Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day! May Day!

19" x 23"
No, this is not a call for help - though if you saw my sewing room at the moment you'd say I really do NEED help!

But I'm talking about the first of May. The tradition involves leaving a basket, usually with flowers or trinkets within, at the doorstep of a friend or loved one- ringing the bell and running away. Apparently if you catch the culprit a kiss is your reward....at least that's one story on Wikipedia where you will find out more than you ever wanted to know about this holiday. Quite an interesting and complex history going back to pre-Christian times.
I have to admit I have never left a basket for anyone....Nor have I found one at my doorstep. Sniff, sniff. But I do have a few basket and flower themed quilts to share.

Signature Quilt - 17" x 23"
Hand Quilted

This little quilt is the result of a group project with eleven quilting friends, the Quiltin' Babes. (see our red and white quilts from last Christmas)
Each of us made and signed a basket - actually 12 baskets - and we assembled and finished them according to our own taste.

As I think you know, I DO love a 9 patch...and this variation seen in an old magazine caught my eye. The block close-up will make it easy for you to duplicate if it strikes your fancy. Blocks are separated with neutral sashing.

70" x 80"

I made if for my mother-in-law on her 80th birthday.
I seldom machine quilt but in this case it got 'done' in a timely way and she was thrilled.

Many quilts I've made for loved ones have come back to me....this is one of them.

I also seldom do 'fancy' labels but for gifts it's nice and this block lent itself to miniaturizing for a cute, coordinating label.

Here's a top of colorful baskets - I used to belong to lots of guilds and took part in the block exchange drawings. I won these blocks years ago, put the top together in the zig-zag strip style and....that's where it stopped!

It's huge....Do I want to finish it? For which bed? Will I add a border?

90"W x 80" L

Close-up of pink print

This pattern, Window Box, is from the book Watercolor Quilts by Magaret and  Slusser. I made it in 1995 when the 'watercolor' technique was the newest excitement. With the exception of the border, it is entirely composed of 1.5" squares and hand quilted with a bit of beading (dew!)
I recall the careful positioning of each square on my design wall - and walking by and changing things until finally I had to say, "Sew it together!" I heard of one woman who did the same deliberating with the entire family making changes as they scrutinized it. She was finally ready to sew.... when a gust of wind rearranged the pieces!!

Window Box
24" x 26"

I do have other quilts with floral themes but these represent the 'springiest'. I'll end with the vintage basket quilt I showed you in a recent post....currently gracing my guest room wall.

 Happy May !! 
Did someone leave a basket at your door?


  1. I had never heard of the basket tradition for May Day and now you are the second blog in a row where I have read about it. We used to dance the Maypole in school, and there is still a small community just west of us that has a May Day festival with a Maypole the first Saturday of May. They even crown a queen.
    I absolutely love the little signature basket quilt--fun idea.
    That 9-patch flower quilt is a great spring quilt idea--I've never seen that pattern. You did a beautiful job!! I will save the photos--I feel a mini coming on! : )

  2. No baskets this year but we always clebrated as a child and then in Chanhassen as well! Very fun to set the baskets down, ring the bell and run ;-)

    Fun post!
    Love your quilts.

  3. I've never heard of that May Day tradition. Very cool.
    And I love the 9-patch variation you made for your mother. Do you know if there is a pattern name or a link?

  4. Lovely quilts to celebrate your spring and I too have never heard of the May Day basket tradition. Here is Australia May Day signifies a time to remember winning the 8 hour week and we even have a public holiday to mark this historic occasion. It is autumn here which is a lovely time in the tropics. Take care.

  5. I love the quilt above the bed it is just so beautiful
    yes I have heard of the may day tradition but have never done it.
    sounds like fun!


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