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.

3. 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. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Fat Quarter Quilts

Last fall, I visited my college friend Jen.  We've known each other a long time and I know her family, too.  I was sent home with 2 big boxes of fabric and other craft supplies from Jen's mom, Judy.  Judy, a life-long crafter, realized she won't use all her craft supplies in her lifetime so as the essentially adopted daughter, I was given a TON of fabric and other sewing supplies. Much of the fabric was fat quarters, both lose and in coordinated bundles.  I had been seeing all the quilts that Nancy of Grace and Peace Quilting made in 2018 using the Simple Gifts pattern from the booklet Fat Quarter Love by Weeks Ringle & Bill Kerr and decided this was a pattern I needed to own.

I had a fun fat quarter of musical horses that I bought at a LQS several years ago because I liked it, but never knew what to do with it  I combined those horses with 3 fat quarters from Judy and tada!  Fun quilt!  Here's the fabric pull so you can see the fabrics better:

 From a lovely coordinated bundle of fall fabrics, I picked out four that I liked together and presto!  Another fun finish!

I know, it's a fall quilt being photographed in spring.  Perhaps it looks more fall-like on a barn?

Both are quilted with cross-hatch quilting and bound with whatever leftover binding I had that seemed to go with the main fabrics.  Simple Gifts sews up very quickly and I can see making quite a few more!  You'll be seeing many more quilts made with the fabrics Judy gave me.  These will both go to my local chapter of Project Linus.

These were quilts #18 & #19 on my list of Q1 finish along goals. They were also both on my list
of projects needed for my PhD (Projects Half Done) with Quilting Gail.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

OMG: Penguins!

I have chosen an April goal for the One Monthly Goal linky party hosted by Patty of Elm Street Quilts.  This year, I want to make my bee blocks into a finished quilt early in the year!  I was queen of Stash Bee in January and asked my hive-mates to make these fabulous penguin blocks, pattern by Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts.

I am now the proud owner of 16 lovely penguins.  My goal for April is to sew them into a completed top.  Truth be told, I'd love to get an entire quilt finished, but a top is more realistic for this month.

April link-up is open!!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Fish Pillow

Two of my really close friends from college had a baby girl last fall.  That baby has an older sister, Samantha, age 6.  I wanted to have a big sister gift for Samantha when I gifted the baby quilt.  I asked her parents what she was particularly into.  I got a few suggestions and the one that jumped out at me was "aquarium fish."  So I made this fish pillow!

The fish are Kona Lipstick, Valentine, Grellow, Cerise, and Carrot.  The background is Kona Candy Blue.  I used my wavy line stitch for the quilting so it would look like the fish were swimming in the ocean.

I love the envelope pillow method from Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts and that's how I make all my pillows.  She does not use a backing on the quilted part but I do.  I typically use muslin since it's inexpensive and won't show in the finished project.  I had *just* enough Candy Blue to make the back of the pillow.  It looks all nice and neat before I stuffed a 20" IKEA pillow form in there!

ready for a pillow form
For labeling, I used a trick I learned from Paige of Quilted Blooms.  She saw a pillow I made my son for his birthday and suggested that I write a birthday message on the inside of the pillow.  I do that with all my pillows now!  Here is my dedication, lousy handwriting and all.

This fish pillow joins Rainbow Elephant Parade on their way to baby and big sister.  I know, I finished Rainbow Elephant almost 6 months ago and hadn't sent it yet! 

I think these two compliment each other well. I even did wavy quilting for both, and that was not on purpose!  Happy accident, I guess.

This pillow is on my list of projects needed for my PhD (Projects Half Done) with Quilting Gail and was #2 on my list of Q1 finish along goals.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Vintage Reimagined: Oklahoma Dogwood

When I saw that the March theme for the Island Batik Ambassadors was Vintage Reimagined, I knew exactly what pattern inspiration I wanted to use.  My paternal grandmother, Mildred, was a quilter.  Unfortunately, our quilting years never overlapped.  About two years ago my dad brought me a box of quilting related stuff that his sister had put together for me.  In that box were three patterns that Mildred saved from Mountain Mist batting when they included a pattern on the backside of the wrapper.  One of those patterns was Oklahoma Dogwood with a copyright date of 1949.

