Last summer I decided I would be adventurous and try some English Paper Piecing. After all, the foundation paper piecing I did on the elephant quilt turned out to be not so bad and I daresay a bit of fun, so I figured this was worth a try.
The difference between the two, of course, is that EPP is done by hand. Hand stitching all those little sections together seemed appealing because even though it was clearly a longer term project, it was portable – which suited my needs at the time – it could be worked on in small parts even if I only had a few minutes to stitch here and there, and it was a change of evening activity from quilt binding while watching TV. Having a whole quilt on my lap for binding during the hottest time of the year is not on my list of fun things to do!
So I chose Tula’s “Homemade” fabric fat quarter pack with its sewing theme, ordered the Nova pattern along with some glue sticks, and got started. I tried to focus on just one section at a time rather than what the whole thing was going to look like at the end. I watched videos where Tula explained how she puts hers together, coordinates the colors, does her stitching and so on. I did my research LOL
And I heard her talk about how she designed the pattern with places a person could simply “exit” and still have a lovely stitched together piece that could be used for a cushion or some other smaller adapted project, should they decide not to go all the way. I felt inspired to challenge myself one section at at time, and at first it went pretty well. Little did I know…
It wasn’t that the piecing process was difficult. I did enjoy the hand stitching aspect. But eventually my eyes protested more than ever – more than when I am even hand stitching a binding – and after trying bright lighting, a magnifier around my neck with its own light, and some clip on magnifiers for my own glasses, I realized that the limitations of my aging eyes would not be overcome with layers of accessories! They just were not able to endure ongoing close up work of this intricate nature.
So while many have reached the finish line of the full Nova quilt, I was happy to take the first exit ramp off of the merry go round and ended up with what became the centre of a lap quilt that I finished with a background and a simple border pieced with scraps of matching fabric.
I’m happy with what I was able to to; it was a goal I had, to try this method, and I did give it a good effort. But it is clearly not for me and that realization is a positive thing because, as I have said straight out several times times and indicated many more: it is about the process. You need to love what you do and do what you love. We don’t all love the same crafts; we all have different processes that make us feel satisfied and fulfilled in our art and our passion. This EPP is not my process!
But I wanted to share the finished quilt anyway, as an example of how you can try something, find out it isn’t what you wanted it to be, and still make something beautiful and useful with it, using the other skills you have and other processes you DO enjoy!
I had intended to custom free motion quilt this one – look at the potential for cool custom stitching! – but at the time my body was rebelling against too much arm work and too much standing at the frame, which is sadly becoming a regular obstacle for me so my custom free motion will be limited going forward, but that’s one more reason to love my Gammill Statler, my personal assistant, the “tool” that allows me to continue making beautiful things despite my limitations! I chose a digital thimble design to stitch over the whole quilt, in keeping with the sewing theme of the fabrics.
That reminds me of another piece of wisdom I try to keep in mind:
Do what you can with what you have, where you are.
Try new things, challenge yourself, and when you learn something, even if it’s learning that something is NOT for you, be grateful! That’s a good thing. I stepped out of my zone for this whole quilt: the pattern, the process, the colors, all of it was an adventure. Almost nothing about this quit is “ME” HAHA. Perhaps it will find a home with another person who loves sewing and maybe doesn’t quilt herself :-). And that will make me happy!