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  • Nicola

Stepping back in time...

The lovely people at the Moda Bakeshop have let me post another tutorial - it's called Stepping Stones, you can find it here - and I thought it would be fun to share a little more about my inspiration for this quilt.

Stepping Stones was inspired by a beautiful, hand-pieced Tumbling Block quilt-top in the Gawthorpe Textile Collection, made between 1875-1900.

I first saw it in Gail Marsh's wonderful book 19th Century Embroidery Techniques - I bought mine here - which details it's careful construction using paper templates - known as English paper piecing (EPP) - which were then covered with

" flannel and cotton dress fabrics in the pattern known as boxes or tumbling blocks. The diamonds measure 31/2" from point to point. It is a valuable library of printed and woven dress fabrics dating back to the 1820s. Included are novelty prints, paisleys, woven shirting, ginghams and tiny engraved roller prints..."

Gail is a former curator of the Gawthorpe Textile Collection and has written a lovely tribute to it's founder, Miss Rachel Beatrice Kay-Shuttleworth (1886-1967), in her introduction to the book, describing her as,

"...a phenomenal lady. You can only stand back and admire her energy and vision..."

Miss Rachel started collecting textiles at the age of nine and after a life devoted to public service realised her dream of opening Gawthorpe Hall, her childhood home, as a textile study centre in 1952. It is now owned by the National Trust.

The present day curators at Gawthorpe are carrying on the tradition of sharing these beautiful pieces as widely as possible with a blog and an Instagram account.

Their Instagram post, left, shows, the unfinished edge of the Tumbling Block quilt top, complete with the original basting over what appear to be templates cut from old letters. And look at those tiny, tiny stitches.

I have to admit that, even though I love hand quilting, I'd never have the patience to hand piece a whole quilt top. But I loved the graphic quality of the design and the bold use of colour.

I settled on a block called Dancing Cubes, which gives a similar three-dimensional effect. Once I'd starting sketching I realised I could construct the whole thing using the trusty Half Square Triangle.

I love Joanna Figueroa's softly coloured, vintage inspired fabric for Moda and her newest collection, Chestnut Street, included some distinctive faded black prints that echoed those in the antique quilt. But that red had to be just right. To match the soft red in Joanna's collection I used the Moda Palette Builder to scan a photo of one of the prints to find a coordinating fabric from their range of over 250 Bella Solids.

The finished quilt is warming up my favourite window seat. You know the one: I'm always posting photos of it on Instagram...and it always has a lounging lurcher stretched out on it...I'll get to sit there myself one of these days...

But in the meantime it seems appropriate to finish with Miss Rachel's favourite quotation:-

"...Cherish the past, adorn the present, create for the future..."

Nicola xx


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