Mosiac Marquetry – My Artisan Spirit Sandscapes Challenge Quilt

When it comes to quilt design the inspiration comes from all manner of places. For one mini quilt I made lately it was an image I spied online that first inspired me. For some reason, now long forgotten, I was reading about St. Mark’s Bascillia in Venice and spotted some images of floor mosaics that I immediately thought would work wonderfully as EPP designs. One of the designs in particular really jumped out at me. Attributed to Paolo Uccello (1397-1475), it features a starred dodecahedron in a central circle. My first thought was to try making this with some Stonhenge fabrics as many have a gorgeous marble design to then. As chance would have it around the same time I saw a notice for the Northcott Artisan Spirit Sandscapes Challenge and as soon as I saw the Sandscapes fabrics I just knew that they would work beautifully in the design I wanted to make. Inspiration, a challenge and a deadline to work to, I didn’t need any other incentives to get working.

marble_floor_mosaic_basilica_of_st_mark_venciceThe first step was, of course, the design. I love to work in Inkscape when playing around with geometric quilt designs and after a little work it wasn’t long before I had a pattern completed and ready to work with.

"Mosiac Marquetry" EPP Sandscapes Challenge Quilted Wallhanging | Mud, Pies and PinsI decided I would use the Sunset-Coral colourway of the sandscapes fabrics for the wall-hanging. The colours and designs of the fabrics reminded me of a variety of woods and have such beautiful rich and vibrant colours. By colouring in a smaller version of the pattern I had drawn I was able to assess how the various fabrics in the line would best work in the design.

"Mosiac Marquetry" EPP Sandscapes Challenge Quilted Wallhanging | Mud, Pies and PinsAfter that it was time to cut out papers and fabric and simply start sewing. I started with the central polyhedron which came together quickly and easily.

"Mosiac Marquetry" EPP Sandscapes Challenge Quilted Wallhanging | Mud, Pies and PinsAs I completed each step/round of the quilt I found myself reassessing the colour choices I had made for the next step/round to be sure that the choices worked as I originally intended them to.

"Mosiac Marquetry" EPP Sandscapes Challenge Quilted Wallhanging | Mud, Pies and Pins"Mosiac Marquetry" EPP Sandscapes Challenge Quilted Wallhanging | Mud, Pies and Pins "Mosiac Marquetry" EPP Sandscapes Challenge Quilted Wallhanging | Mud, Pies and PinsFor the most part most of the choices stayed as I had planned them, with the exception of one the skinny square outer borders which had to change when I decided that the deep wine fabric was the best choice for the overall background.

One thing I did discover as I pieced the central sections was that even with all of the labelling I had pre-printed onto my initial paper pieces, I still had to add notes to several of them to avoid confusion with regard to their placement.

"Mosiac Marquetry" EPP Sandscapes Challenge Quilted Wallhanging | Mud, Pies and PinsOnce all of the circular rounds had been completed I added a final “round” of background fabric to square off the design.

"Mosiac Marquetry" EPP Sandscapes Challenge Quilted Wallhanging | Mud, Pies and PinsUp to this point the wall hanging had been completely hand pieced but I moved to machine piecing for the final few borders as I felt more confident doing so for the long straight seams.

Once the top was quilted I moved on to the quilting. I used Quilter’s Dream wool batting, as I want plenty of loft to add dimension to the finished wallhanging. The central sections and borders were all quilted with stitch in the ditch quilting using Aurifil Brillo Dark Yellow #739 which picked up the gold veins running through the Sandscapes fabric wonderfully and added a little extra bling and sparkle to the finish. For the background sections I initially considered continuing with the Brillo thread and quilting some scroll work to imitate the original mosaic design, but I reckoned that would detract from and clash with the design in the fabric too much. As a result I decided to simply follow the grain lines in the fabric pattern to add dimension to those sections and enhance the fabric design. I used 50wt dark carmine red Aurifil in  #2460 and it worked beautifully to give the texture and result I had hoped for. The same thread was also used to add some satin stitch / dense zig zag quilting in the outer polyhedron ring so that the blocks would appear threaded on a ring, as per the original mosaic.

