Friday, September 23, 2016

Island Batik Bountiful Table Topper and more

Island Batik Ambassadors were challenged to make something for the table for September.  We recently got a new box of fabric, and I was drawn to the orange, gold, brown and green bundle for this.  I love making the Autumn Leaves table runner from Quilt In A Day, and decided to make the leaf blocks from the bundle.  
All the pieces were cut out.  The colors are so much prettier in person.
.Blocks are done!  I love the options that the Autumn Leaves pattern offers.  

I decided to create the 2 block runner, which is the bonus pattern.  I've done this before, with a neutral center square, but I wanted this one to be a little more colorful, and use another piece from the collection.  I'll use the other 2 leaf blocks in a similar one, using another of the assortment for a center square.  I also added a full border with the same fabric.  I did cut out the strips for the pieced border, on the cover of the pattern, but plan to make some place mats, so I'll use them for that.  

I wanted to share tonight, so these photos were taken with indoor light, so it's not the best, but when I get a chance to quilt it, I'll take better photos.  

I did happen to notice that Mom had the perfect platter to accent the runner.  It's a vintage ceramic triple leaf dish, and the perfect shade!  

So, I hope you like my #bountifultabletopper top!  

Other things have been nuts over the last few weeks.  I did get 2 runners and a quilt finished, and had lots of fun at the St. Anne's Spirit Day craft fair.  But I also had a broken tooth that splintered again, and broke below the gum line.  Any time I ate something, I had shooting pains.  I was able to get an appointment with a new dentist (new insurance).  He recommended emergency extraction. The dental surgery place he recommended had no surgeons available this week, so I had to call my insurance and try to find one who was available.  I finally got one who did the extraction last night, and it seems to have gone well.  We're going on a group trip to a resort for a few days soon, and I wanted to be able to eat all the yummy food they make.  I knew if I didn't have it removed this week, I wouldn't be able to eat.  I was so excited to try ice cream tonight, and it was fine!  I'm excited about healing and having a great time on vacation.  I'll be bringing some projects with me, though.  I have a blog hop coming soon, and can prep the applique pieces soon, cut out some other projects. 

Here are the recent finishes.  

It felt great to finish these!  
Thanks for visiting!  

Lori S was the winner in the Island Batik #SeasideSummerHop.  I hope she likes the assortment of Island Batik FQs plus a little roll that I sent.  See you soon!  Happy Fall, and I hope you can find inspiration from more of the Island Batik Ambassadors.  Just search #Bountifultabletoppers.  

Monday, August 15, 2016

Island Batiks Seaside Summer Blog Hop

Hi and Welcome to my day on the Island Batik Ambassador's Hop!  I'm glad you're stopping by. 

My collection is Red Tide.  It's a mix of colors, and I had an assortment of orange and red, purples, and greens.  There are some lovely designs in this collection, and I especially love the purple swirls.  

What would you do if you were given a group of 1/2 yard cuts?  I  wanted to make a quilt.  Nothing too big, as it's hot and my new studio only has fans, so far.  I don't have a long arm, and do my own quilting.  So, smaller works for summer projects.  

I wanted something different, too.  Not a published pattern, but something fun.  I went looking for block designs for inspiration.  Nothing was named for Red Tide, or Seaside.  I didn't want boats, because I was going to use the orange and purple selections.  So, for inspiration, I went to Quilters Cache and found the Triangle Chain block.  I love the look.  It's different.  But I wanted it bigger.  Marsha has it as a 9".  
I played in EQ7 #EQ25 to change the size and make it easier to cut.  I decided a 16" block would work.  That made each quadrant  8".  The lighter purple Half Triangle Square finishes at 4", the sashing and "cornerstones" are 2" (cut 2 1/2"), and the smaller orange HSTs finish at 3".  Large purple HST piece is an 8 7/8 square, cut on one diagonal.  Larger orange HST is a 6 7/8 square, cut on diagonal.  Each section should be 8 1/2" before you join them to make one square.  

Then the fun begins!  What happens when you play with the layout??  

Here's the EQ7 layout.  
 I love it!!  

And then I found the green/purple fabrics I had actually set aside for a different top, and liked them better.  So, change the orange to green.  I made 4 large blocks, added a 2" border (cut at 2 1/2") and a 4" (cut at 4 1/2) border, because that would need 4 strips, and I had 1/2 yard.  

I went to the Island Batik website and downloaded the actual photos from the fabric, to upload into EQ7, and see what the prints will look like.  I also played with a dark blue for the cornerstones, but liked the bright green better.  
I love being able to get an idea of the quilt using only EQ7 on my computer.  I knew I didn't have lots of fabric, and couldn't afford to make a mistake in cutting.  
Although I knew I wanted the quilt to look like a large star, I put the blocks on my design wall to see how they worked in a different arrangement.  I put the border fabrics next to them, just to double check.  While this is a fun layout, and the purple and green sections make really interesting designs, it didn't have the impact I was hoping for.  

Ah, Eureka!  That's it!  I love the purple star points!  Don't be afraid to play with your blocks to see what happens when you change the direction.  The difference here is just turning the block, all pointing a green section to the center.  

