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Happy Easter everyone!
In light of the celebration of Spring (well, in some parts of the world) and all that it represents – rebirth, new beginnings, fertility and the circle of life – we thought we would share one of Robyn’s most recent quilts with you… her ‘New Beginnings’ quilt.

This post is part of our new category, what’s up buttercup? We are going to attempt to blog more about what we have been up to and making in our spare time ♥ Enjoy.


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This quilt came about when I was trying to challenge myself to make a design that embraced negative space – normally more is more is more in my quilts and I fill very space possible with pattern and colour! I was feeling very inspired by the amazing Aeriel Grove quilt of Carloyn Friedlander that some girls in my sewing group were making – both in terms of the play between low volume fabrics and Liberty as well as the idea of using circles to create an aerial landscape. Having said that, the uniform nature of the squircles all lined up in rows wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

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liberty-chambray-aerial-grove_4_carolyn-friedlander_web-2Aerial Grove quilt by Carolyn Friedlander, on her blog here.

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I was flipping through a copy of Frankie magazine when the image below struck me – it reminded me of the circular, organic shapes in a real life aerial landscape… the playful patterns of shapes interacting but not quite touching, a dance of different colours humming together, similar and yet all individual. To me, circles are so evocative of new beginnings – they represent life and all of it’s cycles.
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It just all seemed to fit together with what I wanted to achieve – a quilt pattern that challenged me to think and work differently, a take fresh approach to doing things! I researched how to make squircles like Carolyn Friedlanders but adapted them to fit my pattern – they would be not so uniform, different sizes, and a bit more organic and reflective of my style.

I did some research on Pinterest, and inspired by colour palettes from nature, I decided that I wanted to do a low volume background – which I have never done before- with a mix of blues, greens and yellows on top. Linen seemed like the obvious choice, it just pairs so well with Liberty! (Just make sure you wash it well before using it!) I didn’t want it to be one flat piece as a background, so in order to create a bit of interest, I picked different shades of greys and ecru linens and stitched them all together.
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moodboards-03My pinterest mood board influenced my choice of Liberty prints.
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So I didn’t really plan this quilt too much – I just stitched the linens together to make the background which I then pinned up. Then I started thinking about the circles – having picked a blue and green palette, I took the fabrics I thought might work and played around with them, folding them up in to different sizes and pining them to the background to get an idea of which composition and configuration might work. I just played with the colours that worked well together and bounced off each other – paying close attention to the print scales – it was interesting to find that balance, if there were too many small prints I found that they just disappeared in to the background, where as all large prints made everything a bit flat. Mixing the print scales created the depth that I was looking for!

My advice with a quilt like this is to pin it up, and walk away from it. Give yourself a break and come back to it before you make your final decision, or you can even photograph it. I was changing fabrics right up until the last second!
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I really enjoyed the appliqué process with this quilt – it’s so calming! I actually basted the low volume background linens to the batting and the back fabric (Liberty Michelle) with big stitches and then I appliquéd on top – it gave me something more substantial to appliqué on to. I used a bit of sew-line glue to keep my circles in the composition that I wanted while I was working, making sure to leave half an inch as room for the needleturn.

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It was hard to not be a perfectionist! The shape of the circles changed a bit as I needle turned around them, but I embraced this as I was going for the organic look. Liberty is so soft and easy to appliqué with – it really fell in to nice shapes by itself along the way.  I’m definitely going to do more appliqué in the future!!! A useful tip: Always thread your needle straight off the spool – don’t snip and then thread it backwards, otherwise it will knot when you are using it. I used size 10 Tulip Milliners needle for my appliqué.
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Quilting
As I was making this quilt as a decorative piece, I didn’t have to worry about it needing to withstand heavy use and washing. With this in mind, I was able to lightly hand quilt it in a way that emphasised the design of the circles, rather than over quilting it heavily with a dense pattern.

The quilting stitches become leading lines, intersecting the centre of each circle whilst also overlapping other circles on it’s course. I felt that this tied in very well with my original thoughts on circles and how they were representative of the cycles of life and how they interact. I know it sounds a bit corny, but I think that some times that’s okay!
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Usually for the backing fabric on my quilts, I pick something really wild or fun. but this quilt felt like it wanted something soft and pretty. I picked Michelle because has all the colours of the linens nicely tied in together.

Now that I have finished it, it’s one of my favourite quilts – it’s so different to what I usually do and I really learnt a lot about letting go from the experience. I call it my New Beginnings quilt, and it now hangs in on a wall in the guest room of our house… it is a soft and welcoming piece to help people feel at home.
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Comments
Mel. G
20.08.2017
I love linen and Liberty... Will have to do something like this myself!
Alice
20.08.2017
It's beautiful, and I really love your guest room!

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