Thursday, May 9, 2019

Make it Modern with Island Batik

I have a confession.  I don't consider myself a modern quilter.

Well, I guess that depends on your definition.  I live in the modern world, I use modern techniques, I like some aspects of a modern aesthetic. But the "Make it Modern" theme for May's Island Batik challenge had me worried if I could do something modern enough.  I had a plan for a courthouse steps variation that would work.  But I wasn't excited about it.  It would check the box but didn't feel like me, and that's not the point.  So I kept thinking about something modern that felt like me.  I was taking a walk by a river on a gorgeous day and there were all these turtles sunning themselves.  And it clicked.  Improv Turtles!!!!!!

I used the Turtle Block pattern by Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts. The pattern is for two sizes, 4" x 10" and 8" x 20".  I made the smaller size.  I absolutely adore Lorna's patterns!

I decided to improv piece the shell part of the turtle and trim to size, then make the turtle block as directed.  I used the green/turquoise scraps from the Flea Market collection by Island Batik as well as any greens from my Island Batik stash builder rows.

For the turtle bodies, I used the lighter colors from Flea Market as well as some yellow from the stash builder rolls.  The background is a black batik solid.  The bright batiks pop so well against the black! These are essentially the same fabrics I used in the April challenge with a totally different look!
All Aboard the Accuquilt Express!

I really wanted to take the turtles out for a fun photo op.  Our Easter tradition is to go to the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC (about 90 miles away).  So I finished up the binding in the car on the way to the zoo and set out to find the turtles.  This turtle statue meant I could put the quilt on a turtle without getting kicked out of the zoo!

One of my favorite non-animal parts of a zoo is a little garden with rocks painted to look like different animals.  There was a turtle-rock hanging out by the pond!

There are two huge Galapagos Tortoises at our zoo.  I was able to get one of them along a stretch of fence with no other visitors around.

There are also several much smaller radial tortoises.  These were harder to capture with pictures, but I did get two of them.

notice the feet of my short helper
The fabrics were provided to me by Island Batik and the batting was provided by Hobbs.  May's challenge is co-sponsored by Hobbs.  Since I had such a dark background, I used Hobbs black batting.  This was my first time using dark batting and I loved it!  No white puffs on my dark fabric!! And it quilted beautifully.
Hobbs black batting
The official challenge was, "Must incorporate one of the characteristics of modern quits as defined by the Modern Quilt Guild: the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, alternative grid work."

 So let's break it down:
  • improvisational piecing
  • negative space 
  • solid color
  • bold colors/high contrast
  • asymmetrical (not on the list, but I feel like that's also a calling card of modern quilts)
So I guess I am a modern quilter!  Or I can at least veer into that territory occasionally.  I loved working making the turtles and even enjoyed the improv piecing for the shells.  I'm so glad I waited until I had a project that feels both modern and me!

This quilt was #5 on my list of Q2 finish along goals. It measures 40" x 44" and I'm calling it Modern Turtle Race. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


I like to have a hand stitching project on hand (pun intended!) when I travel.  I really enjoy embroidery and it makes a great traveling project.  This dandelion was my project for a few trips and I am thrilled to finally have it done!

Several years ago, my mother-in-law was traveling to Europe and asked me what I wanted her to bring me.  I told her I wanted quilting magazines.  Probably not the answer she expected but she delivered.  She brought me this German quilting magazine, Patchwork Professional, February 2014 issue. 

Now, I took German in high school but have lost most of it.  But I didn't need to be able to read it to enjoy the pictures!  This project really caught my eye:

They painted the stem and leaves and dandelion was machine embroidery.  I knew I didn't want to do either of those things, but the picture was fantastic inspiration.  I created my own dandelion using this one as a guide.

I love the shadow in this picture.
I stitched it using DMC Pearl Cotton #8 in White, Sunshine, Lime, Brown, and Dark Brown.  I haven't found a good place locally for hand embroidery supplies.  I bought the Pearl Cotton at the Earth Guild in Asheville.  The background fabric is Kona Niagara and the binding is Kona Leprechaun.  The backing is a fabric that my sister-in-law gave me a few years ago; the selvage is missing so I don't know what it is.  It has these floral spheres that I just love.

I've had the embroidery done for a while but wasn't sure how to quilt it.  I don't really do free motion so swirls around the floating seeds were not an option. I finally decided on straight lines.  I was worried that the quilting would catch on the embroidery stitches but it didn't! 

This quilt was on my list of projects needed for my PhD (Projects Half Done) with Quilting Gail and was #10 on my list of Q2 finish along goals.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

OMG: Postage Plus

I love novelty fabrics and I Spy quilts, so it's no surprise that I have a lot of novelty scraps.  I'm always looking for good projects for those scraps and bonus if they can also be used as leaders and enders.  Last fall I worked on turning my 2 1/2" squares into the blocks needed for Postage Plus from the book Modern Plus Sign Quilts by Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs and Paige of Quilted Blooms.

