Tuesday, June 30, 2020

mid-year PhD report

For the third year in a row, I'm following along with Gail of Quilting Gail for her PhD (Projects Half Done) challenge.  Since the year is now officially half over, I thought it a good time to look at my progress.

The main point of the program is to list your UFOs and commit to finishing 12 from the list in 2020.  I had 14 on my original list in January.  I found another one after making that list and now have 15 on the list.  Of those 15, I have completed 4.

Awesome Ocean
I modified my goal a little from Gail's original to make it work for me.  By my definition, a UFO has to be started in some way (cutting, and probably some piecing) to count as a UFO.  But I have a lot of projects that I have the fabric and a plan for, I just haven't actually started.  I'd like to get those done, too.  So my additional rule was I could count up to 1/3 (or no more than 4 finishes) that weren't actually started, but that I owned all the supplies and planned to make.  I've finished 2 that fit those criteria.

Scrap Everything

So that puts me at 6 finishes.  Not bad to be half done at he halfway point, though I'd like to finish more than 12.  I did highlight 3 projects I'd most like to get done and I'm happy to report that I've finished 2 of the 3, with significant progress made on the 3rd.

Project I most wanted to finish: Ultimate I Spy

The other piece of Gail's PhD program is to finish all the new projects you start.  I admit I've been more susceptible to new projects and QALs this year than recent years.  I think it's part "ooh, shiny!" part excitement at a new project, and part wanting to be a part of things right now more than usual.  But I've also finished all but two that I've started.  One of those will be done in a few days.  The other is my original Rainbow Scrap Challenge project for 2020 that I stopped after 3 months because I wasn't enjoying the blocks.  I'll either make something out of what I have or give away the blocks I made, so hopefully that won't count against me.

Here's my chart so you can see my original list and dates finished.

PhD 2020

I Spy leader/ender
Western kids’ quilt
Awesome Ocean
I Spy for our bed
Food themed picnic blanket

Smitten Kitten

Blue Forest Animals

Laura’s quilt

Bookshelf quilt

Magical Forest


Extra for Miren

Giraffe Pillow

Lion Pillow

Patriotic Stars (2nd)

Completed: Planned Projects with Fabric Already Owned
Scrap Your Plans
Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Here's hoping to a productive 2nd half of the year!

Monday, June 29, 2020

Scrap Dance Twist

June was Ambassador's Choice or Free Theme for the Island Batik ambassador's monthly challenge.  Though I picked Buffalo Moon as my official project, I used the free theme as motivation to finish two other projects.  One was a mystery quilt by Carole of From My Carolina Home: The Scrap Dance Twist.

This is my fourth mystery by Carole, who starts one new every January.  And it just might be my favorite!  Or at the very least, tied with the original.  I used scraps from Island Batik's Flea Market collection, which was in my very first ambassador box.  I paired the scraps with a black solid batik that looks great with the yellows, golds, green, and teals of Flea Market.

My Twist finishes at 48" square.  I had a little bit of yardage of the two prints I was given and struggled which to use for binding.  I typically use darker bindings but in the end I picked the lighter print, partly because I thought the contrast with the black would be nice and partly because the lighter print is elsewhere in the quilt and the darker is not.  It's Mum in Kiwi and I love the subtle changes of color in it.

This was pieced with black Aurifil thread and a Schmetz microtex chrome needle.  The quilting itself is not my strong suit, especially with so much contrast in the fabrics, so I stitched in the ditch with Aurifil monofilament in smoke along the seams from the pieces blocks and added diagonal lines that followed the chain. The batting is Hobbs 80/20 cotton/poly, my favorite. 

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

The Free Theme opened up so many possibilities that it was hard to pick just one, so I didn't!  This is my third and final project for June.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Whale Trio - A Second Island Batik finish

This month's Island Batik ambassador challenge is Ambassador's Choice. Any pattern, any Island Batik fabric, any size.  It didn't even have to be a quilt.  While I ultimately chose Buffalo Moon as my project, I considered a few others.  At the beginning of the month, I set my One Monthly Goal (OMG) to make a Big Sister present for my cousin's daughter, Emma, who will become a big sister any day now.  It dawned on me that I had a two birds, one stone situation.  Well, not so much bird as WHALE!

