Thursday, September 15, 2022

Tool Talk with Studio 180* Wedge Star Tool

Welcome to my day on the Tool Talk Blog Hop! 
Have I mentioned I love being an Ambassador?  Island Batik is so generous with their collections for the hops, and I am able to make gorgeous large quilts. The Ambassadors received 1/2 yard cuts of all 20 different SKUs in the collection, as well as 2 yards each of a dark and a light coordinate.  We also got a new tool from Studio 180* and Deb Tucker.  I'm working with the Wedge Star tool, and Midnight Glow   from Island Batik.  This collection should be shipping to stores this month, so now is a great time to look for it.  If you can't find it, let your shop know you want it.  

Midnight Glow is so pretty.  The lightest tan color is called Wicker, and the darkest blue is called Storm.  I got both of these as coordinates, so Wicker became the background, and Storm is the border and accent blocks in my design.  The colors are prettier in person.  

I LOVE that Studio 180 tools have multiple sizes on each tool, so you can really play with the size of the blocks used in the quilt.  Want to make a 9" block larger?? Just follow the chart to take your pattern's instructions to the new size.  The Wedge Star tool has instructions for 3 different blocks, plus a whole ton of different combinations you can make, and Deb has produced a number of videos to go along with using the tool, as well as specialty Technique Sheets to make the Diamond 4 Patch and Twisted Wedge versions I tried.  The sheets are provided to the Ambassadors so I planned to use them.  

I started playing on EQ8 and decided I also wanted to play with the size of the blocks.  So, the center star is a 24" block.  Perfect to show some of the colors of Midnight Glow.  Doing the math, I created a 12" row of blocks surrounding it as a "border".  Then, I made an 8" border of blocks, before adding the final 6" border, so I ended up with a quilt that's about 76" square.  

I shared some teaser blocks on Instagram and Facebook, and my cousin mentioned she had no clue how I was going to get these different size blocks into a top.  Well, I added a few others.  That's how, lol.  

To learn how the tool works, I made 4 8" blocks first.  These became the outer corners.  I added more 8" Wedge blocks, as well as half square triangle blocks, which were made 8 at a time, and trimmed with the Tucker Trimmer.  I also cut 8 Wicker fabric squares for this border.  
Next, I wanted to get the big 24" block done.  
This is before adding the corners.  The colors were fun to play with.  I used a dark teal with a gorgeous plum purple, and the deeper gold to really make this glow.  

I picked more colors to make these Twisted stars, and used a total of 15 different fabrics in this top.  I didn't get to use 2 of the lighter plum colors, and set aside the brighter red, as well.  There were other tan fabrics, too, which I felt were too close to the background, and I didn't need them, since I had the 2 yards of Wicker.  I do plan to give away some of these as well as some larger scraps, so check below for details. 
It was fun to choose the multi-colored prints for some units, as they added depth to the design.  The similar blocks all use the same fabrics, it's the fabric color that changes, not the unit.  You can see this in the wedge blocks.  

Although I had set the actual fabrics in place in EQ8, I changed them when I was picking the pieces for the blocks.  Using the plan is a good starting point, but it's fun to change things up, as well.  

Are you ready to see the whole top?  

Heather thinks it's really pretty, and thinks it looks really good with her coloring.  She got very comfortable as soon as she saw it on the chair.  
Okay, enough teasing. here's the top. 

Center Diamond 4 patch, with the setting Wedge squares, and the Twisted in each corner.  

A closer view of the Twisted, along with more Wedge blocks and the Wedge Star in the corner.  

I added the HST blue/wicker blocks to help accentuate the center star.  I also liked how the different blocks didn't actually "match" at the edges, so the center block has a very dynamic shape.  

Of course, I used Aurifil 50wt for piecing, and a new Schmetz size 12 needle.  It's the perfect combination for great blocks.  Another thing??  The new Prairie Spirit Alpaca pressing mat made my seams super flat.  
The seam toward the front was pressed with the same iron as the seam in the middle.  The front and back seams were pressed on the Alpaca mat, and the middle one was just pressed on my ironing board.  No steam was used.  Do you see how much closer to the block the front seam is from the middle?  To get even better results, I also use a wood clapper (just behind the block in this photo) my good friend Jeremy from Dietrick's made for me.  I'm trying to see if he'll make more, lol.  

