Welcome to the Whimsy Garden Sew-along!

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I am so excited to start this sew-along! Please join me in sewing the Whimsy Garden quilt from my book, Petal + Stem. We will be sewing this quilt over the next 12 weeks. As the gardens begin to grow and bloom, so will our quilts!

This is Whimsy Garden, finishing at 60″ x 72.” Disclaimer: My quilt is actually called Garden Whimsy in the book but I made a mistake! I debated the name back and forth and should have looked in the book before starting this, obviously! We will go with Whimsy Garden because I have been advertising it this way for weeks! You can find the instructions on page 64 of Petal + Stem. The book is required for the sew-along for copyright reasons. If you have any trouble locating a copy, let me know and I will help you to find a local online shop so that you can place an order. There are always copies available in my Etsy shop.

The Plan

Before we get started, I want to lay out the plan for the next 12 weeks.

DateWhat We’ll Be Doing…Joined By…
April 13Intro, Palette Selection, PrecuttingRachel Hauser
April 27First Row, Share Free Block!Andrea Hansen
May 11Second RowCindy Weins
May 25Third RowKim Niedzwiecki
June 8Fourth RowNatalie Santini
June 22QuiltingChristina Lane

Every two week segment will have a guest quilter joining us! They will offer another perspective and additional inspiration to help you when planning your palette, rows, or quilting.

Palette Selection

Let’s dig in! Sorry, I couldn’t help myself…I live with a punster.

Today, I would like to talk about choosing your palette. In order to prepare for the next installment of the sew-along, you will need to have your background fabric chosen and pre-cut. It’s important that you pre-cut the background fabric sections, as described in the instructions, before you begin paper piecing. The yardage measurements were based on careful use of fabric including pre-cutting and then using the off-cut pieces to paper piece your blocks.

For the version of Whimsy Garden that I sewed for the book, I chose a low volume background. I used Christopher Thompson’s Blossom Tone on Tone Cream for Riley Blake. It’s a great blender that comes in many colors. You can see them here. I then chose scrappy prints from my stash for the paper pieced blocks. My palette was what I would call springy!

I wanted a totally different look for my sew-along quilt so I decided to go with all solids instead of tonal prints. I looked to my garden for inspiration.

I knew that I wanted to use a citron kind of green. Rather than reserving it for the foliage, I decided to make it my background fabric. This means that I will need to stretch a little to find different greens for the leaves and grass that will contrast with but compliment the citron. The flower colors will be shades of pink, plum, and apricot. There might be a little white added, and some warm shade of honey for the terracotta pot.

Colors in top row: AGF Pure Elements Lemonade, Dark Citron, Empire Yellow, Appletini
Second row: Kona Jungle, AGF Pure Elements Spiceberry, Cherry Lipgloss, Sweet Pink
Third row: AGF Raw Gold, Flamingo, Plum Preserve, Festival Fuchsia
Fourth Row: AGF Pure Elements Snow, Coral Reef, Light Citron

This is the assortment that I am starting with. I reserve the right to modify my choices as I go and I hope that you will give yourselves that permission too! I am going to use Art Gallery Pure Solids. They are my favorite solids for paper piecing because they have a really tight weave and don’t stretch as much as other solids and press really flat. The rectangular piece in the lower right is Light Citron and it will be my background fabric. I think that the look will be fresh and vibrant and I look forward to seeing it come together! I feel like this is a warmer, more summery palette.

You might decide on your palette by choosing a favorite fabric with multiple colors and letting those colors guide you, or by looking at some beautiful garden photos or seed catalogs.

Also, be sure to visit Rachel from Stitched in Color, who is sharing tips on color palette selection! Rachel is also a Lucky Spool author and her recent book is called The Quilter’s Field Guide to Color. She is sure to give you some great ideas!

Fabric Selection

Once you have settled on your palette, it’s time to choose your background fabric. When paper piecing, I like to look for fabrics like those in the photo above. On the far left, we have a Moda Grunge. It provides a textured background with more depth than a pure solid. Next are a series of prints with small, non directional prints. The last is a floral with widely spaced flowers. All of these fabrics pass my paper piecing test which is this: take your potential background fabric and fold it on itself several times and in different directions and then step back. Does it read as a cohesive piece or does it look all disjointed? You want a print that will allow the paper piecing seams to disappear.