Last year, I made Ollie the Laid Back Owl by Funky Friends Factory for Island Batik's booth at fall market, and since I had to send it away, I made a test owl that Fire Monkey could keep. We named him Orion the Owl.  When I made Orion, I always thought I'd go back and make a whale for myself, as that was supposed to be one of the easier patterns and I really liked it.  This seemed like the perfect time to make myself a whale and I could make one for Emma, too.  I knew from her parents that she doesn't have a favorite animal but really, really loves stuffed animals.  Annnnd of course if I'm making a stuffed toy for me and for another kid, Fire Monkey would want one too.  So that's how I ended up making three whales!

Mine uses two fabrics from the Catching Dreams collection and one from a stash builder roll.  I named mine Celeste, from celestial, after the moon & stars print that I used for the main body.

I let Fire Monkey pick out his fabrics.  He picked orange and red fabrics from stash builder rolls for the underbelly and his main print is from Sunny Side Up.  He said he thought the leaves looked like kelp which would be perfect for a whale.  He named his Frederico.

 Emma the new big sister's whale has an underbelly of another moon & star fabric from the Catching Dreams collection, a foundation basic called Petal for the throat, and a blue cheerio from the Sunny Side Up collection.  Hers will be mailed with the baby quilt for her new sister.  Since she hasn't seen it yet, this whale is currently unnamed.

The pattern is William Whale by Funky Friends Factory.  I normally do not enjoy stuffed toys, but this is the second pattern of hers I've made and they are better than other toys I've tried.  I still enjoy having made it more than the actual making process, but her patterns are easy to follow and she has a website with step-by-step photos of each toy which really help.  I have not completely sworn off toys; I would happily make more Funky Friends.  I especially appreciate that they are a good, huggable size.  The whales are about 20 inches long and perfect for cuddling!

Proof of huggability
I pieced this with my current favorite tread color,  Aurifil 2625 from the Carrara color builder set.  Some parts of the whales involved top-stitching and I matched the Aurifil thread color to the fabrics as best I could.  I also used a Schmetz microtex chrome needle, 80/20.

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

Celeste swimming in the backyard
Making a Big Sister present was my June OMG in the monthly linky party with Patty of Elm Street quilts.  I hadn't decided what to make at the time I set my goal. The penguin panel I was considering was cute but felt too wintery for a gift in the middle of summer.   I'm quite happy with the whale.


I have one more possible Island Batik finish for the month of June, we'll see if I can finish it in time!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Brown Bear, Brown Bear

I feel like my friends, family members, and coworkers tend to cycle through periods of lots of babies and no babies.  In 2020, I know of five babies born or expected in my circle.  One of those is a former coworker.  I've made a quilt for all babies born since I started working at my current job.  This woman, Kory, and I were both children's librarians before working at a community college and we frequently talked about children's books.  If I remember correctly, one of her favorites is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. & illustrated by Eric Carle.  When I learned she was expecting, I knew I'd use some Brown Bear fabric I bough years ago at one of my favorite quilt shops, Sew What & Batiks Etc in Wytheville, Virginia.

I had other projects that felt more pressing so I hadn't started this one yet since Kory wasn't due until mid-to-late July.  But a mutual friend let me know that baby had other ideas and arrived very early.  Fortunately, Baby Oliver was breathing on his own from the beginning, despite his small size, and all seems to be well.  So I needed to get moving on his quilt!

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?
The main print had each of the animals from the book tossed across the fabric.  I isolated each animal and cut them out.  I figured out pretty quickly that it was going to be impossible to cut to the same size and not cut into other animals, and I had a limited amount of the fabric.  So I cut them as best I could to isolate each animal and used the border fabric to get to a standard block size of 12" finished.

Green Frog
I used leftovers from my Kona solid bin for all the colors around each animal.  They are: Earth, Tomato, Citrus, Niagara, Leprechaun, Mulberry, Snow, Black, and Goldfish.  Yes, the color around the goldfish is Goldfish!

