At the start of 2021 I’d promised myself to make a concerted effort to improve my sewing skills. Quilting was one particular area of my sewing where I felt I needed to step out of my comfort zone. I’d started to really play it safe with my quilts, choosing blocks I knew I could easily and quickly make. My quilting was getting a bit boring and I needed to shake things up a bit.
That’s when I decided to get into pattern testing. For me, it’s the perfect way to try new and exciting patterns, improve my quilting skills and learn new techniques. Plus, I get to become more involved in the quilting community. So far, I’ve had really positive experiences with pattern testing and it’s lived up to my expectations.
The B.S. Quilt
My first pattern test was for Trevor Whittow (@thatgayquilter), a new quilt designer. I started his pattern ‘The B.S. Quilt’ in mid-March and finished my 80” x 80” quilt top by the beginning of April. The brief was to play around with the pattern and make it your own. ‘B.S.’ stands for ‘Bento Stars’, which were the standout design within the pattern.
As you can see from the quilt I produced, my pattern doesn’t resemble stars. I completely switched it up and came up with some modern-looking rings. I’ve affectionately named my quilt ‘The Beautiful Santorini’ because of the vibes I’m getting from the colours. I had a great time testing this pattern. Trevor made is so much fun by getting us all together in a group, coming up with a theme, and coining us the ‘Real Housewives of Quilting’.
During this pattern test, I learned much more about block placement, how to manipulate a pattern to showcase my individual style, and log cabin construction. Chain-piecing (the process of continuously sewing together pattern pieces to speed up assembly time and save on thread) featured heavily when making this quilt!
As a result of the first pattern test, I made a lovely quilty buddy, who also happens to be a new quilt designer. I registered my interest to test her upcoming patterns and was contacted shortly after to test the ‘Lemon Squared’ design. Ledine Watson (@sugarstitchesquiltco) specialises in making patterns that are fun and quick to complete.
Unlike larger size quilt patterns, Ledine’s can be completed within an afternoon and provide a deep sense of satisfaction once you’ve finished. This particular pattern is very versatile and can be made as a mini quilt, table runner or wall hanging. I chose to make a wall hanging.
I was very much a stitch in the ditch kinda gal up until this point, but Ledine encouraged me to take more risks. I get so concerned with potentially ruining a quilt that I’m quick to stick to what I know…but no more! I tried my hand at straight line quilting and was so impressed with the result.
Protostar Mini Quilt
I really enjoyed making the wall hanging, plus the feeling of completing a quilting project so quickly. I decided the next quilt that I tested would also be a mini quilt but it also needed to be a pattern that I really connected with. That’s when I came across the pattern testing call for the ‘Protostar Mini Quilt’ by Anna Brown (@waxandwanestudio). I’m more drawn towards modern quilting patterns and loved the design.
This mini quilt is part of a series enabling you to create your very own ‘rune’ that brings you comfort and healing while you sew. This particular quilt is entitled, ‘Boundaries’. Sewing forms a significant part of my self-care (hence the blog name and Instagram handle) so I immediately connected with this pattern. During the process of making this quilt, I contemplated the importance of having boundaries in my life.
The colours I chose reflect my conclusion: creating boundaries can be freeing, and ultimately lead to happiness and joy. Looking at these colours certainly brings me happiness and makes me feel joyous! This pattern was also a joy to make and brought me a lot of happiness. I turned it into a wall hanging to place in my sewing room.
During this pattern test, I got to practise precision piecing (look at all those points!) and play around with incorporating multiple African Wax Print fabrics into my quilt project, without detracting from the quilt pattern.
Squeaks and the Glass Insulator
‘The B.S. Quilt’, ‘Lemon Squared’ and ‘Protostar Mini Quilt’, patterns are all traditionally pieced (constructed using straight lines shapes, sewn directly together, to create quilt block designs). I wanted to push my quilting skills even further and try out some modern piecing techniques. One that I was new to trying was Foundation Paper piecing (FPP) (sewing pieces of fabric directly onto paper to create a quilt block design).
I had tried out a few FPP projects and jumped at the chance to test a pattern by Jennifer Larimore (@nerdynquilty). Her patterns are of cartoon characters that we all know and love. They are available for free and are solely for personal use, to avoid any copyright infringement. I must admit, it’s been that long since I’ve seen The Fox and the Hound that I hadn’t got any idea about this character. 🙈 I just thought the block looked amazing and so I reached out to test it.
This block was so much fun to put together. It came together exceptionally well and I just can’t stop looking at it! I stayed true to the colour scheme of this pattern because for some, it’s a recognisable character. True to form, I couldn’t resist putting in some African wax print fabric (check out the antennae).
Overall, I’ve had such a fantastic time pattern testing. It’s a great hobby for me that enables me to support designers I like and improve upon my quilting skills. At the end of each pattern test I’ve been thrilled to receive free patterns from these designers, but that’s not why I do it. Along the way, I’ve made some fabulous quilty friends and I feel much more a part of the quilting and sewing community. 💖