East Dakota Quilter


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La Passacaglia & EPP Research

I mentioned in my QuiltCon blog post that I intend to begin a La Passacaglia quilt. Naturally, I’ve begun with more research than can help me actually do the work and make the quilt. I thought I’d summarize some things for anyone else who wants to do this project because it is blowing up all over the interwebs!

THE BOOK THAT STARTED THE CRAZE

First, we’re talking about the La Passacaglia Quilt pattern from the book Millefiori Quilts, which features 19 of Willyne Hammerstein’s quilts.

Millefiori Cover

Millefiori Contents

All that Italian actually does a great job of describing the style: millefiori is a combination of the words “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers). Certainly the concept of a thousand flowers applies to the La Passacaglia, which has many rosettes/flowers making up the quilt. Passacaglia comes from the Spanish “pasar” (to walk) and “calle” (street). Think walking or dancing down the street—perfectly appropriate if you imagine winding, cobbled lanes and compare that against the many curves in the quilt.

Instructions in Millefiori Quilts are for machine piecing the quilts. However, if you’ve ever done a Y-seam, you can understand why a majority of people are choosing the English Paper Piecing (EPP) method instead.

I bought ALL THE THINGS to start this project from paperpieces.com. (UPDATE 2017: Since the link from paperpieces is no longer working, Karen of the DIY Addict was kind enough to send me a link to her site, where you can still buy the supplies!)

Passacaglia set by East Dakota Quilter

Items include the book, acrylic templates, and all the paper pieces necessary to make the quilt. I might have bought a smaller set of papers if I had it to do over again since you can just reuse them, but it’s nice not to have to.  Between these items and the fabric, it’s probably going to be the most expensive quilt I’ll make… but have you seen how awesome it looks?! I’ve also seen acrylics on Etsy that have holes at the intersection of each seam allowance in case you want to machine piece and mark your Y-seams.
LA PASSACAGLIA INFORMATION

The La Passacaglia Quilt includes approximately 2900 pieces in five different shapes/sizes as follows:

Piece A (1¼” diamonds for 5-pointed stars): 468 Pieces
Piece B (1¼” diamonds for 10-pointed stars): 206 Pieces
Piece C (1¼” pentagons): 640 Pieces
Piece D (¾” pentagons): 272 Pieces
Piece E (1¼” isosceles triangles): 1368 Pieces

 

Passacaglia Shapes by East Dakota Quilter

This info comes from the number of pieces in paper piecing packs, rather than the pattern itself. I was surprised not to see any hexagons and also that there were only five shapes for the entire, very busy quilt top.

 

EPP GENERAL INFORMATION

Cutting the Fabric

Standard EPP protocol is to add 3/8” of fabric around each side. Common alternatives are ¼” or ½”. Acrylic templates are available in each of these size preferences.

Measuring the Pieces

In EPP, most pieces are the same measurement along all sides. (An exception from the pieces above is the isoscolese triangle, which is equal on the two long sides but has a shorter “bottom” that matches the length of the pentagon sides.) EPP pieces are measured along one of the equal sides.

EPP Measurement by East Dakota Quilter

Basting Each Piece

There are several methods of basting EPP pieces.

One method is to sew around the shape. Even this has several different versions. In one version, you just tack the fabric along each corner of the piece. In another, you weave your thread along the length of fabric between each corner. I plan to do the first of these since that’s the method I learned in my EPP workshop with Katy Jones of imagingermonkey. And it’s faster and doesn’t mean ripping any paper at the end of the project.

Another method is to glue baste. Some glue pens are specifically made for gluing fabric; I have the Fons & Porter version. I’ve also read that a plain, washable glue stick works well. (It worked great when I glue basted a zipper on this bag.) I have been gluing some of the fussy cut fabric pieces lightly to the papers to keep them from shifting while I hand baste around the edges. It’s been working pretty great. So far, I’ve only used the glue pen, but I’ll likely switch to the Elmer’s when that runs out.

Glue for EPP by East Dakota Quilter

Creating Patterns from Fabric (and being consistent)

Solids are a great choice for EPP. However, one reason I’m excited about this project is a chance to make repeatable patterns from fabrics. I’ve mentioned BEFORE that while I like the look of a repeatable pattern across an entire quilt, I deplore the monotony of chain piecing. Now is my chance to let precision shine! By “fussy cutting” fabrics, you can highlight a portion of the design. It works great with florals/swirls. I’m also thinking about including a few Heather Ross novelty prints. If you don’t know where to start, Google Amy Butler, Tula Pink, and Anna Maria Horner prints to see fabrics with repeatable patterns.

