Saturday, July 30, 2016

Island Batik Christmas in July Challenge

YAY! It's time for the Island Batik #christmasinjulyib

I've been an Island Batik Ambassador for a few years, and have made some items with the Island Batik collections.

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE the fabric, and the designs, and the colors? It's awesome being an ambassador for such a great company.

Here's one of the quilts I made from one of the earlier collections. The pattern is Radiance by Quilt In A Day. I used almost every scrap of the bundle. It has a whole variety of red, gold and green, many with metallic accents, including deer, snowflakes, pine boughs, and stars. It was one of my favorites to make. I quilted it with feathers, using Superior Thread's Gold Metallic. It's so much prettier in person.

Last year, I used some of the black, tan, and gold holiday prints to make this runner.

This was fun! Sew strips together, use a 60* ruler, and sew it back together. I have some pieces to make something else. I just need to decide on the layout.

So, this year, I used some of the prior years collection, and some from this year's

My idea was to create a new (hopefully) star block, name it Jack's Star, and make a tree skirt to honor my father, who passed away in May. I also wanted it to have a secondary design. My dad was always working on 2 things at once. Working with an assortment of Fat Quarters made some of the design process a challenge.

My first design was this. I drew the block in EQ7 #EQ25. I used the Color tab, instead of the Fabric tab, to color the design. It's easier to figure yardage when it's going to be scrappy.
I loved the look of this, but was limited in the amount of gold batik fabric I had.  I didn't think I had enough to make all those Flying Geese blocks.  
I went back to EQ7 and played with another unit, the Triangle in a Square.  I enjoy making these with the Quilt In A Day ruler.  
And I had just enough of the gold to do it.  

So, here's Plan 2 (actually 4, but I didn't like 1, and 2 had smaller blocks which means more units and more work).
I loved playing with the block to see the secondary design.  I did the units with the fabrics I had, which means that there are a few different reds, a few different greens, and different metallic designs on the gold.  

Here's the top so far.  

I'm not sure if I have enough green for the inner border, and have to figure out if I have enough scraps for the piano key border.  I'll then decide if I'm going to cut the center and opening for the tree.  I may just leave this as a square quilt when it's done. I do know I'll be using Superior Thread's Metallic thread in Gold.  It's the only one I'll use, as it actually stitches, instead of shredding in the eye of the needle.  

Here's one of the blocks by itself. 
And a close-up of the secondary design starting to appear.  

I'm having fun attempting to do these challenges.  I really love the metallic accents on the batiks.  It just adds such a gorgeous touch.  I just wish I had more time to actually sew.  There's still so much to do to get the studio finished, and make sure Mom's okay, and get the house cleaned.  There are so many changes so far this year, and sewing is keeping me grounded, but I need to get some stuff done.  The "WIP"s are growing, and the "need to be quilted" pile is getting bigger, too.  

I'm sure I'll get it all figured out.  
In the meantime, I'm still moving forward, one day at a time.  

Thanks for visiting.  I found out today the Ambassadors are getting new fabric soon.  I'm wondering if there's something in the new box to finish this quilt.  It's so much fun being and Island Batik Ambassador.  

I need to get going on August's project.  I'm playing with Red Tide.  I can't wait to show you what I create.  


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Thread Rack

Hi.  I finally had time to build and paint my new thread rack.  My dad and I came up with this design over 25 years ago, when I had built my house in PA and we put in a sewing room.  I wanted a thread rack that would hold a lot of spools, plus bobbins, and fit between the cabinets.  Since it was screwed into the wall there, when I moved, I left it.  If I had known then that my dad would have gotten sick and passed away before we built my new one, I would have taken it.  But I can't go back.  So I went forward.  

I picked a piece of 1x6 by 6ft board at Home Depot, and had them cut it into 3 equal pieces (2ft each).  I also got a piece of quarter round the same length.  Although I could have cut them (I do have an 8" circular saw) I just figured it would be easier and faster if they did.  I sanded all the edges, and got screws to attach the pieces.  I also got finish nails, 3 1/4" long, to hold the spools.  Total cost was less than $20, and it holds more than 120 large spools, and more than 40 smaller ones.  

When Dad and I designed this, I wanted something that would hang on the wall, and hold the spools up at an angle (so they wouldn't fall off, and the bobbins wouldn't get lost).  He angled the boards by creating a stair-step design.  The boards overlap by just about 3/4", and I glued and screwed them together.  I put the 1/4 round piece under the bottom edge, to help hold the design in the angle on the wall.  

Then I figured the spacing.  I wanted to fit Aurifil spools, so I measured.  The nails needed to be about 1 1/2" apart.  I drew pencil marks for placement lines.  I nailed in the rows of nails, and realized I could do a 4th line, if I offset the nails in that row.  
 If I put the bobbin on the nail first, I can store both.  I tried putting the bobbin on top on the old rack and would knock it off when I tried taking off a spool above.  I decided to be smart, put the bobbin on first, and not have bouncing bobbins, lol.  

I had picked up some Nichole craft paint from ACMoore a few months ago, and decided to use it on this project.  I don't recommend the paint.  I had to do 3 coats, and it's still streaky.  I mixed the white with lavender to get the 3 shades.  It was tricky to mix the same shades again, when I realized it was so thin and I needed to paint it again.  I'll try other brands next time.  It's not a bargain when you have to use more to get something painted.  

I had decided I wanted to make it look stitched, quilted, and used a small brush to paint feathers and swirls.  That was fun to do!  I wanted each shade to have a different design, and used white on the 2 lighter colors, and mixed in more purple for the darker one (I didn't want the pure white to be too obvious).  I then finished it with a clear acrylic sealer spray in gloss finish.  

My brother John helped me get it screwed into the wall studs behind my machine today.  I'm so happy with this, the colors, and the placement.  I'll be able to see my threads easily, and know when I need to replace a color.  I do have 3 of the designer 12 packs from Aurifil, and those will stay in the cases.  

The walls are painted a light grey, which is supposed to help me photograph fabrics closer to natural shades.  It helps to reflect back natural light.  My machine sits on a custom built counter that fits that wall space, and curves to the left.  I'll have lots of room for pushing big quilts around, plus there's room for my serger.  When I need to use it, I can just rotate it off the edge of the desk, and bring it to the curve in front.  I'll share more when I get more of my studio set up, and this all cleaned.  

We took a road trip last week, and had a picnic in the Allentown Rose Garden.  It was a gorgeous day for a drive, and although many of the flowers were spent, there were still some gorgeous blooms.  This is one I loved. 

I'm so glad to finally have this rack installed.  I need to find the box of threads, now.  These were in my tool box, but I have a lot more.  I need to make the ribbon holder next, and then maybe figure out how to store the cones from the serger, and the larger quilting threads.  I never liked the ones with the dowels.  Either they break or they fall out.  Nails hold better, but I'm going to have to come up with a plan for that rack.  

Thanks for visiting, and if you make a thread rack, let me know.  If you want me to make one for you, let me know, too!  I would gladly do more.  I've also given the plans to Jeremy from Dietrick Woodworking.  He can do a much better job than I did.  He also built my quilt display rack for shows, and a great ruler holder.  Look at that site to see photos of them.