Since it will be months before I am able to put finishing touches on my AMH EPP project and write the pattern, I’m going to give you the information you need to get your own version started. Obviously, you need the usual tools: scissors, needle, thread, EPP papers and fabric. I purchased the papers for my project from Paper Pieces. For starters, you need 1 1/2″ hexagons, 1 1/2″ jewels and 1 1/2″ 6 point diamonds.
The main unit of the design is the kaleidoscopic flower. It is made up of one hexagon, six jewels for the first round and twelve jewels for the second round. This is where the fussy cutting shines. You may want to purchase the clear acrylic template for the jewel pieces to aid your fussy cutting. Choose one with a seam allowance you’re most comfortable with.
To be honest, I cut the first piece by laying an EPP paper piece over the area I want and eyeballing a seam allowance of approximately 3/8″ to 1/2″. The extra wiggle room in the seam allowance allows for any fudging I may need to do as I piece. I find it helpful when I need to adjust a match at the seam. After I cut the first piece, I lay it right side up over the same design element and using a small rotary cutter, carefully cut out the next piece. (I know, I know. Don’t tell the quilt police! You’re not supposed to do it this way.) This works best for me. If what you’ve been doing isn’t working out for you, try it. If you’re satisfied with your current process, by all means, stick to it.
While we’re talking about my rebellious ways, we may as well talk about the other rules I’m breaking. When I stitch pieces together, I abut the edges and stitch through. I pick up about 2 or 3 threads on each side. You will be able to feel a tiny ridge when all is said and done. However, I have no problem living with that when it means no stitches are showing. Here’s what it looks like in action:
You’ll see that I can’t seem to stop myself from stitching more than is really necessary. I don’t know why I do that, but for some reason, that’s how goes when I’m in the groove. Again, don’t mess with what works for you. This works for me even if it takes more stitches to get there.
Because this method doesn’t reveal your stitches, matching thread is not critical. When sewing two pieces that are not identical prints, choose a thread that blends, more or less, with both. I always have white, off white and gray on hand, supplementing with more specific colors as needed.
Now, for the best part…choosing fabrics! This can also be the tricky part because of all the fussy cutting. All you need to remember are a few guidelines.
- Symmetrical designs will produce a truly kaleidoscopic result
- Asymmetrical designs will look best if there is obvious movement in the design
- One print may yield several options–don’t overlook the less obvious
- Pay attention to scale–the motif you choose needs to fit well with the EPP size
The sampler below shows just how versatile fussy cutting can be. Notice the stripes in the first and second star flower units. You get a very different effect in the second one because the jewel pieces have the points in and the stripes form a “V”.
Look at the first jewel round in the right hand star flower in the top row. It came from this print. In the star flower directly underneath, the outer jewel round uses the same print in a different colorway, but isolating a different portion. Same thing in the left hand flower of the center row and the last two flowers in the bottom row. I used this print in three colorways (one from the original Garden party collection) but isolated the design elements differently.
Of course, there’s more to choosing fabrics than just fussy cutting potential. Color is a huge factor too. I use an informal rule when I’m doing work like this. Mix up the colors! You’ll be tempted to put blues with blues or blues with greens. It may look wonderful but it will detract from the overall scrappy look. So unless you’re going to make a quilt that is all blues and greens, mix them up with golds and garnets, purples and oranges, pinks and browns. Everything will pop when you do.
We also need to talk about the stars. They’re made up of six 60 degree diamonds. I made a decision not to be fussy with them and in fact, to make them out of two prints. When mixed with the solitary diamonds that fill in around the units, it gives the appearance of scattered scraps in the background. It also keeps your eye from going round and round all those kaleidoscopic flowers.
You don’t need to do this. You may prefer to choose one fabric for all of the diamond pieces (both stars and solitary). This will result in a uniform back drop for your kaleidoscopic flowers. You could use a solid, a blender, dots or other non-competing print. It’s entirely up to you.
I put together a pdf for you–print or save it to your device and refer to it as needed. Click here for the file. It has the total number of paper pieces needed for the whole units used in the main field along with some of the tips I shared above. If you were here with me in person, the conversation would probably have been even more lengthy. If you find that you still have questions as you begin, send me an email. I’m happy to answer questions and help you get unstuck. This is the kind of project you will see as a labor of love and I want you to get the most out of it as you possibly can.