What a great start to summer! So what is “secret sewing,” you ask? Quite frankly a new experience for me – after all, I am The Quilt Rambler, not the keeper of quilt secrets! Do you realize just how hard this has been for me trying to keep things under wraps for the past 12 days!
After coming off a busy graduation t-shirt quilt season (with the last one picked up June 2nd before the June 3rd graduation) you may have seen this on social media posted June 2:
“Shh!! It’s a secret! Actually, I’m working on THREE secret quilting projects right now that all due within the next 10 days. Two I can’t share until Fall Market, the third is super top secret but if it works out I will be able to share in a few weeks. I’m going to be a secret agent and bury myself in fabric…duty calls!”
Secret Sewing Project Number 1
June 2 to June 5
This one kinda snuck up on me with a fast approaching deadline. All I can say is it’s an application to something BIG if it all comes to pass. If not, it was a learning experience and I’ll try again another time. But the pressure was on! Choose fabric – no brainer, I picked Island Batik’s collection Coastal Mist. Measure twice, cut one. Sew sew sew – actually 3 days of sew sew sew, had to do my best work!
Then shipped off to meet the deadline.
I can hardly wait to hear the results. And yes, I will share the results one way or another…I’ve also got plans to repurpose the project “one way or another”… Hopefully, by the end of July, I will be able to reveal this adventure. I can hardly wait!! It’s so hard not to talk about this!
Secret Sewing Project Number 2
June 5 to June 6
This project is an original design pattern that was submitted to Island Batik to showcase one of their upcoming fabric collections that will be introduced the end of October at the Houston Fall Market – a tradeshow for the quilt industry where buyers come to see the latest trends, new notions and of course new fabric!! Orders are placed for fabrics to ship in the spring….
This one is especially hard to not ramble about, even harder not to share photos! But that’s the surprise! The fabric!! Okay, and the design…it’s a new one too.
One little sad frustration while working on this project is that my Oliso iron died. I was pressing all the little parts and pieces as I was sewing and I smelt something burning – evidently, the heating element must have burnt out. Sigh. Backup travel irons don’t compare but I am thankful to report that Oliso has a repair/replace option and I am shipping off the deceased iron today and eagerly awaiting another one. Best iron I’ve ever owned!
Secret Sewing Project Number 3
Thank goodness this project was just a wall hanging! Whew! Pieced in one (long) day! Last stitch 1:30 AM June 8th. And yes, it’s another Fall Market fabric line for Island Batik.
Oh, how I wish I could show you this one! The fabrics are MY colors – that might be too much of a hint, but I can tell you I can’t wait to purchase fabric from this line when it comes out the first of next year!
Let The Quilting Begin
June 8 to June 12
Okay, I did take Sunday off! But I still pulled some after midnight quilting. I couldn’t help myself – I got really caught up in the quilting. Project Number 2 was custom quilted with a little bit of ruler work. According to my stitch counter, this tasty morsel had 136,285 stitches with four thread color changes.
Here’s a legal sneak peak of the backing showing just a tad of the quilting. It’s “legal” because the backing is from a current line introduced at Spring Market called Seas The Day shipping soon to quilt shops.
I really got into the quilting on Project Number 3, even though it was much smaller it had oh so much higher stitch count, with only two thread color changes. I played a lot with ruler work! A lot!
I thought it was fun that the Island Batik backing, from the basics line, was called Rainbow and that I used Superior Threads Rainbows thread to quilt it in a colorway called Carnival (more hints of the fun fabric colors on top!). As you can see – I cut it sorta close on running out of thread!
Binding, Photos, and Off to the Post Office
June 13 to today, June 14
I’ve been doing a lot of machine binding lately, attaching the binding on both sides with the sewing machine, but these beauties deserved a little hand sewn binding love. I just love how my “donut” of MasterPiece threads by Superior Threads offers any and all colors I need to match my binding!
And no, that beautiful stripe orange is not a give-a-way of the secret fall fabric collection – that’s my hanging sleeve made from Island Batik fabric in my stash. You thought I slipped up and let out a secret, didn’t you?
Naturally, I had to have photos taken to document the quilts before shipping them off to Island Batik….that way I can blog about them this fall! Don’t you want to see all the close-up details? Oh, I can hardly wait to show them to you.
