Saturday, December 23, 2023

Shoo Fly Snowflake

It's time for the last Island Batik ambassador challenge of the year.  How is it the end of the year already?!?  We were challenged to make something to celebrate a holiday of our choice.  I don't do a lot of holiday decorating so I was looking for something holiday appropriate that would also not be out of place all year.  I really like the quilt that AccuQuilt used as their summer sew-along: Shoo Fly Spin.  It was designed to be cut with their Cube, and they give cutting instructions for a variety of sizes.  I chose to use the 6" cube, which gave me a finished quilt of 50" x 68".

When I follow someone else's pattern, I rarely use colors exactly as they are shown in the sample.  But this time, I liked theirs so much I didn't change anything!  My borders are different, but that was the only change I made.  I used fabrics from Island Batik's always available Foundations collection: solid white, solid gray, and a red blender.  The binding is solid dark gray.  

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

The quilt uses two blocks: a traditional shoo fly and a block Accuquilt created using their cube shapes.  I think the 2nd block looks like a snowflake.  Husband didn't think the colors looked holiday enough for a holiday challenge.  When we were out at a local holiday lights celebration, I pointed out some decorations that looked like peppermints, and he conceded that maybe the blocks looked a little like peppermints. I chose to name it Shoo Fly Snowflake for my interpretation, but whatever gets you to a holiday look works for me!  I like that I could put it out before Christmas and leave it out through Valentine's day.


I used Aurifil thread in all piecing and quilting. For piecing I used up various light-colored bobbin ends, and I quilted with white thread.  I remembered to start with a fresh Schmetz needle at the start of the project.  The batting is Hobbs 80/20, though admittedly I created a Franken-Batt with various pieces of leftover Hobbs batting.  (I like fusible batting tape to create a larger batting from leftover pieces.)

My family took a vacation in early December.  On the drive from Charlotte to Florida, I sewed all the binding.  I took advantage of the decorated hotel lobby for photos.  

This brings my 5th years as an Island Batik ambassador to a close.  I can't believe I've been working with Island Batik for 5 years!  I so appreciate the opportunity to work with their beautiful fabrics!  Thanks for another great year, Island Batik!

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Out and About

Welcome to another Island Batik blog hop, featuring collections that will be making their way to quilt shops near you in the next few weeks & months.  This is a project I look forward to every year: making one of the bags designed by Annie Unrein of By Annie.  I started making her patterns in 2020 when they were first one of the Island Batik Ambassador challenges, and I found that while I struggle with most 3D projects and bag patterns, something about Annie's designs just click for me!

For this challenge, I was given the Limerick collection by Kathy Engle for Raija of Quilter's Treasure Chest.  Limerick is a dazzling collection of purples, teals, and greens.  The pattern I picked out called for 4 fabrics, and we had to choose months ago.  Imagine my surprise when, in addition to the fabric specifically for the bag, I was sent a full half yard bundle of the whole collection!  Because of this, I actually used more than the original 4 fabrics in my bag.  There are 7 fabrics from Limerick, plus the always-available basic Navy in my bag.

Which bag to choose is always the hardest part for me--even harder than picking the fabric!  I had my eye on one of the new patterns Annie released last year, but ended up changing my mind.  My family has a big trip to Universal Orlando planned next month to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and I thought a small backpack would be prefect for that trip.  Annie has several backpacks, and I was most interested in Out and About.  It has a pleasing shape, isn't too big, and has lots of pockets and compartments.  

 Items used in this project were provided to me by Island Batik, By Annie, Schmetz, and Aurifil.


inside of the compartment on the front

I was sent a kit that had everything I would need to make Out and About, including Soft and Stable, the foam that makes Annie's bags stand up so well and look professional, mesh for some of the pockets, fold-over elastic, and the hardware for the backpack straps.  And, of course, the beautiful Island Batik fabrics I chose for my bag!


inside of main bag

Annie's bags have a lot of steps and take me a fair amount of time.  They aren't difficult so much as time-consuming.  I also highly recommend watching her accompanying add-on videos that go over the difficult steps in a bag.  I find these videos super helpful!

