The Story of "Milk & Honey Hydrangeas" - The Jolly Jabber Quilting Blog

The Story of “Milk & Honey Hydrangeas”

Milk & Honey Hydrangeas is a soft and warm line by Debbie Beaves with rich florals on buttery tones. Today she tells us about her inspiration and journey to create it!

A favorite flower for many of my daughters and daughter-in-law, I was curious about how to make a collection using the hydrangea. When I started to work with the fresh hydrangeas and my digital photography it became obvious this was going to be a challenge. The flower heads of the hydrangea are very round and snowball shaped. This, if you are not careful can make a design look like polka dots…big, floral polka dots. I worked with the stems and leaves to make the designs have more of a flowing movement. My love of antique fabrics of course brought in shirting backgrounds and textures.

About midway through designing this collection I went in hunt of a branch with berries on it. Not easy for that time of year. I finally walked into a local florist shop and described what I was looking for. The woman’s eyes lit up and she said, “Wait here, I think I have just what you need”. She grabbed a pair of clippers and walked into the backyard of her business. She came back with a wonderful branch packed full of green leaves tipped with brown and tons of luscious berries. I thanked her and asked how much she was charging. She laughed and said, “No charge, I had fun hunting it down for you.” It’s funny what connections we make with people we don’t know personally. How friendly someone can become in an instant and get drawn into the adventure of designing fabric. This leafy texture made a huge contribution to the designing possibilities. Trailing the branches between the pompom shaped hydrangeas loosened up the flow and now we were getting somewhere.

I love to take local treasures, little pieces of plants, shapes from everyday items and the historical fabric swatches I own and blend them all together into something that will make someone smile while creating a quilt. It is an awesome experience. I recolored the berries (they were originally bright orange) to a dark cream similar to the center color of the hydrangeas, and then there went another light bulb…pop! Size down a berry and replace the center of the hydrangeas for a glossier, more recognizable shape. And the cohesive process deepens.

The shirting I had selected to go with the group was full of picotage (fine dots filling the open areas for shading). Well looky there…more circular shapes enter the mix. The babbling brook was actually a design I had created a couple of years ago but pulled from another line before completion. The berries’ shapes seemed an easy match, and the flowing amber stripe looked like honey dripping to me. I love tan and cream prints so let’s start adding backgrounds. How exciting this is to be moving into the color palette. My name is Debbie, which some references say means “honey bee.” Let’s think…dripping honey, cream, tan…Milk & Honey Hydrangeas!

There had been a lot of talk in the news about how important honey bees are to our environment, and here it is subconsciously coming into my fabric designs. I drew the little bees to be shaped like a honey bee but with less bug-like wings. I also am partial to fairies so I tried to give the bee wings a more delicate look. Now we have the Busy as a Honey Bee print with honey droplets scattered about. What an adventure.

Debbie Beaves