Saturday, February 15, 2020

Tony the Turtle (Awesome Ocean)

I'm having a great time sewing along with Kathleen of Kathleen McMusing in making Awesome Ocean using Elizabeth Hartman's pattern. Today I'm pleased to guest host for the Tony the Turtle block and offer my tips and ticks, which really means tell you where I had problems so that you don't make the same mistakes I did. 🙂

One of the trademarks of Elizabeth Hartman's patterns is lots of tiny pieces, many with very similar measurements to each other.  I use a notion that is new to me to keep my pieces straight: Quilt Block Markers by Purple Hobbies.  They are letters (& numbers) with a small hole in them so you can string them through a pin.  I start each block by figuring out which letters are in that block, then I lay them all out and put the rest away.  This acts kind of like a checklist--as long as I have letters still out, I know I haven't cut those pieces.

Quilt Block Markers by Purple Hobbies
I didn't get a full count of how long it took me to do the cutting.  I know I did it in two sessions; I frequently only get a few minutes at a time in the sewing room.

pieces cut out
Tip #1: pieces B & D are the same.  You need a total of 5 for each turtle.  I'm not sure why they aren't under one letter in the pattern.

Over the winter holiday, my family spent two days in Charleston. One of the things we did there was visit the South Carolina Aquarium.  I enjoyed watching Coretta, their sea turtle.  I noticed that Coretta's shell was pretty much all one color, so I decided to try some turtles without the pieced shell.  The pattern tells you how big the pieced section should be; if you want to try a solid shell, just cut a piece that size and don't cut pieces F & G.  I spent 25 minutes piecing the shells for two turtles (time includes ripping and re-sewing one seam).  Honestly, 25 minutes in the scheme of things for this pattern probably isn't a lot of time.  I might top-stitch a pattern onto the shell before constructing the top; I haven't decided yet.

Tip #2: The legs are easy to sew on wrong.  The background pieces are longer on the top than on the bottom, and I didn't notice and did it wrong the first time.  I also had some trouble with the legs on one of my pieced-shell turtles.  I didn't have trouble with the other three, so I think it was user error, but for me, those were the trickiest units to get the correct size (mine were too short).

Enjoy your Tony the Turtle blocks!  And enjoy the rest of the Sew Along with Kathleen!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Mountain Cabin, Island Batik Log Cabin Blog Hop + giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the Island Batik Log Cabin Blog Hop!  Each Island Batik Ambassador was given a half yard bundle of one of the Fall 2019 collections and tasked to make whatever variation of a log cabin quilt they desired.  I was given the beautiful Catching Dreams collection, designed by Kathy Engle for Kari Nichols of Mountainpeek Creations.  The colors in Catching Dreams make me think of the Blue Ridge Mountains, so I wanted to create mountains with my log cabin. I named it Mountain Cabin.

To get the mountain look, I first thought of a Streak of Lightning setting.  I wanted to use my new gift of EQ8 to design my mountains but my skills with the program are not good enough yet and I had a deadline.  I found a printable coloring sheet and got to work trying to turn the sideways streaks of lightning into mountains.  My husband saw me with the coloring sheet and coloring pencils.  He had a better idea for getting the look of the mountains--I quickly abandoned my sketch and switched to his.  And then he even helped me figure out the orientation of each block so that I would get the lines the way I wanted them. I keep saying if you give me 20 years I can turn that man into a quilter--it may not take me that long!

The bundle I received, plus 2 different 2 yard cuts
Materials used in this project were given to me by Island Batik, Aurifil, Hobbs, Accuquilt, and Schmetz.

I used my Accuquilt Go! to cut 2 1/2" strips for the log cabin blocks.  I chose 10" blocks in a 6 x 6 layout for quilt that is 60" x 60".  That turned out to be the the perfect size for the Hobbs Tuscany 100% wool batting that I had from an ambassador box last year.  This was my first time working with 100% wool batting and I loved it!  It is much fluffier (higher loft) than I expected.  I've been sleeping with this as my second quilt and it's the perfect weight!  I think this may become my couch/snuggle quilt.

I used 18 of the 20 fabrics in the collection and I added 4 fabrics from the foundations line.  Foundations are basics and blenders (and now solids!) that are always available and coordinate beautifully with the seasonal collections.

I really wanted the quilting to mimic the mountain peaks, so I did straight line quilting using my machine's stitch guide for parallel lines. I did a slightly different interval for each color family/mountain range, though I'm not sure the different widths are particularly visible.  For the sky, I quilted organic wavy lines.  My husband thinks it looks like winds passing over the mountains.