Tip: Solids are always a good choice for paper piecing. They are perfect for beginners too because you will not find yourself seam ripping because you used the wrong side of the fabric. Trust me, this happens a lot!

Finally, when you are choosing your background fabric, choose a lightweight fabric with a tight weave. It will lie flat when pressed and will not stretch too much on the bias. I do not recommend linen for this project because it is too bulky. I would also avoid fabrics that fray easily because they tend to fray when you pull the papers at the end of your paper piecing. If you chose a directional print, which I do not recommend, you will need additional yardage and to carefully consider the background fabric cutting directions because they are intended for a solid or non directional print.


My next post will be April 27th. This gives you enough time to mull over your fabric choices, place an order with your favorite online shop, receive your fabric, and precut the background pieces. I labelled all of mine with the letters assigned to them in the book.

I would also recommend that you read pages 8-9 in Petal + Stem, titled “Know Your Zone.” There is important information there about yardage and tips that will help you succeed.

You might also want to brush up on your paper piecing skills if you haven’t done a lot of foundation piecing. You could take a look at my YouTube video and read my post about the Paper Piecing Pitfalls that you will want to avoid!


Our sew-along is sponsored by some of my favorite companies! Each two week installment of the sew-along will include a giveaway from these sponsors.

I have two amazing prizes to offer one lucky winner! The winner will be chosen on April 26. This beautiful collection of 20 green fat quarters was supplied by Art Gallery Fabrics. I thought that this needed to be the first prize awarded so that the winner could use them while piecing their blocks!

Havel’s Sewing provided this rotary cutter, pair of scissors and snips. These tools are not only pretty but so useful!

The contest will be run through Instagram so please find my posts there for all the details. You can enter to win by sharing pictures on IG over the next two weeks using the hashtags #whimsygardensewalong and #petalandstembook. The pictures can be inspirational images used for your palette, fabric pulls, or precut background fabric. Each photo is a new entry and increases your chances to win! Unfortunately, the prizes are generally shipping only to the US and sometimes Canada due to postage costs and my need to be able to ship from home without going to the post office due to stay at home restrictions. If you don’t have an Instagram account, this would be a great time to start one. There is a lot of fun to be had on Instagram for quilters!


I thought that I should share some of my favorite products for paper piecing with you. You can find them all listed on my Product Recommendations page.

In my Product Recommendation list, you will see that I listed Aurifil thread 50 weight. I was able to curate a special collection of thread to coordinate with my book: 3 stem colors and 7 petal colors! I have a few collections left in my shop.

I am often asked where I shop for my fabric online. I will shop on Etsy sometimes for a specific hard to find print. But I generally try to shop from just one online store at a time so that the shipping is a better deal.

Fat Quarter Shop (affiliate link) This shop sells a wide variety of fabrics. I like that they sell both Art Gallery Fabrics Pure Elements and Kona Cottons since those are the two brands of solids that I use the most. They also carry Moda Grunge and some Aurifil thread.

Hawthorne Supply Co. This shop is in NY and ships quickly to me in MA. I like their selection of Art Gallery Fabrics. They also carry Ruby Star Society prints and Aurifil thread. They also have their own line of digitally printed fabrics that I used to piece some leaves from my book recently. See this post.

Pink Castle This shop has a great selection of modern prints. I find that you have to order quickly when the fabric is in stock or pre-order collections for the best selection.

Fabric.com I think this is a good place to look for fabric if you are already familiar with the fabric company. They have a huge range of fabrics and the quality varies. But, if you are looking for a specific fabric from a company you trust, shipping is free once you reach a minimum of $50.

Stash Fabrics and Gotham Fabrics both have lots of trendy, modern prints.

There are many more but these are my go-to shops. I always recommend supporting your local quilt shop too. If they are accepting online orders during this time, that’s another possibility! Do check each web site for any Covid-19 shipping delays.

I am so happy that you decided to join us! On April 27th, we will talk about the design choices for the first row of the quilt and start piecing our flowers!