Apples and Oranges
Updated: Sep 26
I started that quilt back in March when it felt like the world was hanging by a thread. I could not concentrate on anything, I just needed some happy colors in my life and comfort sewing. I turned to scrap basket and classic Orange peel design that I had admired for a long time. I simply drew a 4 inch orange peel template, cut lots of 5 inch squares from leftover pieces of white fabric and started hand sewing. At that time I did not know what that project would evolve into....
I used freezer paper applique for the peels. I like this technique because it is quick, more precise and gives better results compared to needle turn applique (especially for beginners).
I traced the Orange peel template to the freezer paper from a roll and cut 10 freezer paper templates, so I could prepare 10 peels at once. Here is a short tutorial how it works.
1. Iron freezer paper template (shiny side down) to the wrong side of the fabric and cut with 3/8 inch seam allowance. Fold your background fabric square on diagonal and iron.
2. Use the freezer paper template as a guide and iron the seam allowances on freezer paper
3. Remove the template and pin the peel to the background square using the diagonal crease as a guide.
4. Applique the peel.
I used Marimekko, Kaffe Fasset and Art Gallery fabrics. Originally, I wanted to make the quilt randomly scrappy and the first peels were cut from Marimekko scraps. As the amount of blocks grew it was clear that somehow I was subconsciously sewing a rainbow.
If you follow my quilting journey for a while you probably, know how much I love circles, curves and white clean background. And this quilt is no exception.
I wanted to give the classic Orange peel design a modern twist. So my idea was a circle filled with orange peels. I made a 55 inch circle template from a leftover piece of wall paper. Here is the picture of the first layout when I had 82 peels.
I could clearly see what colors I needed to add and how many blocks to sew. Certain colors like yellow and orange are rare in Marimekko palette so I cut into my treasured Kaffe Fasset and Art Gallery fabrics.
Once I had around 100 peels appliqued and sewn into 4 patches I laid the blocks again. The design needed some lower volume fabrics in the center to balance the brightness of the outer circle. In my opinion irregularity always creates visual interest so I added leaves to few blocks. This is how the project got its name Apples and Oranges.
In total I made 122 orange peels for this quilt.
I must admit that sewing the center circle was quite a challenge. Adding background fabric between the Apples/Oranges was the trickiest part as there were quite a few partial seams and I needed to measure with a ruler every single piece of fabric. Of course, It was not a perfect method and I ended up with a rather big area of white fabric. This is how the ghost block was born. I traced an orange peel with a water soluble marker and added sashiko stitching.
It was impossible to order any backing fabric or batting from abroad at that time so I had to use what I had. It turned out that I had few pieces of Marimekko linen Kotona (2009) that were just enough for the back and thin Kathadin cotton batting that I simply folded to have 2 layers.
As you know I quilt on my home sewing machine Pfaff Quilt expression 720.
I always start quilting by outlining shapes. I used 8" Arc ruler by Westalee to quilt around the peels and straight edge ruler to quilt cross hatch inside Apples and Oranges with leaves. I could not resist adding some hand quilting around those shapes in matching Perle cotton. All background inside the large circle is filled with pebbles.
I stitched variety of designs inside the large circle either free hand or with rulers.
All Apples and Oranges that form the outer circle have feather design inside..
I wanted contrast quilting in negative space compared to the center and it took a while to figure out what to do there. The inspiration came from the design and colors itself. In my mind, the circle with orange peels is so full of energy that it even bursts it onto the white background. So I thought of straight lines coming out of the circle into the corners. That was the starting point, then I added lines with flying geese, circles, ribbon candy and bubbles.
Straight rulers are so versatile. Isn´t it amazing how many designs you can create with that simple ruler? All ruler work practice finally paid off. Even though my ruler quilting is not perfect yet but I feel much more confident using rulers.
When it was time to bind the quilt, I decided to use leftover white binding pieces from other projects and add a strip of color to each side (as in the picture above). There are red, yellow, green and blue strips on the binding.
Here it is, the finished quilt Apples and Oranges 84 x 91 inch (215 x 231 cm) in full glory on a beautiful breezy summer day in my favorite place Munkiniemen ranta (Helsinki, Finland).
This project saved my sanity during the most difficult time. It makes me happy every time I look at it. I don´t know if it is colors, design, quilting or all of them together. Or maybe also the fact that is completely made from my scraps, stash fabrics and leftover pieces from other projects (including binding)? So here is my new concept: Use what you have!