Euroa Quilt - An Adventure in English Paper Piecing

Euroa Quilt English Paper Piecing Original

Behold the exciting beginnings of my first English Paper Pieced Quilt! Inspired by a tile floor I saw last year in Australia. It is a running joke among quilters that we take pictures of tiles because they are so inspiring. But I've never actually made a quilt that literal in its interpretation. I am now though.

Because I finished the Park Quilt I felt totally justified in starting this one. Despite my over 40 quilts under construction I've found that I can't have more than 2-3 in the hand work stage. It simply takes up too much time and head space to be fighting among handwork projects. But with my big applique project done I could move on to this one.

Euroa Tile Inspiration for Quilt
Maze and Vale dropcloth

While the inspiration for the pattern itself came from the tile floor, the colour scheme was lifted from another Australian influence. We visited Leslie Keating from Maze and Vale while in Melbourne. Our screen printing lesson was incredible, and her fabrics are dreamy. What I truly loved (aside from the light in her studio and her lovely presence) was the drop cloth on her work table. Periodically she has to switch it out. The old one then gets sold as bits of fabric or dropcloth art. This was the piece I got from her in the sale. Originally I thought I would stitch it up as a whole cloth piece, but once I started down this quilt's path it became integral to the entire thing. It dictated the colours and I am cutting it up, bit by bit, to be included in the quilt.

To start the quilt I drew out the single block pattern in Illustrator. Knowing that I don't work small (when it comes to the size of quilts) I wanted to be able to ensure consistency of the pattern and to make multiples in one go. I am doing English Paper Piecing with my templates, so I print out 4 little blocks at a time on a sheet of cardstock. I could have easily done this with foundation paper piecing on my machine. The pattern works either way. 

Scraps for the Euroa Quilt

The next step was actually picking the fabric. Into the stash I dove! I picked out light and medium greys, a few teals and mints, the two mustard fabrics I had, some light pinks, and various creamy low volume prints. I decided to skip the black and whites, preferring to focus on grey. After I made the first couple of blocks I decided it needed more depth in fabric choices so I did a little bit of shopping. Some more mustards and more white/grey prints. The block results in some interesting secondary patterns. Playing with value or colour can drastically change the way this looks. I decided, however, to keep with the original influence and go completely scrappy.

I have a feeling this messy stack will be sitting on my cutting table for the next year or so.

My plan/goal is to make this quilt 80'' x 80''. I just don't like small quilts. Each mini block is 4'' x 4''. That means I will need 400 of them! I make them 4 at a time. Then make 4 of those and sew them together, calling those a mega block. So I will need 400 mini blocks, or 100 blocks, or 25 mega blocks. Whew. It's scary when you write it out that way. One block at a time. Like any journey that starts with the first step.

English paper Piecing Prep for Euroa Quilt

From start to finish for one block is probably about 2 hours of work. That includes the printing, cutting of the template, picking fabric and prepping blocks, thread basting, then sewing it all together. So far I have never just sat and done that start to finish. This is my one the go/summer sitting/TV watching project so it gets done is spurts and with interruptions. That's the point of a hand sewing project like this after all. 

I am pretty much brand new to English Paper Piecing and jumped in with my own pattern. It suits me just fine. I've poked my fingers and am developing callouses. I am still searching for my favourite needle (small enough but strong enough not to bend). And so far I haven't removed any papers. I'm kind of nervous about that step for some reason. It's fine for now, I have plenty of paper and there is no rush. 

This isn't the first quilt made from this inspiration. Lori made this incredible version after I posted the tile floor while on my trip last year. I posted the photo then went out of wifi range for a few hours. When I logged back in she'd already posted a block she'd made! Her finished mini quilt is awesome! Since I started the project I've had numerous requests for the pattern so I am prepping that to go live in the next couple of weeks. Watch for it. In the meantime, slow down and sew. 

UPDATE: The Euroa Templates are now available.

