Thursday, July 28, 2022

Forest Jewels

This month, Accuquilt is celebrating Christmas in July.  They sent each Island Batik ambassador their new Tree of Life BOB die and tasked us with creating something to then gift to someone who needs joy.  When I got the challenge details, I spent some time thinking about what to make and who to gift it to.  And then, practically all at once, I knew what I wanted to make, who I wanted to give it to, and that I was setting myself up for a capital-C challenge.  

I have planned to make my best friend Laura a bed-sized quilt for a while.  I started one for her years ago, but fell out of love with it many years ago and my skills have progressed significantly since I stared it.  She has had some real challenges in recent years so she fit the "needs joy" criteria, though I will not share her story.  And she happens to have a PhD in forestry.  And I had to use a tree block.  The best, and simultaneously most challenging part, is that I was going to see her the second weekend in July.  I live in North Carolina and she lives in Massachusetts, so we aren't frequently in the same place.  But I didn't yet know when I would receive the die, so I didn't know how long I would have to make the quilt. 

In front of the Upside-Down Tree, Kenyon College

I did, however, have the prefect fabric, a 10" stack of Jewel Quest, a collection from early 2021.  Jewel Quest is a stunning collection of purples and greens.  It may be important that Laura and I share the favorite color of purple. And to further cement Jewel Quest as the perfects fabric collection for this project, many of the prints have trees and/or leaves on them.

Trees & Leaves in Jewel Quest

Accuquilt has a printable coloring sheet for the Tree of Life block, so I figured out my placement while waiting for the die to arrive.  My version has 71 pieces in each 14" block.  And I would need 16 blocks!  Fortunately, the Accuquilt makes cutting a breeze and cut all my Jewel Quest fabrics in one evening, then cut the background and trunk fabrics in a second cutting session.  I used solid Black for the background and the basic Cinnamon for the trunks.   

Laura's favorite block

One of my favorites

Laura's second favorite, but she kept changing her mind!

While piecing and pressing, I used my new pressing mat from Prairie Spirit Alpaca.  The mat does make a difference in pressing, as the pieces get the heat from top and bottom, since the mat retains heat.  The mat is a generous size, too, so I could press the longer seams that ran the width of the 14" block and it fit on the mat.  For quilts with a black background I absolutely Hobbs black batting and I was lucky to have gotten a queen size of it in my most recent ambassador box.  I don't like using black thread with black fabric, so I both pieced and quilted with Aurifil color 2784 Dark Navy and of course Schmetz needles, my favorite needles and the only ones I use. 

On the pressing mat

I started cutting out the blocks on June 30th and finished the quilt on July 11th, giving me 3 days to spare before my trip. Yup, I made a bed-sized quilt in 12 days!  I've never done that before, and I don't ever plan to do it again!  But it was totally worth it.  Laura loves it. 


We took pictures together as best we could. We were on our college campus and there is a somewhat famous tree there, called The Upside-Down Tree by students.  We took the tree quilt to the tree for photos, and the best ones came from inside the tree.  I named this Forest Jewels, a nod to the trees, Laura's degree in forestry, and the beautiful Jewel Quest fabrics.  



For a week after we saw each other, I got a message each day with some sort of praise or story about the quilt in her day.  She agrees it was perfect, the trees, the purples, all of it.  Her 11-year-old daughter has threatened to steal it, but I'm confident she will not be successful. 

blocks laid out on my floor

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

 The quilt inspector approves!

Buttercup approves

While it was a bit of a challenge to get it finished in time, I love it and I love that Laura loves it.  Thanks, Accuquilt & Island Batik, for creating the perfect challenge for me to finally make a quilt for this amazing person in my life!


Friday, July 22, 2022

Island Batik Unboxing #2

With summer comes one of the best times of the year: the second ambassador box from Island Batik!  Talk about Happy Mail!

I filmed an unboxing video, and since I've gotten comments before on low volume in my videos, I finally bought a lapel mike.  This did mean more technical support from Husband, but hopefully the sound is better this time around.  Take a look at what I got!

