Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Neptune's Grotto with Aurifil & Island Batik

Ready to take an Italian vacation?  March's Island Batik Ambassador challenge is sponsored by Aurifil thread and is inspired by cities all over Italy.  When Aurifil launched their color builder sets in 2020 they used their headquarters as inspiration; each color set is inspired by a different Italian destination.  For this challenge, each ambassador was sent one of the color builder sets and asked to create a small quilt inspired by that color's location.  I was sent the pink color builder, inspired by the island of Sardinia.

The photos of Sardinia I found online were absolutely gorgeous.  I've never been anywhere in Italy and I wasn't familiar with Sardinia, so I had to do some research.  Sardinia is the 2nd biggest Italian island (after Sicily) and features all types of terrain.  I scrolled through lists of attractions and natural wonders and eventually landed on Neptune's Grotto, a stalactite cave.  Since I've never been there, I had no photos of my own to use and I didn't want the copyright complications of using any image I found online, so decided an abstract representation was the way to go, rather than trying to recreate a photo.  I went for the general look of the opening of the cave.

All fabrics are from Island Batik's Foundations collections, available all the time.  I started by layering the background of Muslin over two layers of Hobbs Thermore batting, with solid white as the backing. I started with the shining waters that surround Sardinia, using Icicle as the main water and Mystic for highlights. 


When I was happy with the ocean, I moved on to the entrance of Neptune's Grotto.  Fabrics in the caves are Opalescence, Lavender, Begonia, and Camellia.  


I went completely by instinct and didn't plan anything, and I stitched each piece down as I added it. Once I was happy with all the shapes, I added more stitching.  While I did some in the water, most of my stitching was in the caves, to give the impression of crevices and lines in the rock. In addition to the three pinks in the Color Builder (2410 Pale Pink, 2425 Bright Pink, & 2530 Blossom Pink), I used 5006 Light Turquoise & 1320 Bright Teal.  I used a Schmetz Chrome professional grade needle.

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

This is pretty abstract and not at all like what I normally create.  I decided to embrace the abstract nature so when I trimmed it, I intentionally did not trim it square.  The binding is Opalescence.   Check out my fellow Island Batik Ambassador Jane of Stitch by Stitch Custom Quilting for her absolutely gorgeous landscape quilt of Sardinia's coast.  

Thanks to Island Batik and Aurifil for this challenge that was out of my norm and out of my comfort zone.  I only hope that some day I can visit Sardinia!


  1. Great spot to highlight, and I love the little quilt you created to document your search. Very pretty.

  2. Italy is an amazing place, and you’ve done it justice with your lovely rendering of Neptune’s Grotto. Beautiful!!

  3. Very cool art quilt! I like the way you built it. Have a great day.

  4. Lovely work! Italy is beautiful!

  5. What a fun way to play with thread! Looks great!

  6. Wow, what a challenge, to represent a place you've never been to! You pulled it off great, Emily!!! Super interesting depiction. I hope you can visit there some day. Now I'd like to visit there some day!?!

  7. That is an awesome art quilt, Emily! I've never heard of Neptune's Grotto. Thanks for the info! Now there's another place in Italy I would love to visit!

  8. A perfect piece to showcase those fabrics! And such a nice sentiment as we are trying to rid ourselves of snow here in my neck of the woods!