Chinese Lanterns Quilt

In all my years of quilting, I had never seen a quilt pattern like this Chinese Lantern Quilt.  This beauty was probably pieced during the 1930’s. It is so unique, and I had the privilege of hand quilting it in early 1996.

The background fabric is a bright orange with cotton candy pink circles appliqued between the lanterns. Diamonds of 1930’s prints make up the lanterns and are appliqued on the orange background too. The first border is a narrow black strip, with the outside border more of the bright orange fabric.

Close up of quilted top.

The hand quilting is a circle inside the pink fabric circles. In the orange I quilted a stipple design. Some of the diamonds in each lantern are quilted too. I put 203 yards of hand quilting into this cheerful and unique quilt.

The backing is plain unbleached muslin. I wish that I had taken a photo of the quilt from the back as well, but at the time it just did not get done.

Finished size is queen.

When I quilted this Chinese Lantern Quilt, it was owned by PB of Fiddletown, CA.

Are you wondering why I am showing off a quilt from 1996? Truthfully, it is a gloomy, drizzly day here in central Indiana. I completed my reports for work and took some time to look back through my scrapbooks of quilts and found this cheerful beauty.

It is an unusual pattern – I have to wonder if it was designed by the maker.

Fun clip art of Chinese Lanterns.
Source: Bing clip art

Other ideas for Chinese Lantern quilts –

Here is a link to a pieced pattern that is named Chinese Lanterns.

I saw a version of a Chinese Lantern quilt at a quilt show in Terre Haute, IN. It is just one of many beautiful quilt photos from a post earlier this year.

Please note that all photos and written content in this post are mine.


I was looking for a specific quilt book in my personal library today, and ran across these three applique books that I go to time after time. They are so enjoyable because of the beautiful and unique applique patterns, and for the individual ideas each pattern contains. If you are looking for books on applique for your personal library, I recommend these.

Books everywhere

Maybe I am the only one, but there was a time I bought so many books with any kind of quilting theme, especially if they were at library sales. I had piles of dusty quilting books everywhere and rarely took the time to dig through them – it was overwhelming.

And tastes change over time, and the book collection did not reflect that. What a mess (reminds me of the scrap problem I have).

I decided to take the time to go through the piles and look at each carefully and ask these questions for each book:

What prompted me to buy the book (one particular quilt, the cover, the author, etc.)?

Would I really utilize the book for patterns or ideas?

Was the book a duplicate for one already in my collection?

I sold or gave many of them away that I really had no interest in.

three applique books that remained in my personal library

The Best of Jacobean Applique by Campbell and Ayars. Published by AQS, it contains 140 pages of beautiful photos and well drawn patterns. There are great directions and suggestions for putting the blocks and top together.


Floral Abundance: Applique Designs Inspired by William Morris by Makhan. Published by the Patchwork Place, it has 80 pages of directions to make the quilt on the front cover. The pieces can be used individually in another applique project.

Floral Abundance: Applique Designs Inspired by William Morris

The 1776 Quilt: Heartache, Heritage, and Happiness by Holland. Published by Breckling Press, it has 160 pages of suggestions, directions, and templates. There are so many individual pieces that could be used in other quilts. The quilt itself has a fascinating and unusual story.

The 1776 Quilt

Suggestion to you:

My book suggestion to you is to be choosy. Buy quilt books that inspire you and that you will refer back to time and again. Many quilting books can be borrowed from guild or public libraries – if you keep going back to a certain book or books consider buying it for your personal library.




This quilt started out as…well, not what it ended up. It is sections made of left-over parts from other quilts. However, it is finally finished: Flowers & Tumblers !!!!


The machine quilting has been done for a couple months, but I couldn’t decide what color or fabric to bind it in. I finally decided to continue the left-over idea and go with making a binding of pieces of other bindings that there is not enough of to do any complete quilt.

Waste not, want not as the saying goes.

This quilt was machine quilted in a “meandering” or stipple design. Thread is a variegated gray.

Batting: 80/20 poly and cotton mix.

Finished size: 102″ square.

To see the progression of this quilt, please look at these posts:

Part 1:

There is also a PDF of the hexie and the tumbler for your use.

Part 2:

Part 3:

This quilt was done in sections: the tumblers, the English paper pieced hexies, and finally the flying geese borders.

Close up of tumbler section of quilt
Close up of tumbler section – there is a total chaos of various scraps.


Looking at the above photo of part of a tumbler section – there certainly is no rhyme or reason to the fabric scraps. This is what happens when a person just buys and uses fabric they like. If it is any comfort, my stash has the same kind of wide variety of fabric designs and colors too.

Don’t be afraid to follow your heart with colors, and designs of fabrics. Make every quilt you make so that you are satisfied and happy with it.

English paper pieced flowers using hexagons made of fabric scraps.
English paper pieced hexies “blooming” on a rick-rack “vine”.

English Paper Pieced Hexagons:

The above hexies are hand sewn and appliqued along the “vine”. I intended to add leaves but actually forgot about adding them until after I had already moved on to another project.

I made the “executive” decision to not add the leaves or stress about it. This quilt grew and changed as it was worked on.

Have fun with your quilts. If the direction of the quilt changes as you “birth” it that is just fine.

Flying Geese border. Notice the different fabrics that make up the binding.