I started with a brand new Schmetz microtex chrome needle, 80/20.  I used four different colors of Aurifil thread in the quilting--2735 (medium blue), 2770 (light blue), both from the Como blue color builder, 2520 (medium pink), and 2465 (darkish purple).  The purple was 28 weight just because that's all I had in the correct color; all the others were 50 weight, which is what I use the most. 

Mountain Peak Quilting
You can see the effects of the mountain peak quilting pretty well from the back.  In addition to the half yard bundle, Island Batik sent me 2 yards each of a dark and a light from the collection.  I used those for the backing. The blue print is Sun in Shark and the white-ish print is Beads in Thistle.  I used Aurifil 2735 in the bobbin for the mountains and Aurifil 2770 in the bobbin for the sky--so the bobbin thread isn't completely matched to the backing fabric, but it is close.  I had enough of the Sun fabric to use it in the binding as well.

As much as I love the look of the mountains, my favorite part of this is actually the sky!  The light blues in the collection plus some of the lighter neutrals and blenders from the foundations collection come together to make a perfect sky.

I've said before that the Island Batik ambassador challenges really push me creatively.  This challenge really pushed me technically.  I don't typically care for complicated layouts; if each block that looks similar has only one correct place in the layout, I'm usually not interested.  My husband helped a lot in helping me figure out the correct color placement and orientation of each block, something my brain struggles with.  Then when I pieced my blocks, I used a small piece of painter's tape to mark the center of my log cabin, since the first piece added to the block is exactly the same size.  Later, I used a sharpie to mark the row and column combination so I would piece the rows together correctly.  It worked!  I didn't have to rip any of the blocks or rows!

Want a chance to win some Catching Dreams fabric?  I used my Accuquilt Go! to cut out 2 1/2" strips of the fabric I had left, and I have 30 of those strips for a giveaway. There are two ways to enter: a comment on the blog (make sure you are not a no-reply blogger!) or visit The Darling Dogwood on Facebook--or do both for 2 entries.  If you need a prompt for a comment, tell me: if you owned a log cabin, where would you want it to be?  Mine would be in the Blue Ridge Mountains that inspired this quilt, either in North Carolina or Virginia.

30 strips of Catching Dreams
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to visit my fellow ambassador Mania to see what she made with this collection!  And you can find the full blog hop schedule here.

Mountain Cabin is my second finish of 2020.  My goal is 52 finishes by the end of the year.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Angelica (Awesome Ocean)

I'm behind on the Awesome Ocean sew along hosted by Kathleen of Kathleen McMusing and using Elizabeth Hartman's pattern, but I'm starting to catch up.  Here are my Angelica blocks.

This is the first time I've mixed my two color families and I think I like it.  If you are familiar with the block, you may have noticed that mine are missing something. I really don't like that Angelica is the only one with air bubbles and they are so fiddly, I decided to just skip them.  I'm probably doing a different layout, so I didn't even add in a background piece to make up for it, though I may add that in later.

I realize that the name of the block is "Angelica," but I had Harry Belafonte's Angelina in my head the entire time I was making these! 

I am now only two blocks behind.  Next block is this Saturday and I'm hosting along with Kathleen, so I'll be ready with the Tony the Turtle blocks and my suggestions for avoiding the mistakes I made. 

Island Batik Log Cabin Blog Hop

The Island Batik Log Cabin Blog Hop starts today!  Each Ambassador was given one of the Fall 2019 collections and tasked with making a quilt using whichever variation of the log cabin they desired.  I've seen a few sneak peaks and these projects are stunning!

My day is Wednesday, so be sure and come back to see what I created.  A log cabin quilt has long been on my quilty bucket list and I'm glad to be able to check it off!  My collection is Catching Dreams, designed by Kathy Engle for Kari Nichols of Mountainpeek Creations.  Catching Dreams is available in stores now, as are all the Fall 2019 collections.

Catching Dreams designed by Kathy Engle for Kari Nichols of Mountainpeek Creations
If seeing all the beautiful projects isn't enough fun to chase away the winter blues, Blog Hop = giveaways!  Island Batik is doing a different giveaway each week and many of the Ambassadors will have their own giveaway as well. I will be offering a chance to win some of the lovely Catching Dreams fabrics--stop back on Wednesday!  The Island Batik giveaway this week is for a precut bundle of Ancient Etchings, designed by Jackie Kunkle.

