Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Island Batik {MiniLove}

The products featured in this post were given to me by Island Batik.

I'm back with my second Island Batik Ambassador February project...a mini quilt! I have made and own a LOT of mini quilts as I participated in quite a few swaps over on Istagram. (In fact, I now have far more mini quilts than I can display.) Mini quilts are a great way of trying out a new technique or using some beloved fabric without commiting to an entire quilt, and I enjoy decorating my sewing my space with them.

I love scrappy, bright colors so I knew right away I wanted to use these gorgeous Elementz fabrics for my mini. (Normally I would post a pic of the beautifully-packaged Stack, but in my excitement I had already ripped into it and started cutting.) This collection is designed by Tammy Silvers of Tamarinis. You should definitely follow her on Istagram.

One thing I love about being an Island Batik Ambassador is the ability to freely create. Sure, there are some guidelines and a few requirements, but it's a wonderful feeling to just cut and sew and create something beautiful.

I'm a huge fan of text and inspiring words, so I knew I wanted some kind of word or phrase on my mini quilt. I decided on the word "maker" and used PicMonkey to create an applique template of my word.

I need to do a little research and see if there's a way to reverse the text in PicMonkey. It would make the applique-making process a LOT easier...but it worked!

For the quilting, I decided on some some simple straight line, crosshatch quilting.

Just a little scrappy binding, and it is complete! To make the main part of the mini, I cut strips of fabric, sewed them together, cut them up again, and sewed them back together again. I didn't have an overall plan as far as size, and it ended up 11 inches square. It will look so bright and happy on my sewing room wall.

It's always nice when the back is as pretty as the front...crooked label and all! One of my favorite mini quilt tricks is sewing triangles (made from a square folded in half on the diagonal) into the upper corners. You can then use a dowel (or a bamboo skewer in this case) to make a hanger for your mini quilt. This makes it easy to hang it nice and straight on your wall.

Thanks for stopping by to check out my MiniLove project! I can't wait to get started on my March project of trying a new technique.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Happy Galentine's Day...My First Island Batik Project

The products featured in this post were given to me by Island Batik.

I'm so excited to share my FIRST Island Batik Ambassador project of 2018! 

Sometimes you see something and decide right away you must make it. That's what happned when I saw these beautiful, rainbow mini modern hearts made by Jessie Ziegler of Threaded Quilting

I immediately bought her Mini Modern Heart paper piecing pattern then prompty set it aside because I have a million other projects in the works. When I read through the Island Batik Galentine's Day project info, I knew this modern heart was the perfect pattern for the project.

Without further ado, here's my Galentine's Day mug rug...

I used the pretty hot pink and red fabrics I received in my Galentine's Day bundle, and the background is an amazing neutral called Rice. (They sent me 3 yards, but I think I'm going to need more!) I used my walking foot to quilt some wavy lines. The "too sweet" is a stamp leftover from my scrapbooking days. (That's why it's so hard to get rid of anything...who knows when you may need it again?!) The finished size is approximately 6.5" x 8.5"...perfect for a cup of coffee. (Or a glass of wine.)

I know I say this about a lot of my projects, but I love how it turned out. I'm not sure what it is about this Island Batik Ambassador program, but I feel free to design and experiment with these projects. Usually that kind of freedom can be stressful for me, but so far it's just been a lot of fun. I have my project list for the year, and the wheels in my head are constantly turning with potential project ideas. I'm already working on our next project...a mini quilt which I'll have posted by the end of February. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

#plusblockQAL {assembling the blocks}

Better late than never...here are instructions on assembling your plus quilt blocks for the #plusblockQAL.

No matter which size block you are making, the pieces are assembled the same way. Lay out your fabric pieces like in the picture below. If you have directional fabrics, now is the time to make sure all the fabrics are laid out properly.

The first step is to sew a small background square to each small plus square and sew a small background square to each end of your plus rectangle fabric. Press seams. (At this step, I press my seams open. See my notes on pressing on the last picture.)

Now sew a large background square to each side of your top and bottom pieces. You will end up with three strips.

The last step is to sew your three strips together. At this point, it's more important to match up your centers of each strip so your plus is lined up properly.

This shows how I press my seams for this block.

