Saturday, July 30, 2016

Island Batik Christmas in July Challenge

YAY! It's time for the Island Batik #christmasinjulyib

I've been an Island Batik Ambassador for a few years, and have made some items with the Island Batik collections.

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE the fabric, and the designs, and the colors? It's awesome being an ambassador for such a great company.

Here's one of the quilts I made from one of the earlier collections. The pattern is Radiance by Quilt In A Day. I used almost every scrap of the bundle. It has a whole variety of red, gold and green, many with metallic accents, including deer, snowflakes, pine boughs, and stars. It was one of my favorites to make. I quilted it with feathers, using Superior Thread's Gold Metallic. It's so much prettier in person.

Last year, I used some of the black, tan, and gold holiday prints to make this runner.

This was fun! Sew strips together, use a 60* ruler, and sew it back together. I have some pieces to make something else. I just need to decide on the layout.

So, this year, I used some of the prior years collection, and some from this year's

My idea was to create a new (hopefully) star block, name it Jack's Star, and make a tree skirt to honor my father, who passed away in May. I also wanted it to have a secondary design. My dad was always working on 2 things at once. Working with an assortment of Fat Quarters made some of the design process a challenge.

My first design was this. I drew the block in EQ7 #EQ25. I used the Color tab, instead of the Fabric tab, to color the design. It's easier to figure yardage when it's going to be scrappy.
I loved the look of this, but was limited in the amount of gold batik fabric I had.  I didn't think I had enough to make all those Flying Geese blocks.  
I went back to EQ7 and played with another unit, the Triangle in a Square.  I enjoy making these with the Quilt In A Day ruler.  
And I had just enough of the gold to do it.  

So, here's Plan 2 (actually 4, but I didn't like 1, and 2 had smaller blocks which means more units and more work).
I loved playing with the block to see the secondary design.  I did the units with the fabrics I had, which means that there are a few different reds, a few different greens, and different metallic designs on the gold.  

Here's the top so far.  

I'm not sure if I have enough green for the inner border, and have to figure out if I have enough scraps for the piano key border.  I'll then decide if I'm going to cut the center and opening for the tree.  I may just leave this as a square quilt when it's done. I do know I'll be using Superior Thread's Metallic thread in Gold.  It's the only one I'll use, as it actually stitches, instead of shredding in the eye of the needle.  

Here's one of the blocks by itself. 
And a close-up of the secondary design starting to appear.  

I'm having fun attempting to do these challenges.  I really love the metallic accents on the batiks.  It just adds such a gorgeous touch.  I just wish I had more time to actually sew.  There's still so much to do to get the studio finished, and make sure Mom's okay, and get the house cleaned.  There are so many changes so far this year, and sewing is keeping me grounded, but I need to get some stuff done.  The "WIP"s are growing, and the "need to be quilted" pile is getting bigger, too.  

I'm sure I'll get it all figured out.  
In the meantime, I'm still moving forward, one day at a time.  

Thanks for visiting.  I found out today the Ambassadors are getting new fabric soon.  I'm wondering if there's something in the new box to finish this quilt.  It's so much fun being and Island Batik Ambassador.  

I need to get going on August's project.  I'm playing with Red Tide.  I can't wait to show you what I create.  


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Thread Rack

Hi.  I finally had time to build and paint my new thread rack.  My dad and I came up with this design over 25 years ago, when I had built my house in PA and we put in a sewing room.  I wanted a thread rack that would hold a lot of spools, plus bobbins, and fit between the cabinets.  Since it was screwed into the wall there, when I moved, I left it.  If I had known then that my dad would have gotten sick and passed away before we built my new one, I would have taken it.  But I can't go back.  So I went forward.  

I picked a piece of 1x6 by 6ft board at Home Depot, and had them cut it into 3 equal pieces (2ft each).  I also got a piece of quarter round the same length.  Although I could have cut them (I do have an 8" circular saw) I just figured it would be easier and faster if they did.  I sanded all the edges, and got screws to attach the pieces.  I also got finish nails, 3 1/4" long, to hold the spools.  Total cost was less than $20, and it holds more than 120 large spools, and more than 40 smaller ones.  