I asked for special permission to share this next photo with you – that’s why it’s in black and white, to protect the big reveal of the fabulous colors in Project Number 3….but I couldn’t resist this photo taken in the backyard – lots of critters flying around in the summer time – some of which aren’t alive to fly…
The clock just struck 9:00 AM June 14th – that means the post office is open and I’ve got to head out the door! Here’s a parting shot of the quilts prior to boxing up showing you the beautiful labels my friend Janie made for me (with the pattern name and fabric collection name covered up – it is still a secret after all).
Thanks for joining me in this ramble….I can’t imagine keeping this secret for 136 days – Quilt Market is October 28th!!!
This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, talking about quilts while still keeping them secret! who knew!
Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!
As a review, I’m an Island Batik Ambassador and our May challenge was to make a Modern Batik Quilt (here’s Part 1 in case you missed it). I have totally enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone with this challenge….and the challenge continued….as it was soon time to quilt it!
You Can Never Have Too Many Rulers
I’ve been a longarm quilter since 2004 and have “collected” my share of longarm rulers – many while attending longarm classes with national teachers.
I hate to admit that many of them haven’t been used to their fullest potential. The most used ones were to make spines for feathers, or a circle to make a feathered wreath…I’m a self-proclaimed feather queen…but that’s another ramble….
Modern quilting?!!??! Something I’ve just drooled over at quilt shows, online, and in magazines…not something I’ve attempted…never had the time to experiment!
Personal Challenge – Use Those Rulers!
It’s my understanding that there are not very many rules in modern quilting, that it is very fluid, so I decided to fire the quilt police on this one. I seriously didn’t have a quilting plan….yes, I know that’s dangerous…but as Ben & Jerry’s said: “If it’s not fun, why do it!”
To those of you who are more experienced, my apologies. But it’s my first modern quilt! And here’s just a few of the rulers I used from my vast collection.
As a side note, I had ordered some of Jodi Robinson’s rulers but they arrived too late to be included in this project. I can’t wait to try them in future quilts!
It’s All in The Details
I gained the confidence to try new things as I worked my way down the quilt. It probably would have been a little different had I had a plan (grin)….but I like the way it turned out.
Modern Quilt In The Wild
It was late in the day by the time I sewed the binding on…I have plans to hand stitch the binding on this one versus machine binding….but I was losing daylight so forgive the flapping binding! Here are the outdoor photos that were taken under the tiki hut in the backyard. I’m not a professional photographer so the lighting isn’t perfect, but I think you can see the texture and my attempts at modern quilting.
It’s Not Finished Until You Put A Label on it
I thought it would be fun to make a bright hanging sleeve and cheated a bit turning this into my quilting label. I hope to finish the hand-sewn binding soon and hang this in my studio.
I have truly enjoyed the challenge on this one. The pattern has lots of personal messages to remind me that life is a journey and full of choices. There are plenty of beautiful things to see and do along the way. The verse inspires me to follow God and trust that He will guide my path. In all things that I do, I need to stay true to who I am.
This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, Proving That There’s Always Something New to Try In The World Of Quilting!
Do you have a defining style of quilting? Maybe you are fond of applique’ or traditional patterns. Have you tried modern quilting? I’m thinking I’d like to try this again. Leave me your thoughts and comments, especially if you have suggestions on modern quilting.
May’s Island Batik challenge is to make a modern quilt. Well….that’s a challenge! I’ve never made a modern quilt before. I’ve been thinking about it since given the full year’s agenda back in February. Hum…
I’ve found that inspiration comes when you least expect it. For example, I love to take photos of my feet propped up somewhere calling it “my current world view” – most of the times it’s of me relaxing in my hammock, once or twice it was with my feet on a poolside lounger overlooking the water while on a cruise…recently, while on a women’s retreat with my church, I found myself waiting outside a restaurant for my girlfriends and snapped this photo…then the more I looked at it, the more it dawned on me…this was my inspiration to design something modern, and totally outside of my normal quilting!
The Design Process of My Modern Quilt
I’m still learning EQ7 but I managed to flesh out the design in my head as a rough draft on the computer. Knowing that most modern quilts have solid colors and lots of negative space I decided to follow the minimalist mindset. I decided that I wanted to make the colors really pop so I changed the background to a darker fabric.
Since I am more of a graph paper pencil gal I redrew my design and started mapping out the piecing process. I chose fabrics from my Island Batik Ambassador box, picking out the primary colors from the “stash builder” bundles. They were perfect because they were 5″ strips and I could cut them down to 2.5″ strips to make my finished 2″ squares. For the background, I pulled an Island Batik basic from my stash called Storm. I just love this fabric, it’s a midnight blue instead of black and has some really wonderful coloration that gives it lots of movement.