Park Quilt Blocks Done and Resting Together

Park Quilt Mid Century Modern Calgary

Over two years worth of hand applique. Not the only hand work I did in that time, but definitely the bulk of it. Maybe it should be a relief that it is over, but there is some sadness there too. It's been such a constant companion in that time. Coming with me on trips, to pools, while watching shows, on quiet Sunday mornings. Forever forcing me to slow down, to be silent. A welcome respite from the frenetic energy of improv piecing, deadlines, and household chaos. 

All that being said, it won't be getting quilted anytime soon! Mostly because I haven't a clue how I want to quilt it. The quilt top needs some time to rest and I need time to think on it.

Carolyn Friedlander Park Quilt

The whole thing started for two reasons. One, I was teaching a couple of hand applique classes and Carolyn Friedlander's pattern is a perfect lesson. With her permission I used the block. The other starting point was a bundle of fabric I gave to Lysa Flower to paint years ago. She asked for a bundle of my favourite fabrics. Many of those fabrics are in this quilt and the originals inspired the rest of the fabric selection. 

Hand Applique Park Quilt

It was a lot of fun to pick different combinations of fabric for the blocks. Some times I went for really high contrast, others for almost none. The pattern combinations are shocking to many, but I love each and every one.  I was able to use some of my new Tag fabrics with some old treasures.

I really do need to think on the quilting so I can do the whole quilt proper justice. It's okay, I'm not going anywhere and neither is this quilt.

Carolyn Friedlander Slow Down and Sew

Oops

Improv Triangles with Cirrus Solids from Cloud Nine and Kona Cotton

A certain Britney Spears song is running through my head right now.

I was on a finishing quick. Trying to turn blocks in to quilt tops, basting a few quilts, and making more blocks for others. No real reason other than a desire to have things move around on the list and maybe get a finish or two. Then this happened...

You see, I was prepping for a class. Wanting to augment my existing class samples I decided to try something else. I did that one thing, shared it on Instagram, someone commented on it, that led to another idea, and I went ahead and played. So bits of that piece on the bottom left became an attempt at shark fins on the top. But I couldn't quite get the shark fins to look right so I kept trying. Frankly, then, they started to resemble orcas more than sharks. It was at that point that I got the idea for a whole pod of orcas/sharks. 

That bit on the bottom left also greatly intrigued me. I decided to pick two other high contrast solids and play some more. The blocks are made up on different sorts of improv triangles (that's what my class was on that day). I am completely in love with the interesting shapes that come from sewing the different components together. Positive and negative space at work.

So I did what any respectable quilter would do when faced with two fun ideas would do - I went shopping. My solids stash is actually quite minimal. I picked up a whole bunch of blues to add to the pod and add variation to the ocean background. Then I snagged a bunch of random coloured solids. 

These are both excellent Morning Make projects so they will certainly be in the rotation. Let's see what I can finish before the fabric arrives.

Patchwork Sleep Sac with Voile and Anna Maria Horner

Patchwork Sleep Sac

What do you give your best friend when her fourth kid is born, another friend is making and giving her the first quilt she ever made, and she is the type of person who hates extra stuff in her house? That was the challenge I had recently. I did not want to usurp our other friend's efforts nor did I want to contribute to the accumulation of baby stuff, but I still wanted to make something. In the end, I settled on the Sleep Sac from Anna Maria Horner's lovely book, Handmade Beginnings.

Anna Maria Horner Handmade Beginnings

With no flannel in the stash for the inside I went shopping. Then I went through my voile stash to make the patchwork front. It was a family effort. My kidlets worked on the layout of the patchwork and helped press as we go. This is the softest thing ever!

Conveniently, I had some bias binding in the pink already made. When Anna Maria's instructions suggested finishing it by hand like a quilt binding I decided to up my game. Some big stitches in beautiful Valdani floss instead. (Note to self, do that more often.)

Hand Stitched Binding with Valdani Thread

Next time I give this gift - there will totally be a next time - I would add about 3'' in length to the pattern. The new baby is 6 weeks old and nearly too long for this. It's also possible I will be making a second version for her. If not, her stuffies or dolls will be very cuddly in the future.