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