But I keep buying them. I’m sure some of it is just for the sake of it – I mean, they’re lovely just to look at, neverminding what the planned use is. In a sense, the stash kind of exists just to be a stash. Liberty fabric is special that way. BUT, in the back of my mind, I’ve always assumed it was really destined for a long-term, all-Liberty EPP project. I’ve mentally auditioned a few ideas in my head – clamshells, the current Sew & Quilt Lucy Boston EPP BOM, drunkard’s paths – but none really took hold.
When Heidi of My Paper Crane posted her Diamond Hex project on Instagram, I knew immediately it was The One. Modern and bold and fun to piece – and so perfect for a stash made of a zillion wee pieces of a zillion different prints, I could hardly believe it.
I finished a couple of things off and made some good progress on others and after a couple of weeks of daydreaming, I finally allowed myself to begin. This project is supposed to be restricted to the weekends until I finish up something I have going in the background, but it will be hard to resist. And it’s possible I already added to the Liberty stash in excitement, despite the fact that I have enough of a stash to keep me stitching for many, many months already. Oops, don’t tell. :)
I am perfectly content that this is the ultimate slow craft – I’ve craved this kind of project for a long time now, one that I can add to from time to time and enjoy the stitching of for many, many years to come.
So, sometime last summer, or maybe even last spring (insert redface here), I was email-chatting to a friend, and then another friend, about possibly starting a little online quilting bee. The idea was to form a group that would focus on design challenges rather than contributing a block based on an existing pattern.
These friends were, for some crazy reason, willing to join me for this insanity, and the idea for Bee Adventurous 2016 was born. A few others were gathered to form a wee group of six members, and we decided on a round-robin / traveling bee for our format. It works like this: each of us make a piece of patchwork in whatever style we like, and send it on the next person with some loose instruction (perhaps you want a medallion quilt, or a row-by-row design, and you hate / love certain colors). Each project will travel through the group, one by one, and be added to in some way along each stop.
For me, the whole idea is to stretch my design legs, to see past instructions for a simple block and look at the project as a whole. This is a fun challenge for me, to be given something that I did not design, and build on it in a cohesive way – that is still in my own style. Exciting!
My project has been sent off to the next member for the first addition – as you can see, I’m going for a non-liner sampler style. I honestly have no idea if this sort of sampler quilt has a name, but you know what I mean. You just stick somethin’ on one side that looks like it might go there. I’ll call it an improv sampler, because it doesn’t have to have any clear layout plan. I have given as few guidelines as I could manage for my quilt, only encouraging the others to use my project as an excuse to try something new or play with a block they’ve always wanted to try. Whatever their quilty little brains can imagine. I can’t wait to see what they do!
I’ve received my first project to work on as well – I’ll wait to show you that until I have a bit of a plan, but in the meantime, you can follow our group’s progress on Instagram by checking out the tag #beeadventurousquilts.
It just occurred to me, right now, that I never showed you the finished mini-quilt I made for the Hand-Pieced Mini Swap. That was, like, a millionty years ago, but I still really wanted to show you how it turned out!
I’m so, so, so happy with this mini – it’s the first time I really played with layout and EPP, seeing what shapes matched well with others. What I ended up with wasn’t the most adventurous EPP design or anything, but it suited my partner (it was the first one she responded excitedly to when I was sharing doodles on Instagram), and I got to play with fabric placement to really pull out repeating shapes. Getting going was a struggle, but I loved this project once I got down to sewing.
It really inspired me to play with EPP a little more, and I bought a big stack of shapes at the Festival of Quilts this summer. Now all I need is the time to sit down with them and plan myself a new project!
One of the main things I worked on during my accidentally-not-short blogging hiatus was this quilt: the Colorblock Quilt by Nancy Purvis, aka Owen’s Olivia.
I have long been a fan of Nancy’s unique, minimalist style – since I ran into her blog (not even a fully-dedicated quilting blog back then) during a Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day a couple of years back. Something about her design sense spoke to me.
So of course, when I heard that she’d written a book of quilt designs, eeeeep!, I was very, VERY excited. And when I saw that she was allowing a group of people to make designs from said forthcoming book, I literally ran to my laptop to sign up.
(I am not using ‘literally’ in that way that so many people use it, where it’s not actually, you know, literal. I mean I seriously hauled ass to my keyboard to email Nancy and beg her to let me join.)
I have no idea why Nancy let me play with such a beautiful pattern, I can only assume she’s just really, really nice and could smell my desperation. The second I saw the preview for the Colorblock Quilt design, I needed to make it. It’s just so perfectly right up my street – a simple, classic, traditional design with a touch of something unexpected and special. Swooooon.
So here’s my version of this delicious pattern. I originally tried to make it more dramatic with one side completely done in a nearly-pure-black fabric – this is when I learned that a half a quilt completely done in nearly-pure-black fabric creates a black hole, a vortex of darkness that sucks in all light and hope in the world. So I carefully unpicked one half from the other and went back to that gorgeous cobalt Liberty Capel print and the world made sense again.