Isn't it fun to see what you can see??

I finally got out those blocks and completed the top.  I'd love to have this one done, so I'm setting finishing it as my One Monthly Goal (OMG) with Patty of Elm Street Quilts.  

May OMG link-up is open!!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

World Penguin Day

Apparently today is world penguin day.  Which makes it an appropriate day to share my quilt top of penguin blocks made by hive 4 in this year's Stash Bee.  Completing the top was my One Monthly Goal for the link-up party hosted by Patty of Elm Street Quilts.

At 74" x 90" this quilt is big for me, so photographing it on short notice (so as to post on world penguin day) was tricky.  Here's the best I could do:

I don't currently have anything big enough to back this, so it's on hold as a finished top for the moment.  Nancy at Grace and Peace Quilting recently wrote a great post about fabric shopping at IKEA and using duvet covers as backing which I thought was brilliant, so I'm hoping to plan a trip to the Charlotte IKEA soon to find something suitable.

Penguin block pattern is by Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts, blocks were made by my fabulous hive-mates in Stash Bee, Hive 4.

Here's another thoroughly bad photo.  This is why I don't like to make big quilts!!!

April Finish link-up is open!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

All Aboard the Accuquilt Express!

The April Island Batik challenge is baby quilts made with the Accuquilt Go!  Accuquilt is an industry partner this year and generously sent every ambassador an Accuquilt Go! cutter, an 8" Cube set, and a 2 1/2" strip die.  Talk about Happy Mail!!!!  I wanted more of a scene than a traditional quilt block, so I combined Sawtooth Star blocks cut with the Cube with a train die I already owned. All aboard the Accuquilt Express!

photo by K. Melnik
I used the Flea Market collection; there are 20 prints in the collection and I used 14 in this project.  In addition to a stack (10" squares) of the full collection, I was given yardage of a Mum in Weeds and Mum in Kiwi.  I used the Weeds yardage for the ground and the binding, the Kiwi yardage for the sky/background, and a strip of Island Batik's new solid black for the train track and the wheels.  The puffs of smoke coming from the engine are batik solid in gray. This quilt is 40" square.

I used a blanket stitch and Aurifil 1320 Bright Teal for the train applique.  It blends beautiful with the teals of Flea Market.  I love cross-hatch quilting and used Aurifil 2000 Light Stand.

The fabrics were provided to me by Island Batik.  Accuquilt and Aurifil also provided materials that I used in this project.

I've had an Accuquilt cutter for a few years and I absolutely love it!  The speed and ease and accuracy in cutting just cannot be beat.  This was my first time using the Cube set and there are so many blocks you can make with these dies!  I had the pieces cut out for the sawtooth star blocks in under five minutes.

cutting the sawtooth stars

I don't have a baby in my life right now who doesn't already have a quilt so this will be donated to my local Project Linus chapter.  As I do with most of my donated quilts for babies and kids, this is backed with fleece.  I love the weight of a quilt top + fleece (no batting) especially in the south when a heavy blanket often isn't needed.  It's also soft and cuddly.

And of course, I had to set it up with a train track!  I love how the bright fabrics mimic the colors of  of our toy trains.

I love making baby quilts, so I was super excited about this challenge.  I also think it's important that a baby quilt is still fun and relevant when the child is no longer a baby.  Here's proof that my five-year-old approves of this quilt.  And yes, he asked to be in a picture!

I really loved the colors and patterns in Flea Market and I'm pleased that it makes what I think is essentially a gender-neutral baby quilt.  The teal train makes me happy every time I see it!  You'll see these same fabrics in a completely different look in my May project!

photo by K. Melnik

Monday, April 15, 2019

Q2 Goals

I did not have many finishes in Quarter 1 of the globally hosted Finish Along.  Here's hoping Quarter 2 is more productive!

I've got a fairly long list.  I always list more than I can finish because I never know what I'll be in the mood to work on. 

General Projects and Gifts

1. Tea cozy for Dad
My dad, a big tea drinker, has used the same tea cozy for my entire life.  It's pretty shabby.  He asked me to make him a new one.  I've got the embroidery done, now I just need to create the cozy.

2. Devin's baby quilt
My good friend Devin had his second child last year.  I'm making an I Spy quilt to match big sister's.  This is finished except for the last of the binding--I'm waiting for baby's name for the label that will get sewn into the binding. 

3.  Extra for Miren
The baby from #2 also has a big sister.  I'm still waiting to hear from her parents what Miren, age 3, is particularly fond of, so this one is undefined so far.  It will likely be either a pillowcase or a small pillow.

