Recap: Island Batik Modern Batik Challenge…

I’m either going to have to get better at posting in advance/remotely, or learn how to suspend the calendar. For today, I’m going to give a shout out to my wonderful creative compatriots, the Island Batik Ambassadors, and share what we did with the creative prompt for June.

These challenges aren’t organized with assigned dates – we fit them in where we can, so a recap seems to be the best way to capture all the creativity. There was a lot this month – many of us have a leaning toward modern – and even those who struggled with it continued to impress us with their talents.

Island-Batik-Ambassador-Button (295 x 107)

Each challenge now has it’s own group board on Pinterest; by clicking on the icon above, you get a chance to see pictures of all of the month’s projects in one place, and links to the stories behind the projects.  I fit in working with these pieces as I can, and I know a lot of the Ambassadors do as well.  We’re an eclectic group – and truthfully, not all of us post every time.

Island-Batik-Ambassador-Button (295 x 107)

Our next adventure is the Christmas in July Challenge, and a shoutout to Nan Baker of Purrfect Spots for not letting a little thing like a calendar get in the way of a good design…she rolled both her challenges into one project.  I love that!
Off to complete my Christmas project…stay tuned!
Due to time constraints, this blog will return on Monday, July 18th.
Have a great week!

Monday Musings – If you Give a Quilter a Challenge…

It’s Monday, and the official beginning of summer! I am clearing the desks for the week before heading off to Vermont for the week, and today’s blog post topic arose from a guild presentation on Cape Cod last week. This first photo is a bit dark, but the luncheon was held in a really nice restaurant. It was  so nice to see the ladies enjoying an thumbnail_20160616_143144

I love to be invited to speak with Guilds, and it’s even more of an honor  to be asked to be the Program for a June luncheon. In this case, it was a bit of a drive for me to visit the Plymouth County Cranberry Quilters of Plymouth Ma, so I went down a day early and enjoyed some quilter style hospitality. They treated me like a princess, and I had a wonderful time meeting some of the members at a night before pot luck dinner. I especially appreciated the efforts made to accomodate my being gluten free.

The presentation that they asked for is “If you Give a Quilter a ChalleIf_you_Give_a_Mouse_a_Cookienge…”, which is my trunk show about the many challenges I’ve entered over the years.  The title is taken from one of my all time favorite children’s books, “If you Give A Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff.

The trunk show actually has an introduction: “…If you give a Quilter a challenge, she’s going to go to her stash looking for the perfect fabric. While she’s looking in her stash, she’s going to find a UFO that just needs to have the binding finished…”  I do think that the story needs to be fleshed out more, but it is funny and I love hearing the giggles roll through the audience.

Well, it turns out that I need to add a check list to the packing of the show – because I actually forgot a few.  I told the ladies that I would be using the missing links as the subject of today’s  blog post, here it goes!

2005 SCQG Round Robin Challenge The first quilt that I left right on my wall in the hallway is a 2005 guild Challenge for the Squanicook Guild in Townsend Ma. I can’t believe it’s been 11 years, but that’s one reason I use quilt labels. This was the year that I was co-chair of the guild challenge along with Beth Helfter of EvaPaigeQuilt Designs, and we wanted it to be a mystery/row robin type of theme.  I had asked for a country Americana theme, and started my quilt off with the friendship stars and the background.  I do love it, and most of the year it does hang in my hallway.

This was my Challenge from the same Guild, but we’ve moved forward to 2012 for the Paint Chip Challenge.  There may be several variations of how to run this, but in our case, we used the first initial of our first name (L) and the first initial of your last name (P)…then you go to the h20160620_154404ardware department of your favorite home improvement store, and find paint colors to correspond with the initials.  My colors are Parisian Taupe and Liberty by Behr…I know this because I actually have the paint chips attached to the label.

You might think that I was  done at this point – and wrong you would be. I still haven’t gotten either fabrics to match the paint chips – or an inspiration as to what I was  going to make with it.  The colors were ones that I could find fabric for in the stash, and I ultimately went with a 10 minute block pattern that I reduced. I liked it, but it was still a bit on the blah side.  I decided to take a look at a tutorial I found in an old Quilter’s Newsletter, and I had something I really liked.  This piece serves as a small table runner in my kitchen when it’s not supposed to be part of the trunk show.