So, using the best tools makes a huge difference in the quilt blocks.  I was actually surprised at how good my seams matched.  Without really trying, I had some perfect points and match sections.  I try to get close most of the time, and will take out something if it's really off, but this time?  It was pretty easy to get almost perfect blocks.  See the Diamond 4 patch wedges below?  That inner point is perfect, and by the way, NOT a Y seam.  

I loaded the top on my Handi-Quilter Amara with Pro-Stitcher, and used Aurifil Forty-3 for quilting.  I used color 4150, Creme Brule, a variegated gold color, and Anne Bright's Florence pantograph.  I felt the Florence had similar leaf and scroll designs to the tjaps in the fabric, and using the gold, even against the Storm border, would add another layer of elegance to the top.  Backing is a wide back from my shop.

The binding was sewn on by machine, with Aurifil 50wt 2784, Dark Navy, which is a great match to the border and binding. 

So, I hope I've convinced you to try Studio 180 tools, especially the Wedge Star, and to look for Midnight Glow in your favorite shop.  

Island Batik is sponsoring a give away, so please click on the Rafflecopter link to enter.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Then, please also check out Megan Best's blog for her gorgeous quilt using Midnight Glow, and her tool from Studio 180.  

Have you been following the blog hop?  Please check out the other Ambassador's projects.  The links for each collection are on the Island Batik blog.  

Please leave a comment below if you've ever used a Studio 180 tool and I'll pick one comment to win some fabric from this collection.  If NON-USA, please let me know if you're willing to pay the additional difference in shipping if you win.  I'll make sure the flat rate envelope is stuffed.  I'll use to pick someone when the hop is over.  

Thanks again for stopping by to see my quilt.  Please remember to check out last week's inspiration, and look for a new give-away from Island Batik Friday, for next week's Ambassadors. 


Sunday, August 28, 2022

Marvelous Minis Challenge with Island Batik

First, let me say I know you're surprised that it's before the end of the month.  Yes, my Mini is finished!  

This month, the Island Batik Ambassadors were asked to make a mini quilt.  Anything went, as long as it was less than 24" square.  If you've seen the others already shared, you'll notice a wide variety of projects, from small quilts to clocks, with piecing, applique and a little fun stitching, and lots of great quilting.  

In my case, I've had a few challenges shared by my quilt guilds, too.  One was for a mini, using yellow and blue, and to measure 20" square.  So, I thought a bit, and decided to use some of the remaining fabric from the Petals Provence collection I used last November for the large Storm at Sea quilt. I used the Accuquilt GO! Storm at Sea BOB die for that, but the blocks would have been way to large for a mini.  Most minis require the blocks to be under 4'.  So, I went to EQ8 and played with a few designs, but the best one was to use the Storm at Sea blocks.  To get the design similar to the large quilt, I needed an uneven number of larger blocks, with sashing (the diamonds and small square in a square blocks) around the larger square in a square.  

The measurements for the number of squares, plus a small border, would mean that the pieces needed to be done on foundation paper, because they finish in 1/8" increments.  I enjoy this technique, as it makes piecing pretty easy, once you get the hang of the process.  I've even experimented with the "not sew on the paper" style, but felt that the smallest pieces in this would not be the best I could do unless I actually used the foundation.  The smaller square will finish at 1 5/8" and have 9 pieces.  The inner Almond triangles start as a 2" square cut on each diagonal, and are trimmed after sewing.  Tiny!! 

So, set up the machine with good thread, a Schmetz Chrome needle, a clear view foot that has a little red arrow (to help find the line on the paper) and use a business card to fold the paper on the stitching lines.  Have a wooden iron to press the pieces back, a pair of small snips that also cut fabric handy to trim some of the seams smaller, my Add a Quarter ruler, small cutting mat, and 28mm rotary cutter.  I set my stitch length to 1.7, so it's easier to pull off the paper and the seams are secure.  Connie Kauffman's book was great in teaching me how to do this.  

I was so happy when I had more than half of the quilt pieced.  
177 Pieces down, 168 to go.  The 168 were only the outer diamonds and small squares.  The large blocks were done!  The challenge was to use the scraps and get the colors to radiate the way I wanted.  Most of the darkest blues were used in the large quilt.  

I placed a piece of Island Batik Solid White on my Long Arm, Handi-Quilter Amara, and decided to use Raindrops on Water panto for quilting.  I loaded in Aurifil 40-3 in a blue variegated, with pale grey in the bobbin, and set up the design.  

Heather enjoyed getting her photo taken with the mini quilt.  She's now about 7 months old.  
US Penny for scale. 
Did you notice the penny again?

