Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart

Thanksgiving gives us pause to stop and count our blessings, to express gratitude for the things in our lives, for the people in our lives, and for life itself.

These past three months have been a whirlwind of activity, emotions, joys, frustrations, tears, fears, isolation, determination, resolve…. On tonight, this eve of Thanksgiving I am reminded that I have so much to be grateful for!

As I reflect, my heart is full of the memories and thoughts of people, places, and events of just these past few months – not even taking into account the past year or my lifetime!

I have been a little isolated lately…AWOL if you please…admittedly at times overwhelmed due to the business of taking care of business – trying to deal with the aftermath of being a part of a natural disaster while trying to catch up and keep commitments made to my customers …sometimes isolation is a good thing to help you focus, fine tune, even repent and make things right with others, with God.

I have neglected to be grateful publicly for the blessings that have come from Hurricane Harvey, thus far, because we are far from this being a thing of the past as we are still living through the changes Harvey has forced upon us, still living without insulation or walls, still waiting on insurance claims to be able to hire a contractor….but that’s not the focus tonight…the thoughts in my busy brain are wanting to acknowledge the blessings, which reminded me of this old hymn I sang as a child in church….

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done! 
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings—money cannot buy 
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Blessings Come In Many Forms

In reviewing my phone photos for the past three months I had to smile at the fun times – beginning with becoming a part of the Studio 180 Design Certified Instructor family….If you’ve been following my journey you know that I was in Iowa with this crazy group of quilters who shared the experience of a solar eclipse while learning to teach and share Deb Tucker’s tools and techniques. I belong to a great class of 17 from THE Class of 2017, thus joining a total of 80 “CI’s”.  Instead of being stranded in Iowa I became a Harvey refugee and got stranded in Indy on my way to Tuckerland (grin.)

So I guess in chronological order this is my first area of gratitude – that I did not have to go through the emotions of watching water rise in my house, that I was surrounded by my new S180 family who were praying for me and taking care of me….and who generously donated monies to our recovery which leads to more gratitude as part of these funds were invested in the new shelving and organization in my studio. These amazing men and women have shown me much more love than I could ever deserve or repay! I was so pleased to be able to meet several of the CI’s at Quilt Market and Quilt Festival this year.

Other blessings came in the form of local friends and family who helped us with the cleanup. Many thanks especially to my quilt angels who made sure all my quilts and fabrics got a fresh cleaning after sitting in a studio with 5 inches of water for 5 days. So many more thanks go to my church family for physical and financial help and especially for prayers and a listening ear.

Blessings Come In Large Sizes Too

Sometimes I neglect to brag on God for making things possible. He uses people to bless other people as well as He allows blessings to enter in other ways too…Its been amazing to see the hand of God as He is providing for our needs…first the blessing of an RV that will be our temporary home once construction begins, next came a “container” we will be filling with items salvaged from the storm that will need to be stored during reconstrucion…and amazingly enough we found ourselves replacing those hard to sit in lawn chairs with a new couch for the tv room – never mind that the walls had to come down to get it in (grin) it felt sooo good to sit on something soft! And as if that weren’t enough we were also blessed with a new-to-us truck so we can later pull that RV when I begin traveling next year teaching and speaking at guilds and quilt shows!

Indeed my heart is overwhelmed tonight as I reflect upon these past few months…and this doesn’t even touch the tip of the iceberg as there are so many other blessings this year too (such as being an Island Batik Ambassador, having my quilts in their fall catalog, and working on a quilt for the upcoming spring catalog).

Thanks for hanging on until the end…here’s a fun little photo collage of these recent events that sparked tonight’s ramble.

 

May you be blessed with a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family. My hope for you is to not focus on the turkey, the decorations, or even the joy of being with people you care about – but that you too would stop to “count your many blessings” and may we always realize that even when things get tough there is always something to be grateful for!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler – may your bobbin never run out and your cup always be overflowing with gratitude

 

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My Adventures As An Island Batik Ambassador – So Far!

Collection of quilts made by Karen Overton, Island Batik Ambassador

I have had a blast, an absolute BLAST, being a new Island Batik Ambassador. I  can’t believe the year is half way over. Take a walk down memory lane with me as I review the quilt challenges so far this year!

QUILT CHALLENGE ROUNDUP

Fabulous Batik FabricYou may remember that as an Island Batik Ambassador I received a goody box full of beautiful fabrics, as well as several spools of Superior Threads and Aurifil threads, to use in our monthly challenge projects. Two different shipments of fabrics are scheduled for the year for the ambassadors to use in the projects. The next box should be arriving sometime in July and I can hardly wait! If you missed the excitement of the long-awaited very anticipated first shipment then visit my YouTube to see how exciting it is to receive a mystery box full of Island Batik fabrics or revisit the blog post here.

FEBRUARY Kennel Quilts and Galentine’s Day

kennel quilts
February project – make a kennel quilt, or two, or a dozen!

Our first project of the year was to make a kennel quilt (or several) as a community service project using beautiful Island Batik fabrics.

I enjoyed making these little quilts. You can read more about the process as well as how to make your own Kennel Quilts for charity here on the blog.  

 

charity quilts, kennel quilts
Finished is good. Two finished kennel quilts for charity

 

February was a fun packed month as we had an optional additional challenge…to share the love with our gal-friends. You can revisit this post by clicking here.

 

 

 

We heart Island Batik fabrics
Shirley pieced the block & Karen quilted and bound it. Truly a Galentine’s Day collaboration between friends.

MARCH QUILT CHALLENGE: Mini Madness

Picture of miniature quilts using Island Batik Fabrics
Island Batik Ambassadors are up to the challenge

March was fun! We were asked to make a mini quilt using either foundation or paper-piecing.  I got a little carried away and turned my challenge project into multiple projects. I think working with these fabrics just gets my creative juices flowing and I don’t know when to stop!

I covered a simple composition notebook and then made a dozen or more along with a blog tutorial, PDF download and accompanying  YouTube.

 

bright colors add to the beauty of this paper pieced composition notebook cover
Paper Piecing and Quilting turns a common composition notebook into a stylish planner
Making quilted composition notebook covers is addicting - we bet you can't make just one!
View the complete tutorial on The Quilt Rambler YouTube channel

APRIL ISLAND BATIK AMBASSADOR QUILT CHALLENGE: Adventurous Applique

Appliqué graphic with song birds for Island Batik Ambassador program
April’s Island Batik Challenge is Adventurous Appliqué

April’s challenge was creating an applique project. I decided to try a new-to-me process called reverse applique while making a banner to celebrate the Easter season.

You can read the entire adventure here on the blog.

 

 

 

 

Man holding up appliquéd quilt saying "He is Risen"
It is Finished

ALONG CAME MAY: Modern Batik Challenge

Island Batik Ambassador Modern Batik ChallengeI think May’s modern quilt challenge is my most memorable project so far.    Read about my new learning experience as I discovered modern quilt piecing and exploring modern quilting on the longarm.

So far this is one of my favorite quilt challenges because I enjoyed the process – from the inspiration to actual design, the piecing of the quilt top, and especially quilting new design elements.