Ancient Etchings by Jackie Kunkle
Ancient Etchings is a beautiful rainbow collection with a few black prints for fun contrast.  Enter here to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can find the full Blog Hop schedule here.  Happy Hopping!

Friday, February 7, 2020

February OMG

My long-term goal for the first half of 2020 is to finish the Ohio Star quilt of purple stars I'm making for my best friend in time to give it to her when I see her in person at our college reunion in May.  In January, I set my One Monthly Goal to finish 16 stars in hopes of doubling the number I have made.  I fell short and finished only 7, though several more are in partial assembly.

My One Monthly Goal for February is to complete an even dozen blocks to add to the count.  I'm linking up with Patty of Elm Street Quilts.


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Green: Rainbow Scrap Challenge

Last year, I didn't keep up very well with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge hosted by Angela at So Scrappy.  And by "not very well" I mean "only made it for one month."  In 2018, I picked two patterns.  After the first month, it became clear very quickly that two were too many to work on, so I kept up with the car blocks and set the kitties aside for the next year.  Last January, I was all ready to break out the kitties.  I made the blocks in January's color, meaning I now had kittens in two colors.  And then I didn't get back to the cats for the rest of the year.

So this marks my third year making kittens in January's color.  Maybe I can finally break the curse and get past January?  The pattern is Smitten Kitten by Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts.

I've decided that I'm just going to add yellow and purple to the cats I already have and that should give me enough blocks plus a good variety of colors.  So if I wanted to actually do the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, I would need an additional project.

My bucket of strings is overflowing, so strings seemed like a great place to start.  I decided that log cabins would be the best use of the variety of lengths and widths in the string bucket.  I cut a black & white polka dot fabric into 2 1/2" squares to create a unified center in all the blocks.  Then I just went to town, log cabin style!  They are odd log cabins since each string is a different width.  I started with 5 blocks and when it became clear that I would have strings left over, I made 3 more.  When I got to more than 12 1/2" on each side, I stopped and trimmed.

I'm just going to let each color dictate how many I make and will figure out what to do with them when I'm done. I also decided that I would use as many of the strings of each color as reasonably practical, and then get rid of the leftovers with no regrets.  That felt surprisingly freeing!  I'm looking forward to an empty string bin at the end of the year!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Island Batik Ambassador Box Unboxing

What's the best Happy Mail around?  A 28-pound Ambassador box from Island Batik!  What does 28 pounds of quilting goodness look like?  Check it out!

 Check out my unboxing video to see all these goodies as I unpack them!

Here's a detailed look at all the fun stuff!  First, the goodies from the generous industry partners.

From Hobbs there are two king-sizes cotton battings from their Heirloom Collection.  From Aurifil, there are two of their new color builders, named after cities of Italy.  Each color builder includes 3 large spools of 50 weight thread in the same color family.  I got the blue set, Como, and the black/white set, Carrara. From Schmetz there are two packs each of their Chrome microtex needles and their super nonstick needles.  And from Accuquilt, a Hattie's Choice BOB die.  BOB stands for Block on Board meaning you cut out the entire block in one pass through the Go cutter. 

Whew!  And that's before we get to the fabric!  Here are the beauties I received from Island Batik.

Wow!  First, there is a half yard bundle of Catching Dreams, a Fall 2019 collection designed by Kathy Engle for Kari Nichols of Mountainpeek Creations.  I'll be using this collection in February for a blog hop featuring all of the fall collections.  I also received two yards each of a dark and a light fabric from the collection.

Catching Dreams designed by Kathy Engle for Kari Nichols of Mountainpeek Creations

Next there is a strip pack of Sunset Blooms, designed by Kathy Engle for Chris Hoover of Whirligig Designs.  Both Catching Dreams and Sunset Blooms are Fall 2019 collections; precuts are available now and yardage ships to shops in February.  Island Batik recently updated their Store Locator so you can find a shop near you that carries their fabrics. 

Sunset Blooms, designed by Kathy Engle for Chris Hoover of Whirligig Designs
Next is a Stacker of 10" squares of Sundance, designed by Kathy Engle.  These are not my usual colors and I'm excited to work outside my comfort zone a little!  Sundance is a Winter 2019 collection; precuts are in stores now and yardage will ship April/May.  All the winter collections will be featured in a blog hop in May.  The wrapped packages in the above photos contain another Winter collection, but which collection I got is still a secret!

