Wednesday, July 31, 2019

June & July Bee Blocks

Bees are such a great opportunity to try lots of different blocks and color schemes that you may not have picked yourself.  June's queen Gayle in my Stash Bee hive asked for Rolling Stone blocks in blue, green, or purple.  Well, since purple is my favorite color that was an easy decision! I made two blocks but it seems I didn't photograph them together.

Queen Amanda for July asked for a block that I don't believe has a name, but was designed by a fellow Stash Bee-er a few years ago.  It's a strip block and Amanda asked for either yellow, orange, or green.  Well, orange is probably my least favorite color so I don't have much stash, and I wasn't sure if I'd have the needed 9 yellow fabrics either, so green it is. I feel like my greens aren't cohesive at all and I'm hoping this block looks less awkward when paired with some friends.

I've already seen a sneak peak of the August block for my hive and it's super fun!  I can't wait to make it!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Island Batik Ambassador Box #2

What's the best Happy Mail around?  An Ambassador Box from Island Batik filled with amazing fabrics, plus sewing supplies from industry partners Aurifil, Hobbs, and Accuquilt!

This is my second Island Batik Ambassador box and though I didn't think it possible, it was more amazing than the first!  This huge box contains twenty-three pounds of amazingness!  Yes, twenty-three pounds!!!  I did an Unboxing Video (my first video) but it's too big to upload here.  Hop on over to The Darling Dogwood's facebook page to view the video, and maybe like and follow while you are there!

If you don't want to go to Facebook, never fear, I have some photos for you!  Here's the entire contents of the box:

The industry partners are Auriful, Hobbs, and Accuquilt.  Here are the wonderful goodies that came from them:

There are 4 spools of 50 weight Aurifil thread, 3 different batts from Hobbs: wool, cotton, and a wool/cotton blend, and the Spiderweb Block on Board die from Accuquilt. 

Now for a more detailed look at the fabric:

In the upper left corner, there is a strip back of Islander, a collection with brilliant blues, aquas, greens, yellows, and oranges.  I also have 2 yards each of dark yardage (green seaweed) and light yardage (yellow bubbles) from the collection.  The stack immediately to the right contains 8 1/2 yardcuts of fabrics from Island Batik's basics and blenders collections, chosen to coordinate with Islander.

The collection in the back right is Sunny Side up.  It's a bright and beautiful collection of blues and yellows.  I've got a stack of 10" squares, 2 yards each light (yellow with blue leaves) and dark (blue cheerios) from that collection as well as 8 1/2 yard cuts of coordinating basics and blenders, in this case blues and yellows.

And the collection in the lower left is Petal Pushers.  Such awesome colors!  Purple, magenta, aqua, lime green, bright green, pretty!!  This is a fat quarter bundle!  I'm so excited to play with these!!

There are also 4 yards each of different backgrounds: yolk, a yummy pale yellow swirl, and the Island Batik solids in white, gray, and black.  If you were counting, that's 47 yards of fabric!

I feel so, so lucky to be an Ambassador!  I have always loved batiks and playing with these beautiful fabrics makes me so happy!  I already have a completed top made with the Islander fabrics, you'll see it as my August challenge.  I can't wait to play with the rest of these pretties!  Thank you, Island Batik, Aurifil, Hobbs, and Accuquilt!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Birch Trees in the Blue Ridge

July's Island Batik Challenge theme is "Artsy Fartsy." The main requirement is to use a t least 3 different weights of Aurifil threads in the project.  I was pretty intimidated by this one, because I am not an art quilter. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I wanted to do.  I got several books of art quilts out of the library and flipped through.  Ultimately, I decided I wanted to do a landscape.  And my favorite landscape is the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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

I pulled fabrics out of my Island Batik bin that looked at home in a mountain landscape.  I started with Hobbs Thermore batting layered over Island Batik solid white for the backing.  I laid down a strip of sky, cut gentle improve mountain range curves into one piece at a time, working from light (far away) to dark (closer).  I pressed the curves so I would not being sewing raw edges.  Here's an in processes shot and you can see I've laid out my best Aurifil thread matches.

And another process shot with more of the mountains layered on.  At this point, I've used both 50 weight and 28 weight.  I was honestly just picking the best color match out of the Auriful thread I had.

And here is the completed mountain scene.  Each layer of mountains has been stitched in a corresponding Aurifil thread but there is just that one line of stitching in each section.

