Timeless Beauties


  • A fat quarter of yellow background fabric
  • 50m (1⁄2yd) purple border fabric
  • 18 x 15cm (7 x 6in) main tulip colour
  • 15 x 13cm (6 x 5in) darker tulip colour
  • 20 x 15cm (8 x 6in) leaf colour
  • 20 x 20cm (8 x 8in) darker leaf colour, for stems and leaf shadow
  • 23 x 20cm (9 x 8in) patterned fabric for jug
  • 23 x 13cm (9 x 5in) light brown for table top
  • 43 x 2.5cm (17 x 1in) bias strip of dark brown for table edge
  • 10 x 7.5cm (4 x 3in) each of mid brown and dark brown for pedestal top
  • 10 x 10cm (4 x 4in) each of mid brown and dark brown for table leg swirl
  • 63 x 76cm (25 x 30in) wadding
  • Wadding scraps large enough to go behind the tulips and jug
  • 63 x 76cm (25 x 30in) lightweight calico for backing
  • Matching sewing threads for hand appliqué
  • Clear or invisible thread for quilting and blind hem appliqué
  • Lemon yellow machine thread for machine quilting
  • Multi-tone machine quilting thread to tone with the border fabric
  • Freezer paper
  • Fine appliqué pins
  • Erasable fabric marker
  • White erasable fabric pencil

Finished Size

Approx 58 x 71cm (23 x 28in)

Skill Level



The word Tulip comes from the Turkish for turban, following its curved shape. It takes seven years to grow a tulip from seed. Tulips continue to grow in a vase of water, and will bend towards the light. The painter David Hockney loves tulips in his studio, and they appear in many of his paintings. In the 17th century, 'tulip mania' saw rare bulbs being bought for the equivalent of a million pounds each! In the Victorian 'language of flowers' red tulips are a declaration of love, making this wallhanging an ideal gift for any occasion.

This is a very elegant wall hanging, with strong colours and simple shapes that capture the timeless beauty of a vase of red tulips. It has a classic look, firstly in the ornate patterned fabric that is used for the jug and secondly in the style of the pedestal table. The design uses traditional and reverse appliqué, which can be stitched by hand or using blind hem stitch on the machine. The wallhanging is then machine quilted with beautiful swirling tulip motifs, which are included for you on the Pattern Sheet.


  1. Cut yellow backing fabric 20 1⁄4 x 16 1⁄4in. This is slightly bigger than the pattern to allow for creeping in when quilting. Place this over the Pattern Sheet and draw the design onto the yellow fabric. Note that the tulip vase is deliberately off centre.
  2. Number the tulips on the pattern and then number the leaves. Trace all the shapes onto freezer paper. Make sure you draw out the full table top oval, using the coloured lines on the Quilt placement diagram in Figure 1, and the dotted lines on the Pattern Sheet, to help. These show where pieces lie behind each other. Trace out the top of the jug and the full shape of the leaves so you are not working with tiny shapes. You don't need to trace the stems as they are made by making bias strips.

Figure 1 Placement diagram


  1. Cut out the flower heads and using an iron, press the centre freezer paper shape onto the RIGHT SIDE of the main tulip fabric. Cut round each allowing 1⁄8in to 1⁄4in seam allowance. Using the darker tulip fabric, press on the side sections and cut out with the same allowance.
  2. Finger press or iron back the allowance for the centre pieces of the tulips; you will be pressing right round. Pull off the freezer paper and pin roughly in place onto the yellow background fabric.
  3. Take the side pieces for the tulips and press back some of the way round. If you refer to the pattern, the dotted [green] line shows where you don't need to press back. Tuck the side petals in. Pin accurately with appliqué pins and then tack in place.


In reverse appliqué, shapes are cut out from the top layer of two pieces of fabric, exposing the fabric underneath. The raw edges of the shapes are turned under and hand or machine appliquéd to finish.