 

Modern Quilting in the wild
This is The Way, Walk In It – original design pieced and quilted by Karen Overton

JUNE QUILT CHALLENGE: Curvalicioius Quilts

#CurvalicioiusQuilts
June Challenge for the Island Batik Ambassadors

I enjoyed this month’s project as I was able to pull out a ruler/ template set and accompanying book that I’d purchased several years ago. I enjoyed working with the “summer colors” from the fabrics in my Ambassador’s box. I think it looks great hanging in my home! The tropical colors fit my temperament perfectly. Bring on summer! You can read the process here. 

Curved Piecing with the Melon Block
Melon Dramatic by Karen Overton. I just love how these colors reflect the decorating tropical theme in my home

ROUND UP:

Can’t believe the year is half over, and I really can’t believe that I’ve made this many personal projects so far this year! It’s been a fun challenge to work on these little quilts “after hours” from my longarm quilting business. I’d like to think that my quilting skills have improved as I’ve been able to “practice” new quilting designs working on personal projects while further exploring my desire to design quilt patterns.

Collection of quilts made by Karen Overton, Island Batik Ambassador
2017 Island Batik Ambassador Challenges February to June with a sneak peek of July

 

JULY QUILT CHALLENGE:  Great Expectations!

Just an expectant mother must be patient, so must you, my dear reader. July’s challenge is a baby size quilt that is in the works. If you look closely in the roundup photo above you can catch a sneak peek!

In addition, I am awaiting my second Island Batik Ambassador fabric shipment for the remaining quilt challenges for the year. I can hardly wait!! The first box was so fabulous and sew much fun! Stay tuned – good things are coming!!!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, feeling blessed to be counted among the Island Batik Ambassadors.

Have you been keeping up with my fellow ambassadors? Why not take a moment to review the blog roll and follow each of the ambassadors to ensure that you don’t miss out on all our inspirational creations using beautiful Island Batik fabrics.

 

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Liebster Award

I’ve Been Nominated

This past week my fellow Island Batik Ambassador, Laura Piland, Slice of Pi Quilts, nominated me for the Liebster Award.  Naturally, I just had to ask … what is this and what does it mean  (grin) and I’m sure you are curious too –

According to The Global Aussie, where the Official Rules reside:

The Liebster Award 2017 is an award that exists only on the internet and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. The earliest case of the award goes as far back as 2011. Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

The award is a way to be discovered but also to connect and support the blogging community.

A Little About My Nominator – Slice of Pi

Owner/Designer of Slice of Pi Quilts

One thing that I have enjoyed about being an Island Batik Ambassador is rubbing shoulders, so to speak, with a multi-talented group of quilters! Many of the ambassadors have been with the program for several years, and are quite well known and established in their field – some pattern writers, some fabric designers, some moms, some grandmoms, some – like me – are new ambassadors. I am learning so much from this group.

But I want to tell you a little bit about Laura. I think she first perked my interest when I saw her pattern for Sliced. I love watermelon. Nuff said.

As cute as this is, I got really interested in following her blog when I discovered she was going to her first Spring Market 2017. I’ve been to Fall Market since 2004 and I was eager to see Spring Market through her eyes, but more so through the fresh eyes of a first timer. She didn’t disappoint! Not only did I enjoy her market recap on the blog but it was fun to follow her on Instagram to see all the “celebrities” she was meeting within the quilt industry. I hope you will give Laura a follow on her blog and other social media. Slice of Pi Quilts.

Laura certainly marketed herself well by giving out pies as she engaged with people in the industry to market her quilt patterns

Getting To Know You Questions:

As a part of introducing myself to new followers as well as introducing my followers to new bloggers, we’ve been requested to answer a few “getting to know you” questions about ourselves and hope that our nominees will respond and do likewise.  Here are a few things you may or may not know about me!

Who Inspired You To Sew?

My mother made almost all of my clothing when I was growing up, as did her mother, my Ma-Ma. Ma-ma had a sister Effie, whom I called “aunt” even though she was my great aunt. All three of these women had an impact on my wanting to play with needle and thread.  Mom – clothing, curtains, recovering chairs, etc. Ma-ma was the quilter even though I didn’t begin quilting until later in her life she lived to be 97 and was so proud of my quilting and my longarm. Aunt Effie was a skilled seamstress and did fabulous crafty things for the woman’s group at church. I will always remember the sock monkeys, fabric “paper” dolls and soft sided books.

If You Could Meet One Quilt Personality, Who Would It Be?

I have been blessed to meet many quilt personalities, mainly longarm quilters, due to my association with A1 Quilting Machines from 2008-2014, but I have never had the privilege of meeting Judi Madsen, The Green Fairy Quilter. I do have an autographed copy of her first book – I pre-ordered direct from her (grin).

What Do you Like to Do While Quilting?

Talk. Or Listen.   I truly work best when I’m talking. If I’m at a sew in I have lots of friends to talk to, if I’m in the studio I will use my Bluetooth and talk to my best friend Pam, who lives a thousand miles away and is also a longarm quilter. When not talking I listen to Audibles.

Do You Have A Favorite Snack While Quilting?

Dark chocolate – to be specific, Ghirardelli Intense Dark 72% Cacao – but I will be gracious enough to accept any dark chocolate you’d like to share with me!

Do You Look For Quilts When Watching Movies?

Yes, and my husband is quick to point them out too!

What Comes First, Fabric or Pattern?

Whatever catches my eye first. I buy fabric knowing that I can later find a pattern, and I buy patterns knowing that somewhere there is a perfect fabric. Who thought of this question anyway <grin>

What Is Your Favorite Finish?

That’s a hard one. I have several favorites, but generally, it’s the one I just finished. I think currently it would be my “This Is The Way, Walk In It” as it was a challenge to piece and quilt, stepping away from my traditional roots to try something modern. (Thank you Island Batik for the challenge!). You can read more about it here.

Modern Quilt by Karen Overton "This is the way, walk in it"
“This IsThe Way, Walk In It” original design pieced and quilted by Karen Overton

Quilt By Hand or Machine?

Domestic sewing machine to piece, A1 Quilting Machine (longarm) to quilt. Still hand-guided since 2004.

Favorite Notion?

island batik five inch squares sewn together

Hands down – my “By Annie” Stilleto and Pressing Tool.

Do You Work On One Quilt At A Time or Many?

One step into my studio and you’d know that answer! I refuse to disclose how many UFO’s I have (grin). I work on several at a time, both mine and customers.

Do You Have A Blog That You Can’t Miss A Post?

In my other life, I’m a bag lady. I love By Annie’s patterns and can’t wait to see the newest patterns so I carefully watch Blogs By Annie.

And The Nominees Are:

In an effort to get to know my fellow Island Batik Ambassadors better I am hoping several will “play along” with the Liebster Award.

Sally Johnson of Sally’ s Quilting Corner. Sally was one of the first ambassadors to welcome me into the fold. We found that we had a mutual friend, longarm quilter Jamie Wallen – and the rest is history. Sally is an encourager and almost always the first one to like a post or photo.

Kathy Bruckman of Kathy’s Kwilts And More. Kathy is a newbie like I am and what I like about her is she’s not afraid to ask other’s thoughts and opinions on her projects.  Kathy is  faithful to engage through social media – she’s even playing #flatOLFA with me on Instagram .

