I haven’t been able to escape the sew-in-rainbows bug, but I admit I haven’t been trying too hard to escape it! Now that my Moonstone Quilt pillow is in basting, quilting, and finishing mode, I’ve begun a new English Paper Piecing project to have on the ready for any travel stitching that might arise. The Mandolin Quilt pattern by Jodi at Tales of Cloth will be the next addition to my rainbow and black and white quilted pillow collection, and I thought I’d share my progress.
I’m using *gasp* Alison Glass fabrics for the rainbow, with the center cameo from an Art Theory panel from her Ex Libris line and a couple of rounds of Sun Print 2018 before diving into her older lines. I’m also adding Libs Eliott fabrics as a black and white zap to the vibrant rainbow. Both Alison and Libs design for Andover Fabrics, so I feel like they can be buddy buddy quite happily in the same project. Plus, my husband’s favorite fabric designer is Libs Elliot, so this pillow will have both of our favorites included, and will coordinate wonderfully with my Alison Glass Moonstone pillow (once it’s finished) and Gare’s Libs pillow.
I have a highly technical approach to selecting fabrics when it comes to a project like this. I place my center on the floor, surround it with all of the Alison Glass fabrics I can find, and then play.
I audition fabrics not only in person, but also through the screen of my phone’s camera, since oddly, some fabric arrangements look different from afar. Alison makes it pretty easy since her fabrics are such a vibrant spectrum of tone on tone color that already transition so well through the rainbow. It’s still fun to decide where to put each bright little bit, and mixing fabrics from new and old fabric lines.
I love English Paper Pieced patterns that have acrylic templates, since I’m a big fan of meticulous cutting (aka fussy cutting). These Mandolin templates help me see exactly what section of each fabric will be showcased in the quilt and which will be included in the seam allowance. It makes the basting step a lot easier, since the work is done in the cutting!
Even with a project focused on the color flow and not so much the individual pieces, I still fit meticulous cutting in where I can. You *might* notice that the squares around the center are all meticulously cut from Compass from Sun Print 2018, alternating designs since I only had fat eighths of the fabric, which didn’t include a full repeat of the design. The triangles are also meticulously cut, alternating between Latitude from Diving Board and Link from Sun Print 2017.
Once I extended beyond those triangles, the meticulous cutting is less consistent, since I focused more strongly on color flow around the circle.
I’ve been using Aurifil monofilament thread in smoke to stitch these together, which makes the process a little bit quicker since the thread is essentially invisible and I don’t take *quite* as long with my meticulously tiny stitches, since I’m less worried about it showing on the front. I can definitely see why so many folks stitch EPP together with monofilament. It’s a bit more fiddly in hand, and a bit tougher to sew with because of its invisibility, but I think the result is well worth the effort.
I made pretty consistent progress on this Mandolin block in January, stitching here and there, and taking advantage of rare quiet moments to stitch a bit. Early last week, though, QuiltCon prep began to overtake every free moment, and I’m admittedly still in the thick of it. I’m very excited to be co-teaching four classes with my friend Michelle Bartholomew (two each of Quilt Photography Basics, and two of Advanced Quilt Photography), as well as giving a lecture on Quilts to Mark Milestones Sunday morning at the event. I’ve been working hard to get everything perfect, and am very excited that in just over a week, I will be beginning my trek to get to Pasadena.
The one positive to my not being able to make much additional progress on my Mandolin block these past weeks is that now I will have a perfect hand-stitching project to take with me for the flights and any airport waiting time. Hopefully I will be returning from Pasadena not only with a feeling of class and lecture success, shared and gained inspiration, and a refreshed tank of quilty friend time, but also a nearly or fully finished Mandolin block!
Who will I see in Pasadena? If you’re headed to QuiltCon and see this bright thang in the airport or along your way, please do stop and say hi!