You Can Never Have Too Many Rulers
I’ve shared several times on Facebook and social media that “you can never have too many rulers” to which this project proved to be true! For accuracy, I do prefer to make my half square triangles (HST) and quarter square triangles (QST) with Studio 180 Design rulers, which allow me to over-cut my pieces then trim to perfection, but I was limited in my fabric and had to take the risk of cutting actual size units hoping for accurate sewing. I was close. Pretty darn close if I do say so myself! For the HST I used Omnigrid 96 ruler and for the QST I used Omingrid 98 ruler.
My Modern Quilt Construction
After all my pieced blocks were made it was time to figure out how to do the large negative space background. Back to my graph paper to combine the units into sections – and to figure out the cutting of the background into larger chunks vs the 2″ squares as drawn on EQ7 – one day I will learn how to do this on the computer, but for now…I enjoyed the process of all the figuring!
To make the sections into manageable blocks to join together I found that I would have a single 2″ block to be able to join things together. Really?!? Well, I guess that’s what makes this a challenge – figuring things out and having fun in the process. I have to admit, I was totally in my element! I love a good problem-solving session, especially when it leads to a quilt that I can be proud of!
It’s been a while since I did a partial seam, but it worked!
My Modern Journey Sew Far, So Good
I’m very pleased with how this little project has turned out so far. I call it “This is the Way, Walk in It” based on a Bible verse that came to mind when I first saw that window advertisement during the April Retreat.
Isaiah 30:21 “Your ears will hear a word behind you,‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left”
More to Learn on This Modern Batik Challenge Quilt
Now my next challenge is to learn a few “modern” quilt design elements. The quilt is on the longarm today so stay tuned for part 2!
I have been looking forward to this journey for months! This past week I had the honor of being a guest speaker at the Lonesome Valley Quilt Guild in Prescott Valley, Arizona and able to teach a workshop with my original pattern Illuminated Journey.
I have to say the hardest part of packing was deciding what quilts to bring for my trunk show! Every quilt has a story and this rambler does like to ramble on.
Bags are Packed
My friend Dianne accompanied me on this journey. Fortunately, she travels light so I was able to appropriate one of her allowed check in bags. As you can see, I don’t travel light!
Let the Journey Begin
We flew into Phoenix from Houston Hobby and had a rental car waiting on us. It’ s a good thing that Dianne is a little more up to date with vehicles than I am. I was really surprised when I couldn’t find a key hole in the ignition! She calmly explained to me “put your foot on the brake and press the start button”. But even Dianne was dumbfounded when we couldn’t find the stick shift – who knew it was a knob on the dash!
Our destination was Prescott Valley. I have to thank my friend Larry at church for teaching me the proper way to say this. As a Texan, I thought it was pronounced Press-Scott but he kindly corrected me that it was Pres-cut, the only way I could remember was it sounded like it rhymed with biscuits…
We had a little over an hour and a half drive UP the mountains to our destination. Coming from 10 feet above sea level to over 5000 feet above sea level was breathtaking in multiple ways. The scenery was glorious. Along the way, we saw an exit sign for a visitors center where they shared a location with us to enable us to safely take photos of the fabulously tall cactus we were viewing out the window. If you follow me on Facebook you can see my impromptu Facebook Live video from High Desert Trail. The scenery was truly breathtaking.
By late morning we were joining our hostess, Patsy and Karen (daughter/mother), for a fun tour of the two local quilt shops.
First stop was Quilt ‘N Sew Connection I enjoyed all the shop samples and beautiful display of fabrics. The ladies there were very welcoming. Dianne found her “next quilt” and I’ve been recruited to assist her with some of the teachable moments in the pattern. It’s going to be stunning.
Just down the road was Cloth Plus which offered both quilting fabric and home decoration fabric and supplies. This shop was equally friendly – that’s important in my book! I was pleased to see some Island Batik precuts – they actually had the fabric line that I used in my Illuminated Journey sample!
I’mnot confessing my purchases – but I will say it wasn’t easy to squeeze in more fabric in my already packed suitcases!
Time for Guild Meeting
After an enjoyable afternoon sight-seeing and a late lunch with the girls, it was time to prepare for my lecture and trunk show.
