So here it is--the first state "flower" to kick off this project! Some of you have expressed a desire to follow along and make a quilt too and I'm excited about that. The more the merrier! I'll continue adding to the state list as requests come in. You can request states on any current post, since comments are automatically closed on older posts.
Doing a little research, I found it interesting, and maybe you will too, that inspiration for a 'National Garland of Flowers' was an idea formed in 1893 by the Women's Congress at the Chicago World's Fair, where they proposed a flower from each state be selected by individual state legislature. Shortly afterwards, the 'Maine Floral Emblem Society' took up the effort, urging it's citizens to choose between three possible candidates; goldenrod, apple blossom, and the white pine cone & tassel. Ballots were published in Maine newspapers in order to gather a statewide consensus. The white pine cone and tassel was chosen by 60% of the vote to represent Maine in the National Garland of Flowers, and later adopted as the official floral emblem by the sixty-seventh legislature on February 1, 1895.
A little more history...Maine is the only state that does not have a flower, having chosen to recognize the white pine's grand historical contribution instead. The white pine (Pinus strobus), is considered to be the largest conifer of the northeastern United States. The soft needles are bluish-green and grow in bundles of five, resembling a "tassel". Cones are three to eight inches in length, are slightly curved with thin scales, not prickly, and contain edible seeds. The inner white bark was collected during times of winter starvation by the Algonquians, dried, powdered, and used as a flour substitute. It's said that White Pine needles contain five times the amount of Vitamin C (by weight) than lemons, and makes an excellent tisane or "tea". For medicinal purposes, the Indians mixed pine tar with beeswax to make a healing salve, and created a wet pulp from the inner bark to apply to infected wounds. It's also been found that a little beer mixed with pine tar can remove tapeworms and nematodes in both humans and animals, and mixed with sulfur cures dandruff.
I did not know this! I must say, as I worked on the stitching I found myself reflecting on all these attributes with wonder and gratitude that they've been so generously given in the form of a single tree. AND for the rest...
Stitches: I've used a combination of straight-stitch, satin-stitch, and outline stitching. (These stitches plus a few others can be found on my website stitch guide if you are unsure how to do them.)
Colors: Blue-green for the needles, in two shades; caramel for the pinecone, and chocolate brown for the inner part. (I'm sorry I don't have the numbers for the colors I've used here. These colors were wound onto flat spools some time ago and I didn't note them--but I'll try and provide numbers when I have them.) The original directions give sparse color information: pine cone--lt. brown; needles and stems--dk. green. I've found the state flower chart on Wikipedia a handy reference for choosing colors.
Lettering: The pattern calls for black to be used, which is fine, but I wanted a softer effect and chose DMC #645, which is a rich, warm gray. A taupe brown would also be nice. I'm recommending 4 strands of floss for the state abbreviation and 2 strands for the flower name, each done with back-stitching.
Template: Use grid-paper to make a block template 6.5 x 6.5-inches; glue it to a larger piece of light-weight cardstock and trim it even around the edges. I like to glue a smaller piece of fine sandpaper to the back, so it sticks to the fabric when I trace around it.
Fabric: This is up to you---broadcloth, sheeting, cotton muslin. I'm using the latter. Bleached or unbleached muslin is a good choices because it holds its shape. I'm using bleached muslin because I want my flowers to "bloom brightly" against a white background. TIP: Trace several blocks onto a single piece of cloth and work on them in small batches rather than trying to fit one small square into an embroidery hoop, where it will inevitibly become mishapen and raveled.
Directions for making the quilt: PDF download ORIGINAL DIRECTIONS.
Here's the FREE motif. I've just added the complete pattern on my website too.
Now to tackle Texas . . .