Watching the add-on video for the next-to-last step

This bag has a front compartment.  They way Annie designed it, there is a border on the top of that compartment, just under the zipper.  Since I picked Out and About, I have been thinking about a way to jazz up that pocket, either just the border or the whole front pocket.  I thought about an embroidery design but couldn't find anything I liked, and was also worried about finishing in time.  Ultimately, I got out the daisy die and my accuquilt and cut daisy petals out of my main fabric to make an appliqued flower for the front.  I absolutely love how that turned out!  I used another fabric from Limerick for the daisy center.  

this bag is cat approved

I use a Schmetz top-stitch needle whenever I make one of Annie's bags, and this was no exception.  I had no trouble going through all the layers of this bag--it really helps to go slow!!  I used three different colors of Aurifil thread, and switched thread fairly frequently depending on the fabrics.  The main purple dotted fabric went with Aurifil #2545 Medium Purple, Aurufil #2784 Dark Navy blended beautifully with Island Batik's Navy, and Aurifil #2720 Light Delft Blue worked well with the lighter dotted fabric I chose as the lining.  

I am beyond pleased with my purple Out and About backpack and can't wait to use it on my trip!!!  Two other ambassadors made By Annie bags using fabrics from the Limerick collection today, be sure to visit them:  Maryellen of Mary Mack Made Mine and Leah of Quilted Delights

Monday, October 30, 2023

North Carolina Star

For October's Island Batik challenge, ambassadors were each sent the North Carolina Star die from AccuQuilt.  The North Carolina Star is a vintage block that was published in the Chicago Tribune in December of 1933.  AccuQuilt recently released a Block on Board (abbreviated BOB) die for the North Carolina Star that eliminated the y-seams in the original.  We were challenged to use the North Carolina Star die or any of its pieces, and were encouraged, though not required, to use fall fabric to celebrate this time of year.

I was really excited for this challenge!  Living in North Carolina, it felt like a gift to honor my state.  The die makes a 12" finished block and has 56 pieces.  Yes, 56!  That's a lot, but that many pieces also means that there are a lot of ways to change the look of this block.  I know that I will eventually play with a lot of different colorations of this block! I didn't want to lay out the blocks directly next o each other because I was worried that would be too busy, so I started thinking about blocks I could alternate with the North Carolina Star rather than using sashing.  Most of the other BOB dies I have are for 8" blocks; I don't have any other 12" BOB dies.  Or so I thought.  I realized that the Hunter's Star die makes a 6" unit, but that unit is actually a quarter of the star, so finished full block would be 12".  Perfect!  I headed straight for EQ8 to play with designs that combined North Carolina Star with Hunter's Star.  I came up with a design that I loved using both North Carolina Star and Hunter's Star.

original design in EQ8

In my most recent Ambassador box, I was sent a 10" stack of Buds and Blooms, a signature collection designed by Island Batik's main fabric designer Kathy Engle for Swan Amity Studios.  Buds and Blooms is a beautiful collection of yellows, oranges, purples, with just a touch of pink and burgundy.  While purple might not be a dominate color in changing leaves, the rest of the collection does remind me of a beautiful view of trees full of fall color.  I added the basic Jade as an accent and used solid black as the background to really set off the beautiful colors in Buds and Blooms.

Because I was working with a 10" stack, I was limited in how much of each fabric I had.  As a result, my quilt is colored a little differently than the original design in EQ8.  I ended up with two different fabric combination in my North Carolina Star blocks.

My finished quilt is 60" x 60".  I used Hobbs 80/20 batting and decided that a large spiral quilting would look good.  I chose to quilt with purple thread, Aurifil #2545 Medium Purple.  All piecing and quilting was done with Schmetz needles.  

marking the center circle for the spiral quilting

Items used in this project were provided to me by Island Batik, Accuquilt, Schmetz, Hobbs, and Aurifil.

I have really enjoyed seeing all the ways my fellow Island Batik ambassadors have used the North Carolina Star die!  I want to try a lot of the different variations that I've seen, so I know I'll be making more quilts using this block and this die.


Sunday, October 22, 2023

Bowl Me Over

Back in April or May, I joined a Slow Along with Randi of Randi's Roost to make By Annie's Bowl Me Over.  Bowl Me Over is a fairly large purse.  The Slow Along ended around the 4th of July but I finished in early September and just never got to posting.  I want to start using it as my daily purse and felt like I needed to post it first!

Note: Slow Along is not a typo.  Randi calls her sew alongs Slow Alongs because she runs them at a very relaxed pace, which is great for bags with as many steps as Annie's bags have!