When Dad and I designed this, I wanted something that would hang on the wall, and hold the spools up at an angle (so they wouldn't fall off, and the bobbins wouldn't get lost).  He angled the boards by creating a stair-step design.  The boards overlap by just about 3/4", and I glued and screwed them together.  I put the 1/4 round piece under the bottom edge, to help hold the design in the angle on the wall.  

Then I figured the spacing.  I wanted to fit Aurifil spools, so I measured.  The nails needed to be about 1 1/2" apart.  I drew pencil marks for placement lines.  I nailed in the rows of nails, and realized I could do a 4th line, if I offset the nails in that row.  
 If I put the bobbin on the nail first, I can store both.  I tried putting the bobbin on top on the old rack and would knock it off when I tried taking off a spool above.  I decided to be smart, put the bobbin on first, and not have bouncing bobbins, lol.  

I had picked up some Nichole craft paint from ACMoore a few months ago, and decided to use it on this project.  I don't recommend the paint.  I had to do 3 coats, and it's still streaky.  I mixed the white with lavender to get the 3 shades.  It was tricky to mix the same shades again, when I realized it was so thin and I needed to paint it again.  I'll try other brands next time.  It's not a bargain when you have to use more to get something painted.  

I had decided I wanted to make it look stitched, quilted, and used a small brush to paint feathers and swirls.  That was fun to do!  I wanted each shade to have a different design, and used white on the 2 lighter colors, and mixed in more purple for the darker one (I didn't want the pure white to be too obvious).  I then finished it with a clear acrylic sealer spray in gloss finish.  

My brother John helped me get it screwed into the wall studs behind my machine today.  I'm so happy with this, the colors, and the placement.  I'll be able to see my threads easily, and know when I need to replace a color.  I do have 3 of the designer 12 packs from Aurifil, and those will stay in the cases.  

The walls are painted a light grey, which is supposed to help me photograph fabrics closer to natural shades.  It helps to reflect back natural light.  My machine sits on a custom built counter that fits that wall space, and curves to the left.  I'll have lots of room for pushing big quilts around, plus there's room for my serger.  When I need to use it, I can just rotate it off the edge of the desk, and bring it to the curve in front.  I'll share more when I get more of my studio set up, and this all cleaned.  

We took a road trip last week, and had a picnic in the Allentown Rose Garden.  It was a gorgeous day for a drive, and although many of the flowers were spent, there were still some gorgeous blooms.  This is one I loved. 

I'm so glad to finally have this rack installed.  I need to find the box of threads, now.  These were in my tool box, but I have a lot more.  I need to make the ribbon holder next, and then maybe figure out how to store the cones from the serger, and the larger quilting threads.  I never liked the ones with the dowels.  Either they break or they fall out.  Nails hold better, but I'm going to have to come up with a plan for that rack.  

Thanks for visiting, and if you make a thread rack, let me know.  If you want me to make one for you, let me know, too!  I would gladly do more.  I've also given the plans to Jeremy from Dietrick Woodworking.  He can do a much better job than I did.  He also built my quilt display rack for shows, and a great ruler holder.  Look at that site to see photos of them.  


Thursday, June 30, 2016

June's been a challenge

HI!  Greetings, and welcome back (to me, too).  

What a challenge this was!  I'm not a "modern" quilter.  We needed to incorporate one or more of these points.  
  • The use of bold colors and prints
  • High contrast and graphic areas of solid color
  • Improvisational Piecing
  • Minimalism
  • Expansive negative space
  • Alternate grid work.  
Then I thought about what I do make.  I've done some with bold use of colors.  I've done some with high contrast.  I've also done varied setting styles (maybe alternate grid work??)

And I adore using Island Batik!  


But I was stumped on what to make this time.  I pulled some fabrics from Red Tide, my preview collection.  Then I thought I should save that for the big blog hop thing in August.  

So I went through my box of older groupings.  I pulled the blue and greens from the Lavish collection, and played with ideas.  But this wanted to become an Oriental Fan table runner. 

I made the fans on my vintage machine, and had to get my new machine fixed (I broke the needle screw and needed to get a new needle clamp, requiring a 2 1/2 hr trip to PA, to Pocono Sew & Vac).  Got them finished and appliqued, then didn't like the setting fabric choices.  The top one has a little light aqua/green Island Batik design, and the bottom is solid white.  Just looked too blah.  Set it aside.  

