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  • Nicola

From my sketchbook: Make Sail...

If you've ever been curious about the design process, I hope you'll find this new occasional series interesting. I'm starting with my newest pattern, Make Sail, but I hope to revisit a few older designs over the next few months...

make sail boat quilt cakestand

The first element I designed in this quilt was - of course - the little Dinghy. A new film version of Arthur Ransome's Swallows & Amazons was released last year and there were some lovely stills from the filming in the press. The graphic shape of the Dinghy sails immediately caught my eye. Clinker sailing dinghies - just like the real-life Swallow and Mavis which inspired the book - are still being built, so I was able to get the details and proportions just 'so'.

An earlier version of the design alternated the Dinghies with Birds-in-the-Air blocks, which also combine squares and half-square triangles. But the scale wasn't quite right, so the appropriately named Homeward-Bound block was substituted instead and adds lots of movement.

make sail boat quilt cakestand

Clockwise from top right: The Mavis (the inspiration for The Amazon) being sailed on Coniston Water; the cover of the Puffin edition of Swallows and Amazons; St. Mawes harbour this summer; the Dinghy block from Make Sail...

And then, of course, we must come to the fabric. I already had a delicious Layer Cake of Bonnie & Camille's Daysail - and I must surely have had that gorgeous, vintage boat print at the back of my mind when I was designing - so it was meant to be. Often a design is directly inspired by a piece of fabric, such as another Bonnie & Camille print from April Showers and Jolly Brollies, but that's a post for another day...

Last but not least I had to choose a name. All the time it was sitting in my sketchbook the quilt was called Swallows and Amazons, but even a cursory glance at the copyright implications - tortuous - made me think again. I'm no sailor (massive understatement), so had to resort to glossaries of sailing terms for inspiration. All very educational.

make sail boat quilt cakestand
make sail boat quilt cakestand

I enjoyed making it so much: it brought back memories of the wonderful two weeks we spent in Cornwall this summer. The weather was beautiful and I took some lovely photos of the boats in St. Mawes harbour, one of them just like 'my' little Dinghy. I was also thrilled that a nifty little trick I'd thought of to simplify the piecing of the Homeward-Bound blocks worked a treat: I'll be honest, it doesn't always, but it's very satisfying when it does.

Next month I'll be looking at Homely Joys which was a very long time in the making and is in a really old sketchbook: in fact, I wonder where on earth I put it...

Nicola xx


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