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  • Irina

The Ripple effect quilt - a true challenge

We often admire beautiful work and think we don´t have enough skills to make something like that. I would like to tell you a story of this quilt and hope it inspires you to accept the challenges and try to make something out of your comfort zone.

It all started when I got a beautifully written book Flossie Teacakes`Guide to English Paper Piecing by Frorence Knapp. I did some epp before but really neither knew much about this technique nor how to do it properly.

I was fascinated to find a great helpful source with history of the method, amazing examples of handwork as well as beautiful projects. The book features incredible The Ripple Effect quilt and I decided to make my own version the moment I saw it even though I didn´t have enough skills.

What I like about English paper piecing most? It doesn´t require any fancy tools and you can do well with just needle, thread, papers, glue and thimble. By trying different needles I found what worked the best for me - Tulip Hiroshima Straw needles size 10, big eye. I used Aurifil 50wt thread for stitching but was not really happy with it. Sewline glue stick is a must for basting the shapes - you will be surprised with the speed of this modern technique and you will never have sticky fingers.

I decided to make the quilt in Liberty fabrics. I love color and I am always fascinated with color transition, so my idea was to see how the colors play on a small scale in epp.

I didn´t have big vriety of prints at that time and I started with charm packs and later added Fat 16ths and 8ths.. I printed the templates and glue basted my first shapes at the end of September 2018.

As the rosette grew, I discovered that in epp the colors worked differently than in regular piecing. Even though colors appeared right when you just laid them next to each other, once you basted the shapes they might not look right. It was fun to mix different prints and add some solid color. And another challenge was to meet all the points as the central rosette grew.

It took 2,5 months of almost daily sewing to complete the medallion that measured 24 inches (68 cm).


Then I decided to add my own twist to the pattern. The plan was to add some Irish chain with hexie flowers. But hexies didn´t seem fit there, so I adapted Billila Rosette from the same book to the size of 7,5 inches. I thought I would make 8 rosettes and arrange them around the center inside the Irish chain blocks.

Once I put the blocks on the design wall I could see that it definitely needed 4 more shapes.

I was working on other projects at the same time and finished 2 quilts in the meanwhile. So it took only 8 months to complete the 105 inches square top. Medallion and the rosettes are hand sewn and appliqued to white Liberty Tana Lawn.

The quilt top was huge, the biggest one I was going to quilt it on my domestic Pfaff, so I chose Dream Wool batting as it is lightweight and gives great texture. I always pin baste my quilt sandwiches and never had any problems.

I think Liberty Tana Lawn is too fine as a background fabric as later at the quilting stage I discovered that pins made quite few holes in the background. Luckily I was able to fix them with the help of my IG friends with small pieces of fusible interfacing ironed to the bottom of the fabric. But in the future I would opt for another background fabric for my epp quilts.

I started quilting it mid June 2019 on my domestic sewing machine Pfaff Quilt expression 4.2 using top stitch needle 90/14 and Glide thread at the top and Aurifil 40 wt in the bobbin.

Later I continued quilting on my new Pfaff Quilt Expression 720 and used titanium needles 90/14. When I start quilting I rarely have plan. I look at the top, and usually the inspiration for quilting comes from the design and fabrics. So I started with outlining the central medallion with rulers, added some hand quilting and then free motion quilted inside the Irish chain. The fmq was inspired by floral prints on Liberty fabrics.

Another challenge was to use rulers for cross hatch design inside the Irish chain and outlining small rosettes. Here are the rulers I used - a 6 iches straight edge ruler, 8 inches Crosshair ruler and 4, 6 8 inches arcs.

I am very thankful to @pfaff_suomi for the set shown below and NEW ruler foot for Pfaff machines - without them I would have never been able to do the ruler work on this quilt.

The ruler work wasn´t that easy in the beginning but my confidence grew as I went.

Once I quilted all the blocks inside the Irish chain and hand quilted around small rosettes, the question was how to conquer all that negative space. My friend Jean says that everything looks better with feathers. So the first designs I quilted there were 4 long feathers that framed the Irish chain.

I also decided to quilt 4 medallions in the middle of each corner using long arm french curve rulers.

Then there was a challenge using a 9 inches straight edge long arm ruler for simple line quilting on the corners (I wrote about it in my previous blog post).

It was a long learning journey full of different challenges that took 1 year and 4 months and now my quilt is finished (97 x 97 inches). It is not perfect but I am very proud of this one. I dared to try and I have learnt a lot along the way. Epp and quilting have become my favorites. I am working towards my goal to become better at ruler work and I am not afraid to quilt another 100 inches square top that has been locked in the closet for 2 years waiting to be quilted.

Happy Quilting!

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