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  • Writer's pictureSandy Simmelink

Tulips for Wee Ava – The Making of a Mini, by Sandra Lee Armstrong Simmelink

Covid was a strange time for us all. With working from home a reality, and my over 2-hour a day commute now a thing of the past... I channeled that extra time and energy into my quilting.

My daughter Kate-Marie Hughes delivered our first wee Granddaughter Ava Marie on January 5, 2021, but due to the pandemic, all of our cuddles, hugs and kisses were put on hold. I decided to make a mini quilt called "Tulips for Wee Ava" to honour her. Every time I worked on her quilt, I thought about all the future play dates we would have together. I decided to use some of the same Civil War fabric that I used on a large quilt I made for Kate and her husband Tyler for their wedding.


Determining the size of each block was the first of many hundreds of decisions. A true miniature is a scaled down version of a full-size quilt - how small should I go!? I decided on 1-inch finished blocks!

Small freezer paper templates were made and ironed on TOP of the small pieced blocks, leaving generous seam allowances.The small curved cut outs of freezer paper were used not UNDER the thumbnail size pinwheels, but on the TOP of the fabric, stabilizing the seam allowance and allowing a smooth curve of the seam allowance under.After appliquéing, I checked each block to ensure that the pinwheel was appliquéd properly, by using the freezer paper as an orientation guide as shown below.

After this was completed, I cut 1-inch squares of freezer paper and ironed them to the back of each little block, to iron the seam allowances under, in preparation for sewing blocks together.

I began laying out the placement, and hand sewed each small square to 3 other squares, to form 4-inch square pinwheels! It was beautiful to see them all coming together!

The small cut freezer paper pinwheels were saved to iron to the small light fabric, to orient them back into position in each block. After the center blocks were completed, I turned my attention to resolving the sides where only partial pinwheels remained.

I resolved these partial pinwheels with semi-circle additions, each one with its own partial blue binding. Small 3D triangles were inserted into the gap to help resolve them with a pleasing, blue finished section to join to the green bias curves.

Next came the orientation of the tulip tops and leaves. You can see that each tiny tulip had to be placed in the exact same location, and the small freezer paper cut outs were very useful here, for a second purpose! The same little cutouts that were used for the center pinwheels, where also used to applique the colored tulips. Each tulip top was fussy cut so an interesting shape appeared. I used some hand dyed silk for the tulip stems, shown here.

My next decision was to appliqué a small blue bird at the top of the quilt, representing Ava’s new life as she came joyously into the world. What a small little girl she was, and I thought it fitting to include this small bird into the quilt in her honour. Scarcely 1 inch long, it is made of blue silk, and is needle turn appliquéd in 2 sections, her wing and her body.

The quilting thread choice was easy! Wonderfil Mirage in a nice soft colour set was my choice and gave the quilt movement and life. The freezer paper was ironed on top of the blocks, no need for marking the quilting lines.


This is a picture of the first time I held Ava, after many, many, weeks of waiting. Now she is just two years old and is a joy to be around. Hats off to you Ava! In years to come I hope this little quilt will be a favourite of yours, just as you are a favourite of mine.

Love, Your Omie.

I hope you enjoyed this little journey through this little blog, the Making of a Mini – Tulips for Wee Ava! I hope it inspires you to view freezer paper and all its uses, with a new appreciation!


2023 - Canadian Quilter's Association National Juried Show - Halifax, Nova Scotia 2nd Place - Miniatures - "Tulips for Wee Ava"

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