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Tiny Flower-Inspired Quilts: Design, Embellish, Display!

The rainy season has ended here in Northern California…

Stormy Weather, 3″ x 5″, made by Darra Williamson

…and those April showers–as always–have delivered a bounty of beautiful blossoms.

The wild iris are abundant in late spring at Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

It’s not too early for roses in our part of the world. If we’re lucky, they bloom through Thanksgiving!

Love those colorful coreopsis!

How can I not be inspired?

Rememberance: Pink Blossoms, 3″ x 5″, made by Darra Williamson

If flowers in the wild and in the garden aren’t inspirational enough, a visit to a local nursery is a surefire way to get those creative juices flowing. Alden Lane Nursery, in Livermore (CA) is a favorite. My husband loves their vegetable starts and fruit trees; I love the incredible variety of flowers and fanciful floral vignettes.

A wheelbarrow of blooms at Alden Lane Nursery

A Saturday morning visit always provides a burst of creative energy!

Alden Lane, 3″ x 5″, made by Darra Williamson

As my “year of creativity” moves forward, I continue to experiment with new compositions, techniques, and materials in my “non-threatening” 3″ x 5″ format. (My husband calls it “Mouse House Art.”) I guess it’s natural that I’d be affected by what I see as the seasons unfold and Mother Nature reveals fresh palettes and textures. My current collages are heavily inspired by what’s blooming outside my window.

I’m Looking Through You, 3″ x 5″, made by Darra Williamson

Embellishment plays a big role in creating many of these little pieces. I use lots of beads, especially seed and bugle beads. Silver bugle beads make perfect raindrops in Stormy Weather, which leads off this post. I love the way they catch the light! I used bugle beads for the greenery in Remembrance: Pink Blossoms, and to embellish the leaves in Alden Lane, both also shown above. In I’m Looking Through You, I used bugles to “soften” the line between garden and sky. I sew the beads on with silk thread and a size 12 quilting between or applique needle.

In Up Close and Personal (below), golden seed beads create the center (and focal point) of my close-up bloom. I love images that zoom in close or show only part of the whole. Sometimes it takes a moment to figure out what you’re seeing, but that’s part of the appeal. It’s a design idea you might like to try.

Up Close and Personal, 3″ x 5″, made by Darra Williamson

Buttons make lovely flowers. I used them for the blossoms in Alden Lane and the whimsical flowers in Button Vine (below). I usually attach buttons with matching cotton thread–which I also used in Button Vine to attach the leafy charms–although I have been known to use a glue gun on occasion!

Button Vine, 3″ x 5″, made by Darra Williamso

Truth is, I never know what will turn up in one of my collages. Tranquility (below) probably represents one of my more “inventive” recycling efforts.

Tranquility, 3″ x 5″, made by Darra Williamson

Those white flowers started life as holders for incense, which I enjoy each evening as part of my bedtime routine. (Very relaxing!) A favorite variety includes a holder in every box, so I’ve amassed quite a collection. I was about to toss them recently when…bingo! I stitched down a scrap of ribbon, secured the “flowers” with French knots, and glue-gunned a few glass-bead leaves for good measure.

I guess you know by now that I love making these little quilted collages and I hope you’ll be inspired to give them–and some of my embellishing tips–a try. I’ve already harvested a bumper crop of ideas for larger quilts, and–in the meantime–I’ve found lots of ways to display and enjoy my tiny treasures. (They make nice little birthday, thank you, anniversary, get well, and hostess gifts too.)

From the left: acrylic frame stand-up frame, plain glass clip-on frame, miniature easel (great for bulky embellishments), standard frame with mat

Instructions for constructing the basic 3″ x 5″ background “sandwich” appear in an earlier post. You’ll find more of my little collages there as well.

Before I sign off, I want to say “congratulations!” to Barbara (lily of the valley), winner of Nancy Mahoney’s  book, Fast, Fusible Flower Quilts from my May 4 post. Barbara, please email us your snail mail address at, and we’ll get that book out to you right away.

That’s it for now. ‘Til next time, happy stitching!

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