Saturday, August 1, 2015

My first post on La Passacaglia

Once upon a time, when I was a fairly new quilter, I came across the book, One Block Wonder  by Maxine Rosenthal. There were also other books in this series too, One Block Wonders Encore! and One Block Wonders Cubed! There are also other similar books like Magic Stack -n- Whack Quilts by Bethany Reynolds and Kool Kaleidoscope quilts by Ricky Tims. All of these books take shapes and repeat them in different ways to make these really nice quilts. Most of them have to do with fussy cutting and lots of y-seams. I was wowed and impressed, but put it away because I was a fairly new quilter and this was completely out of my skill range. Plus fussy cutting uses up a lot of fabric, and I didn't have very much of that and certainly didn't want to waste it like that!

Fast forward twenty-some years, and I come across this concept again.  This time there are some new books. The first one was Millefiore Quilts by Willyne Hammerstein.  This quilt on the cover is what got a lot of people's attention. It is called La Passacaglia with Mr. Pascal. And it is a wonderful variety of shapes and colors that looks like a kaleidoscope.   I think the difference between this one and the older ones is that there are additional shapes that are in here, and there is a bigger variety of sizes of the rosettes. The pieces are hand pieced. This book is no longer in print so it is very expensive to get a copy, but there is a Millefiori Quilts book 2.

The problem was that you had to trace all these pieces in the book and hand sew them. Probably other people felt that it would be time-consuming and beyond their skill level too. But it really sparked an interest and lately there has been a resurgence, because people have been English Paper Piecing these little pieces. And smart people have made acrylic templates to help make cutting the pieces easier. Also smart people are selling paper pieces that are ready to use. You no no longer have to be photocopy and cut out all those little pieces. Also in this latest book, there are more even ways to make the shapes even more spectacular.

This new book is called The New Hexagon: 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece by Katja Marek, and it is available on a Kindle version, which makes it easy to print the templates. This book doesn't have the quilt pattern in it - just ways to make unique hexagon blocks.  But, Katja is hosting a quilt-along block of the month for the La Passacaglia quilt for people who bought her book. If I understand this right, this quilt combines the concept of the original quilt with some hexagons from her book.  Each month, they make one of the rosettes in the quilt, using hexagons from her book, and she provides instructions on how to do that. People post their progress on the Facebook page, which makes it wonderful to see all the different colorways and design choices people have made for this quilt. They are pretty far along - I think they are on rosette 8 now.

Anyway, I have decided to join them.  I am not sure I am ready for such an advanced quilt, but after twenty-some years of quilting, I am booting myself to the next grade.  Actually, I am told that this quilt is not as difficult to make as it looks. And that is exactly the type of quilts that I like! Something that looks harder than it is.

I am just starting out - I haven't cut a single piece or made a single hexagon.  This quilt can be very expensive to make - the many books, the acrylic templates, the paper pieces, the magic mirror, the glue, not to mention the fabric and the time.  I do think this quilt is worth some extra expense, and these supplies can be used for future quilts.   It can also be relatively inexpensive with the Kindle book and handmade paper pieces.

I've bought some acrylic templates because I remember how much easier and faster it was to cut drunkard's path with a template (layers!). and I think these templates are necessary on a quilt with this many pieces that need to be accurately fussy cut.  I haven't decided whether I will be hand piecing these or EPPing them.  I think I will try a small rosette with both and see which one technique I like better.


Lynn said...

I have found that for time consuming, potentially expensive projects like this one, enjoying the process is key. I hope you enjoy the process for this one. These quilts always turn out so beautiful.

Karen The DIY Addict said...

Hi Shasta,

I love your beautiful rosettes in your La Passacaglia progress article!

If you were looking for additional information on tutorials for the La Passacaglia Quilt we just uploaded a new guide with video tutorials: