english paper piecing

Euroa Quilt Update

Euroa Quilt English Paper Piecing

And done.

Not the quilt, just the second row. It seems I am on track for one row a year as I started this quilt a little over two years ago. I haven’t quite worked up the energy to assemble the two rows together. More accurately, I haven’t found the time to clear the dining room table to do so because that is the only place I can do it.

This whole thing is sewn together via the flat back stitch. I love it! Unlike a whip stitch, which most of us seem to use for EPP, the stitches totally disappear with the flat back stitch. On the small scale it is no less portable than the whip stitch. I always have my sketch book with me so I tape my pieces together on then get right to stitching. On the large scale though, like when I have a mega block together or am assembling a row like this, I need to go back to my old stand by - the dining room table.

In time for summer I should have the two rows together and the next batch of blocks ready for work. Slow and steady on this project. I will say that finishing this row is motivation. Yes it is only row two out of five, but seeing it all together is exciting! It reminds me that my work is indeed getting me somewhere. One block at a time it seems interminably slow, but I am drinking in the process. Camping, road trips, and the odd lazy afternoon are coming up, perfect for a little more assembly. Probably by the time I get the third row done it will be dandelion season again!

Euroa Quilt Update - October 2018

Euroa Quilt English Paper Piecing

So, it’s been what? 17 months?

I started the Euroa Quilt in May 2017. One baby block at a time. 400 of those. Four together to make 1 block. 100 of those. Four of those then together to make a mega block. 25 of those. That’s the plan.

For anyone new here and to remind you all, this is the quintessential “Quilter Inspired by a Tile Floor” quilt. I snapped a pic in a doorway in a small town in Australia. That town was Euroa. It turns out this is not an uncommon tile pattern in Australia in the Mid Century. This quilt is an homage to that trip in so many ways,

Here’s where I’m at.

Modern English Paper Piecing

7 Mega Blocks.

30 Blocks Done (and 1 in final assembly)

3 more blocks prepped for hand stitching.

That might seem slow to you, but it seems about perfect to me. I do this project in quiet moments at the summer campsite, while hanging out at the pool/ballet studio/fencing gym, sometimes while watching TV, and on the rare quiet Sunday when I feel like handstitching instead of being interrupted reading. I didn’t stitch for 3 months last year as I struggled with tennis elbow. Things are a bit slow going right now as I don’t do a lot of sitting (newsletter readers know what I am talking about - subscribe below!) and you can only stitch so much standing up.

The truth is, I am in no rush. You’ve heard me say before that quilt making is about the process for me - the making more than the quilt itself. I absolutely love having such a portable hand work project. I really don’t care how long it takes me to finish. If I did then I would have made this smaller! As it stands, the baby blocks are 4’’. Which means the quilt as I have it planned will be 80’’ x 80’’ of hand stitched goodness.

Euroa Quilt Modern Scrappy Quilts

To assemble the quilt I sew the mega blocks together then sew those together in columns. Not sure why, but in my brain I made the far right column first so I am working right to left. I usually prep one or two blocks at a time, laying out what I have so far so that my random scrappiness is somewhat controlled - no two fabrics right next to each other. It does require vacuuming the studio floor and keeping the dog out. I can do the basting and stitching of each block while in any number of places, but save the mega block assembly for home, on a large table.

Oh, and I wholeheartedly recommend the flat back stitch when it comes to English Paper Piecing.

I’ve been asked if I am bored yet. Nope. Not at all. It is highly repetitive. I think if I were working on very controlled fabric/colour placement I might be. Or maybe I would switch to foundation paper piecing for that project? But the scrappy nature of my fabric selection and my infinite patience to pick it up, put it down, and pick it up again is keeping me from getting bored. Quite the opposite, I get super excited each time I finish a block!

The printable templates are still for sale on my Etsy site, if you are interested.

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.

First Time English Paper Piecing

All Points Patchwork English Paper Piecing

I've been quilting for 18 years. I know this because the first quilt I ever made was for my nephew and he turned 18 last week. In all that time I have never, not even once, tried English Paper Piecing. Long a technique I've admired but never touched. Part of the reason is that the time, the perceived tedium, the end result of the projects made from it.

Until the last few years I was not down with slowing down when it came to sewing. Any kind of handwork is not fast. That's rather the point. And the reason I turned and walked in the opposite direction of anything but hand finishing a binding. Now that I've converted to hand work - applique and stitching - I am ready to face the time it takes to tackle an EPP project.

It's a good thing I can face that now because it is tedious. Well, the prep is. Once you have your pattern pieces and your fabric cut it moves swiftly. That is, it feels like you make progress swiftly. It took me longer to prep 4 blocks than it did to make 1.

And frankly, I had never come across an EPP project I was dying to make. There are absolutely gorgeous projects out there. Stunning examples of workmanship, fabric love, and detail. I am happy to look at those quilts all day long. It doesn't mean I want to make them though. I was waiting until the right quilt idea grabbed me. 

Then it did.

Euroa Tile Floor Inspiration

It is a bit of a cliche to be inspired by a tile floor when you are a quilter, but there it is. On the threshold of a tiny natural foods cafe in a tiny Australian country town. The second I saw it I fell in love. Snapped a pic, and yes, posted it to IG. As we sat - three quilters - for breakfast and debated whether this would be better as an EPP, a foundation paper pieced, or even just a pieced with templates pattern a beautiful crafter back home felt so inspired and made an EPP block. By the time I'd found WiFi again she'd already posted it! That answered the debate for me. 

Fast forward a few months and I decided to tackle it for myself. The idea had never left my head, constantly egging me on. Try it, I double dog dare you! It appealed, beyond the graphic nature, because it wasn't the predictable. I felt like I could improvise with the fabric, having fun while still slowing down. 

So I pulled out Diane Gilleland's incredible book, All Points Patchwork. It is the ultimate resource on EPP. She focuses on technique, answering why you do something a certain way, and setting you up to really do any kind of EPP pattern. I'd read it before and remembered most of the advice, but it was a great resource to pull out to help me prep.

Euroa English Paper Piecing blocks

Two blocks down. I've made some mistakes, for sure. The obvious one is that I didn't reverse the pattern. I drew it out in Illustrator so I could print out the pieces on scrap paper (leftover turkey crafts in this case). Somewhere in Diane's book, because it is there, I missed the note about reversing the pattern. In this case that isn't a big deal, but still. Although, I will probably reverse it if I decide to make an actual quilt. That's just the way I see it in my head.

My first block is quite loose in the whip stitch. Now I know. 

It also won't lay all that flat. I wonder if I stretched things out or if that is normal?

Finally, these are 3'' finished blocks. I chose this size to maximize the number I could fit on a sheet. But oy, that's a bit small. It is going to take a lot to get to where I probably want to go. So I think I will size them up to 4''. Just enough to make a bit of a difference.

Now, I just wonder how I will fit this in to the handwork rotation between needleturn applique and stitching?