The tricky part about fussy cutting is ensuring all the pieces are consistent. Florence of Flossie Teacakes had the genius idea to make her own plastic templates and draw with pencil the outline of her repeating fabric pieces.  Modifying this concept, I have been using erasable marker on the acrylic templates I purchased. It is working great and wiping off cleanly.

Wet Erase Marker for EPP by East Dakota Quilter

Selecting the Right Thread

For the back of your EPP, you can use any thread you want. I still use Aurifil brand thread for this because it doesn’t break or tangle as easily as other threads, but since you aren’t relying on it to hold long-term, you can use anything that will last until you stitch your pieces together.

For stitching pieces together, some threads are less visible than others, so you can decide how “handmade” you want your EPP to look. A woman in my EPP workshop said she swears by silk thread for connecting pieces. Florence blogged about a polyester thread (Superior Threads brand, Bottom Line type – bought mine here) that piqued my interest.

I can’t tell whether I like it. I admit the end result is much prettier/less visible stitching, but the thread is kind of “bouncy” to sew with. When I pull the thread tight at the end of each stitch, it’s kind of like a bungee cord; it stretches longer than it seems it should, then bounces back to a resting position. So it feels weird to sew with but looks fantastic! I think I will continue to use it. I hope it’s durable when I’m putting so much time into one project! I’ll post photos of my first Passacaglia rosette when it’s finished so you can compare.

Superior Threads

RESOURCES

Other bloggers who have written about the La Passacaglia quilt that I found inspirational (obviously not an exhaustive list) include:

Flossie Teacakes – here and here and here

TheLittleRedHen – or here on Flickr

Mommy by Day, Crafter by Night

Lilabellelane

Michal Erika

Seldear

Pattern Jam (feat. Ashley Spilman)

 

You can see about a million more great passacaglia photos on Instagram. Check out:

tulapink (especially the behind the scenes in Artists & Makers magazine; you can see her Passacaglia in the background), lilabellelane, carriestraka, alexouq, kamiemurdock or hashtags #lapassacaglia and #passacagliaquilt

 

A few more on Flickr:

Michal Peter-Anderson (via Rossana Ramani), Melissa (@honeythorpe)

 

Lorena Uriarte of ikwilt doesn’t feature a Passacaglia but does great fussy cutting.

 

If you are interested in EPP but don’t know where to begin, here are some resources:

EPP: Where to Begin

How to Fussy Cut Fabric for EPP

EPP Basics

Stitching for EPP

 

OKAY, I’M READY TO START!

I plan to make my La Passacaglia in blue and orange. It’s my favorite combination, and I found a crazy amount of inspiration from @elisabew’s Farmer’s Wife and blue & orange Marcelle Medallion quilts. I’m concerned the cogs might flow together a little bit, but Pinterest user Quilt Passion (Åsa Holmér) did a good job of distinguishing hers using only a blue and white palette. My quilt will have blue and orange AND white, so with a whole extra color, I should be fine… right?!

Well, I think that about covers EPP generally and La Passacaglia more specifically. There’s nothing left but to dive in. Which is exciting… but also a little unfortunate since the planning/research is my favorite part, aside from having a finished quilt to show off. Since it’s going to take me forever, I have a WIPs page (tab at the top of the blog) available so it is easy to track my progress on this and a few other long-term projects.


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Marcelle Medallion: Nearly Complete!

My poor sister. I have been staying with her the past few months during a geographical transition, and she has had to put up with fabric scraps all over our apartment for weeks! It all started when I saw the Marcelle Medallion quilt on a few blogs.

marcelle medallion in liberty love, via craftprowler

Within the month, I bought a copy of the book Liberty Love by Alexia Marcelle Abegg that features the quilt. I was actually looking for a copy of the UK magazine Love Quilting & Patchwork, which has the quilt as its cover star, but it was sold out everywhere! (I finally located a copy of the magazine a month after starting the quilt.)

love quilting and patchwork

Both Liberty Love and Love Quilting & Patchwork have several other projects I want to try. I usually do not follow patterns or tutorials (not even for piecing my Sampler Quilt), so that’s saying a lot. Happy to have BOTH!

medallion love via craftprowler

Since my last post about the Marcelle Medallion quilt, I’ve added additional borders. I can’t say I have found piecing them as “addictive” as some other bloggers described. I am too impatient! What I find addictive is seeing the new borders finished and added. It’s turning me into a bit of an antisocial monster. Good thing the center was the most difficult portion; the rest has been going pretty smoothly.

marcelle medallion center by craftprowler

marcelle medallion border 2 via craftprowler

This is one busy quilt! But I do like having so many different things to look at in a single quilt top. I also like that I was able to incorporate little pieces of so many past projects, including Lotta Jansdotter’s Bella line from a baby quilt I’m working on, lots of greens and purples from my Mardi Gras quiet book, some red-and-whites from a new quilt that’s percolating, and random reds, aquas, and yellows from the quilt I use now.

