Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Small Savanna

I made the mistake of doing some cleaning in my sewing space about a month ago and I found two UFOs that I didn't know about.  One was 4 blocks of Savanna, a quilt I thought I was rid of, sewn together with a small border and more strips of the border fabric cut. 

This was what it looked like when I found it.

I have no idea what I had planned, but I hated Savanna (I detest sewing curves) so I clearly wasn't making more blocks.  I found a fairly small piece of fleece to use as backing and that set the limit for how big it could be.  I had a fun purple mottled print left from a wide back so I cut borders to make it as large as the fleece backing allowed.  It now measures 24" x 30" which is on the small side but should be fine for a tiny baby; I'll be donating this to the local children's hospital.

This wasn't on my original UFO list for my PhD (projects half done) with Quilting Gail but I think it will probably count.  I need to sit down and look at my list and my finishes so far this year to see if I have any chance at all of being successful this year. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Gorilla Family, with Island Batik & Aurifil

The October Island Batik Ambassador challenge is sponsored by Aurifil and is an especially neat challenge.  To start, each ambassador was sent one of Aurifil's 2021 Color Builder set.  Each Color Builder includes 3 large spools of 40 weight thread focused around a single color; each set includes a a warm, a medium, and a dark.  This year's Color Builder sets draw inspiration from twelve species of endangered animals from around the globe, drawing attention to animals that might disappear forever.  I was sent the purple color builder dedicated to the Cross River Gorilla.


 The products featured in this post were given to me by Island Batik, Aurifil, Schmetz, and Hobbs. 


momma & baby
The challenge was to make something inspired by our featured animal using all three threads in the Aurifil color builder set.  I love that the parameters were both really specific (inspired by Cross River Gorilla) and pretty open (use each of three thread colors however you like).  Purple is my favorite color and I love gorillas, so I was also thrilled with what I had to work with.  I wasn't familiar with the Cross River Gorilla, the least known of the gorilla subspecies. Scientists estimate that there are only 200 to 300 Cross River Gorillas left in the wild, scattered in at least 11 groups across Cameroon & Nigeria.  (I'm a librarian, so I have to cite my source.)


Do you ever "save" quilt techniques or ideas that you want to try but need to find the right project?  That's exactly what happened to me with this project!  In my first year as an Island Batik ambassador, we had a "artsy fartsy" challenge and Joan of MooseStash made a vase using little snippets of leftover IB fabric. 

I really liked the look and wanted to try the technique so I started saving my Island Batik offcuts.  Not so much the really tiny stuff Joan used, but cut off ends from snowballing corners, the end of a strip that isn't quite a 2 1/2" square, that kind of thing.  I've been saving tiny pieces for about two years now.  I went through my bin of tiny scraps and pulled out all the purples and almost-purples.  I bought water soluble stabilizer and put a sheet down on the table.  My piece was roughly 15" square because the stabilizer I had was 15" wide. 


pile of purple scraps

Then I laid dark & medium scraps over it to cover the stabilizer.  I did this pretty randomly, I just wanted to cover the stabilizer I sprayed another piece of stabilizer with basting spray so it would stick and put it on top. 

I took it (carefully!) to my machine and just stitched it like crazy.  I wound a full bobbin of the darkest color, Aurifil 2545 medium purple and used a brand new Schmetz microtex needle.  I stitched and stitched and stitched until I used the entire bobbin in the 15" piece.  I didn't have a stitching plan, I just kept moving around and around.

stitched, before washing away the stabilizer

When the bobbin ran out, I got the piece wet to get rid of the stabilizer and laid it on top of a towel in the sun to dry.  I ironed it like crazy.  I searched for royalty free clipart silhouettes and enlarged one I liked to create a paper template, which I used to cut out a silhouette.  The first one I did, with the dark thread on top and bottom, is the daddy gorilla.   

my new "fabric" drying in the sun

While the first was drying, I laid out another roughly 15" piece and did the same thing.  I used another full bobbin of Aurifil 2545 but I used the medium tone Aurifil 2520 Violet on top, so when it was done I could choose which side of thread to use.  When I cut the out the silhouette later, I chose the lighter thread color; this is the mommy gorilla.  


For my third piece of created fabric, I laid out medium and light pieces, then stitched with Aurifil 2520, again using a complete bobbin.  This became the baby gorilla, so mom & baby have the same thread showing.