I also decided to show the difference between the first Storm at Sea, also known as After the Storm (the sun shines, with blue skies), and the new mini version. 
72" square vs 20" square

I did have a scrap of the Faux Piped Binding from the first one, so added more to use it again.  

Details:  Measures 20" square.  Uses 345 pieces of fabric to make the blocks, plus borders. 
Aurifil thread used for piecing and quilting.  
Carol Doak foundation Paper.  
The Prairie Spirit Alpaca pressing mat made the final blocks super flat, which is important in such a small, piece and seam heavy, project.  
Hobb's Heirloom Bleached cotton batting inside.  
Although the blocks are small, it still took about 12 hours to piece.  I added a hanging sleeve to the back for display at the quilt show.  I'll let you know if it wins president's choice.  After the Storm is also entered.  

Thanks so much for stopping by to read about my project.  Please check out the other Ambassador projects, too. 

Brenda Alburl ~ Songbird Designs
Megan Best ~ Bestquilter
Pamela Boatright ~ Pamelaquilts
Elizabeth DeCroos ~ Epida Studio
Jennifer Fulton ~ Inquiring Quilter
Preeti Harris ~ Sew Preeti Quilts
Mania Hatziioannidi ~ Mania for quilts
Reed Johnson ~ Blue Bear Quilts
Connie Kauffman ~ Kauffman Designs
Emily Leachman ~ The Darling Dogwood
Denise Looney ~ For The Love Of Geese
Leah Malasky ~ Quilted Delights
Maryellen McAuliffe ~ Mary Mack Made Mine
Anorina Morris –
Lisa Pickering ~ Lisa’s Quilting Passion
Claudia Porter ~ Create with Claudia
Gail Renna ~ Quilt Haven Threads
Brianna Roberts ~ Sew Cute And Quirky
Michelle Roberts ~ Creative Blonde
Gail Sheppard ~ Quilting Gail
Andi Stanfield ~ True Blue Quilts
Sandra Starley ~ Textile Time Travels
Jennifer Thomas ~ Curlicue Creations
Suzy Webster ~ Websterquilt


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Christmas in July with Accuquilt GO! Tree of Life die

 Yes, I'm late blogging this.  Things have been a little frustrating, but okay.  Puppy training is hard!  She's almost 7 months, but still learning.  There've been other things, too, but I'm trying to move forward a little each day.  I had some big secret sewing projects to finish in July, as well, and can't share that until January or February.  

The July challenge was for the Island Batik Ambassadors to use the Tree of Life die provided by Accuquilt for a project which was to become a gift for someone who needed cheering.  In my case, I gave it to someone who is doing all she can at work and then caring for her mom, who has Alzheimer's.  I've been there.  My mom is still hanging on, in the nursing home, and no one knows how, except that she's still eating.  I appreciate that the staff have taken over my role as caregiver, so I have some breathing room, and can go back to being a daughter.  My friend Carol is still playing both parts.  We were to meet for a quick meal, and I grabbed the finished quilt and decided to give it to her, almost spur of the moment.  I wasn't sure who I could give it to, until we made plans to meet. 

My project:  I went to EQ8 to see if they had the die shape already as a block, and it was close enough.  I set the design on point with one block measuring 14", and played with some colors.  I often use just the solids when I play, as I know the Batiks will offer a little more depth and texture to the design.  I was thinking of using some 10" squares left from another project, but it just didn't seem like I had enough. I opted to use some of the 1/2 yard Basics and Blenders Island Batik includes in our Ambassador boxes (did you see my last post, showing how stuffed the 34lb boxes were??) I have a good variety of Basics. 

I decided to make it look like a tree in Autumn, with the variety of colors.  Some of my favorite trees are along Rt. 380 in Pennsylvania.  The road cuts between state parks, game lands, and small towns on the way from Mt. Pocono to Scranton, and the colors in the fall can be stunning, including multiple colors on one tree.  So, my color choices went to the memories of those drives. 

