Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Bird of Paradise Quilt

I love mysteries, so that is probably why I've always been intrigued by the Bird of Paradise Quilt. There's a lot of speculation as to the meaning of the quilt. Was it a wedding quilt? Does it commemorate someone's life? What's up with the elephant? Lots of questions!

There seem to be many pairs of fruits, birds, and animals and a woman, but no man. Interestingly, the quilt was found with templates, and one of them is a silhouette of a male figure. Some of the templates are made from newspaper dated during the Civil War, so perhaps the groom-to-be never made it to the wedding. Or maybe he ran off with the elephant show? We will never know, but it's fun to think about.

Earlier this year, Kansas City Star Co. published A Bountiful Life by Karen Mowery. There is a little history about the Bird of Paradise quilt, but for the most part, it's a pattern book. There are closeup photos and traceable patterns for each block, including a newly imagined suitor.

Last Sunday, I started making my version of A Bountiful Life. I've chosen 12 of my favorite blocks in the book to work on for a smaller version. It's lots of fun choosing the fabrics for the people--kind of like dressing dolls!

If you click on the link above for "A Bountiful Life", you can see some pages from the book--one of them is this lady.  You can see that I gave her a little cosmetic makeover. She has a new chin implant and a lovely Jane Eyre hairstyle. I'm thinking that I should have done some liposuction on those calves! 

There are some embroidery details that I haven't done yet, like the facial features and the fringe on this table cloth:

I changed the position of the table legs a bit to give it a little perspective. I am  limiting myself to using  fabrics from my collection of Jo Morton designs.
And this is the beginning of the missing man. Karen Mowery created a version of him in the book--he looks like he has come a-courting with a valentine for the lady and his trusty black lab.

I made a big pile of stems that you can see on the left. The pieces above are ironed onto  a double layer of C. Jenkins  freezer paper (thicker than the grocery store stuff). I am using the starch method of applique, so the edges will be pressed to the back, freezer paper removed, and then the applique pieces will be glued in place. I'm using Jillily Studio Appli-Glue (awesome!) and Karen Kay Buckley's Perfect Circles for the berries, grapes, etc.

C. Jenkins Freezer Paper: C. Jenkins Co.
Jillily Appli-Glue: Jillily Studio
Perfect Circles: Karen Kay Buckley.com


  1. Beautiful fabrics and what a wonderful pattern! This is going to be so neat!

  2. Oh, Karen, your Bountiful blocks look so pretty. Great fabrics. Love the lady's new hairstyle lol.

  3. I so enjoyed reading your posts and seeing your beautiful quilts. I have a friend in Breezy Point, she is also a crafter. It would make me smile if it turned out you knew each other.

  4. The girl's thighs look like mine!