Author Archives: Anne Wiens

About Anne Wiens

Quilt pattern designer and teacher.

Seams Like…The Best of 2018

I should have guessed that a year that began on a Monday, at -32°f, to boot, would go sideways on me, and boy howdy, did it ever. Still, I managed to produce a few more blog posts than I did in 2017…which isn’t saying much, to be honest. But this is already my second post for 2019, so things are looking up!

best of 2018 linky partyOnce again, I am taking part in the “Best of the Year” link party, sponsored by Meadow Mist Designs. Seriously, you’ll want to check out what the other bloggers have been up to!

So, when I looked back over the “Seams Like a Plan” blog posts for 2018, it was fairly easy to pick my five favorites. Four of them deal with projects I produced for the Island Batiks Ambassadors program. Imagine this…twice a year a big (about 20 pounds!) box filled with Island Batiks fabrics, Aurifil thread and Hobbs battings arrives on your porch, and all they ask is that you make stuff with it! Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

  1. A Wee Little Quilt – In February, the Ambassadors challenge was to make a miniature quilt. It’s not something I do very often, but it is a lot of fun now and again.
  2. Am I There Yet? – In March we were asked to try a new-to-me technique. I thought an improvisational quilt would be simple. I was wrong…but in a good way.
  3. Highland 9-Patch – I took another stab at improvisation in this post, and wound up with a modern-style quilt I refer to as my “splendid failure.”
  4. Safari Sampler – In August, I had a complete line of Island Batik’s Safari collection, and was challenged to use as many of the fabrics in the line as possible. I produced a sampler, and managed to use all of the fabrics. (This post has a free pattern you can download.
  5. Controlling the Chaos – My friend Vina was having trouble making a “random” quilt block, so I simplified it for her, and added the pattern to my “Thrifty Quilter” scrap block collection.

So those are my favorite blog posts for 2018. Feel free to mosey through the archives and read the rest as well.

As for me, it’s on to 2019, and I have a few quilty things on my calendar already. I have a few patterns that will be published in various magazines this year, and am going home in a minute to put the finishing touches on another proposal. I have one more quilt to make for Island Batik, and am waiting to hear if I get to continue with the Ambassadors program for another year. And, I have a couple of ideas simmering for the Moda Bake Shop blog.

That and a full-time job should keep me busy.

In Stitches,

Anne

PS: Remember, if you click the “Follow” button on this blog post, you’ll get an email each time I publish a new post.

 

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Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Wonky Finish to 2018

47573370_2462874177088561_8211325820333981696_nOur final Island Batik Ambassadors challenge for the 2018 calendar year was to make a project that is whimsical and/or wonky. Well, it’s been that kind of year, so wonky it is. 2040_LG_1489020424That and the fact that I have this Wonky Log Cabin tool from Quilt in a Day that I have been dying to play with! There are three patterns available, and I chose to try the one that comes with the ruler. It’s the closest to a traditional Log Cabin block.

Before I continue, a word from our sponsors: All fabrics used in this quilt top are supplied by Island Batik, the thread is a 40wt 100% cotton from Aurifil, and while the top hasn’t been quilted yet, I will use a Hobbs Heirloom batting.

28685323_1976685445707439_8475221276858777600_nThe Wonky Log Cabin pattern calls for 2.5″ strips of fabric to build the blocks.  I had quite a few strips from the Vintage Morris collection left over from my Moonflower Cottage quilt, and some smaller scraps from the Northern Woods collection that I used for Guiding Star, but not nearly enough to make the twenty blocks I would need for this project, so I picked up a strip pack from Island Batik’s “Pumpkin Patch” line at my local quilt shop. The background fabric is an off-white from Northern Woods, and the border fabric is from the Pumpkin Patch collection.

Making the blocks is a simple matter, really. You begin with a 2.5″ square and add a 2.5″ border around it.

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Begin with a 2.5″ square, surrouned by a 2.5″ border. Center the square on the Wonky Log Cabin tool on the center square.