I had brought two little cameras and asked that photos be taken for me….well, low light and a camera that’s not familiar yielded a few shaky shots as well as grainy shots – but if you are a true quilt lover, and I know you are, you will forgive the photo quality and look at the quilts!
I have to say my favorite part of quilt guild meetings are the show and tell by members. I love seeing what others are making and hearing their stories. The Lonesome Valley Gals are extremely generous in the making and donating of charity quilts – so many were displayed during their community service show and tell. In addition, the members shared their own personal quilts. I was able to capture a few.
Time To Ramble
It doesn’t look like 100+ pounds when they are all folded up on the table, but I promise I had 3 suitcases weighing just under the 50-pound limit each full of quilted quilts, unquilted quilts as well as all the teaching supplies for Illuminated Journey. Here’s a small sampling of my trunk show…and yes, this Quilt Rambler did ramble on! I lost track of time and never made eye contact with my “timekeeper” Patsy to know when to stop….umm….yeah…how about an hour of rambling on! I really could have talked all night – quilting is such an inexhaustible subject! I got tickled when Patsy stated, “I don’t think she took a breath!”
Illuminated Journey Workshop
Tuesday morning 14 ladies were up bright and early, toting in their sewing machines and supplies for a full day of learning how to use Deb Tucker’s Studio 180 Design’s Rapid Fire Leymone Star Ruler with my pattern Illuminated Journey.
The ladies were delightful. I truly appreciated their kindness and loved getting to spend time quilting and visiting with them. Once again, thank you to Kim who provided a sewing machine for Dianne to be able to sew during class. Since Dianne had already made Illuminated Journey she worked on her first “Jelly Roll Race” quilt and was pleased to get it totally pieced during class.
The day went too quickly! Before I knew it everyone was packing up and we were headed out to dinner with Patsy and Karen, joined by their husbands. I neglected to mention that these ladies, who are actually from Prescott Valley, spent some years in my neck of the woods – the Texas gulf coast – and we were in the Mainland Morning Guild together (Texas City). This mother/daughter team is a joy to be around. Again, Dianne and I appreciated their hospitality.
All Roads Lead South
Well, maybe that’s not true, but it was time for these Texas gals to head south – but not without another stop on the road for our photo op. This time we stopped at an official rest stop called Sunset Peak, a mere 3000-foot elevation. We weren’t disappointed by the view that’s for sure!
Illuminated Journey in The Wild and On the Road
While taking this photo another rest-stop guest asked if we were going to a quilt show in Utah that weekend…Darn! We would just have to miss that one! Just not enough hours to see all the fabulous quilts in the world!
I truly appreciated the good fortune to share my pattern with the Arizona ladies. Thank you again for your hospitality and allowing me the opportunity to see your beautiful state!
Illuminated Journey was created in 2014 as a pattern to be taught on Cactus Quilt’s 2015 Quilting Cruise. The pattern is available for purchase as a PDF download, written as it was for the cruise. If this is something you are interested in please contact me.
In addition, if your guild would like a trunk show or workshop I would be more than happy to discuss details.
This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, Rambling On the Road, Telling My Story One Quilt At a Time!
Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts about guest speakers at guilds and workshops you have enjoyed.
The April challenge for the Island Batik Ambassadors is “Adventurous Appliqué'” and since Easter is in April this year I wanted to make an Easter Appliqué reflecting the meaning behind the holiday. I found the perfect Island Batik fabrics in my stash to represent the idea in my head….
First off I need to apologize to those who have honed their skills as experts in appliqué – for as you will see, I am still at the bottom rung of the ladder. I’ve quilted your beautiful creations admiring your perfectly stitched needle turn appliqué, both hand and machine…sigh…
You’d think as much as I enjoyed handwork as a youth – embroidery, counted cross-stitch, needlepoint, needle punch – that I would have embraced appliqué. I adore looking at it! I appreciate the time commitment…which is why I stick to piecing as I’m a smokin’ needle and want to “get’er done.” In my opinion, appliqué is time-consuming, but as I’m learning, worth the investment.
Raw Edge Appliqué Combined with Reverse Appliqué
In my way of thinking I figured a fused raw edge appliqué would fit the bill for my idea and skills. Even with my limited knowledge of appliqué, I do know that batiks are wonderful for this process as they don’t fray as much as other cotton prints.
I also wanted to experiment with a process I’d read about called reverse appliqué.