Pamela Boatright of Pamela Quilts. Pamela likes to write and quilt, so I’m drawn to her because of both talents. I think she’s a little like me – I noticed on a recent blog that she was “catching up” on putting labels on quilts…hum…sounds familiar.

Maryellen McAuliffe of Mary Mack Made Mine. Maryellen has been an Island Batik Ambassador for quite some time. I’m hoping she will share more with us. I’m drawn to her as she just met Jenny from Missouri Star Quilt Co., she’s playing #flatOLFA on Instagram, and her latest Island Batik Challenge was a purple double wedding ring table runner. Have I mentioned that I like purple?

Stephanie Bertics of Quilt ‘N Party. Stephanie is new to the Ambassador program (I think). I don’t know a lot about her but I like the quilts she has blogged about and am hopeful she will play along.

Liebster Award Thoughts

I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know a few of my new blogging friends. I’d nominate the whole group if I could….nominations or not, be sure and click here to find a list of all of this year’s Island Batik Ambassadors. I know you will enjoy getting to know them and see their beautiful creations – many have patterns available too!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, eager to meet new bloggers!

Now it’s your turn…..what blogs have inspired you? Are you a blogger? Share your thoughts and links below.

 

 

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Secret Quilting – A Secret No More

Close up of hand guided quilting design element by Karen Overton

close up of hand guided quilt design element
-Sneak peak – secret quilting is about to be secret no more
If you have been following The Quilt Rambler on social media the past few weeks you have seen little snippets or sneak peaks of a “secret quilting” project I have been working on ….and now…the big reveal!

Why was it a secret you ask? Well, on occasion, as a longarm quilter I am asked to keep things secret for a time being. For example, not publishing photos of graduation t-shirt quilts before the grad receives it, or especially around Christmas time when I’m quilting customer quilts that will be Christmas gifts.

This time it was because the quilt was to be introduced to the public by the designer – in other words, it wasn’t my story to tell until after its debut and publication.

Why the Secret Quilting

Spring Market was this weekend May 19-21. For those unfamiliar with the quilting world – twice a year Quilts Inc hosts an industry tradeshow where wholesale buyers, distributors, designers and industry leaders gather for the reveal of new fabrics, new patterns, new notions and new trends in the quilting world. The Spring Market this year was in St. Louis. The Fall Market is always in Houston the weekend before the public International Quilt Show. I’ve never been to Spring Market but have attended Fall Market since 2004. Trust me, it’s better than Christmas!

unquieted Morning Glory quilt pattern by Deb Tucker
For custom quilt jobs I like to hang the quilt in my studio for several days to be inspired concerning the quilting elements
I received this beautiful quilt from Deb Tucker, Studio 180 Design right before my Arizona trip the first of the month, asking that it be quilted and returned in time for her to put on the binding so it could be displayed in the booth at Spring Market. (For the record she had made a reservation earlier so I knew to expect it). I took this photo “before” it was quilted so I could study it on the plane and come up with quilting designs. I fell in love with the design, it goes without saying how much I love LeMoyne Stars. Upon inquiring about the name of the pattern I found it very fittingly named Morning Glory.

My Observations

Before I go any further sharing the quilting designs I wanted to share what I’ve learned by osmosis.

I’ve been watching social media for all the big reveals at Spring Market – if you do a search #springmarket you will be able to get sneak peaks of upcoming goodies to our local quilt shops later this year. I was especially pleased to see photos of Studio 180 Design booth with Morning Glory hanging among such other beautiful quilts! I love all her rulers and have most of her patterns, having taught several in the past in my studio or local quilt shops. Needless to say, Morning Glory is at the top of my wish list!

Colorful tradeshow booth full of beautiful quilts made by Deb Tucker
Studio 180 Design Spring Market 2017 Booth (photo from Facebook)
Facebook page of Deb Tucker showing her beautiful quilts at Spring market 2017
Deb Tucker’s Facebook Page Banner
As you know, I’m an Island Batik Ambassador having the privilege of working with these wonderful fabrics and looking forward each year to their new fabrics and designs, eagerly awaiting their catalog….sooo….I’m looking through their  Spring Market catalog and low and behold I see a different version of Morning Glory by Deb Tucker! I’m guessing that the pattern has different size options and she made one for Island Batik’s booth and the one I quilted was for her booth. Oh, I wish I could have seen both in person at Spring Market. I snagged these photos off social media to share.

Colorful booth full of beautiful island batik fabrics taken at Spring Market 2017
Island Batik Booth photo was taken by Laura Reschke Piland, Slice of Pi, from Facebook
catalog page of island batik fabric spring 2017 offering of Morning Glory quilt pattern in their beautiful batik fabrics
Clip from Island Batik Spring Market 2016 catalog. Be sure and ask your local quilt shop to carry these fabrics as well as this pattern!

On To The Quilting

I determined that I wanted to stitch in the ditch  (SID) all the borders and the star outline, but not the individual diamonds. This would give the quilt stability and frame in all the important components. It also allowed me later to roll the quilt up and down as needed to be able to quilt all of one thread color before changing threads vs advancing the quilt and changing threads as I worked my way down the quilt.  The SID took the better part of one day but experience told me it would be well worth it.

photo shows quilting process
Stitch in the Ditch included the “spine” for the future feather quilting
Next, I would be quilting all the borders and the blazing star units within the borders. This would assure that the borders would be straight and not drawn in by the density of the interior designs had I quilted it first.  I quilted the top and bottom borders then “turned” the quilt, which means it was unpinned off the take-up leader bars of the longarm and turned 90 degrees and repinned to be able to quilt the side borders in one long pass vs advancing and breaking thread causing a lot of stops and starts. Extra time to turn, but once again, worth it!

The quilt remained in this side to side position instead of top to bottom for the remainder of the quilting.

Auditioning Design Ideas

Close up of quilting design
Making a practice run with a dry erase marker is a good way to audition design elements before actually quilting
Sometimes I will take a plexiglass and use a dry erase marker to audition design elements prior to quilting. Through the years I have found this to be useful and many times what I initially thought I would be quilting had a “design change” after drawing it out.

drawing design elements before quilting
More auditions before quilting
hand-guided longarm quilting by Karen Overton
From practice to reality
Longarm quilting designs by Karen Overton
Close up of the hand guided quilting of the border designs

Special Butterfly

close up of hand guided signature butterfly of Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler
Signature Butterfly logo of Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler
I had completed the quilt, having unpinned it from the take-up leader bars and was texting Sue Tucker to verify the shipping address when I mentioned that I was sad I couldn’t attend Spring Market but at least I could “be a butterfly on a morning glory” to which Sue responded that she had hoped I was including one of my special butterflies…Oops!  Didn’t know that!

As a side note I typically put the butterfly on personal quilts or as special requests as it is sorta my trademark signature….I was flattered by the suggestion and quickly decided this quilt just needed a butterfly!

Do you remember that old song “have it your way”….well, if you don’t, here it is to refresh your memory of singing commercials of yesteryear (or if you are too young to remember, to expose you to some of the finer things in life). I was humming this tune as I reloaded the quilt and found a place for the butterfly!