"Mosiac Marquetry" EPP Sandscapes Challenge Quilted Wallhanging | Mud, Pies and PinsBound in yellow to echo the inner borders the wall-hanging finished up at 24″ square. I decided to name it “Mosaic Marquetry” in reference to both its origin and the fact that the finished appearance looks like that of a marquetry table top.

And what about the challenge I hear you ask. Well with a final push I did manage to get the quilt finished just in time to enter and I sent off a photo of it not long before the deadline. A few days later I was delighted to hear that I had made it into the top ten and then I had to send my little quilt off on its travels to be judged. It made its way safely to the US and a couple of weeks later I heard the amazing news that my wall-hanging had placed third in the pieced category. I was beyond thrilled when I heard the news and a couple of weeks on am still celebrating. From start to finish making this quilted wallhanging and participating in the challenge has been a fun and exciting experience and I look forward to finding more challenges to inspire me in the future.

A huge thank you to Northcott for hosting such a fun challenge. It definitely inspired me to try something new and pushed me out of my comfort zone both in terms of designing and in having the faith in myself and my work to actually enter it in their challenge. Be sure to check out the other winners of the challenge, they have all made such beautiful pieces.









Butterflies for the Briar Rose Challenge

I hope you’ll forgive my little absence from my blog. I’ve been buried under a whole heap of sewing projects for the past couple of weeks. If you follow me on Instagram then you’ve been getting little sneak peeks of a couple of the projects I’ve been making and although I have lots of finishes to share with you, today I am going to start with just one.

A couple of months ago I saw that Quilt Sandwich Fabrics were holding a Briar Rose Challenge and of course I couldn’t resist. A chance to sew with some Briar Rose fabrics, and a challenge to boot, what wasn’t to love? It was a very fun idea for challenge – you pay postage and they send you two random fat eights of Briar Rose fabric which you have to use to sew something.

Briar Rose Challenge Fabrics | Mud, Pies and PinsYou can use as few or as many other fabrics as you like as long as you use the two fabrics that were sent. I went through lots of different ideas when I opened my surprise package, but in the end I decided that I was going to use the fabrics to trial some new English Paper Pieced butterfly designs I had just drawn. I quickly settled on my colour scheme based on what matched best from my stash.

Fluttering, an EPP Butterfly Quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsI set to work on the butterflies, each of which contained one or other of the two challenge fabrics, and they became my on-the-go project for a few weeks. I worked on them on trains, steam trains, visiting family and outdoors.

Fluttering, an EPP Butterfly Quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsAs I had originally started designing butterflies with the view of making a large butterfly quilt I decided this was the perfect oppertunity to trial that idea so I quickly set to appliquéing the butterflies to a plain cloth background (more outdoor work).

Fluttering, an EPP Butterfly Quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsOnce I had the central panel finished I added a few of my quilt as you go blooms which incorporated the last few scraps of Briar Rose fabrics including the bees that I had fussy cut from the Coral Briar Rose Nanny Bee fabric when making the butterflies.

Fluttering, an EPP Butterfly Quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsTo finish the quilt top I added a border in Kona Cheddar and a second border in the same off-white I had used for the central panel and then I set to quilting. My original intention was to free motion quilt a series of butterflies and blooms all over the quilt. I practiced and practiced and soon felt conident enough to start on the quilt itself. Big mistake. My first attempt at a butterfly was a disaster. Having only worked on trail quilt sandwiches before I defintiely hadn’t reckoned on how difficult it was going to be to move a full quilt, never mind moving it and dealing with serious space issues. My little machine just isn’t suited to free motion quilting full quilts.

Fluttering, an EPP Butterfly Quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsAfter slowly unpicking all of the disasterous butterfly I decided instead that I would do a simple trellis like pattern on the central panel and I’m glad I did, as it still imparted the garden like feel I wanted the quilt to have. Okay, at first I wasn’t glad as trying to feed the quilt over and back through my machine involved some serious pushing and pulling especially as I stitched around each butterfly. I quickly switched to my reliable old Singer and life became so much easier with so much more harp space at my disposal.

