Friday, August 7, 2020

Stormy Seas: An Island Batik Challenge with Studio 180 Design

For our August challenge, Island Batik partnered with Deb Tucker's Studio 180 Design.  Each of us was sent one of her tools and had to make at least 16 units with that tool.  Tools were assigned randomly and I was sent the Diamond Rects tool.  This makes one unit, a diamond inside a rectangle, most commonly found in the Storm at Sea block.  Well, truth be told, I had never been tempted to make a Storm at Sea before, but as soon as I realized that was the best fit for my tool, I envisioned a sail boat in the center of a traditional Storm at Sea block.  I had a fat quarter bundle of Colorpop by Kathy Engle and the bright colors just screamed fun and child friendly.
Photo by K. Melnik

Remember when I teased this sneak peak of brightly colored sailboats?  Now you know what I had planned!  The background is Coconut from the Neutrals collection; there actually isn't much of it in the finished quilt, as the corners are essentially snowballed to create the Storm at Sea block.  I named this Stormy Seas as a play on the traditional block.
This was my first time working with Deb Tucker's tools and it was great!  I'm not a perfectionist quilter. I don't try to be nor do I claim to be.  Deb's tools have you make slightly oversized units and trim them down--and the tool makes this not a chore.  I did watch the video tutorial for the diamond rects tool a few times and seeing it in use helped.  The Studio 180 Design website also has the instruction sheets as well as diagrams for left-handed quilters. 
The diamond rect units were easy to make and trim with the tool. The tool makes 5 different sizes.  I used the next-to-largest size as I wanted my blocks to be big enough to put a boat in the middle.  My layout required 24 diamond rectangle units, comfortably above the minimum of 16 for the challenge. 
I use painters' tape to mark each unit's placement

I used EQ8 to adapt the Storm at Sea block and to test my color placement.  I'm still learning the program but I was able to get a pretty good feel for the final quilt.   I used the design in EQ8 to help me with the color placement as I made the units--one of the hardest parts for me when they are not all the same.

Photo by K. Melnik.  Knees by me.

I used Hobbs fusible 80/20 batting.  I quilted in organic wavy lines, hoping to simulate waves, with Aurifil thread color 1231, a lime green that matches the green in Colorpop.  I used Schmetz chrome microtex needles and love how well they go through the batik fabrics--and how long they last.

Photo by K. Melnik
Photo by K. Melnik

Materials used in this project were provided to me by Island Batik, Deb Tucker's Studio 180 Design, Hobbs, Aurifil, and Schmetz.

I really wanted to photograph this with a boat but I don't have access to any boats.  I decided near water was the next best thing so I arranged a social distanced take-out picnic with a friend at a local nature park with a lake.  She's got a better eye for photography than I do, so she took the pictures of the finished quilt.
Photo by K. Melnik

It's not a traditional Storm at Sea but I'm hoping the block comes through and I can't help but smile when I look at it.  I think the diamonds inside rectangles would make a really nice border so I'm excited to play with this tool some more to see how I use can the units.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

August OMG: Snowflake

I started the Jelly Snowflake mystery quilt along with the Fat Quarter Shop in July, but I have not finished it.  I made the first two blocks and then waited to see the final design before continuing because I thought I might change a few things.  I'm probably not changing anything, at least not anything major, so now it's time to make the rest of the blocks and finish the top.  I am setting having a completed top as my OMG, or One Monthly Goal, with Patty of Elm Street Quilts.

I'm using Island Batik's Glacier View collection designed by Kathy Engle.  I have yardage rather than a jelly roll, which actually gives me a bit more flexibility to make some minor changes.  The centers of the stars for block 2, for example, were background in the original pattern but since I had yardage and wasn't limited to 2 1/2" wide, I used a print from the collection.

I'm looking forward to seeing this one put together!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Rainbow Scrap Challenge: Throw in the Towel

I started a new Rainbow Scrap Challenge in 2020.  I started with polka dot centers and used any strings in the color of the month to make as many 8" log cabin blocks as I could.  My goal was to empty my string bin by the end of the year.  I kept up really well for the first three months.  Come April, I realized I wasn't enjoying the blocks and I dreaded making more.

So I stopped.  Problem was, that left me with green, orange, and aqua blocks, 15 total.  I set the goal of putting them into a top as my One Monthly Goal with Patty of Elm Street Quilts.  I really didn't want to make another scrappy block and I gave away the remainder of my string bin contents to a friend (so at least I met my goal of an empty bin!) so I looked to see if I had enough of the polka dot fabric to use for an extra block.  I found a different polka dot that would work and leave me with *just* enough of the original dot to use for binding. (I played binding chicken and won!)