Karen Overton's signature butterfly quilted on the bottom border of Morning Glory a quilt by Deb Tucker
Hand guided longarm signature butterfly adds the finishing touch

Hot Off The Frame

And now I will slow down the ramble and let the pictures speak for themselves.

Hand guided longarm quilting by Karen Overton
Morning Glory, sideways as it came off the longarm frame
close up of longarm quilting by Karen Overton, quilt pattern Morning Glory by Deb Tucker
Another view of Morning Glory by Deb Tucker quilted by Karen Overton
Hand guided longarm quilting by Karen Overton, quilt pattern by Deb Tucker
Center medallion has lots of movement between the beautiful fabric, piecing  design, and the hand guided longarm quilting
close up of quilting around small 8 pointed stars
I fell in love with these beautiful little stars – made perfect with Deb Tucker’s Rapid Fire LeMoyne Star Ruler
 

Detailed view of quilting stitches can be seen best from the back of a quilt
And of course, a longarm quilter wants to see the back! That’s where the texture shows up, making all the hours worth it!

Where Can You Find This Pattern

full view of the beautiful Morning Glory quilt pattern by Deb Tucker, quilted by The Quilt Rambler
Morning Glory hanging in The Quilt Rambler studio prior to shipping off to be bound and hung at Spring Market 2017 in the Studio 180 Design booth
I know you are going to want to make this as much as I am! Check with your local quilt shop and request that they carry Studio 180 Design Patterns and Rulers. While you are there, also request that they carry Island Batik fabrics if that isn’t already in their line up. I have been a huge fan of both companies for years, having had the blessing of meeting both owners and co-workers of each. You will never find better folks than the Tuckers and the team at Island Batik. I can recommend their products to you and your local quilt shop without reservation.

Stay tuned to The Quilt Rambler as my upcoming blog will include another recent workshop using Deb Tucker’s rulers (this time the Rapid Fire Hunter’s Star Ruler) as well as the progress of my May Island Batik Ambassador #ModernBatikChallenge using their beautiful fabrics.

Why not make it easy on yourself  – go ahead and subscribe to my blog so you won’t miss out on a thing!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, thanking Deb Tucker for the privilege to once again quilt one of her beautiful quilts!

 

Are you still humming the song in your head? ….. You’re welcome! Please leave a comment and share your thoughts on  how you’ve had your own secret quilting projects, or your favorite singing commercial (grin)..

 

 

Can You Relate to My Whirlwind?

cartoon version of The Quilt Rambler studio with the appearance of the after effects of a whirlwind due to the creative clutter

 The Past Few Weeks Have Been a Whirlwind

cartoon version of The Quilt Rambler studio with the appearance of the after effects of a whirlwind due to the creative clutter
Looks like a whirlwind hit the studio – time for a little comic relief
At times do you feel like you are in a whirlwind? Not necessarily the devastation kind, but the kind where things just keep swirling with lots of commotion and activity. I think if my life story were to be written focusing on the past month it would almost be a comic book. At least I think I tried to take a little comic relief amidst the mayhem and not let the tidal waves of busyness drown me.

 Tax Tornado or Turbo Tax

Two Mac computers side by side, different screen sizes showing out with the old in with the new
Silver lining to the storm of computer issues,  a new bigger computer
When I think of April I think of tax time….and that’s about all I want to say on the subject (grin) except that this season seemed to go on forever, especially with my computer issues. Ah, but every good storm has a silver lining. I was blessed with a new computer and after all the transferring of data, I actually filed my taxes on April 15th – even knowing the deadline this year was April 18th. And it’s behind me! Hallelujah!!

Yep, lest life gets too serious – enter Oscar! He’s my son’s adopted stray kitten that has stolen all our hearts. I love that he is an outdoor kitty with indoor privileges who takes advantage of the doggie door to pop in and say hello when he comes to visit me in the studio. It’s nice that they live next door!

Cute orange kitten peaks out from under an Apple computer monitor
Oscar wants to help with the taxes OR perhaps just play peak a boo

Escaping the Vortex

A pair of tennis shoes peaking out under a quilt showing a relaxing moment
After a long day at the computer, it’s wonderful to put my feet up to relax – and enjoy the comfort of a quilt on a breezy afternoon
Sometimes you just have to kick back and put your feet up! It’s amazing what a little fresh air can do to revive your mind so you can change gears and get back to work.

After the cyclone of taxes, I totally enjoyed making a baby quilt for one of my customers. We have been working off and on for over a year making memory quilts from her deceased father’s plaid shirts to share with her siblings, children and now her future grandchildren… this precious memory quilt was made for her daughter’s baby shower this weekend. Yes, they are eagerly awaiting the beginning of a 4th generation that will be wrapped up in “daddy’s shirts.” What a legacy!

Scrappy quilt made from men's plaid shirts and quilted with hearts will welcome a new baby soon
Made from great grandpa’s shirts, soon a new baby be will be wrapped in 4 generations of love

Stop the Cyclone

Young man stirring a pot on the stove with a bowl of Rice Krispie cereal in a large bowl next to it
Remembering when the boys were young and we made lots of cookies and treats in the kitchen
When life gets full of activity sometimes it’s just best to stop the spin and do something fun. Like making Rice Krispie marshmallow treats with your son! Granted, we had planned on making these a week ago to share at the family Easter lunch, but making them a week late means we had more for ourselves! Unintentional selfishness I promise!

Lady sampling the sticky sides of a bowl after making Rice Krispies treats
Proving that you are never too old to lick the bowl! Not to mention Rice Krispie Treats are more fun in spring colors!

Lady's jeans and shoes laying on a quilt in a hammock
My happy place – relaxing for a few minutes under the tiki hut in my hammock, always with a quilt!
If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you are already familiar with my habit of posting my “current world view” showing my feet propped up somewhere – if you don’t follow me, well, why aren’t you? (grin). Anyway, one of my favorite ways to relax at home is to put up my hammock in the backyard and take a short afternoon nap.  Nothing clears my mind better than being outdoors, even if for just a moment. Seems I have needed to steal away for several of these moments lately.  Especially following the recent big rains!

Whirlwind Activity

One definition of whirlwind is “something that is done very quickly and without a lot of thought as in a whirlwind courtship”. Well, nothing along those lines but sometimes I do get crazy ideas in my head and just “gotta sew something” and it’s usually done quickly and without a lot of thought. It generally adds “one more thing” to that already busy to-do list…but for me it is the calming in the mists of the typhoon. Nothing more relaxing than the hum of my sewing machine as I create something…

Colorful fabric book cover surrounds a cookbook
Never judge a book by its cover.
That said, I was looking forward to a retreat with the women of my church this past weekend and knowing I would be arriving early I planned a little downtime to sit by the pool to do some planning and perhaps design…A long overlooked goal has been to seek new recipes for a healthier lifestyle …. well….I didn’t want to be caught “reading” a cookbook beside the pool because those who know me know I don’t cook – so I came up with the idea of covering said cookbook!

 

Majestic purple fabric covers a well read Bible
Purple represents royalty and spirituality. It’s also my favorite color so it was a perfect choice for a simple Bible cover
And then I decided that my Bible could use a quick cover change too.

