Orbital quilt by geeky bobbin

All About the Orbital Quilt

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.

Orbital quilt by geeky bobbin

I’m digressing a little.

I’ve done curves within strips, curves within strips within curves, curves inside short strips (sorta), curves made of strips, nested in curves made of strips

So then my brain thought, what if we did curves within strips, but the strips are actually rings??

That was the idea behind Orbital.

initial sketch of Orbital quilt by geeky bobbin
My initial sketch of what turned into Orbital, designed in EQ8. I flipped some of the curves and moved others around to give it a better rhythm.

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!

andover century solids for the orbital quilt by geeky bobbin
Andover Century Solids, from top to bottom: Plum, Whisper, Margarita, Powder, Orchid, Cottonball, Peacock, Black, Cloud, Spring

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.

curved piecing quilt blocks - geeky bobbin
Pieced semi-circles in ring segments

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!!!

use labels to keep quilt blocks and pieces organized - geeky bobbin
Organization is everything! The Orbital quilt pattern includes labels to keep your rings and wedges sorted.

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.

orbital quilt by geeky bobbin - close up of quilting and binding
I ended up re-using the background cutting template to help mark the radiating lines for quilting.

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.

Orbital quilt by geeky bobbin with matching cat
Miss Kitty approves of the Spring background fabric matching her eyes.

I quilted my orbital quilt using Glide 40 weight, in a medium grey called Battleship on the rings and Split Pea on the background.

Orbital quilt by geeky bobbin in front of rainbow mural

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!

Orbital quilt by geeky bobbin

I can’t wait to see the quilt you’ll make with the Orbital quilt pattern! Remember to tag it on social with #OrbitalQuilt and #geekybobbin

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.