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Trim the right and left edges, using the #1 slots.

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Rotate the block 90° and light up the cut edges with the blue lines on the tool, centering the square on the ruler on the center square of the block.

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Again, use the #1 slots to trim the right and left sides.

This gives you a square block, with the center square tilted to the right. (You may have noticed that some of the numbers appear backwards in the photo. The slots are numbered on the front and back, so you can use the tool right-side up or back-side up depending on which way you want your blocks to tilt.)

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Now you add another round of 2.5″ strips, and repeat the trimming sequence, using the #2 slots.

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There will always only be one edge that has two seams.

When you’re building this particular variation of the Log Cabin block, it’s easy to accidentally add your strip to the wrong edge. One rule I found is that  you want to always sew with the seams on top, and be sure you’re sewing across two seams each time you add a strip. There will always be only one edge that has two seams.

You will add a total of four rounds of strips to each block. After the final trimming, you will have a perfect 12.5″ Wonky Log Cabin block. The pattern includes instructions for several quilt sizes. I chose to make a lap quilt with 20 blocks, surrounded by a 6.5″ (6″ finished) border, using the traditional “Straight Furrows” setting.

Pumpkin Patch Title

My quilt finishes at 60″ x 72″.

Many of my fellow Island Batik Ambassadors went even wonkier and more whimsical than I did. You’ll enjoy checking out their blogs:

The “last hurrah” for the 2018 Island Batik Ambassadors is just beginning. You’ll have to wait for the last day to see what I did with my assigned Island Batik collection. If you check the Island Batik Facebook page, you’ll find the full “Getaway” Blog Hop Schedule.
Categories: Aurifil Threads, Hobbs Batting, Island Batik Ambassador, Island Batik Fabric, Quilts, Tools, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify!

Cozy-CabinsThe November challenge for the Island Batik Ambassadors was to use a log cabin block as the focus of our designs. If you look through the blog links at the bottom of the page, you’ll be amazed at the creativity displayed by this group.

IMG_2820My own quilt began with a fairly grand and highly ambitious design, one my Mother would have loved, because the Log Cabin was her favorite quilt pattern. As it became clear I wouldn’t have it finished by the end of the year, and certainly not by the end of the month, I began to rework the pattern, simplifying the Log Cabin blocks with each revision until it wound up as Moonflower Cottage.  The original featured 8″ blocks. Curved Log Cabin blocks surrounded and were surrounded by my own “Morning Glory” blocks.  In the end, I enlarged the 8″ blocks to 12″, so there are far fewer blocks required, and the center blocks are merely a nod to the Log Cabin.

The fabrics for Moonflower Cottage are from Island Batik‘s “Vintage Morris” collection. They sent me a 42-piece Strip Pack, and two coordinates. I added a peachy orange, and a light green from the same collection for the flower blocks, and one of their off-white basics for the background.

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Make 10 Moonflower blocks

My 12″ (finished) “Moonflower” blocks are made with 3.5″ x 6.5″ split rectangle units. The easiest way to make these is with the Split Rects tool from Studio 180 Design. This is one of those tools you don’t realize you need until you have it. (No affiliation, just an avid devotee.)

The other pieces in the block are three off-white 3.5″ squares, one 3.5″ x 6.5″ rectangle; one 3.5″ yellow square, and one 3.5″ green and off-white half-square triangle.

 

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Make 6 Mock Log Cabin blocks

 

My “Mock Log Cabin” blocks are made with one 2.5″ square, and one each 2.5″ x 4.5″, 2.5″ x 6.5″, 2.5″ x 8.5″, 2.5″ x 10.5″ and 2.5″ x 12.5″ pieces, cut from the strip pack. The background is two 2.5″ squares and two 2.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles. There is also a 6.5″ background square with a blue corner added via the Stitch-and-Flip method.

There is also one block that is six 2.5″ x 12.5″ strips sewn into a square.

