When I first started considering a series of quilts inspired by Maud Lewis, I knew that one of them had to focus on tulips. Tulips are such an iconic feature of Maud’s paintings and I love how she worked floral elements into so many of her works.
While tulips weren’t often the focal point, the motif was often repeated in her paintings: a row of tulips in along a road, or a flowerbed in front of a team of oxen. Whenever I look for inspiration for designing a quilt pattern, I look for ways to play with repetition and rhythm. Maud’s tulips inspire me because while they are basic shapes, there are lots of opportunities to create movement.
One of the challenges with quilt design is coming up with a pattern that is dynamic and playful. While I love working within traditional grid lines of quilting, I wanted this pattern to have some more natural and organic elements so it didn’t feel so static. I try to create variation in my patterns, which can require a little more attention for the maker (but worth it!). For example, the Tulip Garden quilt uses mirror images of the same block – so there’s a little bit of careful reading and planning required when making this quilt!
All my designs start out on paper. I like to work with grid paper notebooks so I can visualize how the pieces will be assembled in a larger grid. I try not to pay too much attention to whether my pattern is going to be easy to cut out or assemble at this stage. At this point, I’m just getting all my ideas out and simplifying them later!
From there I use Adobe Illustrator to mock up blocks and different sizes of my quilt. I design the quilt with finished seam allowances first, then I break it down into pieces and add seam allowances.
From design to quilt
I use a non-scientific method of sketching, visualization, and elementary school math to figure out my fabric requirements. I’m a really visual person so I struggle with plugging formulas into Excel and trusting the numbers. Because this quilt has so many curved pieces, it was tricky to figure out sizes and seam allowances. This pattern allows a little bit of wiggle room for those curved pieces so that you can trim them down and square up if it isn’t sewn perfectly.
I did a few block tests with scraps before I went all out and bought new fabric. I made a crib size and a throw size version of this pattern so that I could practice with measurements and tweak things as I went.
For this pattern, I had two awesome and skilled pattern testers: Micheline and Karen who were excellent at giving feedback and taking this pattern for a test drive. With their guidance, the pattern is much easier to read and the instructions are much clearer than the first iterations!
Digital pattern download
I’m so thrilled with this pattern design! It’s bright and playful and I feel like I really achieved my goal of making it feel very “Maud-like”!
I’m selling this pattern as a pdf pattern in my etsy shop. After you purchase, you’ll receive a link to download your own copy of the pattern to print at home.
If you make this quilt, I would love to see it! Share it on Instagram with the hashtag #TulipGardenQuilt.