I mentioned that got several books of Art Quilts from my local library.  The book that I found the most inspiration was Small Art Quilts by Deborah O'Hare. She had quite a few landscape style quilts that helped me get an idea of what I wanted to do. 

I noticed that in her landscape quilts, she tends to quilt straight lines across the horizon even if the landscape is not straight.  I thought about it a lot, but decided I wanted to follow the curve of each mountain section in the quilting.  This was much more work (and created a ton of threads to bury) but I like the results.  I also left a few a few mountain ranges unquilted to give some textural variety. For both the sky and the ground, I deliberately quilted straight lines to contrast with the curve of the mountain ranges.

Here's the back at this point so you can see the stitching.  I used Aurifil 50 weight color 2000 in the bobbin for the entire project.

Fairly early in this process, I realized I didn't have a good Aurifil thread match for all my mountain sections.  I've heard that Aurifil monofilament is the best monofilament out there and this seemed like a good time to see for myself.  So I ordered both clear and smoke monofilament. Which technically gives me three weights of thread at this point.

I was always planning to add an element on top, because I got this fantastic variegated 12 weight thread from Aurifil. And it looked like birch trees!

The colors of birch trees!
Several months ago, my sister-in-law Heather drew some mountains and birch trees for me to use as a template for a different challenge.  I ended up picking a different subject for that challenge, but I kept the trees she sketched for me and traced the outlines for this project. I was worried about the light thread showing up on the darker fabrics, so I traced Heather's trees on to some Heat 'n Bond Lite and fused it on to more Island Batik solid white.  I fused the tree shapes (one at a time) to the mountain background and stitched over (and over and over and over) them until they were filled in with the 12 weight. This was my first time working with 12 weight and I absolutely love the feel of it--I keep running my fingers over the stitching!

I was worried that a binding would detract from the look of the landscape so I decided to do a faced binding.  I have not done a faced binding before, but several of my fellow Ambassadors used faced binding in June as part of trying a new technique.  Several mentioned using this tutorial by former Island Batik Ambassador Carole Lyles Shaw.  Since Carole recommends 2 1/2" strips for the faced binding, I used the 2 1/2" strip die with my Accuquilt cutter--I had all four strips cut in one go!

I took the finished quilt on a recent hiking trip to the mountains.  I tried to get the mountains in the background.  I do feel like this photo demonstrates how great a match the ground fabric is, as I can barely tell what is background and what is ground in the quilt!

Here's a list of all the Auriful threads used in this project:

50 Weight
28 weight
12 weight




While I was intimidated by the Artsy Fartsy theme, I absolutely LOVE the finished project!  I do love how these Island Batik challenges push me out of my comfort zone and produce beautiful quilts that I am proud of.  This was #3 on my list of Q3 goals for the globally hosted Finish Along.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Disappearing 9-Patch

When Julie at The Crafty Quilter announced she was going to do an easy Disappearing 9-Patch Quilt Along, I was excited.  I had a charm pack of Wind and Sea from Island Batik that I bought a long time ago--long before I was an ambassador--that this seemed to be the perfect project for.   The Quilt Along was perfectly paced and I am pleased to say that I finished the quilt--quilting, binding, and all!

There were a few fabrics with a really dark background so I pulled those out to use as the centers.  I still needed a few more dark squares, so I went to my local quilt shop, Quilt Patch Fabrics, and found some Seaweed from the Seashore collection--same colors as my Wind and Sea fabrics! I also bought a background fabric, mini springs in oatmeal from the Lavendula line. It is prefect for this--there are blues, purples, and greens in the springs! I was then about 14 squares short for the rest of the fabrics, so I cut some squares from scraps and stash builder rolls from my ambassador box.  I love that Island Batiks go together so well even if the collections are several years apart.

I absolutely love the colors in this!  Purples, blues, and greens are just so soothing!  I did diagonal line quilting with a variegated thread.  It's not a lot of quilting but I acutally like them that way. I didn't have enough of the dark Seaweed fabric for the binding so I used the background fabric instead. This will be a donation quilt once I choose a children's organization now that my Project Linus chapter has closed. 