Quick as lightening these were done and I was packed and on my way looking forward to a little personal time before joining with my friends for a time of fellowship and fun.

Calming the Windstorm

Lady's jean clad legs stretched out in relaxation overlooking a pool area on top of a Houston motel showing beautiful clouds and building in the distance
Current world view – blue skies and serenity overlooking Houston skyline
The antonyms for all the commotion of strong weather words like whirlwind, cyclone, hurricane, or tornado are calm, peace, quiet, relaxation, even laziness. (don’t you just love a good thesaurus!).

Restfulness and refreshing describe this past weekend of the Women’s retreat. I arrived early to take advantage of that rooftop pool and did do a little “reading” in my cookbook.

 

My husband texted me the following photo, a gentle reminder not to take life too seriously.

cute orange kitten peaking out from a talavera bathroom sink
When mom’s away the kitten does play
A  time of worship and Bible study was just what I needed to tame that dust devil of a busy life into a refocused life  of choosing joy. A revival of the heart.

Clear Skies on the Horizon – Looking Ahead to May

Taking time to relax, refresh and reflect can be very inspiring. My busy brain is constantly in motion thinking ahead, looking for new opportunities, new ideas….even in the restfulness there is always inspiration if you look for it.

Lady's jean clad legs stretched out in relaxation looking at a window in an outdoor mall
When we relax and open our eyes to the world around us even simple things can be inspiring
I’ve already got an idea for the Island Batik Ambassador May challenge “modern batik” inspired by my “current worldview” waiting on my friends for dinner prior to retreat…you will just have to wait to see where this leads! It is a little off the wall, so to speak, as I am planning a wall hanging! We’re finishing up the April challenge of Adventurous Applique so why not visit the other Island Batik Ambassadors’ blogs to see how they completed the challenge. You can find their links here. 

 

 

 

Two smiling friends taking a selfie with the skyline of Houston behind them
Couldn’t resist a selfie with the beautiful skyline of Houston behind us – Dianne and I will soon be in the friendly skies headed to Arizona!
And speaking of friends. I’m happy to say that Dianne, my church and quilting friend, will be joining me the first week of May as we fly to Arizona to be with the Lonesome Valley Quilt Guild where I will be speaking at their guild meeting on Monday, May 1st, then teaching a workshop on Tuesday, May 2nd.

Island Batik fabric strips made into leymone star blocks in preparation for an upcoming workshop making the pattern Illuminated Journey by Karen Overton
Working on class sample for upcoming workshop, Illuminated Journey, with beautiful Island Batik fabrics
So much to look forward to in May – but wait! We still have a week to navigate before we take flight! Can’t wait to see what is just around the horizon and in the studio!

Encouragement for Your Whirlwind

This song came on while I was writing my blog and I wanted to share some encouragement with you. We all go through whirlwinds, some whirlwinds of activity are good, some whirlwinds of emotions can be crippling. It is my hope the words of this song will help you not to feel alone in your hurricane.

Hurricane by Natalie Grant

You’re spinning out of control again
Your life feels like a sinking ship
You’re wondering how it came to this

Is it too late?
Is it too far?
For Him to reach you
And come to where you are

Step out on the edge
Don’t be afraid of it
And when you feel the rain
Call His name
He’ll find you in the hurricane

You’re in the wreckage underneath
Your hope is buried somewhere deep
You’re wondering how long it will keep?

It’s never too late
Never too far
For you to reach out
And take a hold of love

Step out on the edge
Don’t be afraid of it
And when you feel the rain
Call His name
He’ll find you in the hurricane

Don’t back down from the fight
He’ll shelter you tonight
Just hold on for the change
Call His name
He’ll find you in the hurricane

There’s a place, there’s a place you can run
When you fall, and it’s all come undone
You’ll be safe in the raging storm
So just let go
‘Cause you are held in His arms

Step out on the edge
Don’t be afraid of it
And when you feel the rain
Call His name
He’ll find you in the hurricane

Ooh ooh…

And when you feel the rain
Call His name
He’ll find you in a hurricane

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, sharing the journey reminding all of us to chose joy even during the storms of life

 

Can you relate? Does your to-do list get crazy and you feel like all you can do is laugh to keep from crying? Do you ever feel like you just “gotta sew” even if it’s a whirlwind of a little project? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Furry Fridays With Island Batik Ambassadors

Furry Fridays With Island Batik Ambassadors

Piece for Shelter Pets  and the Island Batik Ambassadors have been publishing Furry Friday posts featuring adoptable pets via the PetFinder Foundation for a number of weeks now as an encouragement to bring attention to animals needing to be adopted. You may recall that our Island Batik Ambassador project for February was the making of Kennel Quilts and we encouraged your participation – to which we say thank you!

This week’s sponsor of Furry Friday is Hancock of Paducah.

Before I share the pets of the week I wanted to say a word about our sponsor – I can remember when I was first seriously bitten by the quilting bug (around the turn of the century!)  and discovered the beautiful full-color Hancock of Paducah mail order catalog, truly a quilter’s fabric version of the Sear’s Christmas Catalog! It was through their catalog that I fell in love with batik fabrics…I would literally circle fabrics and dog-ear pages to create my wish list and place my order. In today’s digital age we don’t have to patiently wait on the mail carrier to bring our catalog but can “shop in our PJ’s” anytime we want! Ah! Progress! Be sure and check them out!

This Week’s Featured Fur Friends

Speaking of dog-ears (don’t you love that cleaver transition) Here’s this week’s featured pup, Bristol,  who looks like she’d love a scratch behind her ears!

Bristol is an adorable 13-week-old female Shepherd mix. She is a typical sweet and playful puppy. Bristol is good with other dogs.

And for our cat lovers out there we have Carlee looking for a good home.

Carlee is a sweet shy steel gray and white bobtail cat. She’s three years old and she is looking for a loving home where she can get lots of snuggles and cuddles.

It is our goal of spotlighting these precious critters to bring attention to the needs of our local shelters to find forever homes for these pets.

As part of our sharing, the Island Batik Ambassadors have also been encouraged to share our own personal pet stories so sit back while I ramble about mine….

Life Without Pets is No Life at All

I’ve always had a pet. Growing up we had a beautiful  medium sized “heinz 57” mix dog we called Blackie. She was the runt of a litter from my great aunt’s country home and in my life from 1st grade to my senior year in high school. A few years later my husband and I adopted Bonnie from the local shelter, another “heinz 57” whom we dearly loved and who lived in our fenced backyard during our time in Tennessee. We had her for nearly 10 years with her later years having the addition of Annie, a fun loving “yellow dog” whom was later adopted by my brother-in-law when we moved into an RV full time. (another story for another time). You can see a photo of Annie here as she was much loved by Bill and his family and lived to be a good age, a well cared for outside dog.

Then along came Pixxie. She was actually purchased by our then 12 year old son Jake in 2000 while we were working on the road full-time in our RV – the only critter that I/we had ever had as an indoor pet, and the only pet with papers! Pixxie was a full-blooded registered Chihuahua, weighting in at only 6 pounds 6 ounces full grown! (same size as our sons at a birth – they turned out to be over 6 feet grown – but again, another story for another time.)