Now for the background.  I started with Sky from Island Batik's Foundations fabrics and added a gently slopped piece of the ground fabric--I'm not sure of the exact name, but it's from the Flea Market collection that was in my very first ambassador box!  I layered with Hobbs Thermore batting and Island Batik solid white for the back.  I followed the curve of the ground with Aurifil monofilament in Smoke at varying intervals for interest.  I decided to keep the quilting in the sky in straight lines to mimic the horizon.  For the sky quilting I used the third thread  from the bundle, Auriful 2562 Lilac.



The final step was to applique my gorilla family to their habitat.  I stitched around daddy gorilla in 2545, mommy gorilla in 2520, and baby gorilla in 2562.

I really loved making my own "fabric" from lots of small pieces of Island Batik fabric (and lots of Aurifil thread!) and will absolutely use this technique again.  I don't make art quilts often, really only when the challenges dictate it, but I am finding that I enjoy them so I will need to start challenging myself to make the occasional art quilt, even if it's not for an Island Batik challenge.

our toy gorilla, Strong Arms, with his fabric relatives

Be sure to visit all the Island Batik ambassadors this month as they use Aurifil thread to create art spotlighting 12 endangered species.

Megan Best ~ Best Quilter
Pamela Boatright ~ PamelaQuilts
Elizabeth DeCroos ~ Epida Studio
Jennifer Eubank ~ Archipelago Quilting
Jennifer Fulton ~ The Inquiring Quilter
Preeti Harris ~ Sew Preeti Quilts
Joanne Hart ~ Unicorn Harts
Mania Hatziioannidi ~ Mania For Quilts
Jane Hauprich ~ Stitch By Stitch Custom Quilting
Connie Kauffman ~ Kauffman Designs
Emily Leachman ~ The Darling Dogwood That's me!!!
Denise Looney ~ For The Love Of Geese
Leah Malasky ~ Quilted Delights
Sally Manke ~ Sally Manke, Fiber Artist
Maryellen McAuliffe ~ Mary Mack Made Mine
Claudia Porter ~  Create with Claudia
Gail Renna ~ Quilt Haven Threads
Brianna Roberts ~ Sew Cute and Quirky
Michelle Roberts ~ Creative Blonde
Gail Sheppard ~ Quilting Gail
Andi Stanfield ~ True Blue Quilts

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Catch All Caddy

I currently have Craftsy access so I want to make the By Annie projects that are full classes there while I still can view them; as I haven't decided if I'm going to renew.  I had been wanting to make one of her caddy-style patterns so I was really glad that Catch All Caddy is one of the Craftsy videos.  Here's mine:

The focus print is from Far Far Away by Heather Ross that I've been saving for something special.  I love the color so much, and the flowers, and the unicorns plus it has an especially nice hand/feel to it. Both other fabrics are leftovers of wide backs.  


I want the caddy for my car, to keep all the stuff I occasionally want to access in one place.  I am typically alone in my car or have Fire Monkey in the backseat, so I can keep the caddy on the passenger seat, and when I do have someone sitting there, it's easy to move to the back.  I have it stocked with wipes, lotion, mints, chapstick, dental floss, anything I try to keep in the car in case I need it.  If I make another for the car, I'll just make the beveled dividers for one side; the wipes are really the only thing that I think need to sleeve.  The tissue box doesn't fit in the divider but does fit in the caddy.

I realized when adding items to the pockets that I somehow missed the step of sewing the top down of the zippered pocket, so I need to fix that.  Ooops!



zipper pocket fail

 I'm pretty pleased with it and will definitely make more, they are so handy!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Traveling in Style with Island Batik and By Annie

September's challenge for Island Batik ambassadors was to make one of the bag patterns By AnnieLast year's By Annie challenge was the first time I made one of Annie's patterns and I absolutely fell in love, it opened up so many bag possibilities!  I had my eye on a big bag, the Ultimate Travel Bag 2.0.  Annie sent a kit with all the supplies I needed to make the bag.  I admit, it was the first thing I made when my second ambassador box arrived.



 The products featured in this post were given to me by Island Batik, By Annie, Schmetz, and Aurifil.

This year we also got to pick our own fabrics, which was a real treat!  I picked fabrics from the Butterfly Blooms collection by Kathy Engle. I absolutely love the Butterfly Leaf print that I picked as my main fabric.  The coordinating fabric in the straps and accents is Animal Leaves and has delightful lizards and dragonflies in the swirls and leaves. For my lining, I picked the blender Bubbles in Raspberry. I also picked out a fourth fabric for the interior pockets, Mini Leaf in Moonstone, but when I watched Annie's add-on video, I realized that I would rather make the interior pockets out of mesh, so I used some white mesh that I had and saved the fabric for another project--you'll see it in December.  