marcelle medallion border 2 by craftprowler

By Border 4, my measurements were a little off. (Alexia warns of this in the pattern, so it’s not a big deal.) My quilt ran short, so I just removed one triangle from each side. Now I’m back on track.

marcelle medallion border 5 by craftprowler

My Marcelle Medallion involves a number of firsts for me:

  • It is the first quilt I have made from a pattern;
  • I made my first [successful] Y-seams (I tried to use them in my first-ever quilt – HA!);
  • This was the first time I made flying geese;
  • It was also the first time I sewed triangles (other than HSTs); and
  • It was my first large project that includes at least 50% scrap fabric from my stash.


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How Marcelle Medallion Brought Balance to My Week

I completed the center of my Marcelle Medallion quilt… finally! I’ve been spending much less time indoors with the nice spring weather, plus I have been hosting visitors from out of town, including my parents. But I’m pleased with the result now that it’s finally done:

MM center by EastDakotaQuilter

MM center block by EastDakotaQuilter

In particular, I’m happy to have made it through the y-seams. I tried four different times the first night and started to think that I’d either cut the fabric crooked or was lining it up wrong until a quick google search revealed that marking is really important with y-seams. I was under the impression it was a waste of my time. I mean, it was easy to line up the other pieces! (Hmmm… this flat end must line up with that corner…) But that whole trick of marking the y-seam corners was magic.

I am finding in blogland that quilters often apologize for imperfections. I myself planned to throw in a comment that my y-seams still weren’t perfect, but that I’m happy with them because they add character, right? Then I realized: quilting is probably the one area of my life where I don’t fret about imperfections. It is so liberating to decide a y-seam is good enough and seriously not give it another moment’s thought. It might not be the reason I started sewing, but it’s definitely the reason I’m still doing it. I had to laugh when I thought what it would mean if I used the same philosophy at work: Well, the acquisition is finished and the employment contracts are drafted, but I couldn’t work out the details of the non-compete clause, so I left it out. Now the former employees are starting a competing business across the street. It adds character to our business! Yeah, that’d get me fired. But my y-seams definitely have character. 🙂

I have the fabric for the remainder of the quilt and I’ve planned which fabrics to use for most of the borders. The hardest part of the quilt, the center square, is complete. I’m really looking forward to seeing the final product, imperfections and all!

MM center by EastDakotaQuilter

MM Fabrics by EastDakotaQuilter

MM planning by EastDakotaQuilter


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Design: A New Frontier

I chose “craftprowler” as a blog name because I never, ever thought I would be able to design my own projects. I figured I would just make minor alterations to the projects I found on Pinterest. However, I’ve spent a lot of time designing projects since the last time I posted photos. The burst of creativity feels amazing, but there is blessed little to show for my efforts so far!

Design Book

I bought the notebook featured above at Target. It is responsible for maybe 30% of the projects I’ve designed so far. (Another 40% is Pinterest, and 30% is me.) The reason? It has gridlines, with heavier lines around every 8 boxes. It’s perfect for sketching out quilt ideas.

I haven’t gotten far with sewing the Marcelle Medallion quilt, but I selected all the fabrics and cut out the middle pieces already. This is the layout so far:

marcelle medallion center by craftprowler

(Confession: I actually did start sewing the middle, but the Y-seams stopped me short. I am going home tonight to rip out some of the seams and try again. Apparently, marking is important. Oops! I like the pattern enough that this is the first time I won’t just plow forward with the awkward, first-try version.)

I’ve also drawn several more templates for my Barn Quilt, including this 1982 Buick LeSabre:

1980 buick by craftprowler

I drew a fox to grace either a purse or a pillow – haven’t decided just how to use it yet. Embroidery? Appliqué? Both are possibilities. If you want to use the image and end up making something before I do, please email to let me know! I’d love to see your projects.

After seeing some neat images at the Etsy store of cheesebeforebedtime, I tried doing a self-portrait with the intent to post it as my thumbnail here on the blog. The first result was embarrassing. The second definitely looks like a person, but not like me. Let’s just say it might take a few more tries before it’s worth posting online.

I have also been scheming the past few weeks about how to take better photos for my blog. A major issue is my work schedule. My evening commute is around 2 hours, so even if I get out at a decent time, there’s not much daylight left by the time I get home. The windows of my apartment also face directions/buildings that are not conducive to natural light. My new goal is to work on projects a week ahead of time so I can photograph them on weekends. (Disclaimer: Procrastination may still mean low-resolution iPhone photos.)