Sundance by Kathy Engle
Then there half-yard cuts of fabrics from Island Batik's basics, blenders, and new solid lines.  These were chosen to coordinate with the collections we received.  I didn't get a picture of just the foundation fabrics, but I did take a picture of just the solids.

solids in magenta, amethyst, cobalt, & dark gray
I've been using Island Batik solids in white, gray, and black since becoming an ambassador last year.  They just released their new solid shades and these babies are saturated with luxurious color! I received magenta, amethyst, cobalt, & dark gray.  Three of these colors have already made it into my March project--yup, I work ahead!  I also received 4 yards each of the white, gray, and black; these are not pictured due to shipping later.

As if all that wasn't enough, there is also 2 yards of lovely rayon in Iris Paisley. 

Iris Paisley

 And a rayon scarf in Bubbles Sea.

Bubbles Sea
And SIX YARDS of Coconut from the Foundations Neutrals collection.


And TWO sets of Stash Builder strips!  I didn't get a separate picture of these but they are in the photo of all the goodies.  Stash Builder strips are 5" by WOF and they are so versatile! 

Just in case you think that I am the only one in my house who enjoys the fun that these ambassador boxes bring, here is the box being used as a toy.  My son loved to play hide and seek with this box! 

So that, friends, is what 28 pounds of amazingness looks like!  I can't wait to show you what I've started to make with these beautiful fabrics.  Thanks again to Island Batik for this opportunity, and to Accuquilt, Aurifil, Hobbs, and Schmetz for the chance to play with their products!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Crazy Quilt Sewing Machine Cover--an Island Batik Challenge

The theme for January's Island Batik Ambassador challenge is scrappy.  I love scrappy!  The first idea that came to mind is something I've been wanting to make for a while: a sewing machine cover.  And my vision was always to use scraps and play with some of the fancy stitches on my sewing machine to make it crazy quilt style.  This challenge was the perfect excuse to finally make it.

To make a cover to fit my machine, I used this youtube tutorial from The Crafty Gemini and took my own measurements as directed.  She uses fusible fleece but I wanted more body to my cover so I used Soft & Stable from ByAnnie's.  Her method involves three pieces: two sides and then one long piece that becomes the front, back, and top. I cut my pieces out of the Soft & Stable a little bigger than my measurements because I knew I'd want to trim when done.

cut and ready for the fun part!
Then I got out the Island Batik scraps and started to play!  Some folks like to stick with one color palette or even one collection when they go scrappy.  Me, I'm an "everything but the kitchen sink" kind of scrap quilter!  (My dream is to find fabric with kitchen sinks on them so I can make a scrap quilt with everything AND the kitchen sink!)  I wanted lots of bright color and variety. I chose fun scraps that made me happy--easy with Island Batik fabrics!

This was my first project of 2020.  I started by putting a brand new needle in the machine--a schmetz super nonstick universal 80/120.  Then I just let it happen organically.  I put two fabrics next to each other, stitched them down, then "pressed" with my roller.  Then I picked out a decorative stitch on my machine and Aurifil thread that contrasted with both fabrics. 

You should have heard my cheer when I found this rooster scrap!

Wake up!  It's time to sew!
And my buddy the octopus left from last year's Octopus's Garden quilt was fun to add, too.

The only part I planned was the hand embroidery.  I've had my current sewing machine for almost five years now.  She's a Pfaff Ambition 1.0 and she was a HUGE upgrade from the super simple machine I had before.  I named her Willa the Wonder Machine, and I felt that her name needed to be on the cover.  I used the crayola tracing board that my family gave me for my birthday to trace the pattern onto fabric (Island Batik basics in Petal). The letters in Willa came from the book A Rainbow of Stitches--I combined two different alphabets.

I used a total of 15 different colors of Auriful thread (4 different weights) and 39 different decorative stitches. Once I did all that stitching, I trimmed to the measurements I needed.

ready to assemble
I didn't use a backing fabric but I did want to add binding to the bottom edge.  I was mulling over binding options when I realized that this is a scrap challenge!  I should use scrap binding!  So I pulled out my Island Batik binding leftovers.   I ended up using three of the four--perfect for a scrappy project.

binding choices

 I love my finished cover!  And here's an action shot, so you can see it really fits over the machine.

 Materials used in this project were given to me by Island Batik, Aurifil, and Schmetz.

This was my first finish of 2020!  My goal is 52 completed projects in the year; this is #1.