Then I pulled the blues and teals from Red Tide again, and played with the idea of doing the Twisted 9 Patch pattern from Quilt In A Day.  I had the ruler and pattern for a while, but just couldn't start cutting the fabric.  

I was thinking about doing a Twisted Log Cabin in the pink/orange/red colors from Red Tide.  But I loved the look of the more white areas, and how they looked curvy.  So, I started cutting some of the pinks in my Island Batik tote.  Some were purchased, and others were from the Ambassador box.  

Then I read the pattern again, and realized I needed 4 lights and 4 pinks, not the 3 of each I had planned.  What to do??  I had already started cutting strips, and needed something that would work, and had enough yardage.  Okay, switch this to the "dark #4", put this in for "Light #3".  Oh, look, the piece I just got in the mail today works for that!  

I finally had some time last night to start piecing it, but the
wonky ruler is up in the studio, and Mom's sleeping.  I can't go up now.  Put it off until ...
This afternoon, I decided to play with the wonky ruler.  But wait!  I found a better setting color fabric for the Oriental Fan runner.  It's from Red Tide and was pulled for the Twisted 9 Patch.  But it works well with Lavish.  And the pale green 1/4 circle is from London Fog.  

Okay, get that runner done, at least to a top.  Quilting can wait.

It got photobombed by the Hollyhock bud, lol. 

I did decide to do more on the Twisted Log Cabin in pinks.  

This will probably become a baby quilt.  There's a mix of collections in this, and I have 9 blocks up to "Add light #3".  

Yes, it was a little crazy.  In between helping my mom, and taking care of things at our house, and fixing things, and gardening, and some family time.  Today is almost July 1.  My challenge isn't done, exactly.  
But I did try to do something more modern, more improv, more with bold colors.  Although using the Wonky ruler from Quilt In a Day isn't exactly improv, it will look more modern than a regular one.  

What I love about these challenges:  They make us think.  They make us do something different, and they allow a mix of Island Batik fabrics, not just one collection.  To me, that's fun.  In the midst of the daily challenges that come after the death of a parent, and a move, and other "high stress" issues, comes the challenge to just play with color and gorgeous fabrics, and make something pretty.  I may not be finishing much now, but I'm sewing.   I'm blessed to be an Island Batik Ambassador.  It's keeping me thinking and having fun, even in the midst of the distractions of other "finish me now" projects.  Thanks, Island Batik.  

Check the Island Batik Facebook page to see more of the June Modern challenge pieces.  I'm sure you'll be inspired.  

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Opposites Attract Blog Hop and Giveaway!

Hi, and welcome back to my blog.  I know it's been over a month since I've written. 

I've been working on some things, but didn't blog about them.  I think I had mentioned that my dad was ill.  He had an infection, and passed away on May 15 from complications from the antibiotics he was given.  It's been a rough 3 months.  Although we were hoping that he would have continued to fight, he had just lost too much weight to fight again, when he had the final relapse of C-Diff.  He was a great man, and loved by many.  He's taught me so much, and was always proud of what I could create.  We are all missing him.  

In the meantime, I've also been working on getting my new studio set up, and working on some projects for custom orders, and my piece for this blog hop.  Marion of Seams To Be Sew invited a variety of bloggers to help celebrate opposites.  

We were to create a small quilt using 2 colors.  Since I had planned to make a pink and white wall-hanging for my new bathroom, I searched for a pattern to use.  I had planned to make the December 2015 Aurifil Designer of the Month mini, so I picked some of my red/pink fabrics from Island Batik, and Sprinkles, a fun neutral from the basics collection.  I had a sample of the main deep magenta from my Ambassador box, but purchased more.  I also used Raspberry, a basic from their collection to add the medium shade.  I picked these fabrics because they went well with my towels from Lands' End, Hot Fuchsia.

 Although it was rainy, the quilt matches some of the roses in my yard.  
 Island Batik's colors are so pretty!  I love the texture and quality of the fabrics.  Being an Ambassador is awesome!

