Last year, a contact landed in my own inbox requesting if letting me contribute an English paper pieced project to a book that the Victoria & Albert Museum were offering. Contributors were asked to choose something from the museum’s collection and create a piece inspired by it, which felt like such a delicious premise for a task.
I selected this Sundial Coverlet from 1797 as my inspiration piece, attracted to it through a mixture of it formulated with some wonderful blocks ideal for EPP, as well as finding the thoughtfulness behind its structure appealing. Described by the V&A as ‘a microcosm of her world in fabric’, the manufacturer has placed issues close to home at the center of the quilt and gradually stitched her way out to the far sides of the world. The central blocks relate to domesticity: pincushion, needle, scissors looked after appearing to bear the initials of either herself or family. Moving outward, the coverlet is dotted with blocks that guide your garden: ducks, birds, butterflies, and honeysuckle.
In the four edges are pieced maps: the very best two displaying the Eastern and Western Hemispheres on the globe; as the format of England and Wales, and Scotland then, are depicted in the two bottom edges. It’s a structure that made me think about a manufacturer who appreciated what was close to home, but who was also outward-looking and whose dreams were filled with travel and adventure.
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While the more figurative blocks at first drawn me to the quilt, I centered on a few of the geometric piecing that the quilt encompassed, which is way better for EPP. I selected three blocks, which increase in degree of difficulty, beginning with simple hexagons, working up to smaller parts and some mild curves.
Having drafted the blocks, I thought we would use Liberty images, which feel to bridge the difference between new and old. In the photo below, you can view the direct inspiration for the quilt block that follows. I’ve tried to mirror the original maker’s careful placement of prints – you can see that she’s used the same designs at 12 and 6 o’clock, and on the other hand at 1, 5, 7, and 11 o’clock and so forth.
The curve sits on the outside edge of the outermost pieces, so one doesn’t actually have to sew any curves collectively. Again, in the block below, I’ve tried to make my placement of repeating fabrics sympathetic to the original design, as it was so thoughtfully done that I didn’t want to dilute its loveliness in translation. The blocks could be made placed in do it again to produce a whole quilt or put and framed on the wall, which is where mine will be heading.