Y’all know I have this thing for designing graphic, modern quilts with strips and curves. To some extent, there are only so many ways you can combine those two concepts while staying within the bounds of convention in the world of quilt patterns.
No, I don’t mean the “Quilt Police.” I’ve never respected their authority.
But unless a designer wants to really anger their customers, they’d better stick to a few universally accepted norms, including cutting instructions rounded to quarter-inches, and keeping the curves at a reasonable radius for curved piecing. I generally sign my emails with “Happy stitching!” and that means I don’t want the making of my quilts to leave a bad taste in your mouth.
I’m digressing a little.
So then my brain thought, what if we did curves within strips, but the strips are actually rings??
That was the idea behind Orbital.
And because the universe likes to encourage me when I get a good idea, it was only a day or 2 later that my friends at Andover fabrics announced their new (at the time) line of Century Solids that they were releasing as part of their 100th anniversary celebration. Perfect! I grabbed their digital swatches and got to work. I tried a hundred combinations in EQ8 (hooray for the randomize fabrics button!), narrowed it down to a dozen faves, and then turned to the experts at Andover for a tie breaker: purple and green won.
And then, because pandemic, we waited. Supply chain delays, labor restrictions, shipping delays. The fabrics arrived!
I started writing the Orbital quilt pattern, then came the 2nd wave, remote school, burnout. Eventually I realized I owed it to the quilters of the world to get this pattern out there so y’all could start making it! I recruited pattern testers, finalized the pattern details, and got to work.
The piecing came together so wonderfully! Once all the pieces were cut out using the paper templates, the curved piecing went smoothly and quickly. The Andover Century Solids were wonderful to work with. Sturdy without being rough or stiff, minimal fraying, and the colours!!!
And just like that, I had a finished quilt top. I wanted the custom quilting to be quick, which means free motion quilting with minimal ruler work, not too dense, and not a ton of thread changes. I sketched out some quilting ideas in Procreate, then quilted it up.
I went with two layers of Hobbs 80/20 cotton/poly blend batting to get some nice poof in my quilting. I usually go with Hobbs wool batting, but I wanted the bleached white batting to keep the Cottonball white fabric looking pristine.
I quilted my orbital quilt using Glide 40 weight, in a medium grey called Battleship on the rings and Split Pea on the background.
I’m excited about all the variations that my pattern testers made with their Orbital quilts. I’m just finishing up a mini Orbital quilt that I made as my proof of concept for the templates, and I’m about to start cutting for a king size Orbital quilt for my bed!