 

 

 

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Make 14 setting triangles

The setting triangles are made with one 6.5″ and two 3.5″ background squares. The blue triangles are made by cutting a 6″ square diagonally twice, and sewing the triangles to the sides of the smaller squares.

Note: Traditionally, those blue triangles would be cut from a 5.5″ square. Making my triangles just a little oversize gives me a wider seam allowance on the outside edge, making it less likely that I will nip a white point when adding my binding.

 

To lay out the quilt, begin by laying down the center square, then building from the center out:

Sew into diagonal rows, then sew the rows together to complete your quilt top.

Moonflower Cottage - TitleMy Moonflower Cottage quilt measures about 52″ x 68″, and was quilted by Kathy Brown with Hobbs Heirloom batting and Aurifil thread, both provided by the companies.

So that’s how I met the “Cozy Cabins” challenge. Wait ’til you see what my fellow Island Batik Ambassadors did!

 

Categories: Aurifil Threads, Hobbs Batting, Island Batik Ambassador, Island Batik Fabric, Quilts, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Rocky Mountain Christmas

It’s Day 20 of the Moda Bake Shop’s 2018 Countdown to Christmas, and if you’ve been following along on the blog, you now have 19 new block patterns in your Christmas collection, in both 12″ and 6″ finished sizes! Block #20, my second contribution to the fun is a slight variation on the traditional Rocky Mountain block. Normally this block would have a light background and dark “mountain peaks.” But it’s winter, and this time of year, those peaks are usually snow-capped. Hence, a “Rocky Mountain Christmas!”

The “recipe” for the block is on today’s Moda Bake Shop blog.

Here, I’ll give you a quick tablerunner idea that uses one 12.5″ (unfinished) and two 6.5″ blocks to make an 18″ x 35″ tablerunner. It would fit smaller kitchen tables, or your coffee table.

TR Complete

Here are the fabric requirements and cutting instructions:

Chart

 

Step 1: Make one 12 1/2″ Rocky Mountain Christmas blocks and two 6 1/2″ blocks, following the instructions on the Moda Bake Shop blog. substitute the 6 1/2″ and 3 1/2″ green squares for the red and white print squares in the center of the blocks.

HSTs

Step 2: Cut the 6 7/8″ green and white squares diagonally, and sew into four half square triangles (HSTs.)

QSTStep 3: Cut the 9 3/4″ white square diagonally twice to yield four triangles.

 

Green w White

Sew the white triangles to the HSTs. Note the placement of the white triangles.

Sections

Step 5: Sew the green and white units to the Rocky Mountain Christmas blocks as shown, then sew the rows together to complete your tablerunner top.

Step 6: Layer top batting and backing. Quilt as desired and bind with the white strips.

How easy is that? If your Christmas gift shopping and wrapping are complete, you may still have time to whip up this runner before Christmas!

I hope you’re enjoying the Moda Bake Shop Countdown to Christmas. If you need  inspiration and encouragement to complete your Countdown blocks, join the Moda Bake Shop Bakers group on Facebook!

Merry Christmas from Montana!

“Chef” Anne

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: FQ Projects, Moda Bake Shop, Tablerunners, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Touchdown!

IMG_2289Sometimes designing a quilt is like coaching a football team. The coach has to design a set of plays that will allow his players to combine their skills in such a way that they move the ball from point A to the end zone. Island Batik Ambassadors are given a selection of fabrics and a goal…turn that collection into a finished quilt that meets the monthly challenge theme. I think I have a winner for the Secondary Pattern challenge.

30742545_2036742299701753_6798327948416909312_nI decided to use the Northern Woods Stack (42 10″ squares) that Island Batik provided me. I added a nice little off-white print for the background, a copper batik for the border, and a deep green batik for the corner triangles, which turn into my secondary design.

Since I did not want a standard grid setting for the blocks, I decided to make one big 24″ block and eight 12″ blocks.