Fluttering, an EPP Butterfly Quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsOnce the central panel was finished I stitched in the ditch around the first border and then switched back to my Brother and used a decorative wave like stitch to quilt the outer border. All of the quilting was carried out with my favourite off-white Aurifil 50wt #2021.

Fluttering, an EPP Butterfly Quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsThe quilt was bound with Botanics Tangerine Branches which picked up the colour of the coral fabrics in the butterflies. To back the quilt I used Ikea’s Stockholm fabric. Although this is heavier than heavier than normal quilting weight fabric it combined well with the Quilter’s Dream Select cotton batting I used to give the quilt a nice weight.

Fluttering, an EPP Butterfly Quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsThis quilt “Fluttering” is the largest quilt I have made to date and the first non-mini quilt that I have made just for me. It has finished up at 54 x 70″ which makes it perfect for snuggling under on the sofa or even for a nice bit of extra winter warmth and sunshine on my bed.

Fluttering, an EPP Butterfly Quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsA very last minute finish, “Fluttering*” has now been entered in the Briar Rose Challenge. This and the other enteries to the challenge should be appearing on the Quilt Sandwich Fabrics Blog in the days ahead so be sure to keep an eye out for them and to vote for your favourite.



Designs in Red and White

Red and white. Two colours that contrast starkly on so many levels but two colours that work wonderfully well together and that have long been used to create striking quilts of timeless beauty. When I read that SewCalGirl was making 2014 “The Year of Red and White Challenges” I was intrigued and started thinking about how I could make a red and white quilt of my own design.

11660553954_baed249123The current challenge is Design It! and this is the perfect starting point for me, a good chance to play with design ideas, to come up with a quilt design that really inspires me and makes me want to get sewing.


Because I have been working so much with my butterfly designs of late I couldn’t help but start by playing with one of those designs. Recreating the design in red and white, butterflies of different sizes fluttering about on a plain background, interspersed with octagonal QAYG blooms, all in subtly varying shades of red.

RWButterflysmlMuch and all as I love this design I could not help but think it was a rehash or reworking of the type of design I was planning for my Liberty butterflies and so I sat down to plan once more. I still took much inspiration from my initial idea, from the octagonal shape of the QAZY blooms, from the EPP construction of the butterflies and from the different shapes employed in their making. After playing around with some vector drawings in Inkscape I came up with a starting design that was to be the basis of my red and white quilt blocks.

RWoctagonThe next step was to design a quilt layout. At this stage I transferred my design to EQ7 so that I could redraw it as a quilt block and use it within different layout. I finally decided on a design that featured and highlighted the block in the central panel of the quilt, but also in the borders on a smaller scale. By decreasing the number of octagonal “rings” in the core design it was possible to create scaled versions of the block.

RWOQv1“Fractured Roses”

Once I had decided on the quilt layout I began to play around with small changes to the block design that resulted in quite major changes to the overall design. In the initial design the rays between each successive octagonal “ring” in the block ran in opposite directions resulting in the fractured design. By changing the rays so that they always ran in the same direction the result was either a clockwise of anticlockwise twist that could be used on their own or together to give interesting quilt designs.

RWOQv2“Crimson Eddies”

RWOQv2b“Twist and Twirl”

With the addition of extra rays to the initial design so that each octagonal ring was more highly fragmented the design became more lotus-like.

RWOQv3“Scarlet Loti”

All of these designs rely on the shapes that are formed as each octagonal ring is divided up and as such all were designed to be pieced primarily using English Paper Piecing.

In my initial layouts the central blocks were 12” with the pieced borders 2” and 4”, separated by 0.5” sashing. Using blocks of these sizes would have resulted in lap quilts of 48” square. However, this would have meant that pieces in the 2” pieced blocks would have been quite tiny and while I do not generally have a problem working with minute EPP pieces they are quite time consuming and somewhat fabric limiting as only the light weight fine weave cottons are really suitable.

The final quilts now finish at 80.5″ square with each of the large central blocks finishing at 24″ square and the two borders at 4″ and 8″. EQ7 estimates that with a 0.5″ seam allowance (allowing extra for cutting EPP pieces) it would take approximately 8.5 yards of white fabric and 5.5 yards of red to make each of these quilts.

