A million years ago, I bought some orange peel quilt block acrylic templates online. I didn’t have a specific project or fabric in mind, but I had seen a pretty orange peel quilt on Instagram and thought I might like to give it a try one day.
Curved piecing ahead…
Just for fun, I thought I’d try sewing one block together. I cut out some scrap fabric, sewed the ugliest curved seam you’ve ever seen, and could NOT get the points to match. I decided that this block was in fact impossible, and threw the templates into the recesses of my closet.
And that ended my curved piecing career.
UNTIL I saw the Shades of Citrus quilt pattern by Brittany of Lo and Behold Stitchery…
Did you go click on it? You should… I’ll wait here while you go ooooh and ahhhh over it.
This quilt made me feel like it WOULD be worth it to try curved piecing again. Wow – that’s an impactful pattern.
I had a look at Brittany’s pattern and realized that her blocks were much smaller than mine would be. My acrylic templates “claimed” that the block would finish at 8″. Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to follow the Shade of Citrus pattern, I decided to make my own version of this stunning quilt.
Orange peel quilt orientation
First things first: did you notice that these orange peel quilt blocks are on point? Genius!
Most orange peel quilts have the blocks oriented like this:
The Shades of Citrus has them rotated 45 degrees so that the “petals” (the white sections) are oriented either straight up and down, or side to side. With your standard orange peel quilt, the petals are on an angle. In both scenarios, the white petals form a “circle”, but I loved Brittany’s take on this block and decided to set my orange peel quilt on point as well.
In order to figure out my fabric requirements, I pulled out a bolt of fabric then physically laid out my templates so I could see how many petals and outer pieces I could get from one width of fabric.
I wanted to make my orange peel quilt with solid fabrics, and I had recently completed a different quilt using Art Gallery Fabrics Pure Solids. I really liked the feel of this fabric, and thought that the tighter weave might help reduce stretch and make sewing the curves a bit easier. Anything to help me succeed!
So I went online and ordered this gorgeous pile of fabric from my “local” quilt shop Thread Count Fabrics.
Just in case you’re wondering, I used the following colours of AGF Pure Solids:
- Mirage Blue
- Sweet Macadamia
- Cotton Candy
- Coral Reef
- Zambia Stone
- Sweet Mint
- Fresh Water
- Night Sea
For the backing, I used Brushed in Peacock from Ruby Star Society.
The cutting was surprisingly satisfying – something about swooping around all those curves… I had fun trying to maximize my cutting efficiency, and found that with my yardage, I could actually cut enough fabric to create TWO quilts. One would have colourful petals (or peels?) and the other one would have colourful “outside bits”. If there’s a technical term for the outer parts of on orange peel block, I am unaware of it!
I laid out my cut pieces on my design floor before I began any piecing. Since I loved the look of the Shades of Citrus quilt’s ombre effect, I put the fabric together in a way that created small “puddles” of colours. I didn’t really over-analyze this step too much: I just kind of threw things together in a way that looked nice to my eyes.
Before I started piecing with my “real” fabric, I did a few test blocks with scraps. I tried to find some YouTube tutorials for piecing an orange peel quilt, but I mostly found videos about appliqueing the petals. Hmpf. So then I searched “sewing curves” and found much more information.
I’ll definitely be sewing this quilt’s “sister” sometime in the future, so let me write down my process (for future Shelly’s reference):
- Folded both the petals and the outer bits in half and finger pressed a small crease at the mid-way point
- Laid the petal on the bottom, then placed the outer bit on top (right sides together)
- Lined up the mid-point, then each end, lining the tiny edge of the outer bit with the side of the petal.
- Pinned (yes, I really did pin!) at each spot, then eased in the curved and pinned three more pins between the end and the mid-point.
- Pressed the fabric away from the petal (towards the outer bits)
To my surprise, it was a fairly painless process! I’m not sure what my malfunction was years ago when I first tried piecing these curves, but I’m glad I conquered this skill and can now confidently sew more than just straight seams.
I felt pretty accomplished once I had the quilt top completed, but I was DYING to quilt it up in some yummy texture… I debated for a while, but ended up choosing Cherub Window for the pantograph. This is one of those “tricky” pantos that require a lot of time and attention to make sure that they turn out well.
I’m so glad that I chose this design – it look gorgeous on this project!!
For the binding, I used the Night Sea fabric and my trusty machine binding technique (saved in highlights). I will never stop being pleased with the speed of this method. In no time flat, you go from having a trimmed quilt to a completely finished project!
Then I must have gotten busy with… quilting? Life? Because I never bothered to properly photograph this quilt until very recently. As part of my Beginner Quilt Photography course, I walk my students through a photo shoot with a finished quilt, and I thought this one would do nicely!
I even trekked out into the wilderness (okay, the backyard) and asked Ian to snap a photo of me holding it. He did a great job, right?? My photography lessons must be rubbing off on him!
Have you ever tried curved piecing? I’d love to hear about your experience (or inexperience) below!