Reagan’s Rainbow Blocks

I am so excited to finally be sharing my December Island Batik Ambassador project, on this last day of 2018, AND as an added bonus ~  I’ve created a PDF tutorial for Reagan’s Rainbow Blocks! Oh, but I’m getting ahead of myself as I know you are hungry for “the rest of the story” in true rambler style…so settle in and let me tell you how this project developed over the past month! 

It’s been so much fun seeing how the other Island Batik Ambassadors have interpreted this challenge called Whimsical and Wonky. I have to admit my mind has been spinning with all sorts of ideas, but my mind was also spinning with a very busy month full of customer Christmas quilt deadlines, secret sewing projects for Spring 2019 Market (sounds crazy but the quilts were due to Island Batik to be photographed for the catalog by Jan 2nd – YIKES!) as well as the normal hustle and bustle of the holidays. I have to say that music calms the soul so this year I took advantage of all those holiday stations playing them  full volume on my media devices! Hard to feel too stressed when you find yourself dancing to Frosty the Snowman remembering the cartoon from years ago and picturing him leading the parade of kids! Ah, but I digress…okay…so I had a plan to make our sweet Reagan (first grandchild) a few soft toys for Christmas and decided that I could combine projects – toys are whimsical aren’t they?

Let the Whimsical Begin

Whimsical Critters

Wanting to work from my Island Batik scraps from my two years as an Ambassador I decided to pull out the orphan 10″ blocks and a few of the 5″ scrap builder bundles along with my AccuQuilt Go Cutter to make some whimsical critters. These were then fused on squares with plans to form the sides of a soft sided block and that’s when the fun began!  

Six whimsical squares were made from Island Batik  fabrics provided from the Ambassador program

I then tried my hand at machine applique using fun variegated threads to attach to the By Annie’s Soft and Stable™ to give the block a little more body. This was a work in progress or in other words, I made it up as I went along! Oh but it was so much fun to work on this in the evenings after my quilting “day job” was completed. Here’s a few photos from the first block. Yes, you read that right. I couldn’t make just one and on each one I learned something new…but I’m getting ahead of myself again! I’m dangling the carrot for the PDF tutorial that excludes all the trial and errors (grin). Read on dear friend, read on.

Sewing the Whimsical Critter Block together
It’s actually coming together! and looking more like a block
Anticipation! The exciting part when you check to see if you caught all the seams and if your “idea” is going to pass the design test!

  The block “turned out okay” as the saying goes! I  decided I wanted to make more (naturally) so I set this aside planning on adding the stuffing when I had all blocks sewn.

Whimsical Critter Soft Block by The Quilt Rambler (side 1) waiting to be stuffed
Whimsical Critters Soft Block by The Quilt Rambler (side 2)

Another Day Another Block

The idea of building blocks, even soft sided ones, means you need more than one or they can’t stack. I was thinking three actually. That’s a good number don’t you think? So another day and another block was begun.  This time I wanted to make one of those “busy blocks” – you know, the type that have fun little things for little hands to discover. I had been saving zipper parts and pieces as well as collected ribbons for tabs and found a bag with large buttons….again, no pattern just a little after hours sewing wondering how things were going to turn out.

I loved joining different colors of zipper parts together to make two sides with zippers for the Busy Block
Next I threaded buttons on a decorative twine making sure to have a knot that would be on the inside to assure that the buttons don’t come loose with all the discovery of busy little hands. Check! Two button sides complete

  Now it was time to add decorative tabs ~ I had previously purchased several rolls of ribbon for this future project as I knew I’d be making either a busy block, busy book or a fiddle quilt for my sweet Reagan. It was so much fun looking for “girlie” ribbons as we raised two sons ~ so this is a new experience!

Colorful ribbons were chosen that wouldn’t unravel with busy little hands.

I neglected to mention that I secured the island batik fabric squares to the By Annie’s Soft and Stable™  with a little colorful stitching. It was time to assemble the squares to form the block again. Kinda nerve-wracking actually, as I wasn’t sure about the end product….

This is where clips and “holding your mouth just right” come in handy when sewing together the busy block

The verdict is still out on the pass or fail with this one. I mean, it’s kinda wonky looking ~ but hey! That’s part of the challenge right!!!??!

Busy Block by The Quilt Rambler prior to stuffing

But Wait! There’s More!

Of course there is! “Another day, another dollar” with an opportunity to make another soft toy block. This time I wanted to just use up my Island Batik scraps and did a little foundational piecing on the By Annie’s Soft and Stable™  No scrap left behind was my motto! I used a quilt as you go technique and just sewed until I covered the square ~ and in doing so I discovered a better way to make these cute little blocks. On the previous ones I had left an extra 1/4″ of fabric overhanging the  By Annie’s Soft and Stable™  thinking it would be easier to sew all those intersecting corners. Well, it wasn’t. And on top of that, it made the block a little wimpy. Wimpy wasn’t part of the Whimsical and Wonky challenge, guess I just added that on my own. No worries, I knew I could make up for it with the stuffing….but why work harder…time to work smarter!

