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 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.
Quilters seem to have their own lingo. Take for example the acronyms mentioned above. WIP in quilt terms means Work In Progress. Whereas UFO is stretching it a bit to mean UnFinished Object. Here’s an interesting one, PIGS = Projects In Grocery Sacks. But I think my favorite one is PhD – Projects Half Done. Doesn’t that sound SEW smart!
No matter what you call them, if you are like the majority of quilters I know you probably have a project or two that is in some sort of process of being finished.
I belong to the Island Quilters Guild in Galveston and one thing that I enjoy about this wonderful group of quilters is gathering with them once a month for our Sew-ins. A Sew-In differs by definition from a Quilt Retreat. Generally retreats are overnight adventures whereas a sew in is just a day event or multiple day event as the case may be. Either way there’s lots of sewing and chattering going on as quilters bring whatever project they are working on to the designated facility and work on their projects together. Sewing is always better with friends!
In eager anticipation of this month’s sew in I packed up my belongings, picked out two WIP, and loaded up the car to head south about 13 miles… about halfway there I realized that I hadn’t packed my thread…SIGH!!! So back to the studio!
So to avoid matters such as this I have now created my ultimate checklist for Sew Ins and Quilt Retreats. You can download a copy here and print for your use. Never again will I waste precious sewing time due to a forgotten item!
Our weekend for January was a little cold so there weren’t as many in attendance as usual – but our hearts were warmed as we laughed and sewed together. We schedule two days together a month for our sew-ins at a local recreation center, a Friday and a Saturday, where we have the freedom to come and go during the course of those two days. Some can only attend a few hours, some are morning folks, some are afternoon folks. Most bring their sewing machine, but on occasion someone will bring handwork, or occasionally someone will just drop by for lunch to visit. Have I mentioned that this is a friendly bunch?
I generally attend both days but this month I was able to attend Saturday only…I thought I’d walk you around the room and show off some of the fun things my quilting friends were working on this weekend.
This is Jane. Her professional background is in embroidery. One of her goals has been to challenge herself in completing an embroidered whole cloth. She brought her PhD to share with the group.
The color of the dupioni silk is so rich and yummy! Jane was explaining that the challenge of this project is lining up the individual designs…if you look closely you will see that this WIP is comprised of rectangle blocks set expertly together to be totally seamless. Jane’s professionalism shines!
Jane is also working on a Millefiori quilt and leading a group of like minded quilters in working through this challenging english paper piecing project. I have to admire her dedication to detail, not to mention all the handwork! Each sew-in Jane manages to add a little more to this fabulous piece. I will do my best to keep you updated on her progress.
Moving around the room lets take a look at what Marilyn is working on this weekend..
Marilyn is our guild president this year. It’s always interesting to see what a she is working on – especially certain times of the year as Marilyn makes these “out of this world” costumes and pageant dresses. She must have the patience of Job! This weekend she was working on beading and sequence for a bodice of a gown – if I remember correctly this will be for an upcoming Mardi Gras outfit. Amazing….all I have to say is Handwork Rocks Girlfriend!
This is Debbie, our past guild president. Debbie is best known for her vibrant colorful quilts – you should have been there at the last guild auction when her bags of quilting scraps were well fought over! This weekend Debbie was like me, she didn’t have the luxury of being there both days…she has the privilege of keeping her grandchildren every now and then (who, by the way, all have the cutest quilts made by Debbie)….all that to say, she is so committed to the fellowship of our little group that even knowing she only had a short while to be with us she made a point to join us and brought a more portable project this time! We were all excited when she walked in around lunchtime to join our happy little band of quilters. I didn’t know Debbie knitted…can’t wait to see the finished project! Maybe next sew in or guild meeting she will bring it for “show and tell.”
This is Katy, also known as a smokin’ needle. Which by my definition is someone who knows how to put the peddle to the metal and keep that machine hummin’ at lightening speed. Katy is one of those gals who has dozens of UFO’s and manages to finish several quilts whenever we are together. I’ve been on retreats and sew ins with her in the past where she finished up a top and managed to machine quilt it and bind it all in one setting. Did I mention that she’s a smokin’ needle? On this particular morning Katy was working on a row of flying geese and by lunchtime Katy had this cute little baby quilt sewn together ready to add the baby’s name on the bottom border! Did I mention that she was a smokin’ needle – yep, she’s fast…but better than that, she’s good at what she does!