This design is pure magic and you knows I’ll be all over Nancy’s book when it’s released over here in the UK next month. The book is called Quilting From Every Angle (updates and errata here): it’s gorgeous and you know you want to have it.
See more of Nancy’s work and more versions of the Colorblock Quilt and other designs from Quilting From Every Angle on her blog.
(Thanks to Christa for holding up my quilt in the middle of Trafalgar Square, even while I fielded questions from an slightly odd dude asking if he could have the ‘rug’ that I’d made. Sigh.)
Yay! Almost there! This week’s tutorial will put everything together, which is a lot of pinning and sewing, but really not very many seams to sew. You’ve already done the hardest work. By the end of this post, you’ll have a completed quilt top – hurrah!!
What You’ll Need
– your three low volume half-meter cuts
– and one mid-volume fat quarter
Cutting The Pieces
Before anything else, we have to cut up those fabrics above. I didn’t have you cut these fabrics at the beginning, with the others, because seeing all the other elements together might help determine which of these fabrics you use where. I didn’t decide on my ‘mid-volume’ fabric until yesterday, and the arrangement of fabrics for my border rounds (this isn’t exactly the right term, but these rounds are more than sashing, so we’ll stick with ‘borders’) fell perfectly into place once I laid all the bits on the floor. So, if you look at this quilt diagram:
You’ll see each border round marked with a label, numbered from the inside working outward. Choose which fabric will be Border 1, which will be Border 2, etc. Then cut:
– With fabric folded (as shown above, the fold on the left), cut four 3.5″ strips across the width of the fabric. Take care that the fold is perfectly perpendicular to your cuts, or you’ll end up with v-shaped strips!
– Without moving the fabric, trim down each of those strips to 24.5″. Note: measure out 12.25″ from fold to end up with 24.5″ strips.
– You’ll end up with four 3.5″ x 24.5″ strips.
– Just as before, with fabric folded, cut four 3.5″ strips across the width of the fabric.
– Without moving the fabric, trim down each of those strips to 42.5″. (Measure 21.25″ from fold, but this will be little more than trimming off the selvedge edges.)
– You’ll end up with four 3.5″ x 42.5″ strips.
– One last time, with fabric folded, cut six 2.5″ strips across the width of the fabric.
– Cut two of these strips in half (along the fold crease), then sew a half-strip to the end of each full-length strip to make four really long strips. Trim each to 56.5″ and press seam opens.
– You’ll end up with four 2.5″ x 56.5″ strips.
Prepping your borders is easy-peasy and will take less than five minutes. Ready? On two strips of each border fabric, sew an equal-sized mid-volume square to both ends. This is exactly what we did with the diamond-blocks last week. The strips are long enough that you can even chain-piece this step, feeding one end in right after the other.
Just like last week, for each border round, you’ll have two plain strips and two strips with mid-volume squares on either end.
Here we go! All the pieces are ready and they just need us to slap ’em together. We’ll put everything together in rounds, working from the center star outward, and attaching each round will be exactly the same as the first.
Pin your two shorter Border 1 strips to the top and bottom of your center star. Sew all the way across and press seams towards the border.
Then pin your two longer Border 1 strips to the sides of your center star, lining the corner squares up with the previously attached border on each end. Sew all the way across and press seams towards the border.
That’s it! Simply repeat that same process until your quilt is all finished, one round at a time – the short geese strips on top and bottom of your center section, press towards border, then the long geese strips on each side, press towards border (take care to make sure your geese are flying in the same direction!). Then Border 2, then the HSTs, then Border 3 – and that’s it! Seriously, that’s really it – you’re done!
My only comment on putting it all together is that the math for medallion quilts really depends on every tiny seam of the previous round being perfectly accurate. That sounds obvious, but think about each of those geese being off by a tiny bit, you could work up to a half-inch off by the time you tally it all up. Chances are very good that some of your strips will end up being a little bit off – mine totally were, and a little bit more so as I got to the outermost rounds. I mean, c’mon, nobody’s seams are really that perfect, are they? If you are off a little, it’s probably just a very little, and you should be able to just ease that difference in along the seam – when you pin, make sure that any excess of one side is distributed evenly along the seam, and you’ll be fine!
Finishing (When You’re Ready)
I promised you a finished quilt top in a month and you did it! Pat your darn self right on the back. I really, really hope you love your quilt as much as I love mine!! We now have four full months to quilt and bind our Merry Medallions to have them ready by the beginning of December – this series won’t go into these steps, but you can follow these tutorials to complete your quilt, down to the very last stitch:
I hope you’ll email me or leave a comment on these posts if you make a Merry Medallion of your own – there’s seriously nothing I love more than seeing your versions of projects. And of course, I’ll be back sooner or later to show you my finished quilt!