Annie's patterns are very detailed and very thorough.  It took me 9 days to make my Ultimate Travel bag (remember that I have a full time job and kid) but if you make your way through her steps, you will end up with a very professional looking bag.  I love all the pockets on this!  On the outside of the bag there are pockets on either end, a slip pocket on the back of the bag, and a combination slip pocket/zipper pocket on the front of the bag. Inside, there is a full-sized pocket with a zipper on one side that can be fabric or mesh and divided slip pockets on the other side. You bind the slip pockets with Annie's fold-over elastic so they have a lovely bit of stretch --and it's decorative too!

in process

I will say that there are sections with a lot of layers.  Annie recommends a 90/14 top stitch needle and that's now the only thing I will use when making her bags, and I start each bag with a new Schmetz top stitch needle.  I used Aurifil thread and switched back and forth between color 5003 (wine) that matched both the butterfly fabric and the lining fabric and Aurifil 1148 (light jade) that matched the coordinating fabric. 

I used the bag as my "personal item" when I flew to visit a friend in July and it was perfect.  I used the full-size interior pocket for my ipad, my wallet fit in the zippered pocket; everything important had a spot.  I also took it to work one day when I needed to change my clothes at the end of the day and a coworker saw the bag.  I got kinda the ultimate bag compliment, she asked me if it was a Vera Bradley and I could proudly say, "nope, it's an Emily Leachman!"

action shot in use on my trip

I absolutely love my bag, and this just furthers my love of Annie's patterns.  If you have struggled with bags in the past like I have, check out her patterns.  She has a series of free projects with support videos to help you learn her techniques, and many of her patterns (including Ultimate Travel Bag 2.) have supporting add-on videos to explain the trickier elements.  Be warned, though, that once you make one of her bags, you'll want to make them all!  If you need more inspiration, check out all the Island Batik ambassadors this month to see their By Annie bags.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Neighborhood of Polka-Dotted Roofs

Have you seen Cheryl Brickey's recent book Just One Charm Pack?  As the title promises, the quilts in the book can be made with a charm pack and some coordinating yardage--a background fabric and an additional fabric.  I don't actually buy pre-cuts very often but I spent years doing frequent I-Spy swaps with 5" squares of fabric, so I have quite the collection of 5" squares.  I know I will make several patterns from this book and I chose to start with Cozy Cottages.

Isn't it cute?!  I picked I Spy squares that I thought would look good as a house, focusing on people and animals. I used Kona Pond for the background and Kona Chestnut for the chimneys, but I still needed something for roofs.  I wanted something colorful but that also looked a bit coordinated, since mine are actually from a charm pack of a single collection.  I found some charm squares that had polka dots--Urban Elemetz by Northcott.  I didn't have quite enough for all the roofs but polka dots gave me a theme and I found a few others I could use in my scrap stash.  So I am calling this the Neighborhood of Polka-Dotted Roofs. 


I needed mine to be a bit smaller than written so I adjusted the size of the sashing a bit, which means the spacing isn't quite as regular as Cheryl's actual pattern, so anything that looks off balance is a fault of mine, not the pattern.  I still think it's super cute and I will absolutely make this pattern again.  I really like it for I Spy squares.  This will be donated to the local children's hospital. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Happy Mail

The two best mail days in my year are the days that my Island Batik ambassador boxes arrive.  This year, the spring & summer precuts were not ready yet when the boxes shipped, so we were told we'd get them later in the summer.  Today was that day!  I received 2 beautiful Island Batik precuts, each with 2 yards light and 2 yards dark coordinating yardage.  

First there was a strip pack of Midnight Dazzle with 2 yards of Sky (pale blue) and 2 yards of Imperial (red) to go with it. 

And then a 10" stack of Passion Petals with 2 yards of Cat Scratch-Smore, a fun dark cream/light caramel blender, and 2 yards of Flourite, a basic that's a green/blue marble.  I haven't seen either of the yardage fabrics before and it's always exciting to see new colors.

So many pretty colors!  Purples and jewel tones are my favorite, so they clearly know my preferences!  I can't wait to play with these new precuts.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

back to school pencil cases

School has started here and I made Fire Monkey a pencil pouch for the new school year.  I used A Pencil Case for Lola, one of By Annie's free patterns.  Annie also has a tutorial for the pencil case.  