When pressing seams, I don't always press open/press to the dark fabric/press to the light fabric. My goal is to reduce bulk at the seams as much as possible so I usually let the fabric dictate how it wants to be pressed.  I start by pressing open. (I piece with a shorter stitch length and have never had a problem when pressing my seams open.) After sewing the larger squares to the first pieced unit, I press those seams to the large background square. After all three strips are sewn together, I press the finals seams toward the middle of the block.

Clear as mud? I need to work on my tutorial writing skills! If you have any questions, please ask away.

Friday, January 5, 2018

#plusblockQAL...cutting your jelly roll

For those of you that have decided to use a jelly roll for the #plusblockQAL, here are some instructions for quickly cutting up your fabric. Each jelly roll strip will make 3 pluses. Fabrics in a jelly roll are often duplicated. If you have two matching strips, you can use your leftover pieces from the strips and cut an additional plus...so 7 pluses from 2 jelly roll strips.

I leave my jelly roll folded. (Yes...that probably breaks all the quilting rules!) From your folded strip:

  • remove the selvedges
  • cut three 2.5-inch squares (since the strip is folded you have 6 squares)
  • cut one 6.5-inch by 2.5-inch rectangle (since the strip is folded you have 2 rectangles)
  • take your leftover piece and proceed to step 2

  • unfold your leftover piece and press the fabric to remove the crease where it was folded
  • cut one additional 2.5-inch by 6.5-inch rectangle
  • the remaining fabric can go in your scrap bin or you can pair it with a matching leftover piece to cut one additional plus

That's it! You'll have your jelly roll cut up in no time!

I also had a question on how much background fabric is needed. I'm terrible at calculating fabric requirements since I'm not good at quilty math and I almost always make scrappy projects. (I cut what I have. If I run out, I buy more fat quarters!) I did find this AWESOME fabric calculator online. You can enter your fabric width, the size of pieces you need to cut and how many pieces you need and the calculator will figure your yardage for you!!!

There are already so many great posts on Instagram with everybody's progress. Check out the hashtag #plusblockQAL to see what everybody is making and for more info on the quilt-a-long!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

#plusblockQAL {schedule}

I am thrilled with all the excitement and interest in the #plusblockQAL. Some of you have already starting making blocks...a LOT of blocks! I love what I'm seeing so far and can't wait to get started on my own quilt.

This quilt-a-long is going to be pretty laid back and stress free. You decide how many blocks you want to make and how big you want your quilt to be. You pick your own fabrics. I have made a tentative schedule, but you can work at your own pace and not worry about falling behind. Since we're not swapping blocks, there's no hard and fast deadlines. The goal of this QAl is to take some time for yourselves and make something you want to make.

2018 #plusblockQAL Schedule
  • week 1: January 1 - January 7
    • blog and Instagram posts on planning, cutting, block assembly, etc
  • week 2: January 8 - January 14
  • week 3: January 15 - January 21
  • week 4: January 22 - January 28
  • week 5: January 29 - February 4
  • week 6: February 5 - February 11
  • week 7: February 12 - February 18
  • week 8: February 19 - February 25
    • blog and Instagram posts on quilt layout, quilt top assembly, quilting, and binding
  • week 9 & beyond: February 26 - ?
    • complete your quilts and show them off!
Weeks 2 through 8 (January 8 - February 25) will be all about making your blocks...that's 7 full weeks (56 days) to make as many blocks as you can/want. Try to post your block tally for each week on Sundays. Let us know how many blocks you completed that week and share a pic. Use #plusblockQAL on your posts so I and other QAL participants can find them.

Some thoughts on time management...

My son is in 5th grade, and I talk to him a LOT about time management. (That's kind of amusing since I'm quite the procrastinator.) When he's assigned a school project, it often seems like he has a lot of time before the project needs to be completed so he don't start right away. Inevitably, he ends up trying to do the whole thing at the last minute. One way to plan how to complete a project is to break the project down into parts and spread it over the time frame allotted. This works for quilting projects, too!

Let's say you want to make a queen-ish sized plus block quilt. If you're using the 11.5" block measurements, you would need 8 rows of 8 blocks (64 blocks total) for a finished quilt measuring approximately 88" x 88". If you break that down over the 7 week block-making time frame, you should be making 9.14 blocks per week. (Of course you can't make 0.14 block so make 10 per week, and you'll be ahead of the game!) You could further break it down by day...make 2 blocks on 3 days of the week and just 1 block on the remaining 4 days. Totally doable. If you're in a groove and feel like making more, even better.