It's a bit of an add little quilt and I don't like it much, but it's done.  It's 32" square.  It'll be donated to the local children's hospital.  Enough of my scraps are naturally I Spy that it has some fun things to look at.  While my goal was to complete a top, I did finish the quilt.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Sunny Skies: An Island Batik Christmas in July challenge

Regular readers know that I love my accuquilt Go! fabric cutter.  I bought it several years ago with the main purpose of cutting down scraps into usable sizes.  This month, the Island Batik ambassador challenge is sponsored by Accuquilt.  They sent each ambassador their newly re-released Go! Me cutter and tasked us to make is Christmas in July for someone by using the Go! Me to make a gift for someone.

An unexpected Christmas gift in July is pretty great but Accuquilt took it one step further.  To really make this July Christmas special, we were also to give that lucky recipient the Go! Me cutter!  Truly a gift that keeps on giving!

I chose a woman named Glendel as my recipient.  Glendel & I were both blanketeers for our local Project Linus chapter before it closed.  Glendel went on to create her own group of quilters that meets (pre-Covid) monthly at senior center in a nearby rural community.  Her primary goal for that group is making quilts for girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking.  In addition to making quilts to donate, Glendel frequently creates kits for other volunteers.  I thought the Go! Me would be a great tool for someone making quilt kits regularly.

We agreed that my gift to her would be a quilt ready to donated to a rescued girl.  This measures 42" x 54", a size Glendel asked for.  The Go! Me comes with two dies: half square triangle and quarter square triangle, both for a finished 3" square.  I decided to just use half square triangles and to do a Trip Around the Wolrd style setting.  I used 252 half square triangles for this quilt!  And I didn't even mind, because my favorite part about the HST die is that it cuts off the dog ears, so there is no trimming.  Just stitch your die-cut pieces together, press, and voila!  Perfect HSTs every time!

Center of Sunny Skies
I started with fabrics from the Sunny Side Up collection that were left after the Teddy Bear's Picnic quilt.  I added in any yellow and blue scraps I had in my Island Batik bin, including some blues from Glacier View and some yellows and golds from Flea Market.  The binding is Cobalt in the Foundations Solids collection.  I'm sure that the "correct" way to make this would have been in rows, but with the way my brain works I knew that would result in blocks sewn together wrong and lots of frustration.  So I essentially built it from the center out instead.

slowly building out
I wanted to emphasize the Trip Around the World look so I quilted in straight lines along the diagonal lines created by the HSTs.  I used Aurifil 1135 in the yellow sections and Aurifil 2735 from the Como color builders set in the blue sections.  All stitching was done with a Schmetz microtex chrome needle. For batting, I used Hobbs 80/20 fusible batting for the first time and it was flawless!  Easy to adhere to my quilt top and back and I loved the results!   

I named this Sunny Skies.  The yellow and blue combination make me think of the deep blue of the sky on a sunny day.  I hope this quilt lets someone know that sunny skies are on the horizon.  Thank you, Island Batik and Accuquilt for letting me give someone Sunny Skies!

Go! Me in action

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

tips & tutorials: binding on spools

The fabulous Kathleen from Kathleen McMusing hosts a Tips & Tutorials on the Twenty-Second each month.  I've been wanting to link up, and finally have a tip to share.  This is how I store & use my binding.  There is nothing revolutionary here, but I've seen many tools on the market for this and my way is free!  After all, who doesn't have an empty spool or two or dozen around?

Binding is a step where many quilters lose their momentum.  My solution to this is to make my binding as soon after I finish the quilt top as possible.  I measure my top to determine how many strips I need, then cut it and prepare the binding right away.  This has the added benefit that my fabric from the quilt is usually still out, so I don't have to dig it out again or find where I stashed it.  Then I wind my prepared binding onto an empty thread spool and secure with a pin.  I can now keep out on the sewing table without it taking up much room, or keep it with the top, whatever makes sense. 

When I'm ready to attach my binding, I attach the extra spool pin that came with my machine.

My extra spool pin; it's removable
The spool pin is designed to hold a spool of thread, so of course the fit is perfect!  Just slide your spool with binding right on the spool pin.

Now I can just gently pull my binding down to be even with the quilt.  As I sew along, the spool pretty naturally will spin to give you more binding.  Occasionally I need to give a gentle tug.  Every once and while, my binding will unwind on it's own, but that's pretty rare and I can usually stop it with my hand.  Most of the time, it just flows really well as I sew along.

