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!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Snowflake QAL

My quilty friend Rose of SomethingRoseMade and I unknowingly have done two Quilt Alongs together this year.  The first was Kathleen's Awesome Ocean and the second was Sandra's Centred.  Rose did something really generous for me and when I wrote to thank her, she proposed we do a third together, but on purpose this time.  We discussed a few options and chose the Jelly Snowflake QAL, going on now with the Fat Quarter Shop. 

I am using Glacier View by Island Batik.  This is the collection I used for my Christmas Tree Skirt and I have some leftover.  It's not specifically a jelly roll (the mystery QAL is designed for a jelly roll) but I can cut 2 1/2" strips from what I have left.  And using yardage gives me a little flexibility, like using the great pale blue print for the center of the stars, above.  I've paired Glacier View with Island Batik's solid white.

The Jelly Snowflake Mystery Quilt runs through the month of July.  There is still time to get caught up if you want to join me & Rose--we'd love the company!  I'm loving this combination of blues! Blocks come out on Thursdays.  I've made the first two and am ready to see what's next!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Sneak Peak

I don't normally do a lot of sneak peaks, but I don't have much that is close to the finishing stages right now so it's in-progress or nothing.  I'm working on the next few Island Batik challenges and I can't help but show these fun sail boats that are destined for my August project. 

Aren't they cute?  I'm not typically big on improv, and I don't know that these strictly count as improv since I did have a plan going in that each one would look like a sailboat.  But I just randomly cut fabrics and played around until I liked the look.  I love the bright colors; this is the Island Batik collection Colorpop. I can't wait to see these sail their way into a finished quilt!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

July OMG

Last month, I completed my OMG goal but forgot to link up with Patty of Elm Street Quilts at the end of the month!  Whoops!  Hopefully I will do better this month.

I started the year doing a new Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects of string blocks.  I kept up January-March.  When April came, I dreaded making the blocks.  Hmmmm...I shouldn't be dreading a project I chose.  Well, as much as I wanted to get rid of all my strings, turns out I wasn't enjoying myself.  So I stopped.

So now I have green, orange, and aqua string blocks.  I need to make something with them or I won't qualify for my PhD with Quilting Gail--her rule is you have to finish all projects started that year so you don't create new UFOs.  So my One Monthly Goal for July is to figure out what to do with them and finish the quilt top.  With other sewing, I don't think a finished quilt is realistic but a top should be doable.