This was my One Monthly Goal for July in the link-up hosted by Patty of Elm Street Quilts and was #16 on my list of Q3 goals for the Finish Along. And of course, I'm linking up with Julie for the Disappearing 9-Patch Quilt Along!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Q3 goals

In this year's globally hosted Finish Along, I had a slow Quarter 1 and a much more productive Quarter 2.  Here's my list of goals for Quarter 3.   My list has more than I can finish because I never know what I'll be in the mood to work on. 

General Projects and Gifts

1. 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!

2.  Extra for Miren
I finished a baby quilt last quarter that still needs a companion gift for 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.

3. Island Batik July Project
July's project features Aurifil thread.  I'm really close to finishing this one.  Check out the beauties that I've been working with:

4. August Island Batik project
The theme is Stars and I'm so excited to work on it!

5. September Island Batik Project
September is Child's Play and you know I love making quilts for kids! This will be my first ever spider web quilt!

6. Panda for Tracy
My friend Tracy asked me to make her a Panda wall hanging.  I've ordered fabric and would like to finish it for her birthday in early October.

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.
7. Lion--pattern is from the zoo animals collection by Kristy @ Quiet Play
8. Giraffe--pattern is from the zoo animals collection by Kristy @ Quiet Play

Donation Quilts

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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.

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

13 & 14. 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!

15. Dog Quilt made with the Fire Monkey
My son asked if we could make another quilt together to give to a kid and we've been working on a fun quilt with dog fabric.

16. Disappearing 9-patch
I'm doing the Quilt Along with Julie of The Crafty Quilter.

17. Two by Two
This is my current leaders and enders project.

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

Monday, July 15, 2019

mid-year check in & PhD progress

The beginning of July feels like a good time to do a mid-year check-in on my goals for 2019.  (Yes, I know we're basically in mid-July. Let's pretend, shall we?)

My goals have been going fairly well.  The one with the most tangible yardstick is the goal of 25 quilts to charity.  So far I've donated 8, with another 2 that are completed and ready for donation.


I'm also working on my PhD (Projects Half Done) with Gail of Quilting Gail.  She has you make a list of your UFOs and commit to completing at least half before the end of the year.  AND, the hardest part, you have to complete anything started in 2019. 

I started with a list of 25 projects.  One on the list will actually be two quilts, so that brings me to 26 with a requirement to finish 13.  I'm pleased to report that I've finished 11 so far!  So this part of my PhD should be a piece of cake.

Disney Princesses
March 17, 2019
Fish pillow for Samantha
March 24, 2019
Dandelion Embroidery
March 26, 2019
Fall fat quarter quilt
March 31, 2019
Horse fat quarter quilt
March 31, 2019
Devin’s baby quilt
May 6, 2019 (estimate)
Giselle & Mario’s baby quilt
May 16, 2019
Hidden Stars/Sherry’s QAL
May 19, 2019
Doggone Cute
May 20, 2019
Dad’s tea cozy
June 5, 2019
Postage Plus
June 23, 2019
Giraffe Pillow

Laura’s quilt

Bookshelf quilt

I Spy for our bed


Magical Forest

Food themed picnic blanket

Extra for Miren

Penguins (Stash Bee)

Sail boats (Bee Inspired Charity Quilt)


Lion Pillow

Smitten Kitten (Rainbow Scrap Challenge)

Blue Forest Animals

The harder part of the PhD is completing anything started in 2019.  So far, I've started 6 projects not on the original list.  Four have been completed.  One is the hand sewing QAL from earlier this year when I made the first block and stopped.  I'll have to figure out what to do with that block because I'm not sure that more hand piecing is in my immediate future.  I also want to start/get caught up with the Harry Potter QAL with Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts. I'm planning an abbreviated version. I haven't actually cut anything, so it's not technically started or a Project Half Done.  Yet.  Here's the breakdown of what been started in 2019:

Hand quilted QAL

May 24, 2019
May 31, 2019
Utility apron
June 9, 2019
June’s repair (turning a damaged quit into 3 smaller projects)
July 11, 2019
Disappearing 9-patch QAL

My list was created before I knew I was chosen as an Island Batik Ambassador this year.  I haven't included them in either list because they weren't started before the year started and since they have deadlines, they will be completed before the end of 2019.  But if you are keeping track, I've completed 6 challenges (one not yet blogged) plus a bonus Quilt of Valor.  I've got a new tab at the top with all my Island Batik projects
So that's where my year stands.  I'm pleased with 2019 so far.  Let's see how much I can accomplish in the next 6 months!