IMG_2459The “Flea Flicker” block begins with an 8.5″ (unfinished) Double Pinwheel block. Then I add a 2.5″ x 10.5″ strip to each side. This requires a partial seam technique.

 

 

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The strips that go around the block are made by sewing a 2.5″ square that matches the small pinwheel to the lower right corner of a 2.5″ x 6.5″ strip of the background fabric, using the stitch-and-flip method to make those squares into triangles. Then sew a 2.5″ x 4.5″ strip of the background fabric to the triangle.

The strip shown here has a dark green upper right corner added to the 2.5″ x 4.5″ strip. two of your 12″ blocks will have those dark green corners all the way around. The other six blocks will have green corners on two sides, and blank corners on the other two sides.

Here’s that partial seam thing. It’s easier done than explained.

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Sew the first strip to the block (the strip is longer than the pinwheel is wide.) Stop sewing and back-stitch just beyond the small triangle. We will finish this seam later.

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With the addition of that first strip, the top end of the pinwheel block is now 10.5″ wide, so we can sew the next strip on all the way. Now the left side of the pinwheel block is 10.5″ wide.

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So now we can sew a strip to that third side. (Did you notice that I rotated the pinwheel block in the photo? The strip we just added is at the top.) Now the fourth side of the pinwheel is 10.5″ wide.

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Sew a 10.5″ strip to the fourth side of the block (I rotated it again.)  And now we can deal with that loose end we left hanging on the first side.

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Now we can finish that partial seam. I start stitching so that I overlap my stitching by about a half-inch, and sew to the edge of the block.

I made one 24″ block using the same processes, but with larger pieces. Then it was time to put it all together.

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The six 12″ blocks with only two green corners were sewn into pairs, with the green corners on the outside of the pairs

The blocks are then sewn together with 2.5″ wide sashing strips. I think you can see in this photo that there is actually a sashing strip on the outside of all of the blocks. The wide copper border is made of large rectangles, with two green corners on each.

 

 

IMG_2815There are green “cornerstones” at the intersections of the sashing strips. The resulting secondary design is a traditional quilt block design called “Shoo Fly.”  That, and the fact that I thought the fabrics gave this quilt a kind of masculine character, and the fact that it’s football season, made the name “Flea Flicker” a natural choice for this quilt.

Flea Flicker was quilted by Kathy Brown.

Thank you to Island Batik for providing the fabrics, Aurifil for their wonderful cotton threads, and Hobbs for the Warm and Natural batting!

Flea Flicker - Title

If you’d like to see what my fellow Island Batik Ambassadors are up to (Trust me, you do,) check their blogs:

Categories: 10" Squares, Aurifil Threads, Hobbs Batting, Island Batik Ambassador, Island Batik Fabric, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A Prairie Christmas Star

Today is Day 3 of the 2018 Moda Bake Shop Countdown to Christmas, and the block I shared on the Moda Bake Shop blog is called “A Prairie Christmas Star.” This year our blocks are presented in 12″ and 6″ finished sizes, and at the end of the month, we’ll give you a couple of setting options for a sampler quilt.

PCS- TitleFor purposes of the series, Moda Fabrics provided us with fat quarters of solid red and white fabrics, and red and white print fabrics.

My block uses all three, and I presented the pattern as shown above, but I thought for the Seams Like a Plan blog, we’d play with placements…colors within the block, and then a couple of quilt layouts.

Each set of three fat quarters (one red solid, one white solid and one red/white print) will easily give you enough pieces to make three 12″ blocks. Layer the three fat quarters and cut the same pieces from each one. Here’s the cutting layout I used:

PCS-FQ Cuts

This gives you enough parts and pieces for three blocks, if you rotate the placement of the three colors within the block. Because you can make six possible combinations of the three colors, there are two “rotations” you can choose from:

PCS-Rotations

I don’t know about you, but I would love to lock myself in the studio with a pile of FQs for a day and make a quilt’s worth of Prairie Christmas Star blocks! But what do you do with a pile of blocks? Well, here are a couple of quilt layouts, shown in “exploded” drawings so you can see how they would be constructed:

First, a 68″ x 84″ twin size quilt. It would take 25 large blocks and 40 small blocks, plus 4″ (finished width) borders on the left and right sides.

