It’s about that time again, don’t you think? Time for what, you ask?
For another crazy Lab project dreamed up by the UT team! This quilted creation is once again the product of artist Caitlin’s crafty fingers and a design collection created by me, your resident Evil Genius. This new project features the lovely and light-stitching Miniature Menagerie machine embroidery designs. These pieces were created in the popular style first debuted in the Parisian Love Letter series (which you can buy here) but in this case were inspired by nature’s tiny wonders and the world of entomology. Butterflies, moths, dragonflies, and more enchanting insects were framed with light-stitching accents and elegant baroque style borders to bring the beauty of nature to life.
Once the designs were completed, Caitlin took them into her capable hands and crafted a pretty, naturally inspired quilt perfect for a picnic in the great outdoors, or just a splash of summery home decor. Below Caitlin talks a little bit about the process of creating the quilt, and then shares a very special bonus…
I had been wanting to make another quilt using our fabulous embroidery designs for a while, ever since I created the Celestial Quilt at the beginning of the year. Recently I stumbled across a beautiful 1950s vintage baby quilt, featuring little applique flowers, and it inspired me to start a whole new project with the new entomology-inspired designs.
I loved how the nine-piece blocks framed the applique designs on the vintage quilt, so I designed my own larger quilt pattern to feature the new Miniature Menagerie series in a similar fashion. I imagined a big bright quilt that you would want to lay out for a summery picnic!
I liked the idea of creating a soft place to spend time eating savory snacks and enjoying good company. In this world, beautiful insects lived only as gorgeous embroidery on the quilt (and not as uninvited picnic guests), and there was always a sweet smell of flowers in the air. I wanted a quilt that evoked the warm days of summer!
I tried to keep these summery feelings in mind while I worked on the project. I got a few helpful pointers from my quilter-extraordinaire mom about how I could accomplish the effect I wanted with the quilt blocks and embroidery, then I went to it!
I took inspiration from everywhere while researching the quilt, but I especially liked this entomology illustration as color inspiration for when I went fabric shopping. I loved the weird greens and purples together with the cream and tans, but I wanted to keep the colors as soft and muted as possible so the embroidery designs could really pop.
I really like bright and bold color, so I put as much in as possible!
What I love most about this pattern is its versatility. You can go through your fabric stash and easily start cutting squares out of your favorite colors to create the quilt blocks. If you want more structured, geometric color design, you can just as easily do that too!
The quilt fits the versatility of the embroidery designs themselves. They can be layered and grouped and sewn in so many different arrangements. For instance, in the photo above, the butterfly design is layered on top of the baroque corner, to make a larger, more delicate and detailed design. I really love the effect of the moon corners under the insect features. I was also really excited that I could extend the baroque corners using the baroque features, making a big and beautiful extra large embroidered corner. It’s so fun to create such embroidery effects through the magic of layering.
Of course, no project like this is without its challenges. I ran into some trouble with my triangles and setting the quilt blocks on point. There are some more practical quilting techniques that I learned after I had already pieced my side triangle blocks together. Mainly that you should cut triangles using a particular math formula, so you have the appropriate 1/4 seam allowance on the diagonal. Quilting is very mathematical. We’re always learning new things with these projects! Sometimes the best way to create is just to dive in and experiment. It all turns out in the end.
All the same, next time I’ll be sure to do a little more research before I cut a million wonky triangles…
Experimental crafting and quilting is always so much easier with a little help. I wouldn’t have been able to put this all together without the skills of my mom. My home is filled with amazing quilts she has made, and being able to call her and ask random quilting questions was a real lifesaver. She’s even working on her own version of this quilt pattern! It’s always great to pull a personal history of crafting into new projects like this.
I am really excited about how this project turned out. It’s exactly the warm and summery kind of quilt I was hoping for, and really helps bring the Miniature Menagerie designs to life. Don’t be afraid to dive into a big project like an embroidered quilt. It’s not as hard as it looks, and the results are so rewarding!
Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Caitlin! Feeling inspired? Well, now for the best news. You may remember the last time Caitlin took to quilting, SO many of you requested a pattern of the quilt she created, and we thought there might be mutiny if we didn’t do it this time around. So today for the very first time, we’re offering a FREE downloadable pattern of a Lab project for you recreate in your own home.
To get your very own downloadable instructions to make your own summery quilt, click here, and of course, don’t forget your new Miniature Menagerie embroidery designs. Have fun, crafters, and as always if you make one of your own, be sure to share it with us!This project is part of The Lab, a UT initiative to experiment, collaborate and innovate to see just what can be done with the art of embroidery. Check out our other projects by searching for the UT Lab tag.