If you don't want to watch the video, or if you just want some close-ups of the fabulous fabrics and supplies I was sent, here is a closer look.  First, the fabric.  My collection for the September blog hop is Prairie Blue by Kathy Engle.  It's an absolutely gorgeous variety of blues featuring animals and plants native to the prairie. 

Next there was a 10" stack of Honeycomb, a brilliant assortment of yellows, oranges, and pinks.  There is also coordinating yardage, 2 yards each of Sunny and Dandelion in Pumpkin.

There was also a surprise bundle, which I can't share yet.  My secret collection will be featured in November.  I also received supporting yardage from the Foundations collection, fabrics that are always available, that coordinate with Prairie Blue and the surprise collection.

And then I had two packages of Stash Builder Strips.  These are 5" by WOF and are super versatile.  It's fun to see the different colors in each pack!

Of course great quilts depend on great background fabrics!  I have 4 yards each of solid white, black, and gray, as well as 6 yards of the neutral Rice.

Here's all that fabric laid out together:


And then there are the goodies from Island Batik's industry partners!  Accuquilt sent one of their new BOB (Block on Board dies, for the traditional Tree of Life block.  Deb Tucker's Studio 180 Design sent a ruler, mine is for split rects, or half-rectangle units.  And new partner Prairie Spirit Alpacas sent a pressing mat. 


Hobbs sent a variety of battings, as well as a roll of fusible batting strips perfect for jelly roll rugs or other strip-based projects.


Each ambassador got to pick one of the patterns designed by Annie of Patterns By Annie, and Annie created a kit to make the bag!  I picked Double Zip Gear Bag and am committed to making all 3 sizes!  I chose fabrics from the upcoming Bee Kind collection and am so excited to make these bags!  This kit has everything I need, including Soft & Stable to give the bags body, zippers, mesh, and more.


As always, I am overwhelmed by the generosity of Island Batik and all the wonderful sponsors!  I can't wait to play with all of these goodies!

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Exploding Heart

In January, I started the Exploding Hearth Quilt Along with Laura of Slice of Pi Quilts.  I've loved this pattern since she first released it.  I wanted to sew along in 2021 but was too swamped with other projects, so I was excited when she did it again this year.  I kept up pretty well at the beginning but then other deadlines got in the way.  I'm excited to say that I did finish, though, and I love it!

I used the Island Batik collection Contempo, a signature collection for Kate Colleran Designs.  Contempo is an absolutely beautiful fabric rainbow and I knew it would make a fabulous Exploding Heart.  


I was still deep in teacher quilt mode, and one of Fire Monkey's teachers said "I love all the colors" when asked her favorite color, so Contempo + Exploding Heart was a perfect plan.  Except Laura's quilt is 72" x 72", which is larger than I wanted for the teacher quilts. (I was aiming for close to 60" x 60".)  She is open that Exploding Hearts can be cut with Accuquilt dies, specifically quarter square triangles finishing at a 4" square.  I did the math at how big it would be if I cut with the 3" QST die, and that would give me a top 54" square.  I could easily size that up a tad with borders, so that's what I did.  My quilt is smaller than hers, but only because I made my units smaller; I followed her assembly chart exactly as is.  

I did add a few other Island Batik fabrics in with Contempo, though I kept to the same rainbow look.  I used what little leftover I had to make a rainbow binding.  This is actually one of the projects I took on my two-person quilting retreat back in March!  I quilted it there and sewed on the binding, but then noticed a dirt spot on the top.  I washed the dirt off and hung it in the shower to dry, and I love this photo with the partial binding hanging down!

The teacher this was destined for LOVED it.  She even posted  it on her own facebook page.  

Ms. B with her quilt.  Photo posted with permission.

I used my favorite organic wavy line quilting, but I did it at an angle.  I really like how it looks.

The backing is a fun multi-colored print wide back from Backside Fabrics.  I bought several backs for the teacher quilts during their black Friday sale, and this was the one I planned for Exploding Heart.

rainbow goodness on the back

I absolutely LOVE how this came out.  The pattern is easy to follow.  I've seen a lot of different versions and they all look great.  I will definitely make this one again!