Preparing the Design For My Easter Appliqué
So I gathered my supplies and set out to work on this Easter project on Palm Sunday….(kinda cutting it close for Easter, but I tend to work better with deadlines).
Using letter stencils purchased at Walmart, a roll of newsprint and quilting stencils purchased years ago I set out to drawing my idea. Once drawn, I flipped the paper over and darken the lines with a sharpie. Reverse appliqué is just that – reversed, or mirror image.
I then traced the design on double fusible interfacing on the paper side. So far so good. Fast, simple, quick….Next step – fuse to my fabric. This is from my personal stash, it’s an Island Batik fabric called Storm, and since it’s a “basic” you can ask your local quilt shop to order a bolt. I find that I use it a lot for a backdrop to the other beautiful Island Batik fabrics I’ve “collected” through the years.
And then came the trimming.
The Right Tools for the Job
There’s something to be said for having the right tools for the right job. I’m pretty good with scissors and I thought surely I could cut out the project in nothing flat. I then realized it was awkward to hold the project in my hands so I switched to a teeny tiny rotary cutter, something else I was pretty good at using…it wasn’t until our son Jake came by to check on my progress and said “mom, you need a razor blade to cut that out”. Ah ha! Lightbulb moment!
Now you have to realize that I’m not a hoarder or anything. My husband says I’m a “just in-caser” as in I have lots of things “just in case”….which proved to be a blessing as I remembered during my recent deep cleaning of the studio I discovered the perfect Olfa cutter which at some point in my quilting career was my “just in case” purchase.
Yes, the right tools make life much easier!
Next, I needed to audition fabric for the “show through” windows of my reverse appliqué. Again, shopping my stash, I found the perfect print. Now I have to add here that when I purchase fabric I like to write down the name or number from the end bolt “just in case” I run out and need to try to find more. It’s proven beneficial more than once. The fabric for my design is Island Batik #121515164 which I just looked up and it’s from a line called Jersey Shore that may or may not be at your local quilt shop but a good substitute could be from the current line Pressed Petals. I received a 10″ precut package of Pressed Petals in my Island Batik Ambassador box and will be using this in an upcoming project scheduled for June…so stay tuned for that one.
Anyway….back to the current project. I also happened to have a small hand-dyed fabric in my stash from a 2008 workshop in my studio with my longarm friend Jamie Wallen. I thought it would be perfect for the backing.
Beginning to Look like an Easter Appliqué
Next step was to pull away the paper backed fusible and press to my beautiful colorful fabric….It was a little precarious. I either had the iron too hot, because at places it didn’t adhere properly, or I had the wrong type for the job. Something that I need to ask my more experienced friends for future references.
Since I’m not well versed in appliqué I’m also not well versed in machine appliqué on my domestic sewing machine – on to the longarm it went!
I used a double layer of batting, with 80/20 batting on bottom and Hobbs Tuscany Wool batting on top, to give a raised padded look with the lettering and scroll work design.
My goal was to “nail down” the raw edges with what I call artist sketch stitches and then do background fill. I tend to be a dense quilter as the stitch counter on my A1 Platinum Elite documented.
Next Step: Binding my Easter Appliqué
Binding was done on my domestic sewing machine and in no time I was finished with my Easter project. I’d like to say it was completed in one day, but alas, it wasn’t. At least it was completed before Easter! It is now hanging in my entry way for the world to see!
Visit All Island Batik Ambassadors for Their Adventurous Appliqué
I am truly enjoying the monthly challenge projects with being a part of the Island Batik Ambassadors. Don’t forget to check out the other ambassadors to see their monthly creations. There are a lot of fabulous designers in this group all sharing the same passion as I do – Island Batik fabrics!
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
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.
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….
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
A Little Bonus Just For You
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
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!
Truly Quilting is an Inexhaustible Topic!
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!
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!
I love scrap quilts. Maybe it’s the magnitude of colors or the gentle reminder of days gone by when grandma would “make do” with what fabric scraps she had left from the family sewing projects. Or maybe it’s because I entered into the quilting world being a “fat quarter queen” (translation – buying bunches of fat quarters to build more color more quickly and economically in a new stash). Whatever reason, scrap quilts seem to call my name.
