This months Aurifil Artisan challenge was all about English Paper Piecing. With EPP pieces being supplied by Paper Pieces. They have an extensive selection, check them out! After you've read this blog post of course :)
I love EPP, the precision, slow stitching, all of it! And If you have been following my Instagram account for a few years you will know I was heavily into EPP for some time. Creating a series of Quilt Prints using this method. Scroll way back in my feed to find them all.
Back to this project. Time was very tight on this thanks to customs holding onto my paper templates... And I was never going to achieve a full Quilt Print in the time I had. Which had been my original plan.
Full disclosure, I chose 3" clamshells, 3" clam points and 3" clam leaves which I had never used before. Its not a challenge if you don't challenge yourself, right? There was a bit of a getting used to with basting and hand stitching curves. It ain't fast!
Paper Pieces included a really useful instruction leaflet and I tested out their techniques and settled on lightly glue basting while snipping the seam allowance. Holding the pieces together using clips and using a flat whip stitch with Aurifil 80wt.
So, I had been sitting at home for two days happily hand sewing away. Getting to grips with the technique and prepping my shapes. Using the same process as I had in the past. And the thought occurred to me, could I be doing something different here?
I couldn't shake the niggling feeling that I wanted to just experiment and allow this challenge to be an opportunity to let you in to my development / critique process. It is something I get asked about a lot. How do you come up with these ideas? How do you know your idea will work? I design by doing, testing, self critiquing, adapting and testing again until I am happy with the process and final piece.
So often we give the impression of every piece being perfect, finished, whipped up in a flash. It doesn't happen like that at all. It takes time! There are lots of behind the scenes work and processes. Lots of failed and successful experiments. The image below is what I came up with. Experiment stage 1, if you will.
The result I wanted is not a functional finished piece but one that will inform future work. It takes elements of my previous Quilt Prints and pushes them in a different direction.
I hit the machine and used a small zig zag stitch (I think I could have gone smaller) to secure the pieces together using Aurifil 50wt. At this point I have to say that with Quilt Prints I leave the papers in to keep it rigid. If I was making, say a cushion top or quilt top, I would absolutely hand stitch to be able to remove the papers. But this is an experiment so anything goes!
Use a limited palette. Play with layout. It's deliberately loose at this point.
What was successful in this piece? The thread highlighted the edges of the shapes and changing the thread colour could add an extra dimension to the piece. The irregular edges please me and I really enjoy the missing clam point piece. This is something that could be expanded.
What would I change in the next test? The rotation works in places but I think it needs to be more uniform and create a clear secondary pattern. I like the simplified palette of neutral and blue however in my next piece I would use a wider blue gradient. The machine stitching could be tighter and a mix of hand stitching and machine could enhance the piece. I could also use a different stitch to secure the shapes by machine and try 80wt instead of 50wt.
As you can see there are lots of things I can work on in my next test. By identifying what is working and what could be done differently, or better, it narrows the focus from the original plan.
And thats where I'm at with this. I want to continue to experiment with these shapes. What can I say? I'm a sucker for curves and EPP.
If you are a keen EPPer go check out Paper Pieces. They have ALL the shapes in ALL the sizes.