Designing a Quilt with a Tea Theme

Welcome to our tea party! Today our theme is about designing a quilt with a tea theme, inspired by the Thirties Tea Quilt by Diane Nagle of Peddlecar Quilts for RJR Fabrics. We have some tips from Diane, a schematic for a Broken Dishes mug rug based on the quilt, and other tea-themed quilt designs. So have a seat at the table and let’s get started.

designing a quilt tea
Thirties Tea Quilt by Diane Nagle of Peddlecar Quilts, exclusive for Keepsake Quilting. 1930s reproduction fabrics by RJR Fabrics .

Inspiration for Designing a quilt

Diane’s exclusive design for Keepsake Quilting features teapots, cherries, Broken Dishes blocks, star blocks and a center design of a bird preparing a cup of tea. All are made with piecing or applique using 1930s reproduction fabrics from RJR.

designing a quilt 1930s fabric
Detail of Diane’s Thirties Tea Quilt design.

Diane says, “Sometimes when I am given a theme for a quilt design I let the fabric ‘speak’ to me for a design idea. I also enjoy searching for a free clipart images that make an object I want to use a little easier or more simplified for use in a fabric applique.”

In this case, the Depression-era style fabrics brought to mind a time when friends stopped by for a cup of tea.

broken dishes mug rug
One Broken Dishes block from the Thirties Tea Pattern would make an adorable mug rug.

The hostess would lay out a brightly colored tablecloth and maybe set a Mason jar filled with daisies on the kitchen table while waiting for the tea kettle to whistle. She’d bring out a plate of cookies or gingerbread, and the friends would have a nice chat.

In today’s more hectic world, this cheerful quilt serves as a reminder of these simpler times.

Because today’s quilters often look for time-saving steps, Diane used the fusible applique method for all the appliques and Orange Peel blocks in the Thirties Tea Party quilt.

And though sitting at the table for an impromptu chat doesn’t happen as often as in the past, Diane can envision making a mug rug from the Broken Dishes block pattern to rest your tea or latte on as you pay bills or work on the computer.

cherries mug rug design
Applique this cherry motif from the Thirties Tea Quilt design onto fabric to make a darling mug rug. Resize this motif on your computer or printer to use as template. Note: you may use this copyrighted motif for personal use, only.

“A mug rug with the cherries applique would be darling!” she adds. See the Keepsake Quilting blog for a template.

Here are Diane’s tips for completing the Thirties Tea Quilt:

1. Use a tiny buttonhole stitch on your machine to cover the raw edges.

“Almost all machines give the flexibility to adjust the width and height of your fancy stitches,” she says.

2. I also used a fancy machine stitch for the birds feet, though they can be hand embroidered.

3. I always work from the center out when piecing a quilt. It’s good to square up your blocks as you go, so that even with borders further out or rows of blocks around a quilt, they will fit.

Garden party BOM
Can you imagine designing a quilt like this Garden Party Block of the Month?

Looking for more tea-themed quilts? One of our favorites is the Garden Party Block of the Month quilt. Designing a quilt like this one must have been fun! It’s overflowing with colorful, silly teapots, teacups and flowers, not to mention the little busy bee and darling little bird sitting atop the birdhouse teapot.

The fantastical pieced flower and vine border really sets off the crisscross panes in the center of the quilt.

This quilt features the Catalina Collection for Maywood Studio, a fun group of fabrics by Marti Michell. Warm, rich colors of tropical sunsets, budding roses, and yummy sherbet are a vacation for the senses in stunning florals and cool coordinates in the fabrics used for this quilt.

broken dishes blockThe Broken Dishes quilt block is one of those quilt blocks that looks challenging, but in fact, is fairly straightforward. The patch in this traditional quilt block is a square and the entire block is made up of half-square triangles.

The idea, traditionally is to alternate contrasting triangles, which tends to make for an eye-catching quilt and can provide for some impressive quilt designs.

As long as you’re piecing Broken Dishes blocks, why not try this Tea Party pattern made entirely with that block.

tea party broken dishes pattern
Designing a quilt with all one block makes it easy to piece. This Tea Party quilt pattern by Natalie Earnheart uses Broken Dishes.

Quick and easy to piece, the Tea Party twin-size quilt calls for twenty Broken Dishes blocks, each made from a different set of lovely floral prints. The wide, red floral border adds to this quilt’s simple country charm.

Equally appropriate for tea parties as well as snug-by-the-fire cuddling, this versatile quilt is sure to become one of your all-time favorites. Natalie Earnheart designed this quilt.

Looking for more Thirties, Depression-era designs? Check out more kits here.

Now, here’s one of my favorite recipes for summer tea time.

Blueberry Gingerbread

Blueberries add moisture, fiber, and antioxidants to gingerbread for a delicious complement to a cup of tea.

Ingredients:
1/2 C. veg oil
1 C. plus 2 T. sugar
1 egg
1/2 C. light molasses
1 cup fresh (or frozen, thawed) blueberries
2 C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. buttermilk (or sour milk)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, beat oil, sugar, and egg until light. Add the molasses and beat until thick. In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with 2 T. flour until well-coated. Mix the remaining flour with the other dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk and blend until smooth. Stir in the blueberries and pour the mixture into a greased 9 x 9 baking pan.  Bake 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center (avoiding blueberries) comes out clean. Do not overbake. Let cool and cut into squares.

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Cate Prato

About Cate Prato

Cate Coulacos Prato loves fabric, thread, and dabbles in all types of fabric art. As Senior Online Editor for Keepsake Quilting, she welcomes your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and discussion on quilts, quilting, fabric shopping, and the quilting community.

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