The next piece that was forgotten drew it’s inspiration from the fabrics I got to work2013 Spicy Spiral Gathering challenge with. In 2013, I  served as the Challenge Coordinator for  A Quilter’s Gathering, and we used beautiful fabrics from the Arabella Rose line for Marianne Elizabeth Designs, chosen because she has been a presence at the show for the many years it had taken place.  This piece is made more unique by the fabric that I used for the pattern, but it didn’t have the punch I wished it had had. Of all the challenge pieces I wished I could do over, this one is at the top of the list. Oh, well.

Th2012 Downton Abbey Challenge blockere is one Challenge piece that I can include here, that is no longer in my collection. In 2012, I sponsored (yes, me!) a Challenge based on the TV show Downton Abbey, with the items entered into the challenge being auctioned off for the benefit of New Hampshire Public TV  – the channel which brought us Downton.  My entry into the auction was this small wall hanging, inspired by a Ricky Timms piece in the April 2012 issue of The Quilt Life – called the Titanic Star.  Research has shown that this star pattern was inlaid in marble in the ballroom in the Titanic.  The sinking of the ship led to the introduction of Matthew Crawley (insert sigh here!), and the rest was history.

That’s all for now…but I leave you with this thought.  I have another paint chip challenge due next April.  Oh, boy!


Monday Musings – The Modern Batik Challenge

Thic0924917-a51a-4bc8-8dbf-8895f1077f1es month’s challenge is near and dear to the hearts of many of the Ambassadors…myself included. It’s the challenge of using batiks in a quilt that is modern in design. If you’ve been a fan  of the blog, you know that I’ve been heading in that direction for a long time. It’s just nice to have such talented company.



I’m also thrilled that this time, I’m in the middle of the pack, instead of bringing up the end of the group. For once…it’s probably not going to happen again.

You may not have known that Island Batik makes a deep, rich, solid ink black batik. I do, and in working with this piece, which is a small 18″ x 18″, I thought it would give me a lot of negative space to play with.

The go20160612_195242 (1)od news is that it did give me plenty of room to play. The bad news is that in using black Aurifil…it’s very tough to see in a photo.

This piece is named Playtime, because that’s exactly what I did…I played around with motifs and just relaxed and went with it.  I seem to have a love affair going with oddly shaped elongated drops…maybe they will one day evolve into proper paisleys, maybe not.

I look at it this way – I no longer panic if someone asks me to quilt something. That’s progress.

The small flying geese are actually appliqued on – they came from another project and were scraps.  I had posed the question about a finish to the Ambassador’s group, and this one came very close to being a traditional scrappy border. However, I found this pre-made Magic Binding strip made for another project and went with it.

I did a write up on the Magic Binding technique in last week’s blog – but the third time’s a charm. When you are joining the edges of  binding – you know that part about leaving about a 10-12 inch tail?  It works much better if you follow directions.

Today is National Sewing Machine Day, so here’s a photo I took for Instagram of Playtime on the bed of my machine.


So Inquiring minds want to know…are you a modern, contemporary or traditional quilter?

Monday Musings – my quilting progress

Tonight’s post is going to be a little more like a journal entry than anything else. I had set a goal this year of wanting to improve my free motion quilting skills. I’m finding that right now, I’m working on several smaller pieces rather than a large quilt, and that gives me plenty of leeway to experiment with different techniques and designs.


The Softer Side

Last week, I showed you the final completion of The Softer Side, which is for many reasons one of my absolute favorite pieces I’ve done to date. It’s name comes from the color palette, and this piece was a game changer for me in  a number of ways.

Intuitively, I knew how to quilt it, and I experimented with the straight line style that is so in vogue right now.

This piece was designed as a fundraiser, and it was donated to this morning’s auction. Tonight, it’s back home in a new spot in my sewing space – I can’t quite make myself say studio. I bought it at the auction because it just wasn’t worth it to me to let it go.

Some pieces are meant to stay.

