How to make an old Maine flag quilt

When I first learned about the old Maine flag a year or so ago, I fell in love with it. It thought it looked like something that was quilted by women hundreds of years ago. I don’t know if that’s true, but I thought I surely needed to see this flag as a quilt.

I do know that the old Maine flag, with its pine tree and blue star, was the official Maine flag from 1901 to 1909, and it’s lovely. I’ve seen the pine tree in different forms in images around the internet. If you’re interested in making an old Maine flag quilt like mine, you can make your tree however you like it. These quilts make wonderful gifts and can be made in any size. I made mine a simple throw and gave it as a gift to a dear friend. I think she was pleased!

But I wanted to devote a post to sharing my process. Making this quilt requires a process called applique. You can learn more about the different types of applique here, but I will explain the type I used in the pictures and instructions below.

Making Your Old Maine Flag Quilt

Choose your size and fabric; buy enough fabric to fit your needs. Just make sure you have a green for the tree, blue for the star, a creamy background, and a backing color that you like.

Using an image of the flag that suits you best, draw your star and your tree, simply, onto some paper. To get my tree big enough for my quilt, I had to tape four pieces of paper together and then draw my tree. Do this for both the tree and the star. Cut them both out.

Place your star on your blue fabric and your tree on your green fabric and pin them to the fabric.

Cut out carefully around each item, leaving enough room at the edge for the fabric to be folded over and pinned to the paper.

Pin the star thoroughly and then start turning over the edge and pinning the fabric to the star around the edges. This can be tricky and will take some practice if you are new to the process. Be patient with yourself and give yourself some time. This part of the process is tedious for sure. You will end up with pieces full of pins, as seen below. Ouch! But my aunt, who taught me to quilt, said my Grannie said you have to be tough to quilt because you might bleed a little. I have to admit that bled a bit for this project.

On the other side, your star and tree should look like this.

Now, it’s time to loosely stitch the fabric to the paper, so you can get rid of all those pins. This is another tedious part of the process, but it’s so rewarding when you can remove those pins! In the picture below, I have stitched the fabric to the paper, and you will notice I’ve had to make tiny cuts to make the curves and angles work. This part takes some practice as well.


Once this step is complete, it’s time to pin the star and tree to your background fabric and begin the process of blind stitching the pieces to the background fabric. I know. More pins! You can read about how to blind stitch here.

After both the tree and the star have been blind stitched to your background fabric, turn over the fabric and cut a slit behind the tree and the star. Pull your paper out of the slit.

You have now finished the front and are ready to add your batting and your backing. I chose the blue to match the star, but you can choose any color, of course. I really like the green too. I think my next one will use the green. After you put the front, middle, and backing together, it’s time to quilt. I used matching embroidery thread and tie quilting for the quilting process. It’s sturdy and moves along more quickly than traditional quilting, though traditional quilting would be so lovely!

At this point, things are really coming together, and your cat may claim your quilt. This makes your work even more difficult, of course.

But if you can persevere, it’s time for more pins. Pin the backing in order to create an edge for your quilt. You will want to find a strategy that works to crate the corners. I use folds.

Once everything is pinned together well, you can use your sewing machine for this part. You can sew by hand, of course, but if your machine can handle it (and mine is a fairly inexpensive model and could totally handle it), using your machine will help you save time on this one step. And that’s helpful, as all of the hand stitching for this method of applique takes some time.

After you have sewn up your edges, you are finished. This is an image of my completed throw on our rocking chair. I love this quilt so much!

If you are interested in purchasing one of these instead of making one, please feel free to check out my Etsy shop here. But I have only intermediate sewing skills and was able to create this lovely piece. Remember, you can make it any size and make your tree in a variety of designs. I lean toward the rustic, but everyone has their own preferences.

I hope this quilt keeps you warm while you are reading a good book and drinking a hot cup of tea this winter!