Summer Lovin – X’s and O’s

Summer Lovin X and O pillows

By far, summer is my all time favorite season. It’s a good thing since I live on the Texas Gulf Coast where we have several variations: “almost summer”, “summer”, “still summer”, and then a short break before “summer again” which translates to the rapid succession of fall, winter, and spring in a race to get back to summer!

Summer typically means more time for the things I love, time with family and time to quilt! I’m happy to report I’ve just finished catching up on my May Island Batik Ambassador project, Playful Pillows, and can’t wait to share the process with you.

Kicking Off Summer with A Quilt Retreat

Summer means quilt retreats

My current location is of an undisclosed nature – I’ve run off to go sew (grin) at my own private quilt retreat that I’m calling my “Party for One.”  I’ve been here for a few days and have started two sewing projects simultaneously – we’re allowed to do that right?!

I’m loving that I have the whole place to myself – I’ve taken over the dining room, and yes – all the fabrics I brought with me are my Island Batik personal stash combined with the contents of my Island Batik Ambassador boxes. I’ve planned out several projects, can’t wait to dig in and get this party rolling!

My Party for One Quilt Retreat – lovin my current worldview


Let’s Have a Tutorial!

Pillow made using Studio 180 Design Blockbuster #30 design

First thing first – let’s do things in chronological order – or not!

I’ve been “collecting” Deb Tucker’s Studio 180 Design Blockbuster series with the intention of working my way through the different blocks. She’s up to Number 30 in the series…and I figured this block would just fit the bill for my playful pillow. The entire series is available free of charge from Studio 180 Design, but you can click here BlockBuster_30_-_Parquet  and quilt along with my blog post. Who says you can’t do a series backward!

Time to Pick The Fabric

Beautiful Island Batik fabrics in summer shades of blue and bright sunshine

*As a disclaimer, the fabrics used in this project were given to me by Island Batik as part of the Ambassador program or are Island Batik fabrics from my personal stash*

Since I’m so drawn to what I consider the colors of summer it didn’t take me long to pick out a few blues from my stash buster rolls to pair with the fabulous yellow from my own personal stash.

The design for the pillow is a corner popped shaded 9 patch – say that three times! Trust me, it’s easy and quick to make these fabulous units using the Tucker Trimmer 1 and Corner Pop tools from Studio 180 Design as well as the Shaded 9 Patch Technique Sheet. *these links are non-affiliated as in I do not earn a fee from recommending them * I am however a Certified Instructor and do travel to teach – just sayin’ *

For this blockbuster, we need a minimum of 5 blues for the patches and a background fabric, the yellow. The technique sheet, blockbuster handout, as well as the instructions with the tools, will give you the exact measurements for your project as the shaded 9 patch unit can be made in multiple sizes…I’m making a 15″ block – so without further explanations, let’s quilt by picture and see how these pillows were constructed!

Quilt By Picture

A picture is worth a thousand words…and since I want to keep the post under several thousand (grin) I’m letting you just read the captions to follow along.

Making The Shaded 9 Patch

You are probably familiar with making a nine patch from strip sets by joining fabric strips together, sub-cutting and joining again to make a 9 patch. This is the same only different. There are specific measurements for each of the 5 fabrics – again, refer to the handout or technique sheet as you make your own.


The instructions give the widths to cut fabric 1, 2, and 3. Join them together in a strip set and press toward “number 3” which is the blue check fabric at the top left.


Piece together a strip set with fabric 4, 5 and 4 again pressing away from the center fabric 5


Cut the strip sets according to the measurement in the technique sheet. You will need twice as many of this set of fabrics 1,2,3 than the next set of fabric 4,5,4


Cut fabric strip 4,5.4 according to the technique sheet measurements

Now it’s time to join these sub-cuts similar to a “normal” 9 patch – you will notice the difference as the patches are not all the same width – this is part of the design! It is most important that you lay out your strips in the order shown in the picture below.

Layout the joined strip sets in this order of appearance. Row 1 – fabric 1,2, 3 Row 2 fabric 4,5,4 (this is the easy one), Row 3 fabric 3,2,1. Join the rows together.


Press these two seams open – this is a variation from the technique sheet but I find it works the best. Try it! Pressing open isn’t really that scary and even if you are going to stitch in the ditch, this one section isn’t going to mess up that process.


Using a ruler that has 45-degree references. line up and mark stitching lines through the intersections of the rows – this is where it is beneficial that the seams were pressed open. There are two lines. (This is the Omnigrid 6×12 ruler – I use it a lot!)

The instructions from Studio 180 Design have the sizes needed for the (yellow) background rectangles. Now that the patchwork has been sewn together and marked it is time to layer right sides together (RST) the patchwork with the yellow rectangle and sew on the two lines.

