examples in the key and you’re on your way!

Even with the handy fabric key, the left side of your brain might be telling you that Melinda’s flower quilts look too complex to make, and are therefore completely out of the question. (I know that was my first response.) But believe it or not, it’s a straightforward, step-by-step process from beginning to end—just like anything you create. Plus, once you learn Melinda’s techniques, you can use them to transform any photo or illustration into an appliquéd work of art.

Here are the other suitable-for-framing quilts you can make in Cutting-Garden Quilts:

Flower quilts from Cutting-Garden Quilts

Let’s take a peek at how Melinda makes and applies the appliqué pieces in this excerpt from Cutting-Garden Quilts—you’ll see how doable these amazing quilts really are.


Melinda BulaEven if you don’t feel like you have an ounce of creativity in you, I assure you that anyone can make the quilts in Cutting-Garden Quilts with amazing results. I have watched students of all artistic levels be successful using my technique.

I’ve written the book with two different learning styles in mind. For those of you who have an artistic eye and want to create your own masterpieces, the details will spark your creativity and encourage you along the way. I’ve included ways to break down a picture, lay out the design, and most importantly, select colors. Use the information as a study guide to pursue your own creative path.

Social Climber Roses quiltFor those of you who desire to make a beautiful flower quilt but don’t consider yourself artistic enough to jump into your own designs, I’ve created five patterns that you can use like a paint-by-numbers painting. Each of the patterns is broken down into easy-to-follow steps, and most importantly, all of the patterns include a fabric key to help you through the color-selection process. Selecting the right colors is the key to creating a great flower quilt. I hope you’ll become comfortable enough to dabble with your own designs, but until then, I’ve taken care of the more challenging parts.

After the initial prep work, it’s time to make your appliqués and apply them to your background. This is where your quilt finally begins to take shape.

Make and Apply the Flower Appliqués

1. Lay a piece of freezer paper or tracing paper over the enlarged pattern. You will be tracing only a few shapes at a time, so the paper needs to be only as big as the pieces you want to trace. Using an ultra-fine-point Sharpie marker, trace the desired shapes onto the paper, leaving some space between shapes. Roughly cut out each shape.

Tracing the applique shapes
Trace a few shapes at a time onto the paper.

2. Pin each shape to the right side of the fabric that you’ve chosen for that shape. Cut it out, following the shape of the piece. If you don’t pin the freezer-paper shape to the right side of the fabric, it will be reversed when you position it on the background. Do not try and trace the shape onto the paper side of the fabric’s fusible web or you’ll get the same result. Remove the freezer-paper pattern.

Cut out the applique shapes
Pin the paper shape to the right side of the fabric and cut it out.

3. Remove the paper backing and stick the appliqué to the background fabric using the enlarged drawing as a guide.

Position the applique shapes
Use the enlarged drawing as a placement guide when positioning the appliqués.

4. Repeat steps 1–3 until all of the appliqué pieces have been cut out and applied to the background. When you are satisfied with the placement of all of the appliqués, use a hot, dry iron to fuse them in place.


Cutting-Garden QuiltsAlong with her step-by-step instructions, Melinda shares chapters on harnessing your creativity, creating a place to work, fusing your appliquéd flowers, quilting by machine (what she calls “renegade thread play”), and adding finishing touches. From beginning to end, she’s got you covered—and a fun quilt-by-letter process is all it takes to begin!

What kind of flower quilts have you made—and what techniques did you use to make them? Tell us your floral story in the comments and you could win a copy of the Cutting-Garden Quilts eBook! We’ll choose a winner at random one week from today and let you know by email if you’ve won.

Purchase Cutting-Garden Quilts today and instantly download the eBook for free.

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Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The randomly chosen winner is Cheryl, who writes:

“Absolutely stunning quilts! I would love winning a copy of this book to help me get started on these flower quilts. I have never tried anything like this, but this book and instructions make it look like something I could handle. Unfortunately for me, I’ve been intimidated by appliqué work and haven’t tried doing it much. I did make a lap quilt with a simple heart appliqué that is very functional, but it looks nothing near as beautiful as this type of appliqué. I love the ‘paint-by-number’ look that’s achieved. Thanks so much for the giveaway. And please… keep quilting!”

Cheryl, we’ll email you about your free eBook. Congratulations!


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