PCS-Twin Setting

 

And here’s a 92″ x 96″ queen size quilt. It would take 48 large blocks and 32 small blocks, plus a 4″ (finished) border on the right and left sides.

PCS-Queen Setting

Again, there is no sashing between the rows of blocks. The blocks are sewn into rows as shown, then the rows sewn together.

If you’re interested in a throw size quilt, start making those Prairie Christmas Star blocks according to the instructions on today’s Moda Bake Shop blog. You’ll need a total of 18 large blocks and 36 small blocks for a 54″ x 72″ throw quilt. The quilt layout will be shown on December 26.

Be sure to check the Moda Bake Shop blog every day this month for another sampler block pattern. I’ll share “A Rocky Mountain Christmas” on December 20th.

Merry Christmas!

Anne

 

Categories: FQ Projects, Moda Bake Shop, Other Blocks & Patterns, Quilts, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Ya Shoulda Seen Plan “A”

StarstruckOur Island Batik Ambassadors challenge for the month of September is called “StarStruck”. It may as well have been called “Star-crossed” the way my year has been going. You see, I had a great pattern to show you. It’s a quilt I designed for Quilty magazine, and it was going to be in the Sept/Oct issue. Then Quilty folded.

Fortunately, the editors tell me my quilt will be published in Easy Quilts, but not until next autumn. Unfortunately, I can’t show it to you until then. About halfway through September, it occurred to me that I had planned to use that quilt for my StarStruck challenge. The scramble was on for a Plan “B”.

Several years ago, I published a book called The Thrifty Quilter: Make (Nearly) Free Quilts from Leftover Fabric. The book describes my system for pre-cutting and using fabric scraps. From time to time on this blog, I offer “TQable” block and quilt patterns, meaning those that can be made from one or more of the precuts in the Thrifty Quilter system. This little quilt is totally TQable.

Mountains Majesty F8th Bundle

To make this 42″ x 54″ quilt, I chose a Fat Eighths collection from Island Batik’s “Mountains Majesty” collection, and  3/4 yard of a light off-white.  I am just a little in love with that blue and green snowflake piece, and deeply fond of several others.

IngredientsTo make the Guiding Star quilt, you will need:

59  6.5″ assorted medium and dark print squares

4 sets of four 3.5″ medium and dark print squares

8  3.5″ x 6.5″ off-white rectangles

6  2.5″ x Width of Fabric strips for binding

 

IMG_2526Step one is to make eight 3.5″ x 6.5″ Flying Geese units with the “Stitch and Flip” method. If you’ve never done this, I explain it in this blog post. In the post, I drew diagonal lines on my squares, but nowadays I just use my little ruler and cut that corner off before stitching. To be honest, it may save me all of 30seconds per unit, so so if marking that line helps your accuracy, keep on marking.

Starstruck Quilt - in progress Then, sew pairs of Geese into a 6.5″ star point unit. This detail shot shows the four 6.5″ x 6.5″ star point units sewn into the quilt.

Once the star point squares, lay out the quilt in a grid, seven squares across and nine squares down. You can place your star anywhere in this grid. Rearrange squares as needed until you have a balance that is pleasing to you.

 

IMG_2528Now you are ready to sew the squares into rows. Once I have the squares laid out as I want them, I like to pin small tags to the upper left corner of each square telling me which row that square is in, and which place in the row. This way, if the layout is disturbed, I know exactly where each piece goes when I lay it out again.

I remove the tags as I sew the squares together. The first block in each row keeps its tag until the rows are sewn together.