4. Giselle's Baby Quilt
I have a coworker expecting a baby boy this spring.  I'm mostly done with this one, I just need baby boy to arrive so I can add name and birthdate to a label and sew it into the binding. 

5. Island Batik May Project
Here's a sneak peak of some of the improv from my May Island Batik project.  I know, improv, me?  But it will be glorious!

6. Island Batik June Project
The theme for June is "Try a Technique."  I've got several ideas and fabric pulls for all of them, I just need to choose and get started.

7. Island Batik July Project
July's project will feature Aurifil thread.  Check out the beauties that I will be working with:

Mini Quilts & Pillows

Pillow Menagerie
I am slowly making us a menagerie of animal throw pillows four our couch, as I got rid of the big cushions that came with the couch because they were so big it was annoying.  The following are pillows I have patterns and fabric for, and I've spent time getting the pattern pieces enlarged and color coded.
8. Lion--pattern is from the zoo animals collection by Kristy @ Quiet Play
9. Giraffe--pattern is from the zoo animals collection by Kristy @ Quiet Play

10. Dandelion
This was my hand-sewing project on trips in 2017 & 2018 and I finished the embroidery!  Now I just need to turn it into a finished project. I'm super close to having this one done!

Project Linus

11. Dog Gone Cute
I made a Dog Gone Cute block for one of the women in a quilting bee, and I liked the block so much I made a second for me. I am slowly making my way through all of Lorna's amazing dog blocks.

12. Snowmen
I liked the Snowman block by Sherry of Powered by Quilting so much that I'm doing a whole quilt of snowmen!  I've made 5 blocks and I want to make 4 more and then have fun with different embellishments.

13. Postage Plus Leaders & Enders
I've been using 2 1/2" squares as leaders and enders and will put them together using the Postage Plus pattern from the book by Cheryl & Paige.
14. Patriotic Stars, part 2
These were my bee blocks from April 2018.  Most of them were turned into a door decoration, but I still have a few blocks left to turn into a donation quilt.

15. Blue Forest Animals
This was a fabric donated to my Project Linus chapter that I really liked.  I have the blue print cut into 10" squares, plus 2 other fabrics and a plan.

16. Elizabeth
This is a fat quarter quilt that is mostly cut and partially sewn.

17. Penguins
When I was Queen Bee in Stash Bee this January,  I asked for penguin blocks.  I'm so excited to create this Waddle of Penguins!

18 & 19. Sailboats
In Bee Inspired, I asked for simple and fun sailboat blocks for a charity quilt.  I received enough to make two quilts.  Ahoy, Matey!

20. Hidden Stars
I've been doing the QAL hosted by Sherry of Powered by Quilting from her Hidden Stars pattern.  I have most of my sub-units pieced and think it will go quickly once I get the blocks assembled.

So there's my crazy long list!  I know I won't get all of these done, and I'm okay with that. 

Sunday, April 14, 2019

April Bee Blocks and an Adventure

I'm pleased to have my bee blocks done before the halfway point of April.  I like having a little breathing room!

In Bee Inspired, we aren't a traditional bee this year but a few of us are taking turns asking for blocks that will be made into charity quilts.  Ann of Brown Paws Quilting asked for chicken blocks.  Aren't they cute?!  The original tutorial is from Sew Inspired.  The comb is a bit fiddly but overall I'm happy with this flock.

Queen Karen of Stash Bee asked for red and pink heart blocks that she will make into a quilt for a child in foster care. This is such a fun quick block that I made three.

I love know blocks I made end up in quilts all over the world but I am especially pleased that many of them end up donated to people who need something to brighten their day.  I hope these hearts and chickens find great homes and put a smile on someone's face.

As for the adventure, yesterday I met Carole of From My Carolina Home in person!  It's always great to meet online quilty friends in real life!  Carole is the organizer behind Carolina Hurricane Quilts for those impacted by Hurricane Florence in 2018.  For folks in North Carolina, Carole has made arrangements with 5 quilts shops across the state to be drop-off points.  I'm her runner for the Charlotte area/southern Piedmont shop.  So yesterday morning I loaded up the 10 quilts that have been dropped off at Quilt Patch Fabrics as well as one I made and drove to meet Carole about halfway between our homes.

Eleven quilts for the Carolina Hurricane project, and you can see where we had lunch through my trunk window
Carole has all the pictures of the two of us (plus our delicious sushi lunch) on her camera, so we'll have to wait until after Easter for those.  Here are the eleven quilts in the trunk of my car and the restaurant sign can be seen through my open trunk window.  We'll get together again in July or August to transfer any other donations.  The quilt drive is open for several more months and she is able to match completed tops to willing long-armers, so if you are looking for a place to donate quilts or tops, check out all the info here.