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.

Monday, January 13, 2020

PhD in 2020 (Projects Half Done)

My friend Gail of Quilting Gail has hosted a PhD program for the past two years; her PhD stands for Projects Half Done.  She's had two rules: complete a certain number of UFOs and complete any new project started in that year so as not to create more unfinished projects.  I've participated both years and was successful both years, though admittedly in 2019 it was down to the wire! You can join in the fun here. 


She changed the scope a little this year to focus on twelve UFOs that you would like most to complete.  I looked at my list of UFOs and I have fourteen on my list.  Problem is, I have to have at least cut something out or otherwise done prep work to consider it a UFO. I have scores more projects that I have the fabric plus a plan for, but have not actually done anything beyond plan.  And I'd like to tackle some of those as well--my overall goal isn't just reducing the number of UFOs/PhDs I have, it's getting stuff used and out of my sewing space as well.

So I'm going to set my goal of twelve completed projects that I'm already planning and/or started, with the rule for myself that at least 8 (or two thirds) need to be from the UFO list.  And of course, I need to complete anything started prior to November 30th of this year--I give myself a pass on projects started in December due to the nature of my work schedule and extra time off in December.  None of my Island Batik projects will count toward my PhD.

One more Emily rule: I keep a hand-sewing project or two on hand (pun intended!) for times when I don't have the option of using the sewing machine.  The purpose of these projects for me is to have them, so finishing them, while of course good, is not necessarily the only goal.  My way of dealing with these hand-sewing projects since Gail started the PhD is that they are not considered UFOs while they are hand sewing projects, but once the hand part is done, then they go on the UFO list.  I have two hand sewing projects right now: an embroidery project and Violet Craft's EPP Lion. 

The UFO list, in no particular order:

Food themed picnic blanket

Lion Pillow

Giraffe Pillow

Magical Forest

I Spy leader/ender

Smitten Kitten

Blue Forest Animals

Laura’s quilt

Bookshelf quilt

I Spy for our bed


Extra for Miren

Awesome Ocean

Western kids’ quilt

Gail's charge is to name the projects that you most want to finish.  I'm not calling out my twelve projects, but I picked a few that I especially want to finish.  

First, Laura's quilt.  This is for my best friend and may be my current oldest UFO.  I'll see her in person in May and I'd really like to be able to gift it.

one of the Ohio Star blocks from Laura's quilt

Second, I Spy for Our Bed.  I really wanted to finish this in 2019 but got sidetracked, mostly with the Island Batik projects.  Our bed is the only bed in the house that doesn't have a quilt that I made on it and it's past time to fix that.

And third, Awesome Ocean.  Kathleen started this QAL in December, so I did start mine prior to January 1st.  I'm still not sure if this will be one quilt or two.  I have a coworker who is expecting and this may end up being the baby quilt--not sure yet!
Octavian from Awesome Ocean
I've enjoyed the motivation of the PhD these past two years and I'm hoping I can pull off the hat trick! Thanks, Gail, for creating such a fun way to finish projects!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Puffy (Awesome Ocean)

Here are my Puffy the Blowfish blocks from the Awesome Ocean quilt along hosted by Kathleen of Kathleen McMusing and using Elizabeth Hartman's pattern.

These blocks are a lot of work but they sure are fun!  There's still time to join the QAL if you are interested, and Kathleen is doing a fairly leisurely pace of a new block every two weeks.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Island Batik Ambassador 2020

I am excited to announce that I am an Island Batik Ambassador for 2020!  I am so honored to be working with Island Batik for a second year.  Being an Ambassador last year was one of the best things I've done creatively--the monthly challenges really pushed me and I created things I would never have dreamed of a few months before.  I'm excited to for 12 more challenges!

My first of two ambassador boxes has arrived and I've already been at work, sewing away!  I'll have an unboxing video and report of all the goodies on January 24th.  The January challenge is scraps and my project is my first finish of 2020; I hope to be ready to post it in a few days.

There are twenty-five Ambassadors this year.  You can see this incredibly talented group on Island Batik's page, or here is the list of where to find each of us and our monthly projects with the gorgeous Island Batik fabrics!

Carolina Asmussen ~ Carolina Asmussen
Megan Best ~ Best Quilter
Pamela Boatright ~ Pamela Quilts
Jennifer Fulton ~ Inquiring Quilter
Vasudha Govindan ~ Storied Quilts
Joanne Hart ~ Unicorn Harts
Mania Hatziioannidi ~ Mania for Quilts
Carla Henton ~ Creatin’ in the Sticks
Connie Kauffman ~ Kauffman Designs
Emily Leachman ~ The Darling Dogwood --that's me!!!!
Denise Looney ~ For the Love of Geese
Leah Malasky ~ Quilted Delights
Maryellen McAuliffe ~ MaryMackMadeMine
Carol Moellers ~ Carol Moellers Designs
Gail Renna ~ Quilt Haven Threads
Sharon Riley ~ Sew Riley Designs
Michelle Roberts ~ Creative Blonde
Gail Sheppard ~ Quilting Gail
Jennifer Strauser ~ Dizzy Quilter
Jennifer Thomas ~ Curlicue Creations
Alison Vermilya ~ Little Bunny Quilts
Sandra Walker ~ mmm! quilts
Suzy Webster ~ Websterquilt
Janet Yamamoto ~ Whispers of Yore

I'm really excited about another year and I am so grateful to Island Batik for giving me this opportunity!