Some time ago I received a shipment of several bolts ordered from Island Batik and to my great surprise and pleasure there was a bundle of fabric strips from the new Glowing Embers collection included in the shipment with a simple note – enjoy. I’m not sure, but my guess would be that these were the “scraps” from the edge cuttings for their yummy precuts. I love precuts…. I have made multitudes of quilts using precuts…I will have to show you some of the sometime….just remind me…
Have I mentioned that I also like traditional pieced patterns? Only I’m not into the 1930’s reproduction prints or those civil war prints. I love seeing them, especially antique quilts, totally enjoy quilting them for customers, but I’m not naturally drawn to those colors when I want to piece something for myself. Instead, I gravitate to bright tropical colors, jewel tones, juvenile prints and most definitely circles and stripes, and batiks!
Actually, I had a pattern in mind. Pattern #3056 Hummingbird. Funny thing about patterns, a block can be known by several names but I love how Barbara Brackman has done the research on the earliest known names based on publications…This is a pattern that I’ve seen floating around the internet lately but it appears that everyone is doing a paper-pieced version. I’m not much into paper piecing either – I have problems with the reversal or mirror image or something, I become totally dyslexic ..nope…give me a good ruler and I can figure out how to make it work!
By the way, true confession. I’m a ruler queen. Trust me, there’s a ruler for everything and you can never have too many rulers! One day we’ll do a ruler drawer reveal…or a ruler challenge – would you like that? A challenge to actually use all those rulers in your drawer! or find out how I use mine?
Since I own every ruler made by Deb Tucker with her Studio 180 Designs I do tend to play around with them a lot. A while back I was trying to figure out a way to make this particular block scrappy using Deb Tucker’s Corner Beam Ruler. I cut a block and put it on the design wall…and that was that. Until this weekend when I decided it was time to play in the fabric strips.
Time to get busy. I opened one section from the fabric bundle and found that there were about 20 strips folded in half approximately 2″ by 20″ or so. I decided to let my scissors rip right up that fold line – GASP!! – Yep, I did that! Why not? Much faster than using the rotary cutter and besides, I was feeling adventuresome and decided this was more like a true collection of fabric scraps, sorta like keeping cuttings to make a string quilt. Once cut into smaller strips, I literally tossed them together like making a salad to mix up the scrumptious colors. How else can you randomly pull from a pile if they aren’t all mixed up?
I pulled out my favorite notions (we will do a notion review soon) and got to piecing!
Since the strips were not precision cut I had to improvise making sure to catch enough fabric to make a quarter inch seam. I would put the offending rough cut on the bottom so I could see it and just used the “good” cut strip as the guide for my quarter inch seam. Sometimes that meant that strip was well under an inch itself – but that’s what makes it interesting! It was okay to be a little wonky. This is where I love using my Stiletto & Pressing Tool by Annie to gently guide my strips – it’s so much easier than pins!
Soon two strips became four, four became six or eight until I had a section a little over 6″ wide.
Next, I went to my ironing station and pressed open the seams to reduce the bulk for when the block is constructed later.
Then I placed two strip sets that were close to the same width together on the cutting table to straighten the edges to make them the same width. Yep, I showed them who was boss! It didn’t matter that some of the strip was short or “crooked” looking – they were now equal width and on to the sewing machine to sew a quarter inch seam on BOTH of the long sides forming a tube.
As I mentioned, there’s a ruler for everything. I wanted to make my strips go across the diagonal instead of horizontal, so I used The Strip Tube Ruler by Cozy Quilt Designs and followed their directions to cut out a 6″ square. My “tube” was a little big but I planned it that way so I would have more variety of fabrics that didn’t look cookie cutter the same…. Trust me, it’s okay to have a little extra cuttings to work around for the look you want.
Once all my tubes were cut into triangles as per ruler directions then opened up to reveal the square it was back to the ironing board to press open that center seam and to give the blocks a good starching with Best Press. I found it rather interesting that my 20 something strips yielded 9 blocks – while those blocks were pretty in and of themselves and would have made a cute nine patch … I was on a mission!
Following the directions on the ruler I cut out the center portion of the hummingbird block from the pieced squares and cut the side triangles from a 6″ strip of Island Batik Sprinkles which I think makes a fabulous background fabric! I use this print in a lot of my scrap quilts…kinda calming and a good way to tie in a lot of different colors. One thing I love about batiks, they play nicely together. And have you ever noticed that for the majority of them, you can’t tell the right side from the wrong side? That helps when you are just grabbing random strips to sew together…just sayin’…
Time to assemble the blocks. Chain piecing is a must – especially if you are a smokin’ needle like I am with limited time to sew on personal projects. I must say that I truly love Deb’s rulers – she designs a little “wiggle room” in that the oversized cuts accommodate our “personal measurements” when it comes to sewing a perfect 1/4″ seam….try as I might I’m never felt like I was perfect…but with overcutting and later trimming to size you’d never know my secret had I not told you (GRIN). Yep, Deb makes me look like a pro!