As someone who “makes a living” in the quilt industry I do my best to take “time off” to work on my own personal projects – this is why I appreciate our guild for hosting these sew ins and I do my best to attend as many as possible.
Last July we had our annual 3 day Island Quilters Guild Sew In. THREE DAYS! I make this a high priority on my calendar to attend each year bringing as many UFO’s, PIGS, WIP, and PhD’s as possible. Last year I actually brought something new to work on the last day of the event. I had recently been cleaning out an area of my studio and found a ruler
I made this little top in one day from a package of 2.5″ inch strips. And then it became a WISP = Work In Slow Process…
Until the January Sew- In that is! By lunchtime I had added borders and my UFO became a TGIF = Thank Goodness Its Finished.
Actually it has become what I fondly call a Quilt in Waiting…as in it is a pieced top waiting to be quilted – and then it’s “Finished is Good.” I ended up with a few pieced blocks that didn’t make it into the quilt top so decided to go ahead and piece them into the backing. Now it’s really ready for the longarm! Hum…wonder how long it will take to work into The Quilt Rambler rotation? Grin. “A cobbler’s kids have no shoes.”
We had a few more join us after lunch….so to continue with the show and share…
This is Pam, she’s a fiber artist/art quilter and recently new to our Galveston guild and to the island itself. She’s not a stranger to quilting or being known among the national quilting scene (she is friends with lots of nationally known quilters.) Pam was working on a little project for the Houston chapter of SAQA – Studio Art Quilt Associates. If I understood her correctly this is a piece that she will be teaching at an upcoming meeting with that guild. And look! she did all the handwork, embellishments, quilting and binding at sew in. Yep! Finished is good!
Did I mention that Katy’s a smokin’ needle? She started another WIP, this time a paper piecing project…I believe she said this was going to be part of a placemat set. I love the colors – so tropical on such a cold winter’s day.
Sometimes in the excitement of making quilts we lose track of some of the ones that just need to be finished. That’s what’s so wonderful about sew-ins! I have lined up all my UFO’s in a priority order and plan on working through as many as possible this year. Some date back to 1995!
Dena joined us after lunch. She was working on a very old project….seems this was one of her first quilts, part of a sampler class she took years ago at the community college. She was hand-quilting it and is almost finished…If you look closely you can see where she embroidered “Dena’s first quilt 1992 -20__” she said as soon as she finishes she will fill in the blank with the finished year. Talk about a major accomplishment! Hum…is it considered Vintage or Antique if something is over 25 years old? Just kidding Dena – I think it is beautiful and a great memorial to your many successful years of quilting – looks like you passed your college class and have become a world-class quilter!
Janielle is another quilter/knitter of the group. This weekend she was working on finishing up several UFO’s. This first quilt top was pieced from a book called Jelly Roll Jambalaya Quilts
I’m typically not a “brown” person (preferring bright jewel tones) but I do love batiks and this pattern just spoke to me. Janielle was layering it to machine quilt and made good progress. She mentioned that this would be a charity quilt. Through the generosity of our members our guild provides many quilts each year to various local charities.
Janielle brought blocks from another project also from the Jelly Roll Jambalaya Quilt book. (I just ordered my copy!) It wasn’t long before she had these together in a quilt top.
Janielle did say that she is going to consider adding a border to this top. Her thoughts “some quilts just need a border to frame them in and I think this is one of them.”
Not to be accused of being idle, I started on my second WIP after lunch. This is a top I pieced at a retreat last February called Stereo by Jaybird Quilts.
The pattern doesn’t call for a border but I wasn’t as pleased with my color choices as the original pattern so I thought it might look more contained if it had a border….
What do you think?
All too soon it was time for me to call it a day. The event wasn’t “over” but my time was limited. Sigh. I was so pleased to finish two PhD’s in one setting – that sounds sew smart doesn’t it?
Before I left I noticed Janielle pulled out another WIP, a beautiful Hunter’s Star that I believe she said Pam was quick to call “Dibs” when Janielle said she was probably going to give this one away… Time will tell.
Thanks for joining me for the ramble. I have a nice group of quilting friends from the island – I’m sure you will see more of their beautiful creations as time goes by.