When the quilt is finished (with the darker fabric for a binding) it will hang here, on the quilt rack I purchased for it.  All will be mounted correctly, not with tape and thumb tacks, lol.  I'll share when the whole bathroom is done.  I think it's going to add such a fun and pretty touch to the wall!  

If you hadn't heard, I moved back home to help my parents, and have a small basement apartment in their house.  The bathroom and kitchen in the apartment had black mold, so the bath was ripped out, and I've had most of it rebuilt.  I still need to do another coat of paint and add some shelves. but picked deep pink for the towels and accents.  We still need to finish the kitchen, and I'm using the 2nd floor bedroom for my studio.  Mom's really been glad I'm here for her, now, and she's having fun doing photo shoots and helping me pick fabrics for projects.  She even went to a quilt show with me.

With all the changes and happenings over the last few months, it feels really good to be sewing, quilting and blogging again.  Each day brings something fun, even with the sadness of missing my dad.  

Please also visit the other bloggers sharing today, and enter the Rafflecopter link for a chance to win a gift certificate from The Fat Quarter Shop, and another prize from DJInkers.

Teatime Creations
Sew Many Yarns

Thanks so much for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy the opposites!  


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Island Batik #AprilShowersIB Tulip Garden

The Island Batik Ambassador challenge for April was to make anything, any size, that relates to April Showers or Spring Flowers.  I had designed a foundation pieced table runner for my Sister-in-Law last year, when she asked for something Spring, but I was going to use regular print fabric, because she loved the bunny and tulip fabric I had.  I still plan to make that one (yes, I'm behind) and figured a similar design would be fun in Island Batik.  I was right!  I think any design, either traditional or modern, works just as well in Island Batik fabric.  Maybe even better, because Island Batik doesn't fray like most other prints.  I LOVE NOT having to trim so many threads from the backside of my quilt top before quilting.  
 I found the Tulip block and stem in the foundation pieced section of EQ7.  My original plan was to use 6" blocks, but for this runner, I made them 4", then I played with layouts.  Did I want it to look like you were standing in the middle of a garden filled with tulips, or have the stems in the center, and the tulip flowers on the outer edge?  

As you can tell, I picked Option 1, flowers in the center.  

I foundation pieced all the blocks, and then played with the border sizes.  I added a 1 1/2" border in the light yellow fabric I had used for the center of each tulip, Island Basics Butter, and picked the orange and deep pink print, that is also in the tulips, for the 2" outer border.  The Tulip flowers are all from Coral Reef.  The background is Basics Cream.  The green stem fabric is from a different collection of Island Batik.   The flower colors were all left over pieces from the Coral Reef quilt I shared in March, with the Ocean Waves blocks, and are still available in your favorite LQS that carry Island Batik.  I tried to use the scraps to the best use, which is why the outer border is only 2 1/2" cut.  

I still need to choose a backing and quilting design, but I couldn't wait to take photos!  I was driving home (the back way) from the grocery store yesterday, and passed the entrance to the Garden City Pool.  They had 2 full sections of orange and yellow tulips!  I couldn't believe they matched my runner!  I had to grab my camera and the top and get some shots today.  Mom waited in the car while I jumped out and took a few photos.  Although the sun was a little bright, I still thought it was a perfect location shoot.

Until the police officer came up next to me...

Actually, I had stopped in the turning lane for the entrance and put on the hazard lights.  I knew the few cars that would want to enter the park could easily get around me, and it was the closest to the area I needed (the parking slots were closer to the pool, not the entrance).  I took some with my camera, and some with my phone (for Instagram) and got back in the car.  The officer was going to make a left turn from the corner behind me, but saw the flashers, and made the right, to come up next to me (I saw him in my rear view mirror).  He asked if everything was fine, and I said, "Yes, just stopped to take a few photos of the tulips.  Thanks."  So he waved and drove off.  I didn't mention the quilt top, lol

I wonder how many quilters he's asked that question to?  Mom just laughed.  She thought I would get in trouble.  I also wonder if the Garden City police will read my blog, and see what I was doing today, lol.  The flowers were perfect, though.  I think Mom's enjoying my quilting adventures.

