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A Shower of Flowers: Nancy Mahoney and Her Fabulous (Vintage and New) Floral-Themed Quilts

As soon as we decided on May Flowers as our theme for this month, I knew immediately what (and whom!) I would write about in today’s post.

The multi-talented Nancy Mahoney

Over the years, Nancy Mahoney and I have crossed “professional paths” many times. I’ve edited a number of her books for Martingale & Company; more than once, she has generously lent me vintage quilts from her extensive collection, including five beauties for my appearance on The Quilt Show (Episode 805).

Nancy, who lives in Palm Coast, FL, is a prolific quiltmaker, author (12 books and counting!), teacher, editor, and pattern designer. She also designs fabric and creates quilts for P&B Textiles, and has been collecting quilts for many years, with a particular interest in those from the 1930s, which she began acquiring well before they had achieved their current, highly collectible status.

As is typical of quilts from that period, many of Nancy’s vintage quilts showcase wonderful floral designs.

This floral-themed Dresden Daisy Chain dates from the 1930s. It’s from Nancy’s collection; she lent it to me for my appearance on The Quilt Show.

“Prior to the 1930s, floral designs were much more abstract,” Nancy explains, “but in the ’30s, these designs became more realistic; a rose looked like a rose. Favorite traditional patterns were rediscovered, while some patterns, such as Double Wedding Ring, appeared for the first time.” Syndicated patterns appeared in newspapers across the country, often attributed to fictitious designers with names like Laura Wheeler and Alice Brooks. Kits were popular as well.

This wonderful 1930s Pansy quilt–also from Nancy’s collection–was made from a kit. Similar kits were available from Needlecraft Magazine for $3.49 and included applique shapes stamped for cutting, and a top pre-marked for applique and quilting.

Detail of Nancy’s vintage Pansy quilt

I guess it’s not surprising that Nancy not only collects wonderful quilts with floral themes, but makes them, too! She draws her inspiration from a variety of sources. She loves to garden, and enjoys visiting gardens and nurseries, especially when she travels, to view the many varieties of flowers and to study their colors and textures. Of course, she is influenced by the floral quilts of the 1930s as well. The following four quilts are from her book, Applique Quilt Revival: Updated Patterns from the ’30s, which includes patterns and instructions for making them.

Tulip Patch, 78 3/4″ x 91 3/8″, designed by Nancy Mahoney, made by Loretta Sylvester, and machine quilted by Kelly Wise

Rose and Bow Wreath, 60 1/2″ x 60 1/2″, designed by Nancy Mahoney, made by Julie Sheckman, and machine quilted by Nan Moore

Peony Garden, 72 5/8″ x 84 5/8″, designed and made by Nancy Mahoney, machine quilted by Dawn Kelly

Flower Garden, 46 1/2″ x 55 3/4″, designed and made by Nancy Mahoney, machine quilted by Nan Moore

This next quilt is from Nancy’s classic book, Treasures from the ’30s. It’s one of eight wonderful designs–many of them flower themed–patterned in its pages.

Bell Flowers, 64″ x 64″, designed and made by Nancy Mahoney, machine quilted by Nan Moore

Here’s the cover of Treasures, so you can look for it at your favorite quilt shop.

The final three quilts appear in one of Nancy’s most recent books, aptly titled Fast, Fusible Flower Quilts.

Precious Peonies, 68 1/2″ x 68 1/2″, designed, pieced, and appliqued by Nancy Mahoney, machine quilted by Nan Moore

Daisy Vines, 43 1/2″ x 53 1/2″, designed and made by Nancy Mahoney

Orange Marmalade, 65 1/2″ x 82 1/2″, designed, pieced, and appliqued by Nancy Mahoney, machine quilted by Kelly Wise

Nancy’s longtime publisher, Martingale & Company, has generously provided a copy of Fast, Fusible Flower Quilts as a giveaway for one of our lucky readers. The book  includes patterns for “Precious Peonies,” “Daisy Vines,” “Orange Marmalade,” and eight more colorful, floral-themed pieced and appliqued quilts. Just leave us a comment telling us your favorite flower by midnight (PDT), Wednesday, May 16, and you’ll be entered in a random drawing for this book. I’ll announce the winner in my Friday, May 18 post.

Among her many quilt-related activities, Nancy enjoys traveling and teaching. Visit her website for details about her extensive listing of workshops and lectures, and for information on her current teaching schedule. If you plan to attend International Quilt Market in Kansas City, MO, later this month, look for Nancy at the Martingale booth on Friday, May 18, at 1:30 PM, where she’ll be signing copies of her brand-new book, Kaleidoscope Paper Piecing. (I told you she was prolific!)

Many thanks to Nancy for the photos of her vintage quilts, and to Martingale & Company for the use of the quilt images from Nancy’s books.

Finally, I’m happy to announce that the winner of the triple giveaway from my April 20 post is…Pip! Pip, please send me your snail-mail address via and I’ll get your package off to you with a Non-Stick Pressing Sheet from June Tailor, a package of five 9″ x 12″ sheets of Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 from The Warm Company, and a craft pack of Fast2Fuse from C&T Publishing.

That’s all for now. ‘Til next time, happy sewing!

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