It is most important to “hit the points” when sewing on the lines


I like to lift up the edge to see if I hit the point before I proceed to the next step

Once all the lines are sewn together it is time to cut down the middle of the two sewn lines revealing two shaded nine patches. This can be cut with scissors or trimmed to a quarter inch away from each of the sewn lines with a rotary cutter.

I like to cut from the back side to be able to see the stitching lines better. I used a ruler to measure the quarter inch seam allowance and trim- there’s a little extra in between, this is normal.


Press toward the background triangle

Now it’s time to trim the rough edges and square up our shaded nine patch! Use either the Tucker Trimmer I or Tucker Trimmer III – the difference between the two is the size, TTI goes up to 6 1/2″ and the TTIII goes up to 13″. My units needed to be trimmed at 8″ so I used the Tucker Trimmer III.

I love all the registration marks on these tools! Line up the diagonal on the seam line between the background and patches while lining up the registration mark through the intersections of the patches as shown with the marking pen. Trim.


Rotate the unit, 180 degrees, line up the cut edges with the desired trim size, lining up the diagonal on the main seam and the registration mark through the patches as in the step above. Trim.


Now wasn’t that fun! There are so many designs that could be made using this technique for the Shaded 9 Patch. But wait – there’s more! We are going to use the Corner Pop tool and the instructions on both the tool and the blockbuster handout to really make this unit pop!

Following the instructions to know the size to trim off, use the corner pop tool and cut off a corner of the shaded 9 patch


Again, using the corner pop instructions cut squares on the diagonal to form the replacement corners


Time to add the oversized triangles to replace the corner that was popped off – chain piecing is an efficient way to piece


Using the corner pop tool trim the oversized corners and then join the units into a four patch

Finishing The Blocks

Trust me, it’s taken longer to write this post than it did to make the units. I decided if I were going to make one pillow I might as well make two – besides, the pillow forms came in a package of two! Instead of making four corner popped shaded 9 patches I made eight. As I joined one set together I had that “what if” moment….and my “O” became an “X”

X’s and O’s of summer

Now it was time to quilt the blocks. Technically it’s a pillow and probably could have gone unquilted but I like the body/texture that quilting provides so I braved the domestic quilting – something extremely hard for this longarm quilter to do – but hey! If I can do it so can you, and probably better!

Layer to form a quilt sandwich with the quilt block right side up on top of batting then on top of the wrong side of the backing fabric. Pin baste to keep from slipping


Matching thread is my friend – a little outline quilting to add texture and an element of firmness once this becomes a pillow


Aurifil thread was provided as part of my Island Batik Ambassador program. Perfect match don’t you think!

I used the yellow fabric to make an “envelope” style backing and soon had my pillows ready for summer enjoyment!

Nothing says summer better than rocking on the front porch – it’s a little brighter with a pretty pillow made from Island Batik fabrics


Equally inviting is sitting outside in the summer shade with a my new pillow


My favorite way to relax, no matter what the season, is a little hammock time. Wish you were here!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my “quilt by picture” tutorial using one of Deb Tucker’s Blockbuster series. I do have good intentions of working through all of them, don’t you? Let me know if you are interested in another step by step tutorial – I love taking photos of the process! Thanks for sharing the journey. And thank you Island Batik for such a fabulous ambassador program. Be sure and check out the other ambassadors for their projects – many are already posting their June challenges!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, running between my “Party of One” quilting retreat and visits to the home front to monitor reconstruction….more later!!!










8 thoughts on “Summer Lovin – X’s and O’s

  1. Roseanne says:

    Hi Karen,
    I hope you are enjoying your party for one retreat. Your location looks great – plenty of room to spread out, good light, and lots and lots of A/C I hope! Your pillow turned out great, and those fabrics. That pop of yellow looks great with all those pretty, tropical blues.
    Happy Wednesday! ~smile~ Roseanne

    • TheQuiltRambler says:

      Thanks Roseanne, I’ve been able to use them in the RV, added some much-needed color to the small, mainly brown surroundings! The getaway was just what I needed – I don’t know what I enjoyed most – the surroundings or the fact that I could totally spread out and have room to create!

  2. Karen D’Antonio says:

    I am so jealous over the quiet alone time to quilt. Your work is beautiful and I’m loving those Island Batiks!

    • TheQuiltRambler says:

      I’m ready for another retreat that’s for sure – but I think I’d like one with lots of friends and plenty of chattering! I truly enjoy working with the Island Batik fabrics – in fact that’s all I’m working with this year so far

  3. Brenda says:

    Love those pillows! The yellow fabric against the beautiful blues really pops!! Enjoy your retreat – sometimes it’s good to be a party of one! Well, you’re never really alone, as you well know!

    • TheQuiltRambler says:

      Nope, never truly alone – but sometimes the “be still and know” is what is needed! The pillows were a lot of fun, mainly because of the cheery fabric. Everyone needs a little sunshine!

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