How I made binding magic…

I learned how to finish a quilt in the ‘quilt as desired’ days…before the internet, Youtube, Craftsy and Instagram. That means that I have been turning bindings the old fashioned way (stitched to the front, then flipped and hand sewn down) for  a very long time. Earlier this year, I saw a Facebook post made by Mary Schilke, the cofounder of the MQX show, in which she referenced the Magic Binding technique.

Off to YouTube I went, where I found a video posted by Aunt Marti, wher she referenced the technique. I’ve used it a couple of times now, and I have found it to be not only an easy way to attach the binding, but it also can become an unexpected design element.  April2 cropped and watermarked I used it on the Ambassador’s April challenge, where it gave a nice hit of color on the edge.  I also used in in the May challenge, where it helped to draw the eye out towards the edge ithumbnail_20160527_230306n The Softer Side.

This morning, I created  a mockup of how I did it, so that I can walk you through the project. You might remember that I have been working on my quilting skills this year, and I simply trimmed off the quilt sandwich to create  a teaching aid.  I do a lot of my work with batiks, but this is made of solids; I thought it would be easier to see it this way.

I usually cut my bindings to be 2.25″ wide, but in this technique, you are thumbnail_20160601_070713going to use have a binding which is wider than the handstitch method. In my demo piece, I used two shades of pink. The main binding fabric (the softer pink) is cut at 1.50″ x WOF, and the flange – which will be the tiny strip of fabric on the front, is the hot pink strip cut at 1.75″ x WOF.  I made myself  a card with the dimensions so that I will remember how to do this.  The two strips are sewn together the long way, and then the seams are pressed on the wrong side to the main thumbnail_20160601_110912color.  It’s a bit counter intuitive, in that the main color is the narrower of the two strips, but it does work. Once the pressing is done, fold the fabrics so that the wrong sides are together, and the edges meet. You will then see the little flange (in this case hot pink) show up.

Geeze, you can really see that I need to keep practicing the quilting.  Oh well, that’s another blogpost – or series of blogposts. Back to the binding…

This binding is attached to the back of the quilt, with the hot pink side facing you as you are stitching. Sew the binding around the edges on three sides, mitering the edges as you do with any other technique. Just as any other technique…leave yourself a good 6-10 inches on each of the tails, and backstitch.  I’ve gotten myself into trouble more times than I can count by not leaving enough space, and the demo is only 11 inches long to start with.  The more space you leave, the easier the next steps will be.

Now that you have left enough space, it’s time to splice the two pieces of binding togethumbnail_20160601_073342ther into one. Lay your piece out flat, and fold your binding back on itself so that it meets up closely in the middle, and so that you can see the flange.  Cut the left hand tail straight – directly on the fold. Breathe Deeply!

Open up the cutoff end from the left side – so that you have it flat. For you math majors, it should measure around 2.75″ wide; place it onto the right hand tail with the edge lined up with the fold on the left hand side. Double check yourself, then cut the right hand tail off exactly where the cutoff side ends.

Ok, you’re almost done. The next step is to take the left thumbnail_20160601_074238hand tail and pull it out to the right, so that it’s opened flat. You will then take the right hand tail and place it onto the top of the left, right sides together and perpendicular to one another.  This is where the 6-10 inch length comes in handy – I didn’t originally have enough length on this piece, and I had to unsew a bit to give me more room.  I have also used a clip or a pin to give me more room. At this point, you’re going to draw a diagonal line from top left to bottom right – and pin both pieces in place so there is no shift.  Sew slowly, making sure the pins don’t shift and you stay on the line.


TA DA…A perfect fit!

Once you’ve sewn the line, remove the pins and make sure that the edge of the binding fits the space perfectly BEFORE you trim anything. If you need to take a do over (and I’ve done several), the good news is that it’s not a long seam to unstitch.  Once you are happy, trim away the excess, then sew the now joined 4th side to your quilt sandwich.

I press the binding to the front at this point, and fold it over. It should fall into place nicely, with the edges working themselves into a nice mitre. I usually use monofilament thread to sew the front down in the ditch.thumbnail_20160601_110912

Off to continue working on my quilting skills. If you have questions or comments about the technique, please leave them in the comments below.