The base of the tree is surrounded by leaves that have started to fall, mixed on the green forest floor.  At least that's what I was trying to show. Shades of red, scarlet, orange, magenta and yellow can be found in the fabrics, against a cinnamon colored trunk.  I used Almond for the background, as the sky blue I was considering just didn't look right.  But in moments (after planning the size of the section to allow enough of each color) the board was loaded with fabric and pieces were cut.  A little later, the tree was done.  First, I assembled the half square triangle units, and the base and trunk.  A little time later (after making sure, many times, that I had my design correct according to the EQ8 printout, it was a block.  I think planning and prepping the fabric took more time.  
My idea on EQ8 was to frame the tree with additional half square triangle units, and the shapes were not the size I could have used for a die, but were easy enough to piece.  Of course I used Aurifil 50 wt for it all, and a Schmetz size 12 needle.  
I added a border of the cinnamon I used for the tree, for the final frame, and placed it on my Handi-Quilter Amara with Prostitcher, and picked Leaves in the Wind panto, and a light tan Aurifil 40-3 wt thread, which added the perfect accent.  I love 40-3.  It's perfect for long arms, and adds a great touch to the top.  Backing is some Almond from Island Batik.  

Finally, with more Cinnamon for binding and a quilt "made by" label, it was ready for photos.  Heather did a good job modeling with it, don't you think?  Okay, it took about 15 photos to get 2 that looked good, but she gets a treat for trying.  As I said, puppy hood is a challenge.  

Back to my friend.  She's my Sister-in-law's sister-in-law, and we've known each other for years.  Carol is so sweet, and I know where she's going with caring for her mom, and dealing with siblings regarding that care.  She's also working full time, and the fact that she's making time to meet with me is something I treasure.  So I hope she treasures this little table runner, and that she smiles when she sees it on her table this fall.  I also hope it makes her mom smile.  My mom loved seeing the colors of little quilts on the table, and I would change them for the season.  She liked the texture of the quilts, too, so I'm hoping Carol's mom does, as well.  A little bit of color to brighten their day.  Sometimes, as a caregiver, it's enough to make you think that you can get through it.  Alzheimer's is hard. She deserves this gift.  

Carol getting the quilt!  Delivered August 6, so not too late for Christmas in July.  Like Little Christmas, lol. Epiphany in August, maybe.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned for the Mini challenge.  Check out the Ambassador blogs for some that have been posted already.  Mine is ready to quilt, so I'll be writing again soon.


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

July 2022 Island Batik Unboxing Video

 Thanks so much for joining me today!  I can't wait to show you what gorgeous fabrics and supplies I got in the second set of boxes from 2022.  It's my 9th year and each box is more fun than the last, and the projects and challenges are so inspiring.  I'm a better quilter because of them!  

So, here's Part 1, the first box.  

Quick Recap:  Stash Builder Rolls, 5" strips, 4 strips in each roll.  Orange, purple, etc. Spring 22 Midnight Blooms, for the September blog hop, plus 2 2yd cuts of coordinates.  12 1/2 yard cuts of foundations, including solids.  6yds of Almond Neutrals.  Fusible Batting Strips from Hobb's, Heirloom cotton with scrim, queen, Tuscany Wool blend, throw size, and Hobb's Black 80/20 queen size, Thermore polyester in Queen.  

Box 2 contained Alpaca wool pressing mat, from Prairie Spirit Alpaca in Canada.  Studio 180 Star wedge tool, Victorian 10" precut and Custard and Ivy Basics to coordinate.  More stash builders, and the October By Annie Catch All Caddy kit and all supplies, plus gorgeous fabric.  Surprise bundle, which was for the November challenge, Radiant Star.  4 yards of Black, White and Grey Solid, and the Accuquilt GO BOB Tree of Life die.  

Thanks so much to Island Batik for all the gorgeous fabric, Studio 180 for the new tool, Accuquilt for the GO! Bob die, and Prairie Spirit Alpaca for the mat.  

Thanks again for watching, and to Karen for helping me tape it.  

Please check back to see what we all create with the new challenges and fabric.  

Sunday, June 12, 2022

New York Beauty Blog Hop with Island Batik

Welcome to my day on the Island Batik Ambassador's New York Beauty blog hop. 

What a wonderful challenge!  Last January, we received a box of fabric, including a Surprise bundle.  I couldn't show it then, but I received Pumpkin Spice, a collection of greens, golds, creams, and a touch of purple, using pumpkins, swirls, crows, a little spider web design, and ovals.  
 I also got 2 yards of Eggplant, a Basic, and a lighter green, which I didn't use.  I added some Sprinkles for background.  

I've had a New York Beauty quilt on my bucket list for a while, and know it's a challenge to create.  I looked online and used EQ8 to find inspiration.  I printed out a possible design, and kept it next to my computer for a while, but when I looked at it again, it was going to be too time consuming to create, so I went back to the drawing board in EQ8.  I imported the fabric SKUs from Island Batik to the program, and played with possibilities.  My final draft was this. 