Flying Geese borders:

So I decided to make the final border out of Flying Geese. Wow, did I mess up on the math! But rather than start over, or whine about it, I came up with a quick fix.

I sewed as many geese together as possible to make a “almost” complete border on each side. At that point my choice was sew another goose on and have to cut part of it off. Or I could add a piece of white backing to fit. The geese do not completely go around, but the solution looks like it was planned.

I tend to not ask other quilters about solutions to fix quilts. Why ?? Because once I come up with something, other folks generally think that was my intended design in the first place. They don’t see the mistake and that is a nice boost after a struggle to fix an issue.

The beauty of making quilts from simple shapes and patterns is that mistakes can be generally easy to fix. Put the quilt top where you can look at it for a few minutes or hours (or days). What fabric or design element can be added to fix the problem?

Get out magazine or quilt books for ideas. Look at Pintrest. Look at your stash. Think outside the usual box for this pattern. Ask other quilters or FB groups. You can do this.

Pieced together backing of this quilt,
The pieced together backing of this quilt.


Because I made math errors, I had to add fabric to the backing. The small strips of toile fabrics at the ends are left-overs from other backings.

After piecing together this backing, I have seriously given some thought to doing at least one reversible quilt. After all, why should the front be the only pretty part of the quilt….

Thankfully this quilt is finally finished: Flowers & Tumblers (part 4). It is time to move onto the next quilt adventure.

Call to Arms:

I hope you will use the Flowers & Tumblers quilt to inspire you to make a quilt from fabrics or patterns you have never combined together into one quilt before.

Think outside the box, have fun, and enjoy the journey as your quilt comes together.

Some ideas for tumblers and hexies:

Clip art of pieced block


This quilt, Flowers & Tumblers, was started in July 2019 with the English paper pieced flowers. Here is the continuing saga with part 2.

My goal for this year is to make a dent in the scraps bins which have overflowed, plus figure out fun and different ways to use up leftover pieces from other quilts that I have made.

For part 1 of this quilt, go here.

Two flower sections completed laying flat.
Two completed flower sections

After completing the two sections of English pieced flowers, I did the tumbler sections. Many of the tumbler pieces were leftovers from another tumbler project ( that I made in 2017. Once the leftovers were sewn together, I had to cut more anyway. Well, a little more dent in the scrap bins.

The photo below is of two completed tumbler sections and one almost complete flower section. The sashing is not between them yet. I am liking how the sections look together. The leftover green rick rack makes a great vine.

Flowers & Tumblers sections

PDF pattern for flowers and tumblers. The flower will take 7 hexagons (1 center and 6 petals):

The top is together with light weight denim between and around the outside of the five sections. I like the look so far. I will complete it with Flying Geese blocks for the outside border. The top currently measures 72″ x 80″ and my goal is 92″ square.

Flowers & Tumblers quilt top finished.
This used lots of scraps !!!

There will be one more post on the final section of borders of Flying Geese in the next few days.

I encourage you to go through your scraps and just have fun combining them together. I really enjoyed doing this quilt in sections instead of blocks or the same repeating pattern. It has a totally different look than scrap quilts I have done in the past. I think this method may become addictive…

These are the posts on the previous blog about this quilt, please see:


Flowers & Tumblers - Part 1

Flowers & Tumblers quilt looks great, but it did not start as a cohesive quilt idea. It started out as an exercise in frustration because fabric scraps had gotten out of hand and were taking over my sewing area. This quilt will require more than one post, so here is Flowers & Tumblers part 1.

Something had to be done to stop the flood of scrap piles on the floor, on the shelves, and generally in my way. Do scraps reproduce in the dark?

On Jan. 1, 2019 I went thru every single piece of fabric on the shelves and put anything a quarter yard or less in a box (it turned out to be two). Then I started cutting 3″ blocks, 2.5″ strips, and hexagons in two sizes. Each type went in plastic storage totes.

The leftovers from this went in a “crumb” tub to make string or crumb blocks at some point in the future.

Scraps for crazy blocks.
This tub stays below the cutting table – these scraps will later go into crazy or crumb blocks.

Hexagons can travel:

The hexagons went in bags that I drug around on my job travels. The smaller size “flowers” are being appliqued to plain muslin blocks. The larger ones shown here got used in the strips in the photos – and yes, there are several more waiting for me to get back to them.

Am I the only one who comes out with leftovers from most of my quilts? Honestly, I never thought I was that bad at math….

A single flower from scraps.

Flowers part of Flowers & Tumblers quilt.

Two panels of pieced flowers for this quilt.

So these two strips of English paper pieced flowers were the starting point for this quilt. I made the flowers while at a family reunion in July. I don’t sit well with nothing in my hands, so these were easy to pick up and put down with all the visiting and conversations.

Here’s another simple tumbler quilt I did.

PDF pattern for flowers and tumblers. These are the exact size off the plastic pattern pieces I used (print off on 8″ x 10″ paper). The flower will take 7 hexagons (1 center and 6 petals):

In the meantime, have a great time on your quilt projects. You have got this….

Girl sewing quilt top
Source: google clip art

Other ideas for English pieced flowers:

English Paper Piecing Patterns for Beginners (

Other ideas for tumblers:

Tumbler Quilt Block Quilts & Projects | A Quilting Life

Indiana Quilter 40: TUMBLER (handquilted)