My next challenge will be to find the perfect fabrics with which to make one of these quilts for Phase 3 of the Challenge, Make It!


Take a Stroll With Me

Picture yourself in a garden. At it’s center is a pond.

DWRpondSurrounding the pond are paths leading in all directions. Flagstones, stepping stones, each is different and each will take you somewhere new.

DWRpathsTrellises abound, and on them grow flowers in a myriad of hues. Blues and pinks, reds and purles. No two the same, yet harmony abounds.

DWRtrellis2 DWRtrellis1Enclosed in stone. Sheltered. A secret garden. My “Walled Garden”.

DWRwalledgardenInspired by the traditions and romance of bygone eras and by the prints of the Libery Tana Lawn fabrics that make up so much of this quilt, this is my interpretation of a walled garden. A garden in the form of an 18″ single ring Double Wedding Ring mini quilt.

And the origins of this quilt? Well it all began at the start of the week when I decided to challenge myself. I decided I was going to enter the NYC Metro Mod Quilters DWR Challenge. I had never made a DWR before. I had never sewn a quilt block with curved seasom. I had no templates. What I did have was the urge to make something for this challenge since I first read about it last July, an idea, and, perhaps most importantly, the confidence that I could complete a single ring quilt by the Dec 1st deadline.

For my base pattern I used an EQ7 6-segment block, but I altered it to allow me to foundation piece each arc in alternating wide and narrow strips of Liberty and background fabrics respectively. The pond was fussy cut from an unknown Japanese style fabric in my stash and I decided to place it upside down as I wanted to give the effect that the koi was diving down amongst pondweed rather than leaping towards a willow. The flowers were all created with paper pieced quarter ich hexies. Yes, quarter inch hexies are tiny, but they are also beautiful and fun to make, or at least I think so.

DWRscaleMaking this quilt was not without it’s challenges, pretty apt I suppose given that it is a challenge quilt. Firstly there was the time constraints. And then of course there was so much to learn. I now know how to piece a DWR, how to sew curved seams, how to quilt more intensively than I have ever quilted before and perhaps most importantly how to use nail polish remover to remove permanent marker from the fabric and of course how important it is to double and triple check that it is actually the magic ink fabric pen I have picked up before I start to draw stitching lines on the fabric!

But now it is done and I can honestly say it has been a challenge that I have enjoyed and one that I hope you will have enjoyed reading about.

Challenges Galore – WiP Wednesday

There’s nothing like a challenge to spice things up a bit. Several challenges, well that’s just fun. The deadline for the NYC Mod quilters Double Wedding Ring Challenge happens to be next Sunday, Dec 1st, and I’ve just decided to enter.

EZDWRChallengeBlogLogoOkay so I’m not going to make a full sized quilt, but I am going to attempt a single ring mini. My first challenge was of course the design. I don’t have any templates and don’t have time to purchase any so I drew up a quick pattern in EQ7, printed it out so I could foundation piece my rings and dove straight in.

The second challenge, well that’s got to be actually making a DWR. I have never attempted this before. In fact I’ve never sewn flat curves before (challenge three?). However, nothing ventured nothing gained and as I have faith in my abilities I dug out the stack of Liberty Tana Lawn charms I intended to use and got stuck in. The results I have to say were rather pleasing.

DWR1stballThe first of the four sides quickly came together and it is exactly as I had hoped it would be. Now I must admit this base is rather muted in colour and while I do intend to use the same fabrics for all four sides I also want some pops of colour in this mini. What better way to add more colour than with lots more Liberty prints. I’ve also got a stack of mini blooms in the works (those made with the quarter inch hexies I have become so fond of) so I will be adding those for colour. How and where, well you’ll just have to wait to find that out.

DWR1flowersThe final challenge – well to make the deadline of course. Time to get sewing!

Linking up with Lee’s Work in Progress Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced and as this is a project is filled with a couple of firsts for me I’m also linking up with New to me in November over at Celtic Thistle Stitches.