It’s always a pleasure to be able to work with a new fabric collection before it’s released. I find it to be a very inspiring exercise, and particularly so with Tilda’s latest collection, ‘Circus’. There are so many things about circuses that could easily inspire a make, but the more I looked, the more I leaned, not so surprisingly, towards a vintage bent.
Pinterest is, of course, a common go-to for at least the beginning of finding inspiration. It’s hard to beat with its 50 bagillion or so images. But for me, it started and ended there. As soon as I saw this image, among others, I immediately thought “EPP!”, and well, that was that.
So off I went to design several English paper piecing patterns that resembled vintage knife-throwing wheels that could be incorporated into a quilt. I wanted them to stand out as separate to the overall design, so I knew the finished rounds needed to be appliquéd onto a machine-pieced backing. I wanted them to feel like they were spinning – like they would have been in circuses of old, minus the scantily clad women tied to them, having knives hurled at them.
Because who’da thunk that designing EPP rounds in Illustrator (with very little experience in Illustrator) would be a hard task???? Clearly not me. (And that right there gives you a really good peek into my psyche.) So there was a fair bit of fudging it along the way, but I managed to make it work. Thank goodness, because there would have been a lot of pregnant lady tears if I’d had to start again. I don’t do starting again well at the best of times, and most definitely not when pregnant.
I learned a lot in designing this quilt. Firstly, it confirmed to me that I absolutely adore the design process, and for me it is probably higher up there on the list than the actual making of the project. Only just a smidge higher, but enough for me to know that design is definitely a part of my future. I don’t want to only make someone else’s creations, I want to think up my own.
I also learned that I am in love with combining various construction techniques in one project. For example, ‘Spin’ incorporates English paper piecing, applique, machine piecing and quilting, and hand-quilting. For me, it is a way to stay interested in a project and not get bored by doing the same thing over and over and over. Because I don’t like to be bored.
But the thing I learned that I am MOST excited about is that I absolutely LOVE the combination of hand and machine quilting in the same project. There is something about the contrast of the textures and the difference in definition that really really speaks to me. The addition of hand-quilting to a project really allows you to highlight specific areas of a quilt, to make them stand out and have something of their own to say, in addition to what the quilt says as a whole.
Because the front of the quilt was so busy I chose a solid back to allow the hand-quilting to be the feature. I used a Devonstone solid (D003) which can be sourced through 2 Green Zebras. At first I thought I’d made a big mistake in choosing that particular solid shade. While it matched the tones in the Circus collection well, it is very ‘calico-y’ and I was worried that it made the quilt underwhelming when it should have popped! But now… I know I made the right decision. The solid speaks to the vintage charm of the design. It feels like it’s an old quilt already and I really really really love it.
Finally, I have to mention the combination of the curved and straight edges of the quilt. This was totally and utterly UNplanned. Truth be told, I simply couldn’t bring myself to cut into my hard-fought and hard-won EPP success! And then I thought, why do I have to? So I didn’t, and they stayed, and I think it was a truly serendipitous thing to happen. The complete wheels add to the movement of the whole quilt. They look like they are spinning off the quilt! Perfect!
And now the quilt is on Rosie’s bed. Right where it belongs. And thank goodness for that because it was getting tiring having to fend her off mid-project!