For the community workshops, I wanted to design a block that related to the original Austen family quilt, though the block needed to be square (with the corners at 90-degrees), unlike those in that make up the Austen original. One aspect of the original quilt that always intrigues me is the way the sashing meets the borders and creates a secondary design. So, inspired by this, I drafted a 4½in square made from triangles and squares that would be easy for novice quilters to complete, but would also be interesting for those with some experience.
After the community workshops at Alton Library and Winchester Discovery Centre, our Project Manager Lucy started receiving extra English paper-pieced blocks through the post. We also had quite a stack of blocks produced by our Museum sewing group, as we had wanted lots to dot around at workshops as examples, helping everyone feel inspired to stitch. However, we only had space for 24 blocks in the finished design, so it left us with the question of what to do with the extras. Lucy spoke with Mary Guyatt, Curator, and it was agreed we could make a second quilt for the house which would go on the bed in the Admiral’s Room. After taking measurements, the volunteer group made additional blocks and Pippa, one of the group, came up with the design you see below. Again, this gives a nod to the original but, whereas the Austen quilt has larger units in the centre and small in the border, this is reversed in the new Admiral's Quilt.
The papers were removed by Pippa and we had lots of discussions about how the Admiral's Quilt would be quilted. The original idea was to 'tie quilt' it, but upon asking a longarm quilter to layer it (tack the three layers together ready to quilt) she offered to quilt it. We then considered what Jane Austen might have done if she had to decide how it should be quilted. The Austen family quilt in the Museum is actually a coverlet, but if she could have, would Jane have sent her quilt to a longarm quilter? There were differing opinions, but we all agreed that the Admiral’s Quilt should be professionally quilted, so it was packed up ready to take to the quilter along with the main wallhanging.
Why not have a go at making your own English Paper pieced square?
The instructions and templates we used in the community workshops can be downloaded here:
Download: Instructions | Template
The finished size of each square is 4½in, but you could make this larger when you print it if you wish. Have a play with the rotation and order of your squares to create different designs.
If you do have a go at making your own squares, please do send photographs to email@example.com
We would love to see what you have produced!