Using scraps and a quilt as you go process the next block was coming together

Once again I held my breath as I turned the block right side out….would this one make the grade? Notice the seams – much neater don’t you think!

This part cracks me up! Doesn’t this look like a platypus sticking out his tongue? Okay, maybe this late night after hours sewing was getting to me….
Scrappy Soft Block by The Quilt Rambler (side 1)
Scrappy Soft Block by The Quilt Rambler (side 2) with Whimsical Soft Block and Wonky Busy Block

See how much better this one turned out as far as the shape and structure was concerned? It was then I remembered a tip from my bag making days….press the seams to set the “memory” of the seam and shape the By Annie’s Soft and Stable™ so I went back and did this for all three, preparing them for stuffing and finishing another day. They looked happier pressed.

A reminder that everything lays flatter and is shaped better with a little ironing

Reagan’s Rainbow Block

Betcha thought I’d never get to this part! Yes, there’s one more block. Hadn’t planned on it. Actually had planned on making a soft book with Roy G. Biv …..Rainbow my dears, think a color book to teach the colors of the rainbow! Roy = Red, Orange, Yellow with G. Biv equaling Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. Oh the wheels were turning this time!!!  If I combined the blue and indigo I could do this as six squares to make yet another block!  Oh!! and what if … what if I used my Studio 180 Design tools to make the squares! What a teaching opportunity! Yep – Whimsical and Wonky just turned into a tutorial for not only making a soft block toy but an opportunity to explore a few of the basic shapes using Deb Tucker’s rulers!

Roy G. Biv squares made using Island Batik fabrics and Studio 180 Design tools by The Quilt Rambler pieced and quilted with matching Aurifil threads

Hold your horses, I know you are just chomping at the bit to get to that tutorial and make your own soft block…and I promise lots of step by step photos…but to wrap up this blog post I want to share just a few more photos of this wonky adventure.

Wonky, Whimsical, Busy Block, and Reagan’s Rainbow Block are awaiting the stuffing and finishing. All blocks made with Island Batik fabrics from the wild imagination of The Quilt Rambler
One more funny – is this a dragon face or a crocodile’s smile? Kinda like looking up at clouds with childlike wonder. Hum? Perhaps I really should just stick to the “day job” (grin)

Remember, these were Reagan’s First Christmas presents made her her Oma. And what good Oma wouldn’t help momma out by making a handy dandy drawstring backpack to house all those blocks! This time I enlisted the help of By Annie’s pattern Meshing Around (and add-on video) as I pulled a yard of Island Batik fabric from my personal stash and beautiful lipstick pink mesh to make the block toy bag. I realize this doesn’t fit the ambassador challenge, but I’ve rambled this long I might as well give you the whole story!

By Annie’s pattern “Meshing Around” made a nice gift wrapping for Reagan’s Rainbow Block and other Soft Blocks by The Quilt Rambler

And of course, what grandma ramble would be complete without a photo of said granddaughter (grin)

Have to admit I didn’t realize how big the blocks were or how little our precious two month old is….well, she can grow into her blocks made by Oma (aka The Quilt Rambler).

Reagan’s Rainbow Block Tutorial

Consider yourself a real champ for hanging on this long~ it’s been a while since I rambled so I guess that’s why this one was extra long. As the year comes to an end I would like to thank Island Batik for the privilege of being an Ambassador for both 2017 and 2018. Fabrics for the blocks were provided to me as a part of the ambassador program. There is one more challenge left as my tenure comes to a close ~ I’m looking forward to the January blog hop beginning January 7th ~ you won’t want to miss this one as all the 2018 Ambassadors will be revealing their creations with the “secret fabric” from our 2nd ambassador box. Be sure and catch up on all the Island Batik Ambassadors, their blog/websites links are here. I hope you enjoy the tutorial and will share your creations with me across social media! Click here to download your free PDF.

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, and Reagan wishing you a very Happy New Year!

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12 thoughts on “Reagan’s Rainbow Blocks

    • TheQuiltRambler says:

      Thank you – the whimsical zipper colors were a lot of fun to come up with! Proves that it’s okay to be a “just in case-er” as I just knew one day I’d need those short zippers – so I guess it paid off to keep them “just in case” ????????‍♀️

  1. Brenda says:

    Great projects, Karen. I know Reagan will love playing with her blocks when she is a bit older – but she seems to enjoy looking at them already! Happy New Year, my friend! Looking forward to seeing what you do in 2019!

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