Have I mentioned that final drafts actually are not final??  That happened again.  
I made a test block, but the spike band didn't have enough contrast, with the golds and greens in the spikes.  I ended up using the cream fabrics in the collection, and then a friend suggested I use a background border first, instead of the purple border, before the pieced triangle border.  

I had already cut many of the pieces for the spikes, and was happy to realize I could still use them within the checkerboard round, as well as the spikes.  

Since I'm not afraid of curves, I pieced the whole block.  I didn't use applique for the center quarter circle, or for the purple outer band and the final outer to make it square.  I don't really pin the arcs, either, except for the beginning and middle, and end if needed.  

It's a challenge to do it with only one hand, as the other was holding the camera, but you get the idea.  My machine has a setting to lift the foot a bit when I stop, and I use the 1/4" foot with guide.  As you can see at the end, the curve is smooth without puckers.  It takes a little practice, but I think it's much faster than sewing with a million pins in it, and gives a better result.  

So, here are the details.  I used every fabric in the Pumpkin Spice collection.  The darkest teal greens were only in the pieced border and I used both for the binding, as I didn't have enough of the Eggplant left for that.  The inner purple arcs used a lot of fabric, so I needed the 1 darkest purple half yard piece, plus some of Eggplant.  
Quilt measures 73" square, made with 16 12" pieced blocks, and then the pieced border.  I should have adjusted the cream border's size to make the pieced border fit better, but it still looks good to me. 
I used EQ8 software and printed the Checkerboard NY Beauty block on Carol Doak's foundation paper, and pieced each block.  The sections needed to be taped together to make it work.  I used the center arc, the purple arc and the outer section as a pattern to cut the sections needed.  All centers are the same fabric.  4 of the outer sections were the green with gold pumpkins, and the other 12 were Sprinkles background.  Blocks were arranged to make the purple circle, with the other circles "behind".  

I used the Studio 180 Designs Corner Beam tool for the 4 1/2" corner blocks in the pieced border, and Jaybird Quilts Super Sidekick to cut the 4 1/2" equilateral triangles for the border.  A 6" border of Eggplant was added, and the binding is the darkest teals.  I alternated the leaf print with the crow print, but don't think there's enough showing for it to matter.  

Machine stitching used Aurifil 50wt in 2310, one of my favorites for piecing.  It's a great neutral tan color.  I used a Schmetz needle, and changed it after I was done sewing on paper.  Both were size 12, Microtex.  I also cleaned out the machine after sewing on the paper.  

Backing is a wide back 100% cotton sateen I have, in cream, and batting is Warm & Natural.  The Pantograph is Leaves in the Wind from My Creative Stitches.  Thread is Aurifil 40-3 in 2326, Sand, a perfect color to blend over the fabrics, but show on the Eggplant border.  I wanted the piecing to star in this one.  I finished it with an embroidered label using Almond and 40wt Aurifil black thread.  

Photos were shot in my back yard, as well as Eisenhower Park, near the 911 Memorial structure (the steel towers behind the photo) and the Veterans Memorial building.  I wish I had a place nearby where I could safely park and see the New York City skyline, to get photos of the New York Beauty in New York City, but the timing and rain didn't cooperate.  I figured the best location was in memory of the World Trade Towers.  

Here are more photos, including one with Heather, who is now 6 months old, and hopped right on the chair for the photo.  She's already learning how to model my quilts!!  

Outtake!  It was windy!  My friend is a good sport to help with the photos.  

I picked this panto because I felt it was the most elegant for the quilt, and the swirls were similar to some in the fabric tjaps.  

Island Batik has a give away, so please use the Rafflecopter link for that.  

I appreciate all your comments, so please let me know what you think of Pumpkin Spice, and if you want to make a NY Beauty quilt, and I'll choose a random comment to win something from me.  I'm not sure what it will be yet, so it's a surprise.  Thanks so much for commenting and following my blog.  

And visit Jennifer's blog for her inspiring NY Beauty in the same collection.  This week's schedule is below. 

June 13:

Jennifer Thomas, Curlicue Creations
Maryellen McAuliffe, Mary Mack Made Mine

June 14:

Pamela Boatright, Pamela Quilts
Anorina Morris, Samelia’s Mum

June 15:

Michelle Roberts, Creative Blonde Gifts
Lisa Pickering, Lisa’s Quilting Passion

June 16:

Denise Looney, For the Love of Geese
Connie Kauffman, Kauffman Designs

June 17:

Blog Hop Round-Up Week 2 and Giveaway