Pixie was known as The Professional Quilt Model as she always posed with my quilts. 2000-2016

Then Along Came Oscar

Pixie was nearing the end of a wonderful life, it was sad to see her losing her sight and mobility – but she still had her sweet gentle personality and had a lot of “life” in her spirt. She was our “one and only” and didn’t really care to be around other animals…that is, until Oscar showed up.

We weren’t looking for another pet, even though we had been feeding stray cats in the front yard for years. Then around the end of September 2016 this precious little orange tabby showed up across the street by our mailbox…a busy high traffic street.

Despite my attempts to coax the kitten to the safety of our yard with tempting treats, it wasn’t until Jake called him that the kitten came to the porch for food.

Found: One stray orange kitty

We weren’t going to adopt him, but we weren’t going to let him starve either. When we discovered that he was getting under the car we all decided he needed to be moved to the fenced in backyard. I will add that Jake has an apartment in the backyard…

Oscar discovered he liked the shelter under our tiki hut and made himself a home

We still weren’t claiming him as a pet, just a cuddly friendly stray we were feeding. After all, we didn’t know how Pixxie would react, and she certainly didn’t need a bouncy kitten knocking her over or blind-siding her! As it turned out, they actually got a long….and it wasn’t long before Oscar wanted to come inside…

Pixxie wasn’t so sure about Oscar – he didn’t have any manners – Pixxie was the queen of beggars but she was patient – this kitten was bold in his begging!
Oscar kept wanting to be with us and tried out the doggie door a few times. Or he would sit outside Jake’s apartment waiting for him to come home from work. Thanksgiving found Oscar sharing a meal with Pixxie.

Yes, Oscar won his way into our hearts in a few short weeks and we made the commitment to “adopt him” by taking him to the local animal shelter that offered neutering and first kitten shots. And Jake put in a litter box in his apartment so Oscar could sleep inside on those winter nights. Welcome to the family Oscar!

Oscar certainly is a playful kitten

Oscar was with us just 2 short months before we lost our precious Pixxie. God answered my prayers and I was able to hold Pixxie until the very end. She died a peaceful natural death and was buried in our backyard with Oscar being a part of our little ceremony early December 2016. To this day I sometimes see Oscar laying over Pixxie’s grave spot under the palm trees in the backyard.

We weren’t looking for a pet but God knew we would need comfort and He gave us Oscar.

Oscar is home where he belongs

Officially Oscar is Jake’s kitten and bunks with him in the backyard apartment. Oscar prefers to be outdoors but has full use of the “doggie dog” and comes to visit in the studio at his leisure. He loves my quilts, and he loves to snuggle when we watch TV in the evenings as he is awaiting Jake’s arrival home from work. I’ve never been a “cat-person” but Oscar lets us treat him like a dog, I find myself calling him “puppy” as that was my pet name for Pixxie. He is a very social kitten and we love him for that.

No, Oscar doesn’t replace Pixxie, but he joins the other pets of my life in his own special place of my heart. Isn’t God good to create such marvelous creatures to love and be loved by!

Won’t You Consider Adopting a Pet

If you don’t have a critter to call your own I would highly encourage you to visit your local shelters – I can almost guarantee that some sweet kitten or precious pup will steal your heart.

Thank you Island Batik and Hancock of Paducah for bringing the awareness to the forefront that there are so many animals that need good homes. And thank you for this opportunity to share my story of how Oscar came into our lives at just the right time, as well as to honor my beloved Pixxie with a small tale of how she touched our lives.

But Wait! There’s More!

Visit the other Island Batik Ambassadors to read about their Furry Friday posts. This week’s bloggers are:

Mary Mack’s Blog

Hearts Creations

Kissed Quilts

The Quilt Rambler (you are here)

Seams to be Sew

 

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler

 

How To Make a Quilted Composition Notebook Cover

Quilted covers express creativity in the various designs used to cover a humble composition notebook
Take ordinary composition notebooks and cover with colorful quilted fabric for a fun fashion statement in organization or journaling
Make one, or two, or a few! Quilted Composition Notebook Covers are addictive

As part of the Island Batik Ambassador program I was challenged in March to make a mini quilt using paper piecing or foundation piecing. I got a little carried away and turned my paper pieced block into a quilted cover for a composition notebook and haven’t looked back since! They are multiplying like rabbits over here in The Quilt Rambler studio so I decided to share the fun by offering a tutorial/workshop on how you can make your own!

Tutorial shows how to cover a composition notebook with quilted fabric
Turn a simple composition notebook into a fun usable fashion statement

 

Step One: View the YouTube Video

The project requires basic sewing knowledge including knowledge of quilting tools such as a rotary cutter, ruler, and mat and the use of a sewing machine. A confident beginner/intermediate sewer should find the instructions in the workshop clear to follow.

Click here to watch on YouTube.

Making quilted composition notebook covers is addicting - we bet you can't make just one!
View the complete tutorial on The Quilt Rambler YouTube channel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Two: Download the PDF Instructions

Quilted covers include a vinyl zippered pocket for pens and a button closure
There is a zippered pen/pencil pocket inside the back flap of the notebook cover

Because I believe that “paper never forgets” I’ve created a guide to go along with the YouTube. To  better assist you a time stamp is referenced for each section. This is in the event you want to fast forward to review certain areas of instructions.

Supplies are reviewed in the YouTube as well as listed on the PDF.

How to Cover A Composition Notebook v4.4

Step Three: Enjoy and Share

Simple or complex, each quilted cover is uniquely yours
Quilted Covers on the Composition Notebooks are as unique as the imagination of the maker

It’s my hope that you will enjoy the video and printed instructions to make several of these covers – I think they make great gifts! For yourself or others! Personally I have three that I am actively using. One has my “to do list” and calendar, one has a graph paper composition notebook that I use to draw out quilt designs before I head over to EQ7, and one is being filled with tutorial ideas!

Please do share this blog post, PDF pattern, and YouTube reference with your friends. It’s all free – just remember to give credit where credit is due.

scrap pieced notebook cover in bright tropical Island Batik fabrics
Notebook made from fabric scraps

All the quilted samples were designed and pieced by myself, Karen Overton, using Island Batik fabrics, Superior Threads and Aurifl Threads, with zippers By Annie. The Island Batik fabrics were purchased or gleaned from my personal stash with the exception of one precut package of Sweet Nectar from my Island Batik Ambassador project kit.

 

MIA: Behind the Scenes Creative Explosion

Oh my goodness! Where have the days gone! March Madness indeed! It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve last blogged.

I promise I haven’t been on a world cruise and forgot to tell you about it. Actually I wish I HAD been on a cruise!

Things have been hopping over here in The Quilt Rambler studio – and just to prove it I’m going to share a few unedited photos of the creative explosions to account for being MIA.

No bears were harmed in the studio creative explosion!

You may recall that the first of the year I totally redid my studio – with several things being moved into the living areas of the house waiting to be sorted. It’s been a slow process to get everything where I want it. So many wonderful things to go through, to get distracted by, to find a new place to store…sigh….One of the recent goals was to remove a large cabinet  from the studio….

