I’ve made no secret of the fact that I find Electric Quilt 8 to be incredibly frustrating to use sometimes, but I’m also the first one to admit that it’s much easier than hand-sketching for creating curvy designs (for me, at least). Earlier this year, soon after I bought EQ8, I created my first curvy design.
This isn’t the colourway I started with – it’s about the 50-kajillionth one I tried. But I was so stuck on this design, just really drawn to it, that I couldn’t get it out of my head. I kept trying new combinations of three colours, enlisted the help of some quilty friends, and finally settled on this muted palette. It reminds me of waves, or clouds, or wisps of smoke or fog.
I can’t remember if I created this design because I knew that Jenny Haynes – AKA Papper, Sax, Sten – sells double drunkard’s path templates, or if I only saw her templates afterwards… but I knew the only way to get it out of my head would be to actually make it. So I ordered the 7″ template, ordered the fabric (Kona Cotton Solids in Sky, Baby Blue and Fog), waited impatiently for everything to arrive, and then took it all to my annual sewing retreat in late September.
In a little under 2 days, I cut all the pieces, arranged them by block, sewed the double curves (for the first time ever), and put together the entire quilt top. Is there a word for that feeling of relief you get when you complete a project and you can finally free up the brain space it’s been occupying for months?! There totally should be.
As soon as I finished the quilt top, I folded it up and put it away. I knew it needed expert quilting… and I’m no expert when it comes to quilting. I’d like to develop my skills beyond straight-line quilting, but limited space, a shallow-throated domestic machine and my own impatience mean it’s not going to happen anytime soon.
Coincidentally, my quilty friend Steph Skardal was steadfastly practising straight lines on her new Juki longarm machine. I cheekily suggested that she might like to practise curves on my quilt top… and she agreed. A few days later (quick enough that Steph couldn’t change her mind!), the quilt top was winging its way from Australia to the USA. And soon after that, Steph had a plan and made a start on the quilting. You might have seen some of her progress shots on Instagram (here and here).
I couldn’t be happier with Steph’s choice of backing fabric and quilting design – they complement the quilt design but don’t overpower it. Once she’d finished and washed it, the quilt got that lovely crinkly texture. Look how good it looks!
The fabric colours aren’t as similar as I would’ve liked (I think the darkest colour stands out a smidge too much from the other two colours), but for my first curvy design and piecing, I’m pretty happy with this quilt. And I love Steph’s quilting and binding. I’ve long admired her work, so I was really excited to collaborate with her and benefit from her expertise. I hope we can do it again!
Because Steph finished the quilting in super-quick time (I’m convinced there are 36 hours in a day where she lives), we decided to submit it to QuiltCon. I cheekily called the quilt ‘Blue Wave’ in a nod to current events at the time. Unfortunately, Blue Wave is a #quiltconreject, but we might submit it elsewhere. It seems a shame to post it back to Australia before it’s seen a little more of the world.
In the meantime, I’m toying with the idea of writing up a pattern for Blue Wave. I’d love to see how it looks in other colour combinations and fabrics! And given how quickly it came together, I’d be tempted to try another version myself.
I’ve mentioned before that I find inspiration in a lot of different places. An obvious one is Instagram. I don’t just follow quilters; I follow painters and potters, sketchers and screenprinters, woodworkers and weavers. I also follow fellow art lovers who post images of artworks that inspire them. It’s a great way to see stuff that I wouldn’t otherwise find.
It was hashtagged #jodelahaut and #1953. So who’s Jo Delahaut?
Turns out he’s one of Belgium’s first abstract artists, and a key figure in the geometric abstraction movement. His profile on Artnet includes at least two untitled pieces using a similar concept and shapes: the one from 1953, and another one from 1954. Beautiful.
So anyway, back to the art: I couldn’t get one of the motifs – the one that looks half-rectangle, half-circle – out of my head, so I decided to play around with it a bit. I wanted to explore that shape, but also the idea of a single line tracing through a bunch of different shapes (a little like my Sound Maze pattern).
I started by recreating the half-rectangle, half-circle shape, in a more condensed form. I alternated the direction of the shapes to add a little more interest and movement.
These shapes look a bit like letters to me… ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’, ‘d’ and ‘e’ seem to pop out. Can you see them?
Then I changed the motif to circular on both sides, just to see what it looked like.
I can’t decide if I like it more or not! I do like those large (broken) rectangles that appear to float above the shapes though (in both designs).
Finally, I decided to try the other alternative: the version with all hard angles and no curves.
It’s funny how similar and yet how different the three designs are. And I still can’t tell which one I like the most!
I’m not sure how I’d translate these designs into actual quilt patterns. I like the idea of piecing the dark lines against a light background, but it would also be possible to appliqué strips if you were careful to keep everything lined up very straight.
Last weekend, I went on a quilt retreat with a bunch of sewing friends – basically just a long weekend away, in a lovely location, doing more sewing that I’ve managed in ages. I got loads done, including sewing curves for the first time (yay!). They were much easier than I’d expected – so much so that I cut and sewed an entire quilt top in around 2 days (the first top I’ve finished in quite a while!).
Anyway, that’s all just to explain why I’ve been playing with curves more in EQ8 this week. Now that I know I can tackle them in real life, I’m more inclined to use them in my designs. Here’s one of a series that I’ll share in the coming weeks….
I started playing with curves, and then the curves just cried out for arrow heads and long tails, which I knew would work well in groups of 4, like a pinwheel. Then I nested the pinwheels so that the arrow heads were facing one another. I love the movement in this design, not to mention the colours! It uses 3 different blocks, with squares, rectangles, flying geese (or half-square triangles, or even quarter-square triangles) and curves (drunkard’s path).