So, here's the finished top.  

Here's one of the blocks, with a hint at the quilting.  

Yes, I actually, finally, have something quilted!! It's been a while.

This one finished at about 45" square.  The larger blocks were fast and easy to make, and made a quick top. 

And my summer recipe!  
I love zucchini bread.  Since it's something you can make ahead and freeze, it's the perfect thing to bring to the beach, for a treat after swimming.  Although when I'm eating it at home, I prefer it lightly toasted and buttered, it's great for a quick snack, too.  

Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom (optional)
¼ tsp baking powder
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups peeled, grated raw zucchini (I always add a little more).
1 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans).
  1. Preheat oven to 350*. Grease and flour 2 large loaf pans (as in photo), or 3 small pans. (My small ones are about 4 x 6).
  2.  Cream eggs, oil, sugar and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Sift together the remaining dry ingredients, and stir into the egg mixture. Add zucchini, nuts and vanilla, and stir until combined.
  4. Pour into the prepared pans, and bake for about 1 hour. Knife inserted in center should come out clean, but moist.
Hints: Double the recipe, and freeze the extras. To freeze, wrap each cooled loaf in aluminum foil, and place in a large zipper freezer bag. It keeps well for about 2 months.

Seaside Summer Blog Hop Schedule
Monday Aug 15 - Rain Forest

Tuesday Aug 16 - Red Tide

Wednesday Aug 17 - Sand Dune

Thursday Aug 18 - Seashore

Friday Aug 19 - Surf Squirt

Monday Aug 22 - Tradewinds

Tuesday Aug 23 - Equinox

Wednesday Aug 24 - Sea Canyon

Thursday Aug 25 - Sea Foam

Friday Aug 26 - Spoolin' Around

Monday Aug 29 - Tide Pools

Tuesday Aug 30 - Wind and Sea

Wednesday Aug 31 - Spring Zing

Thursday Sep 1 - Splash

Friday Sept 2 - Landscapes

Now for the fun!  Island Batiks is sponsoring a sweet give-away.  Follow the directions on the Rafflecopter link below.

I'm offering a second give-away, and I'll use to choose a winner on Saturday, September 3rd.  US winners only, unless you wish to pay the additional shipping fees.  Just become an email follower of my blog, and follow my Mary Mack Made Mine Facebook Page and leave a comment that you follow, and if you've tried Island Batik fabrics.  You have a chance to win something from my Island Batik Ambassador box.  It will be a surprise!  

Thanks again for stopping by!  I hope you enjoyed my novel, lol.  Please remember to visit the other Ambassadors!  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Jelly Roll Race Challenge

I love being a member of Quiltsy Team on Etsy.  It's a seller's team, and we have members from all over the globe, many of whom chat about everything.  It's like a huge, global, small sewing guild.  I consider many of the members friends.  We all have a different style, but we all support each other's business on Etsy.  Recently, Gail and Lauren decided to coordinate a Jelly Roll Race challenge.  36 members signed up to make a Jelly Roll Race style quilt, using fabrics from our stash, or a pre-cut package of 2 1/2" strips.  The strips are sewn end to end, in one LOOOOOONG piece of fabric, then that's sewn, long edges together, and sewn again, and sewn again, until you have rectangle for a quilt top.  It's almost mindless, and you can't often control where the fabrics end up.  You can add insert/accent squares between the longer strips, or just use leftover pieces from making binding.  It's fun.  The challenge was to pick your fabrics, submit photos, which would be featured in the Group page on Facebook and have the top completed and ready to list by September 1.  

Any guesses how many of the strips chosen were the same, from 36 of us??  If you guessed NONE, you would be correct.  NO ONE picked the same fabrics!!  So, although each quilt would be the same style (or similar), none would be the same fabrics and colors.  

Here's my pack.  I chose Viola by Island Batik.  It's an older pack.  I've used it before in a different quilt, but had 2 of them.  It seemed like the right time to use it.  I also added some neutral strips to the mix.  As an Island Batik Ambassador, we sometimes get cuts of fabric that are left from making pre-cuts.  The bundle I had (admittedly for a while, but didn't know what I wanted to do with it), was 20 strips of 3 1/2" wide, all neutrals and light batiks, about 10" wide.  My idea was to add them between the strips, but sew them on the 45* line, instead of straight squares or rectangles.  I thought it would add interest and movement to the top.  I cut the scraps down to 2 1/2" strips, then into 5" pieces.  I mixed them up and added them at the end of every color strip, on the diagonal.  

Then, when all the strips are one big long strip of fabric, you fold it in 1/2 and sew.  Forever.  And ever.  Just keep sewing.  Oh, and wind another bobbin.  
You're going to need it.  (I thought this bobbin filled with Aurifil looked so pretty!)

Then, when you get to the end of that strip, you have a piece that's about 1/2 mile long and 4 1/2" wide.  So, make it 1/4 mile by 8 1/2".  Then by 16, and 32, and...

  Then by 16, and 32, and...Kind of like a marathon during the Olympics.  
And before you know it, you've made a whole quilt top, and if you've picked Island Batik, it's going to be gorgeous.

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.