 For the back, I had some of a second print.  I combined it with the leftovers of the main print, then added some Kona Pond that was the right size for the area that still needed to be covered.

What I really wanted for the binding was a fun rainbow stripe.  I didn't have anything.  Back in April, I really wanted to support my local quilt shop so when I picked up elastic, I had a list of other items I could use, even though I didn't actually *need* anything.  I put "rainbow stripe" on my list.  Stores were not permitted to let customers in at that point so they picked one for me--and I love it!  Shout out to Quilt Patch Fabrics!   The fabric is Tropical Zone by Color Pop Studio for Blank Quilting.

Yellow Duck
When I showed the finished quilt to my husband the first things he said was, "they are in the right order." Which just proves that he gets me.  If you're familiar with the book, you may have picked up on the fact that I put the animals in the order in which they appear in the book.  I did get our copy off the shelf to double check, but I did it from memory :)

Purple Cat
 I hope that Kory & baby Oliver enjoy this for years to come!  This is my 20th finish in 2020. 

Friday, June 19, 2020

Buffalo Moon--An Island Batik Challenge

June's challenge for Island Batik is a Free Theme, or Ambassador's Choice.  I found this actually made it harder!  So many choices!  I waffled between many choices but in the end, chose a project I had planned for later in the year. This November will be my mom's 70th birthday.  We (my brother and I) have planned a trip to see her for more than a year.  Unfortunately, Covid-19 means that trip will not happen--neither of us can get to my mom without an airplane or a multi-day drive and that's not really an option right now.  But at least the birthday quilt is now ready!

When I made my Mountain Cabin quilt with the Catching Dreams collection designed by Kathy Engle for Kari Nichols of Mountainpeek Creations, I used 18 of the 20 prints in the collection.  The remaining two didn't really fit the color groupings I needed for the mountains.  One of the unused fabrics is a beautiful larger-scale print with bison (buffalo) and dream catchers.  And this fabric is where I hatched this plan, back in December!

Dreamcatcher/Buffalo in Mixed Berry
See, my mom's favorite animal is the buffalo, or American bison. And, like me, her favorite color is purple.  In fact, she commented on Mountain Cabin that Catching Dreams were "her colors."  I already had the plan but her commented cemented that this would be the perfect birthday gift--the right animal and the right colors!

I had a half-yard of the print, called Dreamcatcher/Buffalo in mixed berry. I was able to fussy-cut 16 of the buffalo, and a 5" square would work with the fabric I had.  This would give me a 4 x 4 layout.  Each block is 13 1/2" unfinished, for a finished quilt that's roughly 52" square.

Back when I made Mountain Cabin, I used my Accuquilt Go! cutter to cut all the other Catching Dreams prints into 2 1/2" strips.  Each block got two rounds made from the strips. I didn't count, but I think this has all 20 fabrics from Catching Dreams.

I named this Buffalo Moon because Catching Dreams has several colorways of this moon and stars fabric.  It's possibly my favorite design in the collection and my mom has a strong love of the moon and actually has several moon-related art pieces in her bedroom, so this was just another reason that Catching Dreams was perfect for her. 

My current favorite thread for piecing is Aurifil 2625 from the Carrara color builder set.  I love gray as an all-purpose thread color.  I also used a Schmetz microtex chrome needle, 80/20.  I've been using Schmetz needles since I bought my first sewing machine in 1998.  The salesman told me my very, very inexpensive starter machine would run fine for a long time as long as I used quality thread and quality needles.  Clearly that advice stuck with me!

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

I love the finished quilt and I think Mom will, too. She reads the blog, so I'll find out soon enough :)  And I made sure it was ok with her that I am posting this in June even though her birthday is in November.  I'll try to mail it early, too, so she can have it.  She's got a leather couch in her den that this will look great on!

And so I have a birthday gift ready early, thanks to the Free Theme.  If I'm lucky, I will have two more Island Batik projects to post his month.