Thanks for visiting, and I hope you come back to see how I quilt this.  I hope to get it finished and in my shop soon.  But I have a baby quilt to make and a special order to finish.  I'll share details on those soon!  And check back for May's Island Batik challenge!  And I can't wait to show you the fabrics that will be available at Spring Market.  I have the Red Tide collection.  Just wait until you see them!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March Madness with Island Batik

Hi!  Thanks for visiting!  This is a #MiniMadnessIB post, plus announcing the winner of the #Creativenewquilts blog hop.  

First, the winner. picked #29, so I've contacted Janet for her information.  

Now, onto the #MarchmadnessIB challenge. 
Island Batik has challenged the Ambassadors to come up with something each month, using the fabrics we've gotten in our boxes.  Since this is my 3rd year as Ambassador, I have a small stash of pieces, and I've been using it for challenges for other blogs.  My schedule was a little crazy, aka madness, lately, so I decided to finish at least 1 of the minis I made using Island Batik for last year's Aurifil DOM (designer of the month) challenge.  I was hoping for more, but it's March 30.  Maybe I'll get the others finished soon. 

So, Kimberly Jolly designed this mini. 

Kimberly Jolly photo from Aurifil's blog post

I was working with a gorgeous rainbow of FQs from Island Batik, from the 2015 Full Bloom collection.  It was the gorgeous collection of colors used in the 4th and 6th designs Block of the Month quilt, the appliqued flowers in various sizes.  

I played with the design from Aurifil, using colored pencils, and came up with this version.  

And I put it in a project bag, until I could figure out how I wanted to quilt it.  And it sat!  For a year!  Until the Ambassadors were challenged to create a mini.  But I must admit I never liked the pale yellow border.  It just didn't balance with the clear, bright colors in the rest of the quilt, although it did match the center yellow square.  I just didn't know what else to use for a border.  

If you've been following me, you know I recently moved, and I'm (still) in the process of organizing and painting my new studio, but I do have my main machine set up in my basement apartment.  The studio is on the 2nd floor in my parents' house, and needs some more work.  When I pulled out the minis to finish, I looked through my Island Batik box to see if there was something I liked better for the border.  I pulled a deeper purple, and a brighter yellow, and even one of the oranges from Coral Reef Ocean Waves quilt (you can see that on the link).  And it still wasn't right.  

Then I decided to organize my little cutting space in the basement, and found the perfect border.  Yes, it's from Coral Reef!  It's the multi colored print, with all of the colors from this mini and I think it looks so much better.  

 I LOVE the border now.  It has orange, hot pink and purple, and even a touch of green and yellow (although my mini doesn't have green).  I also love that the collections from other years go so well with the newer collections from Island Batik.  
 I quilted it with concentric feathers, to accent the colors in the radiant rows.  I used Aurifil 50wt cotton in 4651, named Bari, a mix of yellow, pink and lavender pastels that looks great on the yellow, orange and light pink sections.  I used Aurifil 50wt 4020, Fuchsia, for the deeper pink diamond, and finished with Aurifil 50wt in 2540, medium lavender, for the lavender, purple and border areas.  

So, sometimes, a UFO gets finished because of a challenge.  Yay for challenges!  I used Warm & Natural batting, and a scrap of the peach mottle dyed muslin for the backing, and added a hanging sleeve.  I'm very happy that it's now done, just in time for #marchmadnessib.  

I did make 2 mug rugs, too.  Those are minis, right?  I used the scraps from Coral Reef Ocean Waves to make these.  I did a craft fair, and usually make a few mug rugs, and offer one for the vendor raffles, if asked.  

 Yes, that's the same purple/fuchsia/green fabric from the border on the larger mini.  These measure about 8 by 9", and they're perfect for using scraps, practicing free-motion quilting, and putting under your favorite beverage and cookie snack.  

Have you made a mini or a mug rug?  I have more to make!  I realized some of the Sea Salt Sandy FQs I have that I didn't use on the pyramid quilt would be great in the Aurifil Winter Stars mini, and would match the towels in my new bathroom.  That may be next on my list, after I finish painting the bathroom.  

If you want to see more of the Island Batik Ambassador's mini quilts, please visit Joan at Moose Stash Quilting.  She's sharing links to all of them!  

And I know what I want to make for the April Showers challenge!  

I hope you'll visit again to see how we play with @IslandBatik.  Thanks!