 

Blots begging for a new location in the studio
Fabrics are being folded in storage drawers
Large cabinet needs to be relocated
But first contents of the large cabinet must find a new home
Large cabinet is finding a new home

And that was just one adventure of the past two weeks!  However, our motto has always been “we work hard, so we play hard”  There wasn’t much time to play however I did manage a bike ride to the bay with my youngest son as well as a date night in Galveston with my hubby…

So blessed to live near the water – beautiful day for a bike ride
Nothing better than a day off in Galveston on The Strand!

In addition to all this rearranging of the studio, which is a slow work in progress, there was some serious sewing and quilting going on in the studio! AND videoing!!

Currently in production is a tutorial/workshop on How to Make a Quilted Composition Notebook Cover – the project inspired by the March Challenge of the Island Batik Ambassadors – read about it here.

Quilting my demo for the quilted notebook cover video workshop
Text message from my “film director” eldest son showing a couple of scenes from the future YouTube workshop. And yes, as a rambler you shouldn’t be surprised that my mouth is always open!

That said I had high hopes of having this video online by now, but alas, and with a mournful sigh, I am struggling with computer issues….yep…had to restore everything to factory settings and it’s taking way too long (and my patience is thinning) to try to get things back to normal….

What is normal anyway! It’s just a setting on the dryer!

So in between all the fun clean up, the video, the computer mess and trying to get the taxes done (let’s don’t even go there!) I have managed to do just a little personal sewing in prep for an upcoming workshop next month in Arizona…more details on that to come but here’s a sneak peak of the beautiful Island Batik fabrics I’m using in said project.

Future project in the works….made spectacular with Island Batik fabrics

So there you have it, a brief accountability of the past few weeks! Short and sweet, with unedited photos and unedited ramblings! I’ve got so much scheduled for the month of April I don’t even have time to tell you about it as I do need to crack the whip and get busy!! All I can say is it’s going to be a fast, furious and an incredibly fun month full of fabulous fabric!  I can hardly wait to experience it and share it with you!

On to a new month!
April’s Island Batik Challenge is Adventurous Appliqué

Thanks for checking in with me! Stay tuned for more, and more often!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, coming out of MIA to Tell Your Story One Quilt At A Time!

Please leave a comment and share about your busy spring cleaning, or spring project, or a suggestion for future tutorials!

3 Reasons Why You Should Join a Quilting Guild

Being a part of a quilting guild is sharing the love

Today we are celebrating National Quilting Day and what better way than to discuss the top three reasons why you should join a quilting guild if you haven’t already done so.

 

Reason #1 To Join a Quilting Guild: to Meet New Friends

Quilting Guilds are full of fun friendly folk
Joining a quilting guild will forge new friendships

It’s been my experience that quilters are some of the best people you could ever meet. Generally, they tend to be very unselfish and giving. Most quilters make quilts to give away. How many of you have a quilt made by a grandmother, mother or someone special? So, doesn’t that give you a hint of the kind of people you would find in a guild? Yep, a guild provides fun friendly folk that just happen to love quilting.

Quilting Guild Member Denise made this quilt as a gift
Denise made this Olivia quilt for a special family member
Members of Quilting Guilds are contributors to their community
Janielle made this quilted Ark Covering for her local synagogue
The beginnings of a beautiful large pillow top by quilting guild member Leah
Leah is making large quilted throw pillows for her college-age daughter and her roommates

Reason # 2 To Join A Quilting Guild: to be Inspired

Quilting Guild members share their talent and inspire others
Janielle always has a fun project to share. Her energy alone is inspiring

The members of my local quilt guild, The Island Quilters Guild from Galveston, hands down are a very inspiring group of ladies! I don’t even want to add up the years of combined experiences but I can tell you that each and every one in their own way is influencing my quilting journey.

 

Quilting Guilds are a place to observe and learn new techniques such as Millefiore English Paper Piecing
Jane has been patiently working on her Millefiore English Paper Piecing

I am always learning from my quilting guild friends by observing their fabric combinations, watch them exploring different styles, and observing new techniques. Not to mention seeing the latest notions, fabrics, designs and receiving shopping referrals! Being with my quilting friends is always infectious – in a good way – motiving me to go home and start a new project!

Being a part of a quilting guild provides opportunities for sewing with friends
I love sewing with my guild friends. On the design wall is my pattern Double Occupancy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reason # 3 to Join a Quilting Guild: to Share Your Quilting Passion 

Quilting Guilds support local community service projects by donating their time and quilts to those in need
Pat is a true example of unselfishness – she produces multiple quilts each month for community service

Quilt guilds offer a variety of activities from guest speakers, classes, show and share, community service projects, sew ins, retreats, seasonal parties, and for our island guild the annual bus ride from Galveston to the Houston International Quilt Festival for Preview Night each fall!

Quilting guild members share their creative love of quilting with others
Show and Share is my personal favorite thing about quilting guilds and sew ins – such creativity! Denise’s Jack’s Wheel reminded me that I have this pattern in my UFO closet. Time to get back to it!

 

 

 

 

 

Each guild has its own flavor and unique personalities. It never ceases to amaze me the talent of numerous seasoned quilters gathered together encouraging each other to sharpen their skills and try something new. I find it refreshing to know that quilting is being shared with the next generation. Bottom line I think it’s just plain fun to gather with folk who enjoy talking about quilting as much as I do.

New members are welcomed in quilting guilds as they celebrate their first quilt
Belonging to a quilting guild is a wonderful way to share your FIRST quilt! Congratulations on a job well done Diana
Taking classes is one benefit of belonging to a local quilting guild
LeMoyne Star Technique Class taught by Karen Overton at Island Quilters Guild

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, Telling Your Story One Quilt at a Time

Are you a member of a local or national quilt guild? What do you enjoy most about your guild? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

March Mini Madness – Foundation Piecing

trimming a paper pieced block with the add-a-quarter rule
Picture of miniature quilts using Island Batik Fabrics
Island Batik Ambassadors are up to the challenge

Who knew that being an Island Batik Ambassador would be this much fun! This month the event is March Mini Madness and our instructions simply stated “foundation  or English paper piecing 24” x 24” or smaller.”

Time to get my creative juices flowing using the always inspiring beautiful Island Batik fabrics.

Foundation Piecing or English Paper Piecing?!??!

Okay. Hum. I realize that there’s a whole community built around English Paper Piecing, or EPP as it is fondly referred to, but that’s not my tribe.

Hum…take off the English and it’s just paper piecing, right? Well, that’s not really my tribe either…My UFO closet could prove it – I have a beautiful paper piecing quilt in progress from a class I took from Judy Neimeyer herself back at the turn of the century– great teacher, beautiful designs (ask me how many I have custom quilted!) but this paper piecing thing is just so backwards for me…. now give me a good ruler (or a dozen) and the only paper I need is graph paper….

But! Challenges are just that – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Besides, it’s a small project, how hard can it be? I got started right after the Galentine’s challenge…. thinking I’d be ahead of the game! But the project kept growing!

