This project was an unexpected creative journey from start to finish, and a great illustration of the meandering, make-it-up-as-you-go-along way I like to work.
It all started when the nice people at Izabella Peters contacted me and offered me some of their new fabrics to play with. These are digitally printed, so at first I was hesitant. I've tried several digitally-printed fabrics in my EPP, but they always have a coating on them from the print process that makes hand-stitching very hard going.
...But the company suggested I play with ways to make the fabric more malleable, so I jumped at the chance. I selected this pretty range of baby blue prints specifically because these are colors I almost never work with. (If we're experimenting here, I thought, let's go all the way.)
...So happily, making the fabrics soft enough for hand stitching was as simple as washing them with a little detergent and borax, and then drying them in a hot dryer. The Izabella Peters lines are printed on a nice hefty woven cotton base, but it works fine with a sharp needle.
Then it was time to start playing around with a design. These prints are somewhat large in scale, so I thought an octagon shape, which has a lot of surface area, might be a good pairing. But I wasn't thrilled with only plain octagons, so I started looking at how I could piece some of them. That's where the striped fabric came in. I liked using it as a frame for the smallest print elements.
So for a while, I just made octagons in the six fabrics, playing with how fussy cuts and piecing could showcase the most interesting bits. And after a while, I had enough of them that the whole thing started to resemble some kind of quilt.
(I rarely like to decide what I'm making at the start of a project. I prefer to play with shapes first and then see what those shapes tell me they want to be. It's not the most efficient way to design, but it sure is a good time.)
I decided to anchor the quilt around those stripey-framed octagons, because they were the boldest and most unlike the other patches. Then I just let my other patches fall randomly in the spaces between. And after playing with several colors in the little squares between octagons, I decided I liked the sparkle created by several hues.
I pieced until I started running low on striped fabric. Then I decided my quilt would need to be a doll quilt instead. (Theoretically it could also be a baby quilt, but there's noooooo way my hundreds of hours of hand-sewing are ever getting near an actual, fluid-spewing baby. No offense to spewing babies, of course.)
To finish things off, I decided to make an EPP edging, which is something I covered in All Points Patchwork. I made this one a little differently, because I wanted to quilt my quilt before adding the edge.
...So I pressed the finished top well, especially around the outer edges. Then I peeled out all the paper templates, and pressed again. Normally, it's a dicey proposition to remove templates from the edges of an EPP project before it's finished. But the way I baste my templates, I leave in the basting when I remove the paper. And that holds the shapes together around those outer edges nicely.
With all the paper out, I sandwiched, thread-basted, and quilted. For this kind of edging, it's best to keep your quilting a good 1/2" away from all edges. (Or, to put a finer point on it, no quilting off the edges!)
Then I carefully trimmed the backing and batting so they followed the scalloped edge of the top, but just a little smaller. (If you try this, just keep checking and re-checking that you're not cutting into your beautiful quilt top at the same time.)
...Then I made a large EPP ring of octagons and squares like you see above, using the quilt top as a pattern. And then I placed it right sides together with the quilt and whipstitched all the way around the outer edge. Remember, the outer edges of the quilt have no stiffening paper templates at this point. So it requires a little extra attention to make sure all the edges are lining up well, and that you're easing the segments to the same length where needed.
With the border piece sewn on, then I removed its templates and turned it right side out. That flips the border to the back. I gave it a good pressing all the way around, and then slip-stitched the inner edge to the back of the quilt.
...Aaaand lastly, I machine-sewed through all layers about 3/8" from the edge of the quilt, just to give the outer scallops a little crispness.
I'm really enamored with my little project. It's something I would never have arrived at if I hadn't just started messing about with stuff I don't normally do. And now I have a little more comfort with baby blues and pinks, and some new ways to use octagons in my toolkit.
If my next cat turns out to be very feminine, she might just inherit this piece. :-)
Many thanks to Izabella Peters for touching off a really nice creative journey. (You can see all the fabric ranges, including some lovely Christmas things, over here.)