All fabrics are Island Batik, and I think there are 6 different fabrics.  The main fabric is one I bought because I love it so much, it's from an older collection called Floral Wonders by Jerry Khiev and I bought it at Sew What & Batiks Etc in Wytheville, VA last summer.  The rest of the fabrics are leftover from various collections I've been sent by Island Batik over the years.  

Buttercup does like to come check on my progress every once in a while!

The inside, all clipped together.

I'm excited to see how I like this as my daily purse!

Friday, October 6, 2023

Covering the World, One Quilt at a Time

Creating quilts to donate is one of my favorite parts of quilting.  I like knowing that something I made is being used by someone I never met.  I have given quilts to many organizations over the years, including local charities, national charities, and drives for terrible events like natural disasters and survivors of mass shootings.  For the second half of 2023, Accuquilt has partnered with Island Batik and Baby Lock to Cover the World, One Quilt at a Time.

My favorite donation quilts to make are quilts for kids, so I wanted something fun.  I have the dinosaur die from Accuquilt and feel like dinosaurs are always a hit.  My most recent Island Batik Ambassador box included a strip pack of Morris Tiles, a pretty blend of browns, teals, peaches, and wines. I planned a simple block with an appliqued dino surrounded by a strip from the pack.  


Because the brachiosaurus is so much longer than the t-rex or the stegosaurus, I put them all in middle so that rectangle could be larger. I pulled out the browns and teals of Morris Tiles for the outside of the blocks and used various green scraps for the dinosaur appliques.  The background is Batter, one of my favorite Island Batik neutrals that sadly has been discontinued.

Fire Monkey & Buddy in the trees

After making the fun dinosaur quilt, I still had a lot of strips left, including all the peach and wine fabrics from the collection, so I decided to make a second quilt.  I bought the llama die the day they released it (my sister-in-law loves llamas) but hadn't used it yet.  


First, I had to look up what colors are naturally occurring for llamas.  The answer was all shades of brown, white, gray, and black, and they are occasionally spotted.  I looked for scraps in those colors for the llamas and used leftover bits of the teals from the dinosaur blocks for the llama blankets.  The background is the basic Sky.

These were very simple and fun to make.  I did the dino top in one long afternoon, and the llama top in 3 shorter sewing sessions.  The appliqueing was the only somewhat time-consuming step, and even that didn't take too long.

I will be donating both of these to Levine Children's Hospital here in Charlotte. 

Do you also like making donation quilts?  Island Batik and Accuquilt are offering monthly prizes between now and the end of the year.  You can see all the details of how to enter here.  

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Lavender Blue with Island Batik (plus giveaway!)

Welcome to my stop on Island Batik's Pieced to Perfection blog hop!  Our challenge was to use our assigned collection and any form of paper piecing to create a lap size or larger quilt.  I absolutely LOVE English Lavender and was thrilled to have received this gorgeous collection by Kathy Engle.

But.  They don't call them challenges for nothing.  I do not enjoy paper piecing.  I know how to do it but I don't like; it takes me a really long time, my brain gets really mixed up, and I always make a lot of mistakes.  I do enjoy English paper piecing (EPP) but only for small projects, and there was no way I had enough time to do a large quilt with EPP.  The size was a problem even for standard paper piecing, as I didn't have a huge amount of time from when I received the fabric to when my project was due and paper piecing takes me a lot longer than traditional piecing. So I tried to come up with a way to paper piece that I could do a fairly large project and not curse it the entire time.

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


When I think of paper piecing, I think of sewing on the lines and trimming and matching and flipping and all this stuff that my brain struggles with.  But there are also more and more foundation papers on the market, where you do stitch with paper and fabric, but you use the paper more as a platform for stitching and/or trimming and there isn't all the flipping and such that confuses me.  So I looked around at some options and found Triangles on a Roll from It's Sew Emma (Fat Quarter Shop).  You lay out the paper on the right size strip, pin in place, stitch on the dotted lines, then trim on the solid lines and presto!  Half Square Triangles of your chosen size, no trimming needed.  This would work!  It met the paper piecing/foundation piecing requirement without me losing my mind.

Next step was to pick a pattern with lots of half square triangles.  I have been playing with some designs using the classic Carpenter's Star or Carpenter's Wheel block.  Each block needs 40 half square triangles.  I liked a 3 x 3 layout, so that meant 360 half square triangles!  Plenty of foundation piecing! The final quilt measures 56" square.

Piles of Triangles!

