Sunday, 8 March 2015

Quercus Robur

From tiny acorns do mighty oak trees grow.  Quercus Robur is the English Oak, there is actually a huge number of varieties.  It is incredible when you see some and think just how old they are, the centuries they have seen and changes in the world.  I love the thick trunks, patterns in the bark, and gnarled old branches.  

Searching for acorns on the ground and the tiny cups they fall out of, just the right size for fairies in my imagination.  The feel of the smoothness inside the cup and the lovely bobbly pattern outside.  

The Oak is one of the easiest to identify and as a child I can remember gathering leaves, drawing around them and also putting them under paper and rubbing over the top with wax crayons.

The Oak takes a mighty long time to grow and so too did one of my sewing projects that was totally inspired by it. Once upon a time, well sixteen years ago to be precise, one of my sons was a  Beaver Scout and took part in a special activity day in the County arranged as the Chief Scout was visiting.  One of the activities was planting an acorn and he brought it home to grow.  As it grew he kept re-potting it, and it is now taller than him.  Actually I think the growth has been stunted as it is still in a pot, albeit rather a large one.

Perhaps this inspired my son, certainly he has always loved trees, he was constantly climbing the giant eucalyptus tree we had in the garden, and he even went on to learn aboriculture at college.  Anyway, I decided to make him a quilt using 'Shaded Oaks' flannel fabrics by Moda.  There, even the name of these fabrics links to the Oak and it was the colours and more masculine designs of these fabrics that appealed to me as well as well as the brushed flannel itself.

Always keen to play, I used textile paints on real leaves from my son's oak and printed them on to some of the squares.  I then embroidered around the edges and on some added veins.

Some of the leaves were smaller and disintegrated a little but I think that adds to the charm.  Some leaves I just drew round and then embroidered, stem stitch, back stitch and chain stitch.  

I found some gorgeous variegated threads from 21st Century Yarns.  The shading worked really well.

My mother appliqued an oak leaf using fabric that came from my grandmother's stash, a satin stitch edging embellishing the edge.

My daughter stitched round an oak leaf too.  Generations creating a quilt, stitched with love, and hopefully will last for generations to come, seeing history just like the oak trees.

Last year, for the first time, our oak produced it's own acorns, something to celebrate in the quilt.  I used a detached button hole stitch to make the acorn cup and it seemed to work quite well. 

Slowly the pieces went together and into strips.

Eventually all pieced and ready for a border.  Another Moda brushed flannel was ideal, with trees, saws and boots, lumberjack inspired.

The whole top was then hand quilted so it did take a long time and I managed to keep it hidden until the centre was complete, but I am very happy with the result, and far more importantly, so is my son.

Looking at the photos now and seeing the cat hairs reminds me that I had another two 'helpers' in making the quilt.  Two little puss cats enjoyed sitting on the quilt whilst I was stitching and rolling around on top of it every time it was laid out on the floor!

Double trouble!  Although cat hair is quite appropriate as although my son seems to have a magnetism for the cats, he is definitely Miss Mischief's favourite person.



  1. What a wonderful thing to do, I am sure that your son will treasure the quilt for all time.

  2. Sue-- what a creative venture!! I'm loving the quilt!!! Beautiful fall colors and the addition of the leaf prints is just genius.. I'm sure your son will love this gorgeous quilt!