I Choose Paper Piecing

Desktop view of supplies for paper piecing project, pattern, fabric, thread
Pattern by Carol Doak, Aurifil thread for piecing,  and beautiful Island Batik fabric

Another name synonymous with paper piecing is Carol Doak. I was thrilled to find that she had a section of “free patterns” on her website. As I scrolled down there was one that is available has a handout for teachers to share the technique.  Being both the student and the teacher (for this blog post at least) the decision was quickly made and I downloaded the pattern. You can too if you click on this link.

trimming a paper pieced block with the add-a-quarter rule
It’s all about following instructions and having the right tools

I printed out the paper foundation, gathered my fabrics, I even owned the Add-A-Quarter Ruler! Having the right tools does make a job easier!

I must admit, working with batiks is much easier than my previous dilemma of distinguishing between the right and wrong side of printed fabrics, but that backward thing had me taking my time…it wasn’t too painful as I only had to rip out once!

I must march to the beat of a different drummer – when I did the “what if” I decided I liked an alternative layout….

colorful paper pieced blocks laid out to form a flower
Four units pieced according to the paper piecing instructions
Blocks are rotated to form an alternate layout for paper pieced units
Auditioning an alternate layout for paper pieced units

Design Change Switch to Foundation Piecing

And then I made another interesting decision…I didn’t necessarily have a purpose in mind for a mini quilt – not that there has to be a reason to play in fabric, but I did want to doll up a composition notebook I was using for my to do list….so one thing lead to another!

there is a hole in the quilt top
Discovered an unsewn seam while stitch in the ditch quilting

I figured out that I needed to cut up more of my Sweet Nectar stamps (5” squares) to make patchwork to make this “mini quilt” large enough to cover my notebook. I didn’t want to make binding so I just sewed the quilt top right sides together with a piece of lining and batting, leaving an opening to turn and then top stitch down before quilting on my domestic sewing machine with a little stitch in the ditch…..that’s when I discovered a boo-boo.  I didn’t check carefully when I pulled the paper off to make sure I didn’t pull apart my seam. Oh, well. Life goes on.

After quilting I laid the notebook on top of the wrong side of the mini quilt and folded in the sides to wrap around the edges to secure the notebook. I just top-stitched them together and ta-da, I had a stylish planner!

bright colors add to the beauty of this paper and foundation pieced composition notebook cover
Paper piecing combined with foundation piecing plus quilting turns a common composition notebook into a stylish planner
Island Batik Sweet Nectar fabric makes colorful patchwork on the inside of a notebook cover
The 5″ Sweet Nectar stamps made beautiful patchwork for the inside flaps and back
Quilted paper pieced notebook cover is laid open to show front and back
Open view of finished project. Superior’s Fantastico 5112 was the perfect thread for quilting!

But Wait, There’s More! True Foundation Piecing

I also have a composition notebook with graph paper that I use to sketch out designs for future projects. It needed a cute little cover too! Only it needed a place to keep my pens and pencils…so back to the drawing board.

beautiful blues, yellows and greens make up this pineapple foundation pieced block
The Pineapple Block lends itself easily to foundation piecing

This time I decided to take the instructions literally when it said “foundation” as I was reminded of foundation piecing string quilts years ago. I had some left-over strips of a beautiful line called Caribbean Splash that would be perfect for a pineapple block! So away I went!

I treated the fabric foundation just as I would if it were paper (that backward thing again) and I must admit, I like the precision of the points coming together at the yellow triangles!

yellow triangles of this pineapple foundation pieced block are precise
Foundation piecing is precision piecing

For this cover design, I decided that I needed to wrap the front flap as in the previous cover but that I needed to be able to slip the notebook into a quilted strip to hold it in place so I could wrap the back flap around to the front of the book to secure with a decorative button. Underneath that flap would be my zippered pocket for my pens.  And it worked!

rectangle foundation pieced pineapple block sparkle in caribbean fabrics from Island Batik
Foundation pieced pineapple elongated block makes a great  composition notebook . Opened up full length  reveals the true splash of the Caribbean colored fabrics
A composition notebook covered in quilted fabric is opened to show the hidden extra of a zippered pen pouch
The right hand wrap over flap has a vinyl zippered pocket to house pens. Pieced with Superior’s Sew Complete 217, zipper “ByAnnie” sewn with Aurifil 2120, quilted with Superior’s Fantastico 5004

A Little Bonus Just For You

Fabric strips are tied to the ends of paper clips to make colorful fringed bookmarks
Make decorative DIY bookmarks from simple items, fabric scraps and paper clips! Easy!

I tend to hold on to scraps so I was delighted when a young mom at church shared with me how she uses tiny strips of fabric to make bookmarks for her Bible Journaling…so here’s a bonus for you as a thank you for reading all the way to the end (almost to the end that is).

Third Time’s A Charm! More Foundation Piecing

a mosaic of fabric scraps sewn together using a foundation piecing method to make a larger piece of fabric
It’s fun to “make fabric” from sewing together colorful fabric scraps Aurifil 2000 is perfect for scrap sewing but Aurifil 2530 was perfect for piecing the raspberry lining

Well, I couldn’t stop.  I still had scraps left from my Sweet Nectar paper pieced composition notebook cover and this time I decided I had fulfilled my “foundation” obligation so I just played. Technically I did use a fabric foundation as I “made fabric” by sewing small pieces together and then sewing the pieces to the foundation with a flip and sew method. It is very therapeutic.

Before too long it was time to quilt. Okay, I’m not much of a free motion quilter. As I like to say “quilting on a domestic made a good woman cuss, so I bought a longarm.”

To the longarm I went. Now this is my tribe! I turned up the tunes and I was in my happy place!

close up of longarm quilting machine needle with small quilting designs on scrap pieced top
Superior Threads’ Rainbow in Bubble Gum complemented the scrap piecing perfectly

 

scrap pieced notebook cover in bright tropical Island Batik fabrics
Finished is good! Thank you Island Batik, Aurifil  and Superior Threads!
Scrap pieced notebook cover is open to show the pages of the notebook and zippered pen pouch
Open the notebook to discover a colorful front flap to hold the notebook and a practical zippered vinyl pen pocket
opened to the back of the notebook the back flap which secures the notebook is revealed in the scrap pieced composition notebook cover
The back quilted tube allows the back cover of the notebook to be held in place
colorful patchwork scraps make a notebook cover using the foundation piecing technique
No rhyme or reason when making fabric from scraps. No stress either! Batiks play nicely together

Truly Quilting is an Inexhaustible Topic!

Three fabric covered notebooks designed by The Quilt Rambler
Colorful, stylish, practical, fun!

It’s hard to say which one is my favorite.  I learned something new as I worked through each one.  I don’t think I will ever tire of quilting or rambling about quilting!

Be sure to check with the other Island Batik Ambassadors’ blogs to see their beautiful creations! Follow me as The Quilt Rambler on social media to see more!

Photo for Pinterest showing three quilted fabric composition notebook covers
Pin, Share, Save, Hashtag when you post your creations #TheQuiltRambler #CoveredCompositionNotebook

 

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, Telling Your Story One Quilt at a Time

Please leave a comment with your thoughts below. Would you be interested in a more detailed tutorial on how to make your own composition notebook cover? If so leave a request and we will see what happens!