I'm ready to start quilting with everyone. If you're selected fabrics, share a pic on Instagram!

do. Good Stitches Peace Circle November quilt top

Friday, December 8, 2017

Another {plus block}!

We're well into December, and I'm getting pretty excited for the #plusblockQAL I'll be hosting in January! I really love Moda Grunge and polka dots and decided to splurge on a Grunge Hits the Spots jelly roll for my quilt. Since a jelly roll consists of 2.5" strips, I modified the measurements of the original block to make it jelly roll friendly! Each jelly roll strip will make 3 pluses with a little fabric left over for your scrap bin. You can also use charm packs, mini charm packs and/or a layer cake for the background and make your entire quilt with precuts. This block is 10.5" (10" finished when sewn into a quilt top).

For each block, you will need two different fabric colors/values...one for the plus and one for the background. (My blocks will use various colors of Grunge polka dot fabrics for the pluses and scrappy low volume fabrics for the background.)

Cutting instructions for each block:
  • 2 squares 2.5" x 2.5" of plus fabric
  • 1 rectangle 6.5" x 2.5" of plus fabric
  • 4 squares 2.5" x 2.5" of background fabric
  • 4 squares 4.5" x 4.5" of background fabric

Please see my previous post for more details on the quilt-a-long. If you have an AccuQuilt die cutting system, stay tuned for a post on which dies to use to cut your pieces.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

#plusblockQAL...coming soon!

I am so excited for our #plusblockQAL we'll be starting in January, 2018! There's only about 6 weeks until we start. I wanted to give you a few things to think about so we're all ready to go after we survive the holidays.

The Pattern
I have chosen these dimensions for Rachel's low volume charm plus block she shared on Flickr way back in March 2013. (Just to make this 100% clear, I did NOT come up with the dimension for the block we are using....Rachel of Wooden Spoon Quilts did. I am forever grateful for quilters that are so willing to share their ideas with non-quilt-math people like me. Please check out Rachel's blog, Flickr, and Instagram feeds to see her beautiful work.)

Each block finishes around 11.75" and I recommend trimming them to 11.5" for a finished (once assembled into a quilt) size of 11". Do you know what's great about 11" blocks? I can multiply by 11 in my head! Making a quilt 4 blocks wide by 5 blocks long? It will measure 44" x 55"! (I totally did that without a calculator.)

You can make whatever size quilt your want for this QAL. If you decide you're done after making one block, no worries! You just made yourself a cute little wall hanging or pillow cover. Want a queen-sized quilt? You only need 64 blocks. Totally doable.

Getting Ready...
Since we aren't starting until January, why am I posting this in November? (I know...it's not even Thanksgiving yet!) Well, there's a few you can start thinking about/doing...

  • Color Scheme: I'm planning on doing a scrappy, low-volume background with Moda Grunge pluses in a variety of colors. This quilt would also be great in a low-volume background with the crosses in a single color....or you can do a two-color scheme...or how about a warm/cool combination. The possibilities are endless.
  • Quilt Size: You can make any size quilt you want...from a wall-hanging to a king-size quilt. Start thinking about what size you want so you can figure how many blocks and how much fabric you'll need.
  • Start Cutting: Now is a great time to start cutting pieces. Since I'm going scrappy, I've been picking out low-volume scraps in my stash to cut the 2.75" and 5" squares for my background.
  • Ask Santa for Fabric: The holidays are right around the corner. Maybe you should put that fabric bundle you've been eyeing on your wish list for Santa or ask your spouse/significant other/parent(s)/child(ren) for gift cards so you can make sure you get exactly what you want. :)
I realize there may be quilters of many different skill levels joining in the fun. If you have questions, please ask me here or send me a direct message on Instagram. (I'm @stephkucera on IG.) If there are things you need me to cover, I'm more than happy to explain them the best I can or refer you to a tutorial or instructions. I'd love some feedback on a preferred timeline. (I'm thinking 2 to 3 months for making blocks and a month to complete the quilt?) I'm really excited about this and can't wait to see what everyone creates.

A beautiful red & white version made for a Red Cross fundraiser.