Once your quilt top is sewn together, layer it with your batting and backing, quilt as desired and use the off-white strips to bind it.

Guiding Star Title

Guiding Star was quilted by Kathy Brown at the Creative Needle in Shelby, MT.

All fabrics were provided by Island Batik. Batting provided by Hobbs, and the thread is Aurifil 50weight cotton thread.

To see what my fellow Island Batik Ambassadors have been up to, check their blogs:

Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Controlling the Chaos

“I can’t do it!”

I’ve heard it before, and not just from my quilting buddy, Vina.

In fact, I’ve said it myself, right here on this very blog.  While many…maybe most…quilters can sew two random pieces of fabric together, and come up with a perfectly wonderful scrap quilt,  many of us struggle to overcome an inner drive to make it somehow match.

In this case, Vina and I were making scrap blocks for a raffle quilt our guild is making for the local senior citizen’s center where we hold our meetings. The quilt we are making is on the cover of the Oct/Nov 2017 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine. For the record, I did manage to make my blocks really random, as called for in the pattern.

My poor friend loved the quilt, but couldn’t bring herself to slap scraps together, so we came up with a compromise block. I like to keep stacks of 2.5″ squares by my machine and sew them into 4-patches as “leaders and enders,” so I always have a batch of 4.5″ 4-patches waiting to grow into a quilt.

IMG_2165To make a 4 by 4-Patch block, you will need:

Eight pairs of medium 2.5″ print squares

Four 2.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles of a dark tone-on-tone print,

Twenty 2.5″ squares of a light print for the background. (I used two background prints, so I cut ten squares from each.)

 

IMG_2166First, sew the medium print squares into 4-Patches and sew the 4-Patches into a Double 4-Patch.

 

 

 

 

 

Use the light squares and dark rectangles to IMG_2168make four flying geese, using the Stitch-and-Flip method.

Notice that because I was using two different light prints, two of my geese have print A on the right and print B on the left, and the other two have print B on the right and print A on the left.

 

 

IMG_2170Sew a light square to both sides of two of the geese. Sew these to the sides of your double 4-patch.

Sew pairs of light squares to the other two geese. Sew these to the top and bottom of the double 4-patch.

Notice that, because I was using two light prints, I made sure that they alternated clear around the block.

 

So now we’ve turned a devil-may-care scrap block into one that is still scrappy, but a little more reserved about it.

I spotted this same block on Pinterest the other day, and that quiltmaker had taken the control one step farther.  In each block in the quilt, medium and dark pieces were all one color…yellow in one block, orange in another. Red, blue, green, each assigned to their own blocks.

Ready to play, Thrifty Quilters? Grab your scraps and see what variation(s) you can come up with. Send your photos to: anne@sweetgrassdesigns.com .

 

 

 

Categories: 12" TQ Blocks, The Thrifty Quilter System, Thrifty Quilter Blocks & Patterns, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Safari Sampler

Great-Outdoors-Blog-Hop-300x300The Island Batiks Ambassadors “Great Outdoors” Blog Hop is into it’s second week, and today, Amy Warner of Sew Incredibly Crazy and I get to unwrap our “Surprise” packages and show you what we made with Island Batik’s brand new “Safari” line.
Safari
We each received a half yard of each of the fabrics in this collection, plus larger pieces of two coordinates. My coordinates were the giraffe print in the upper right of the photo, and the bright yellow in the lower right.
I can’t wait to see what Amy made with hers.
I came up with a sampler quilt that  used some of every fabric I received.
Click HERE to see the entire collection.
Safari Title

The Safari Sampler features seven pattern rows named (top to bottom): Gemstones, Equator, Sundown, Tropic of Capricorn, Daybreak, Tropic of Cancer, and Trouble. Each row finishes 48″ wide. I added 4″ (finished) side borders, for a generous lap-size quilt that finishes 56″ x 72″.

