This is a design that was on the cover of Australian Patchwork and Quilting several years ago. The blocks are made up of what I now know are called "kite" shapes. Each block is 18" across and has 72 pieces. It was made by tracing the template for each piece, carefully cutting with a 1/4" seam allowance added, and then hand piecing in the usual way with a running stitch. It was very slow and painstaking work! I really hate piecing from templates, by machine or by hand - never again! The project ground to a halt four or five years ago mainly because the white on white background fabric is printed with a gummy paint that is very difficult to hand sew. I had wanted to hand quilt it too, and I realized that it would be impossible with that background fabric.
Just over a year ago I learned about English Paper Piecing and that it is possible to buy pre-cut paper pieces. It was quite a revelation! No more templates, no more worrying about seam allowances, what a relief! I almost restarted the project right then, with plain white fabric for the background.
But, somehow I didn't want to do exactly the same thing that I had already been doing. I felt that I hadn't been disciplined enough in my fabric choices and strayed from my original plan. I wanted to narrow down the colour scheme. In my mind, these blocks had always reminded me of roses. One day I was looking at my favourite dishes, and I had an idea!
|Botanic Roses by Portmeirion|
I decided to reproduce the colours of the roses in the blocks. And, I thought, why not add the leafy border from the plates around the whole quilt? I wanted to keep it to a lap quilt though, so I also decided to shrink down the blocks to 12", which would require 2" kites, which were readily available. It seemed like a good plan. But still not perfect!
I had a close look at the plates and thought about how to convey the impression of roses with the fabrics. I noticed that the roses on the plates have a lot of detail in the middle, while the original quilt pattern is kind of blocky in the middle. I realized that the English Paper Piecing technique would allow for smaller pieces and more detail, so I decided to subdivide the centre hexagon into smaller pieces like this:
The very centre will be a solid 1/2" hexagon, surrounded by 1/2" half hexagons, surrounded by modified kite pieces. I can buy the first two, and the modified pieces will be easy to make by trimming the regular kite pieces.
The final piece of the puzzle was fabric choice. I did not have enough of the right colours in my stash. About a month ago I realized that it would be beautiful to do all the roses in batiks. Another revelation! I spent a considerable amount of time playing with various fabrics on the eQuilter design board. They are great, you know, I find the colours are generally very accurate. My one worry was that my fabric choices would result in a very low contrast colour scheme, and all the detailed piecing would be lost in the final quilt.
So, I took the lowest contrast set of fabrics from my cart (for the pale pink rose), printed them, cut them, and made a paper mock up of the final block to see how it would look:
It IS pretty low contrast, but you can still see the piecing. And it will be fun to play around with different arrangements of the same fabrics, because each rose will be done two or three times.
Sold! Now I am back to my usual routine of waiting for packages to arrive. I have no pressure on myself to finish this project quickly. I have found that English Paper Piecing is a great thing to do when I am unwinding in front of the tv, so I will save it for my quiet times. Although, I do have the feeling that I am going to be extremely keen when the fabric arrives!