Nine units trimmed, only eight needed to make the four patch which makes up the Hummingbird block….two beautiful scrappy blocks if I do say so myself…
But what about all the leftover pieced scraps you say? Never fear…not a decent sized scrap was wasted in this scrap quilt creation!
Have you ever “made fabric?” I’ll warn you, it’s kinda addicting! Simply take scraps of similar size and piece them together to make a bigger scrap and just keep going. Kinda like eating potato chips!
Yeah, I know, it’s kinda crazy. Maybe even a little obsessive in trying to use up ALL the scraps – but I thought it would be fun this time! After all, I wanted to make more than two blocks and I wasn’t ready to dig further into my fabric bundle today with all these gorgeous leftovers pleading with me to be included….
To simply things I used my Corner Beam Ruler to make a cardboard template and kept piecing the scraps together until I had one large enough to cut out the template. I did find that I had to use a “normal” cutting ruler over the cardboard to keep from nicking it (or my finger) but I was only hoping for 8 wedges and figured the make-do template would survive at least that long. It did, no fingers were run over with a rotary cutter and only one little nick on the cardboard.
I will admit that pressing seams became a bit of a challenge. Where I could, I pressed the seams open to reduce the bulk. When it came to pressing the background triangles sewn to my center wedge I had to give up “pressing to the dark side” due to the bulk and just pressed to the light background where the fabric wanted to naturally lay. No big deal. Sometimes creativity means breaking a few rules. The quilt police don’t live at my house so no worries!
Trust me, after constructing two blocks you quickly become an expert. In nothing flat I had two more Hummingbird blocks all pressed and sewn together. Don’t you just love the true scrappiness of the “making fabric” blocks? I do!
So after a few short hours I had four blocks pieced – did I mention pieced, not paper pieced – grin – and look – I haven’t even made a dent in the fabric bundle of scraps! There’s still a few fabric crumbs leftover from all that making fabric adventure… Some will get used again to make larger pieces, some probably have too many seams to continue being sewn…but for now I’m holding on to them until I’ve decided.
What I did decide is that I want more than 4 beautiful 10″ blocks from this lovely bundle of Island Batik scraps. I “just happened” to have an “orphan block” leftover from the center block in my Illuminated Journey class that I taught on the 2014 Quilting Cruise whose colors blend perfectly don’t you think? Of course they do! They are made from an Island Batik strip pack. Have I mentioned that I love LeMoyne Stars? And there’s a ruler for that too! But this is for another day…
….I just love the direction this is going….and don’t you just love batiks! They do play so nicely together.
Since this is such a long ramble (and that’s as far as I’ve sewn sew far so I’m out of photos) I believe that I will just make this a continuing saga sprinkled in among other rambles as time goes by. I’ve got a few ideas circulating around in my busy brain and I can’t wait to see where the possibilities will take me! Will you join me again for more Scrap Quilt Creations? I hope so! Thanks for letting me ramble on telling MY story today!
But Wait! There’s MORE!!
I couldn’t stop thinking about these blocks, so early Sunday morning before going to church I had an idea of how to be “more efficient” in my piecing…..
Remember how I confessed that I’m a ruler queen – well there is more than one ruler to use for a given project! This time I decided to make one long strip unit from the second set of strips in the fabric bundle. I continued with the idea of cutting the strips up the fold line and just sewed them until the unit grew to almost 36″ in length! That’s a yard in length by 20″ or so in width! Nice volume of scraps if I do say so myself! Would have been longer had I not split the strips…but that’s an idea for the third set….
Okay, so quickly here’s what I managed to figure out before heading out for the day….why not use my 6″ bias square up ruler or Tucker Trimmer to make the units needed to use the Corner Beam Ruler technique? Why not indeed! And to make matters a tad more efficient I simply placed a mark on my long ruler to cut a 6″ bias strip to then cut the 6″ bias squares….
This is yielding me enough blocks to make FOUR more Hummingbird blocks which I will finish another time. And yes, there will be some crumbs (leftover pieced strips) for which I already have an idea! So stay tuned!! More Scrap Quilt Creations Ramblings are in the works.