Oklahoma Dogwood
Well, if that isn't the perfect pattern name for me, I don't know what is.  Obviously, with a blog named The Darling Dogwood, I have a love for dogwoods.  They have always been among my favorite signs of spring and have the distinction of being the state flower of both the state where I was born (Virginia) and the state where I live (North Carolina).  And though I've never lived in Oklahoma, I have roots there.  Grandma Mildred was born in Oklahoma Territory in 1905.  My grandfather Oakley was born in Oklahoma Territory in 1902; both are buried in Oklahoma.  My dad and his sister were both born in Oklahoma. 

Here's what is included about the origin of this pattern:  The "Oklahoma Dogwood" quilt is an original and conventional design by Harriet Smith.  A Blue Ribbon Winner at the Long Island Fair, this quilt has had recognition at the Women's International Exposition of Arts and Industries at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

My Grandmother's Handwriting
 Being a pattern from 1949, the pieces were intended to be cut from a template and weren't what would today be considered a standard size. One part of my re-imagining was to use more modern construction methods like strip-piecing.  I photo-copied the pattern and made myself templates from the basic shapes.
templates made from poster board
Then I used strip piecing to create checkerboard blocks.  For the smaller blossoms, I made five 4-patch units and sewed them together in a cross.  Then I centered the template on top, traced with a frixion pen, and cut out the blossom shape.

I knew I didn't want the weight of a fusible web on the entire shape, so I used a new-to-me product, Wonder Tape by Dritz.  It's a wash-away double-sided fusible tape that is 1/4" wide.  I cut a few strips and places them around the perimeter of the blossom.  I just needed it to stay adhered to the background for long enough to stitch around the edges. 

Yes, I label my paper scissors "paper ok"
Here it is with the paper back peeled off the Wonder Tape.  The background fabric is Swirl in Opal. I love the subtle color changes in the swirl patterns.  Each of the small blossoms in the corner of the finished quilt is a 12" finished square.

For the large center dogwood blossom, I made a 16-patch block for each petal.  Since dogwoods have four petals on each blossom, I made four 16-patch blocks.  Then I used my petal template to trace and cut the shape.  When appliqueing to the background, I fused and stitched two petals opposite each other first, then I added the other two petals.  It appears I forgot to take pictures of this step.  The center block with the large dogwood blossom is 24" square.

The fabrics were provided to me by Island Batik.  Hobbs also provided materials that I used in this project. I went through everything sent to me by Island Batik and picked out all the pink.  Most dogwood tress in my area have white blossoms but I do occasionally see a pink dogwood.  I had surprisingly little pink.  Remember the pink Island Batik fabrics I bought on Local Quilt Shop Day?  I bought those to supplement my pinks for this project.

I did not use the bottom fabric, it was too purple when combined with the other fabrics
fabrics from my stash builder bundles
I used a pink variegated thread from King Tut that I've had forever to blanket stitch around all of the dogwood blossoms.

I used a silk blend batting from Hobbs Tuscany Collection.  This was my first time using silk batting and I loved how it stitched. 

I quilted Oklahoma Dogwood with a large continuous spiral.  I set my stitch guide at just under an inch. That's much more dense than I normally quilt but I absolutely love the texture it has now. I used another King Tut variegated thread, Mummy's Dearest.  It has a subtle change of pastel colors.  I love how the soft color changes mimic the color variations in the Island Batik background fabric.
spiral quilting
It's worth noting that my version uses far fewer dogwood blossoms than the original.  I found an image from the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska of an Oklahoma Dogwood quilt circa 1949. You can see it here.  Be sure to hover over the photo to see close-ups of the hand quilting.

My Oklahoma Dogwood finishes at 48" square.  I love this quilt so much!  I'm so glad that I found the quilt pattern that my Grandmother set aside all those years ago.  Thanks, Island Batik, for giving me the opportunity to recreate a vintage quilt!