Passacaglia–beginning the adventure!


#1. The forest or the trees?

Everyone has their own way of working. Do you make the parts and then see how they fit together? –or, design the whole and then fill in the parts? I am a whole-parts-whole person.

In 2014, when my guild (PMQG) did a medallion quilt over 10 months, I found I wanted to wait until a couple rounds had been introduced before beginning. I wanted to know where it was going before I got started. I ran several months behind for the entire year, and caught up with several rounds at a time. I like to have a vision for the end, focus on all the parts and then audition and move them around until they achieve some semblance of my vision. (I like surprises and learning along the way, too!). I’m glad not everyone works the same way I do, because it means other people do incredible things that I would not have done, but can appreciate, too.

I saw an image of the Passacaglia quilt from Willyne’s book online. I ordered the book and the paper pieces from I wanted to focus on the fabrics and the design, and this is labor intensive enough without cutting the paper pieces. I started out and made one little star and it gave me an appreciation for the incredible amount of handwork that was going to go into this quilt. And, it will be the most expensive quilt I have every made! (Book + paperpieces + gluesticks + lots of fabric that ends up looking like swiss cheese).

I joined two Facebook groups, one doing this same pattern, Millefiori/ La Passacaglia English Paper Piecing, and another group, The New Hexagon – Millefiore Quilt-Along using a pattern from the New Hexagon  by Katya Marek.  It is inspiring to follow along with all the incredible work people are doing.

On topic

I’m writing a book about our money system and illustrating it with quilts, so this enterprise had to fit into my grand plan. I’m calling it, “The Wheels of Commerce,” and it will use money fabrics, greens, golds, silvers and blacks.

I knew it was not going to work for me to do each rosette one at a time.  I love seeing the wonderful serendipitous combinations people come up with, but I needed to have a big picture.  I needed to be able to select fabrics for each round of each rosette with the whole quilt in mind.

So, here’s how I started: I cut and glued all 34 (plus a few extras) of the central part of the medallions, (made with five large diamonds). I pinned them up on my board as I got them cut and glued to see if I was getting a balance of colors. I learned a lot as I cut and pinned together the 5 diamonds. Some fabrics make more interesting centers than others. I knew some of these were not going to get used.


Prints with designs that extend beyond the edges are more interesting and make better secondary designs than those that fit within the edges of the shape.  I don’t think I’ll use the 3 white ones on the left.  Perhaps the one at the top, but the others just aren’t very interesting.  I like the green on black because they will be easier to blend into the next round.  The six on the right are successful because the fabrics make secondary patterns when assembled.

Press & Seal

One of the posters on Facebook recommended using ‘Press & Seal’ to hold the pieces into place until they could be sewn together. I liked this idea, so that is what I did for this first round. I simply tore off a 5” or so strip of the Press & Seal, put my diamonds in a circle and folded it over. This held them together to pin up on my design board.   (It was a bit of a nuisance to take them out of the Press & Seal to sew together, so I stopped doing this after this first round).  I pinned them up by color so that I knew I was getting a balance (the ones at the bottom are maybe nots:


I pushed to get all of the centers cut and glued so that I could take them with me on an out-of-town visit to celebrate my youngest grandson’s first birthday with his beloved family.  (banana cake with sweet potato-coconut icing!)


I was able to sew all these together on my trip, and put them back up on the wall when I got home. Here they are!


I had a plan to add all the rings at one time, but as you’ll see in the next posts, that went by the wayside.  It was entirely too tempting to continue on with some of them to see what they might look like more complete…

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2 Responses to Passacaglia–beginning the adventure!

  1. Jan Sturtevant December 3, 2015 at 12:10 am #

    You have taken EPP to another level! Oh well, it doesn’t surprise me…and I like my diamonds that make octagons. My design decisions were made along the way–combining 2 or sometimes 3 or more fabrics in the octagons. At some point well into it, I decided that I needed to have some kind of plan to balance the fabrics, even though it’s scrappy. So I sorted by the color of the outside diamonds and determined how many to make of each to have the size quilt I want. I need about 70…haven’t worked on it in a while, so I don’t remember how many more I need.

    So far I haven’t had to buy any fabric–it’s all from my stash. Small victory. 🙂

  2. Marsha Daily June 18, 2017 at 10:10 pm #

    Lovely! So much fussy cutting it’s amazing!

    I’d recommend TheDIYAddict’s tutorials if anyone needs assistance!

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