  1. Number the swirling leg pieces so you know which ones are dark or medium brown. Press the freezer paper to the RIGHT SIDE, allowing for turning under. Press back, checking for the dotted [green] line on the pattern. Pin then tack into place.
  2. The top of the pedestal unit is made with reverse appliqué. Press the freezer paper shape onto dark brown fabric and cut round with no seam allowance. Peel off the paper and then press onto the mid brown fabric, this time with a 1⁄4in allowance. Press back, peel off paper and place dark brown fabric in behind.
  3. Place this double thick fabric on top of the swirling leg and tack round the edge. Draw four lines onto the fabric as in the pattern, ready to snip, fold back and stitch under as reverse appliqué.
  4. For the table top, press freezer paper on to light brown as before, press back and pin. Take the dark brown bias strip, fold it in half and press. Now tuck it in round and under the light brown table top. Make sure there is enough to tuck under where the jug will be placed.


  1. Iron the jug, base, handle and spout freezer paper patterns to the RIGHT SIDE of your chosen fabric, taking care if the fabric has a directional design. For the top oval and jug lip, you can iron the freezer paper onto the WRONG SIDE of the jug fabric to give a slight colour change. However, if you don't want to do that, you could choose another colour. Press back the allowance as before and pin onto the yellow fabric. You can tack most of the jug, but leave it open at the top.
  2. Take the leaves and prepare with the same appliqué method of pressing onto the RIGHT SIDE, pressing back the seam allowance and pinning onto the background. Don't tack yet.
  3. Take the darker green fabric, and using your cutting board, cut across the diagonal then cut three strips from one side 3⁄4in wide and two 3⁄4in wide strips from the other side. These become the stems by folding in and pressing 1⁄4in from each side to create a bias strip. Start to cut them to size by fitting them into the vase and under the tulip heads. It starts to get a bit bulky at this point, but some of this is cut away later. From the remaining scraps of this fabric you can make the front leaf shadow.


  1. Now the appliqué picture is ready to stitch, either by hand or using a small blind hemming stitch on your machine, using a clear or invisible thread. Remove the tacking stitches after stitching.
  2. Turn the work over and cut away the backing fabric to reduce the bulk. Where there is more than one layer, keep checking the front of the work before you cut.
  3. From the border fabric, cut two strips 3 1⁄2 x 17in and two strips 3 1⁄2 x 28in. Stitch the shorter strips onto the top and bottom, press and cut away any excess. Then stitch on the two longer strips and press flat, again cutting away any excess.


  1. For the free motion quilting tulip pattern shown in Figure 2, trace the pattern from the Pattern Sheet on the yellow background fabric. You could practice the design first on a separate sample piece of fabric, or you could draw it on lightly with pencil or erasable marker. Once it’s stitched, you can rub away any lines with a clean white rubber or a fabric eraser.
  2. To draw on the border pattern shown in Figure 3, trace the corner unit from the Pattern Sheet and one tulip unit. Trace onto card and cut out. Place the card template on the corners of the border fabric and draw round with a white pencil. Draw in the internal lines freehand. Take the single tulip template and draw on, following the plan on the pattern. To get the tulip facing in the other direction you just have to turn it over.
  3. Pin some scraps of wadding behind the tulips and machine stitch round them with clear thread. Now cut away the excess wadding at the back. Do the same for the jug, but don't do the handle. This puffs up these areas slightly.
  4. Layer the calico backing fabric face down, wadding on top and tulip panel face up. Tack the three layers together or pin together with quilter's safety pins.
  5. Machine stitch round the central motifs on the yellow fabric to anchor them, then round the inner rectangle. Free machine stitch the tulip pattern onto the yellow background using matching thread. Free machine stitch the border tulips with multi colour thread.


  1. Take the panel to the cutting board and trim carefully to square it off. It will have crept in a bit because of the quilting, and the border will now be about 3in wide.
  2. Cut the remaining border fabric into 2in wide strips. Join together with diagonal seams to create a strip about 3 1⁄4yds long. Trim and press open. For a double binding, press the strip lengthways in half, wrong sides facing. Pin the raw edges along the edges of the quilt top and stitch in place with a 1⁄4in seam allowance. Turn the binding to the back of the quilt and slip stitch neatly in place by hand

Figure 2 (left): Free motion quilted background tulips, Figure 3 (below): Border tulip quilting

First published in Popular Patchwork May 2008