The obvious fabric for Fire Monkey was fire trucks, of course, and I used the same fabric for the outside and inside.  I made a second pouch for my niece, Noodle, also a 2nd grader.  Noodle's case had sea turtles on the outside and a candy print on the inside, but I didn't remember to get a photo before I mailed it to her on the west coast.  I heard it was a hit with her, though.  


loaded and ready for school

I was pleased with how little fabric I needed; this is a great project for scraps.  They also sewed up fairly quickly.  Fire Monkey seems happy with his.  Here he is hamming it up after his first day of school: 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021


I've been doing an informal quilt-along with Wendy  of Pieceful Thoughts of My Quilting Life of the Coral Coreopsis pattern by James & Gracie.  Here is my finished quilt!  I used Kona solids, and for once, I do not know what they are!  Most of these came from leftover layer cakes and were no longer labeled. I could look them up, and at some point I probably will.

I didn't remember to get a photo of just the top before it was layered on a piece of fleece with polka dots, so you can't really see it well before the quilting.  I quilted with a large spiral and dark gray thread.  This will go to the local children's hospital.

with the backing showing a bit

Others may know this but I did not: Coral Coreposis is a plant/flower.   From my limited research, the plant is Coreposis and coral indicates the plants that have a dark orange color.  Since mine is not in the colorway, I dropped the "coral" part of the pattern name. 

I set finishing my quilt as my One Monthly Goal with Patty of Elm Street Quilts.  Unfortunately, while I wrote the goal post in time, I forgot to actually link it at the beginning of the month.  (Last month, I finished my goal but didn't post. I am not doing well.)

Monday, August 30, 2021

Scrappy Placemats

 For Christmas 2019, I made my dad some scrappy placemats to replace the pretty gross ones he had when I visited him in early 2019.  The deal was that if I made him new ones, he would get rid of the old ones.  I was only able to make 4 in time for Christmas, but I promised more would come.

I didn't get them done for 2020 Christmas but I am ahead of the game for Christmas 2021!  I finished 6 more (only 4 pictured, as my table isn't very big) so he will have 10.  And hopefully now can get rid of the gross ones that couldn't be washed.  These are machine washable which will be an improvement.

I used 2" scraps of Kona solids in any shade of blue, green, or brown and sewed them completely randomly. There are 80 squares in each placemat. The binding is black, because when I made the first batch, I knew I could "match" black and wouldn't be able to match anything else.  That was a good choice on my part, knowing that I would not remember the right color years later.  I also have to say, I know a lot of people love machine stitching binding, but this further reminded me that I hate it.  I bound all of these by machine and wish I hadn't, especially since I have plenty of time until Christmas. Oh, well.  They are finished now!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Playing with Clam Up

I am currently obsessed with making bags using By Annie patterns. After going more than 20 years as a quilter who couldn't make bags, it turns out I just needed the right patterns! I've bought quite a few of Annie's patterns and actually have a few completed that I still need to post. One that I recently bought is the Clam Up pattern, a cute little dumpling pouch in five sizes. 


I went through my novelty scraps to find what I had that would be a good match for each size.  For the smallest Clam Up, I had a piece of leftover quilted soft & stable from the Call Me I made my mom last Christmas.  For the other 4 sizes, I didn't quilt the fabric.  I wanted to see all the variations of Clam Up in this first batch.

Each bag nests inside the next size up!

In my quest to try all the variations, I made one of each size.  I really like them all.  On a recent trip (before Delta really took over and made travel scary again), I took the extra large, large, and extra small.  They all came in handy!  I put my toiletries in the extra large, my sewing supplies in the large, and hair clips and bands in the extra small.

Extra Large

The large is currently my favorite size.  It is perfect for a few sewing supplies and stands up very securely for easy access as I need something. 


A great feature of these bags is that they nest inside each other when empty.  I'm thinking of making a set for my niece for Christmas because I think she will be amused by opening a pouch to find another pouch inside, like Russian nesting dolls! 

Clam Up has options for square or triangle tabs at the bottom.  I tried both.  I like the look of the square tabs better and I find them easier to hold on to.


There is also instruction for adding a swivel hook.  I added this to the extra small bag.  It actually calls for a 1/2" hook but I only had a 1" hook.  

extra small, with swivel hook

They call for a double slide zipper but I also tried one with just one zipper.  No real issues, but since I use zippers by the yard and they come with lots of pulls, I'm not sure the single slide zipper saves me anything. I'm bummed that on the small bag, I seamed the fabric wrong so my fairies are upside down.  Oops! But that one also has my favorite lining fabric.


inside of the small

These are really fabulous pouches and now I want to make them in all the fabrics!  I look at scraps and think, "that could be a medium, that could be a large, that could be a small..."  I've been using them, too, and it's always nice to use something you made!