If your local quilt shop doesn’t carry the Safari collection from Island Batik, a few of my favourite online sources are the Missouri Star Quilt Co, Hancock’s of Paducah, and Fabric Shack.
When making my sampler, I used the Tucker Trimmer® and Split Rects® trimming tools from Studio 180 Design.
Thank you to Island Batik for providing the fabrics for this sampler, to Aurifil for providing the thread. I am falling in love with their 50wt cottons for piecing.
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I have actually sewn most of my IB projects this year with this one spool of off-white Aurifil 50wt thread!

 

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I bought this one, but Hobbs has been very generous in providing batting for the Island Batik Ambassadors.

And thanks to Hobbs for providing the battings we are using in our projects this year.

In lieu of a prize drawing, I’ve decided to make the Safari Sampler pattern a free download, so everyone wins!
Here is the complete schedule for the Great Outdoor Blog Hop:
Monday, August 6 – All A FlutterYellow Cat Quilt Designs, Creative Blonde
Tuesday, August 7 – Birds N’ BeesArk Angel Creations, Patterns By Jen
Wednesday, August 8 – Canterbury Manor Sally Manke, Powered By Quilting
Thursday, August 9 – Eclectic GardenDesert Bloom Quilting, Sew Karen-ly Created
Friday, August 10 – Vintage MorrisMooseStash Quilting, Devoted Quilter
Monday, August 13 – SafariSew Incredibly Crazy, SweetGrass Designs
Tuesday, August 14 – Spring BlossomsMary Mack Made Mine, If These Threads Could Talk
Wednesday, August 15 – Victoria and Albert Bejeweled Quilts, Clever Chameleon
Thursday, August 16 – Wild ThingsFreemotion By The River, Kauffman Designs
Friday, August 17 – Petting ZooDen Syende Himmel, Sarah Goer Quilts
Monday, August 20 – Ocean OdysseyGateway Quilts, The Quilt Rambler
Tuesday, August 21 – British RoseBusy Hands Quilts, Mania for Quilts
Wednesday, August 22 – Dear WilliamThe Inquiring Quilter, mmm! Quilts, Living Water Quilter
Thursday, August 23 – Dragonfly DreamsInchworm Fabrics, BeaQuilter
Friday, August 24 – Fur-ocious FriendsQuilting Affection Designs, Dizzy Quilter
Monday, August 27 – Globetrotter Pamela Quilts, Curliecue Creations
Tuesday, August 28 – Jungle CruiseVicki’s Crafts and Quilting, Little Bunny Quilts
Wednesday, August 29 – LavendulaCarole Lyles Shaw, Masterpiece Quilting
Thursday, August 30 – London CallingQuilt in a Not-Shell, Lizard Creek Quilting
Friday, August 31 – Spirit Rhythm Steph Jacobson, Whispers of Yore
Monday, September 3 – Sweet Tweets Kathleen McMusing, Adventurous Applique and Quilting
Tuesday, September 4 – Whatnot – heARTS Creations, Slice of Pi Quilts
Categories: Aurifil Threads, Hobbs Batting, Island Batik Ambassador, Island Batik Fabric, Other Blocks & Patterns, Quilts, Uncategorized | 22 Comments

Am I There Yet?

Try a TechniqueThe March challenge for the 2018 Island Batik Ambassadors was to try a new Technique. Most of us are longtime quilters, instructors and/or designers, so for many of us, the hardest part of the challenge was to come up with a tool or technique we haven’t already tried! Fortunately, I had a couple of tools designed by Phillips Fiber Art that I had not had time to play with yet – The Gems 5 & 10 and Gem Star tools.

I started thinking about what sort of project I could make with the pieced and appliqued 5-pointed stars these tools make. I was surfing the internet in search of inspiration when I came across Diane Harris’s posts about a class she was taking on improvisational quilting. My muse tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me that the President’s Challenge theme I had chosen for my quilt guild this year is Wing It. “We can answer two challenges with one project,” says he.