When I have leftover binding, I just put the pin back in to secure the end.  Then I store my leftovers in a bin all together to wait for a project that seems right for scrappy binding. 

I reuse the same thread spools over and over and I keep a small box from Ikea for the empty spools.  When the box is full, I don't keep any more empty spools.A word about thread spools: I mainly use two brands of thread: Aurifil and Gutermann.  I imagine that any thread spool would work for this.  I use the Gutermann spools for my binding for two reasons: they are a little wider and I like that for winding binding onto the spool, and since I reuse my spools over and over again, most are from years ago before I started using Aurifil. 

I've been storing my binding this way for years and it's not only great for storage, it has really helped me during the process of attaching my binding.  If I'm attaching my binding literally right after I make it I don't always bother to wind it onto a spool, but I try to make my binding earlier in the process so most of mine end up on a spool. 

I hope you've enjoyed this tip!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Island Batik Box #2

It's the most wonderful time of the year!  No, not Christmas--time for the second Island Batik Ambassador boxes to be shipped to the 25 ambassadors world wide.  There is much frantic checking of UPS notifications and looking out the window at any sound of a potential large truck once we know our boxes have been shipped!  I am so excited to show you today what was in my second box.  And this time, the goodies actually came in three separate boxes!

The boxes on my doorstep

Here's the video of me discovering all my amazing goodies!  

I couldn't do a shot of the box of fabric for the video, so here's a photo.

inside the box of fabric
The first box to arrive was from industry partner Accuquilt.  They sent each of us a newly re-released Go! Me cutter that is part of a special challenge for July.  I'll be posting my project and details of the challenge later this week.  The Go! Me is smaller than the Go! I have and it's super cute!

I have a pre-cut 10" stack of Floralicious designed by Kathy Engle, as well as two 2-yard cuts of coordinating basics.  Floralicious is a spring 2020 collection--those precuts are in stores now and the yardage will be available in September or October.  These colors look like so much fun!

Floralicious by Kathy Engle

There were also two stash builder rolls, a special Island Batik precut.  These rolls are 5" by width of fabric and I love them because they are so versatile!  I got one pack of mauve/light purples and one of aquas. These will be fun to play with!

 You may notice in the shot of all the fabric in the box, above, there are two wrapped packages in my box.  That is one spring and one summer collection, but I can't reveal them just yet.  But I do have some coordinating fabrics from the Island Batik Foundations collection.  Foundations are always available and there are basics, blenders, and solids.  Here are the the coordinating fabrics I was give to go with my Surprise spring collection:

Don't you just want to jump in a pool of these cool blues and greens?  And here are the pretty pastels that coordinate with my Surprise Summer collection.


I also got a fat quarter bundle of Color Pop by Kathy Engle. Colorpop is a fall 2019 collection and is in stores now.  You can see the bundle in this photo of all the fabric together:

I somehow didn't get a shot of just Colorpop and now it's all cut up and in my August project!  But here's image of the collection.  It's a bright, vibrant collection of mostly primary colors and it was so fun to work with!

There were also 4 yards each of a neutral, Sprinkles, and solid white, gray, and block.  I love that Island Batik names all their neutrals after foods!

In addition to all the glorious fabrics, Island Batik has many industry partners that send us goodies for our challenges as well.  First, there are 6 beautiful spools of Aurifil thread.  These were selected to coordinate with my Surprise spring collection and will be highlighted in a thread painting challenge later this year.

I am very excited about getting a tool from Deb Tucker's Studio 180 Design.  I have heard great things about these tools but had not tried them yet.  I was given the diamond rects tool for making diamonds inside a rectangle, a common unit in the Storm at Sea block.

By Annie is sponsoring the September challenge.  We picked a bag pattern and Annie created a kit with all the supplies we need for the bag!  I picked Running with Scissors, a great sewing gear bag.  I am not great at the 3D sewing required of bags but I know Annie's patterns are thorough and there are great add-on videos that show you the tricky bits step-by-step.  And just look at the beautiful fabrics she picked out for me!  These are from the spring collection Lemon Grass by Kathy Engle for Chris Hoover of Whirligig Designs.

And of course, we all know that quilts need batting!  Hobbs sent 4 different batts: their black batting, silk batting, strips that are fusible, and their 80/20 blend that is also fusible.  I am especially excited about the fusible batting!  My absolute least farvoite part of the quilting process, hands down, is layering a quilt for quilting.  I'm hoping the fusible batting helps with this step.

How lucky am I?!  I'm very thankful to Island Batik, Aurifil, Accuquilt, By Annie, Studio 180 Design, and Hobbs for all the amazing treasures!  I can't wait to sew all this up into projects!