I used 18 of the 20 fabrics in the English Lavender collection. I also used Navy in the blocks and Pearl as the background; both are from the Basics Foundations collection and are always available.  Fun fact: we are sent 2 different 2-yard cuts that coordinate with each collection in our boxes.  One of my collections earlier in the year was matched with Pearl and Harbor.  Clearly someone in the warehouse had fun with fabrics & names. 🙂 

All those papers, removed

I used Aurifil thread 2562 Lilac for the quilting.  I chose diagonal organic way lines that followed the lines of the blocks.  I chose a Cotton & Wool blend batting from Hobbs' Tuscany Collection.  I love this batting!  It gives such a lovely texture and definition to the quilting!  Schmetz needles are always my needle of choice; Kimberly Jolly of It's Sew Emma and Fat Quarter shop recommends a size 90 topstitch needle for the triangles on a roll, so that's what I used.  Schmetz needles make going through the fabric and the paper so easy!


This collection is such a beautiful representation of my favorite color combination of blue and purple!  English Lavender pre-cuts are in stores now and yardage is shipping soon.  Here are a few shops in the US that already have English Garden in 2 1/2" strip packs or 10" stacks.
    A& J Sewing Studio -- Morgantown, WV
    Bill's Sewing Machine Company -- Hildebran, NC
    Bird In Hand Fabric -- Bird In Hand, PA
    Creations Quilt Shop -- Clouquet, MN
    Laural's Fabric and More -- Lino Lakes, MN
    Mary Mack Made Mine -- Franklin Square, NY
    Quilt Cottage Co -- Hays, KS
    Quilter's Cove -- Newport, OR


What's a Blog Hop without Giveaways?!  For 2" finished HSTs, I needed to cut my strips of fabric 6 1/2" wide.  I have some leftover partial strips of many of the English Lavender fabrics and I have bundled them with the rest of the Triangles on a Roll papers.  Leave a comment and visit The Darling Dogwood on facebook for entries.  Any blog comment will do, but if you need a prompt, tell me your favorite classic star block.  Carpenter's Star is one of mine!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to visit my fellow ambassadors Jennifer of Curlicue Creations and Anorina of Samelia's Mum to see what they made with the beautiful English Lavender collection!

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Pieced to Perfection blog hop starts today!

The Pieced to Perfection blog hop with Island Batik starts today!  In our July boxes, each ambassador was sent a half yard bundle and challenged to use as many fabrics as possible from that collection in a lap size (or larger) quilt.  The theme this time around is paper piecing, which could be either foundation paper piecing or English paper piecing.

I was so excited to be sent the English Lavender collection designed by Kathy Engle!  It's an absolutely beautiful mix of purples and blues--my favorite color combination!  My day to post is September 13th.  Come on back to see what paper pieced creation I cam up with using these gorgeous fabrics!

Every week, Island Batik has a giveaway of a pre-cut of one of the spring collections. The Island Batik giveaway changes every Friday.  Many ambassadors will have additional giveaways with their posts. I'll have a bonus giveaway as well, on September 13.

Don't miss a single day of the Pieced to Perfection blog hop!  Here is the full schedule:


September 5

Elita Sharpe, Busy Needle Quilting

Denise Looney, For the Love of Geese

September 6

Sandra Starley, Textile Time Travels

Sarah Pitcher, Pitcher’s Boutique

September 7

Connie Kauffman, Kauffman Designs

Brenda Alburl, Songbird Designs

Preeti Harris, Sew Preeti Quilts



September 11

Brittany Fisher, Bobbin with Brittany

Gail Sheppard, Quilting Gail

September 12

Susan Deshensky, Lady Blue Quilts

Maryellen McAuliffe, Mary Mack Made Mine

September 13

Emily Leachman, The Darling Dogwood

Anorina Morris, Samelia’s Mum

Jennifer Thomas, Curlicue Creations

September 14

Claudia Porter, Create with Claudia

Victoria Johnson, Forever Quilting for You


September 18

Lana Russel, Lana Quilts

Lisa Pickering, Lisa’s Quilting Passion

September 19

Randi Jones, Randi’s Roost

Suzy Webster, Websterquilt

September 20

Mania Hatziioannidi, Mania for Quilts

Pamela Boatright, Pamela Quilts

Leah Malasky, Quilted Delights

September 21

Renee Atkinson, Pink Tulip Quilting

Reed Johnson, Blue Bear Quilts