“Improvisation. Make it up as you go,” I replied.  “How hard can it be?”  That was in early March. It’s now mid-June and I have just put the binding on. So there’s your answer. Here’s the rest of the story:

IMG_2120We began with the fabric pull. I started with the collection of basics supplied by Island Batik. I chose a dark green for my big pieced star. I also decided that I had to use this yellow and magenta blend because…well, to be honest, since I had little confidence this project was going to turn out, I wouldn’t be too upset if, in the end, I felt like I had wasted it. Then I pulled out my bag of Island Batik IMG_2123scraps and came up with more greens and pinks, and decided to add a copper-brown print from the basics.

In the end, I didn’t use the three lightest greens or the light pink, but at this point I still didn’t know what I was making. Better to have too many colors than not enough.

IMG_2126First came the pieced base. I made one large dark green star with the Gem 10 tool. The instructions that come with the tool are well-illustrated. In a nutshell, you sew stripsets, then use the tool as a template to cut wedges. There are five wedges with the darker green, and five mirror-image wedges with the slightly lighter green. Two wedges make one star point wedge.

Collection

So, we start with a pieced 5-point star.

I have to say, the tool is terrific  and easy to use. It makes a very large star, but there is also a Gem 10 Junior tool available if you want a smaller project. But I digress.

As it happens, the piece is a decagon shape. It works great for the several patterns Phillips Fiber Art has designed for the Gem 5 & 10 tools. However, my Muse and I had decided we wanted a square wallhanging.

IMG_2134At this point, Muse left the studio. I hate it when he does that.

After several  hours of thinking, slicing, patching, piecing and trimming up, I had a square-ish base piece. I couldn’t say I was happy with it, and frankly, I was feeling more than a little stressed out because I didn’t even know which side was top, bottom, left or right. I had no clue where I was going with this project. Finally, I convinced myself that if I didn’t love it, at least I didn’t hate it, and it was time to move on.

IMG_2150Making the applique stars with the Gem Star tool was the most enjoyable part of this project. There’s a clever little trick for getting those points so pointy, and the only difficult part of the whole process is getting the center to match up. Most were oh-so-close, but this gold one is dead-on perfect.

When these stars are finished, the edges of the points are turned under already, so it’s a simply matter to applique them down, whether you you want to hand-sew or machine-sew them.

I didn’t have any idea how many stars I needed or where they were going to be placed, so I just started making them in several sizes. In the end, I made more than I needed. The extras may become Christmas ornaments.

IMG_2191Quilting is very simple on this piece. I stitched 1/4″ inside and outside the perimeter of the large pieced star, then echo-quilted straight lines in the gold background, and straight lines across the magenta corners.

Using my quilting guide bar, and my seams as a pivot point, it was easy to make straight, evenly-spaced quilting lines. I sewed a 1″ spaced line, then two 1/4″ lines, then 1″, two 1/4″, repeating until the space was filled.

 

Next decision: Where to put the applique stars. If I hadn’t been so far beyond deadline at this point, I would have enjoyed playing with the possibilities. Here are a few of the options I liked:

 

The more I played with the stars, the more I felt something just wasn’t right with the base piece yet. It was the gold areas. After stewing over it for a few days, Muse resurfaced and suggested I add a few lines of quilting that might actually be visible in the gold areas.

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It’s amazing how just a little detail can make such a big difference.

Those two lines of magenta quilting were just what this piece needed to pull it all together.

Note to Muse: It would have been easier if you had suggested it before I appliqued the stars down. Just sayin’.

So, is it finished now? I don’t know. Hence, the title – Am I There Yet?

After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you’ve arrived?

Am I There Yet - Title


The fabrics used in this piece were supplied by Island Batik. The threads are from Aurifil, and the batting from Hobbs.

 

Categories: Aurifil Threads, Hobbs Batting, Island Batik Ambassador, Island Batik Fabric, Uncategorized, Wallhangings | 4 Comments

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