Two for the Price of One

May Playful Paper Piecing

The Island Batik Ambassador’s theme for May was to use a paper piecing method in your fun project. The title of this post comes from the fact that I made my piece with the idea of using it for this project as well as an auction item due early in June for a guild fund raiser.  That is fun, trust me.



The mini quilt that I came up with uses the Southern Star quilt pattern from Ellison Lane’s Jennifer Mathis. The pattern is a free download of a kaleidoscope block. I have done paper piecing many times, but never a kaleidoscope.  I dug deep into the dresser drawer that holds my Island stash, and the fabrics were left over pieces of the Sea Salt Sandy line from my fall Ambassador’s box. There are several versions of this really pretty star on Pinterest and Instagram, and you can use many color layouts to play with. There was a mini quilt swap held by cotton and steel last fall, and that was my inspiration.  The name of the piece is The Softer Side.

The star is a 9 patch, with each of the blocks having 36 segment20160511_193605 (1)s – so it’s intricate (and a perfect pp project).  I think that in the beginning I spent more time on the layout than I did on the actual piecing. Once I got started, we moved onto assembly line sewing, and we were good to go.  Did I mention that each block has 36 pieces?

The bthumbnail_20160525_174753ackground fabric may have looked as if it’s solid, but it’s actually white with a gray/green dot.  I had several options for quilting thread thanks to my Aurifil stash, and it turns out that 2800 (the top spool below) was the perfect choice.

I worked with a new (to me) binding technique  on both this piece and the last Ambassador’s project, and I am loving it – it’s called the Magic binding technique. I’d been hand sewing my binding on for a long time, and I think this might be a chance to stretch myself creatively.  I will be posting a run through on the technique on next week’s blog.  I will say that I lucked out because when I finished the binding, I literally had less than 5 inches left of the lavender.


This piece is going up for Auction on June 6th, for the benefit of the New England Quilt Museum.  If you have any interest in bidding on it, please contact me.   I’m going to be making this pattern again!



Tales from the Road…

Somehow, it’s been way way too long since I’ve made a blogpost – and this seems as good a time as any to change that up.  I recently took a trip to the southwest on family business; we arrived home to face a family situation from another branch of the family – and then I played catch-up. There are some times that you can juggle life’s demands well, and sometimes you can’t.  This week I’m welcoming the readers from the 52Quilters project to the blog, and you’re all about to get a glimpse of the Southwest trip.


Sedona, AZ

The first stop on the trip was Sedona – one of the single most beautiful, and unexpected treasures we could find. We loved it, and we look forward to seeing it again.  We’ve been to the southwest several times, but this trip was designed to give us a new perspective.

Before we left for the trip, I queried my online friends to find out which shops should be on my list of places to visit. Our first stop was going to be Three Dudes in Phoenix; that shop came very highly recommended, and we were disappointed that the night we went there, they had a sign posted that their shop would now close at 6, not 9.  We were disappointed, but headed off to find dinner and a margarita.  I do hope to get there someday, but not on this trip.


Quilter’s Store

The next stop was an unexpected find in Sedona at the Quilter’s Store. This is a very very nice shop which caters to tourists, and they have some wonderful southwest inspired fabrics for the quilter who is looking to add something to her stash – and who has very little weight left in her luggage allowance.


casino rug

From Sedona, it was onto Las Vegas – scene of many of our vacations before, although it has been  a while since we were there. When you’re a quilter, you start seeing pattern everywhere – even in a casino rug. Now 20160418_111245that’s a pattern I want to remember.

And this came from of the casino rest rooms that we visited.  How much fun would that be to try to replicate – can you say Bucket list?  Okay, maybe not – but it was interesting.

20160415_151834 (1)

Bellagio Gardens

One of the other sources of inspiration that works for me is color…This was found in the Bellagio gardens when we took a stroll through there.

An example of how my mind works…this is a pithumbnail_20160424_213947ece that I worked on for Island Batik once we returned home.

Whether this was a coincidence or not – you get to decide!

From Facebook, I found out about a new quilt shop from Christa Watson – it’s called Sew Yeah quilting, and we took a trip out there one afternoon. If I lived in Vegas, this would be my new home quilt shop – Christa does live there,


Sew Yeah Quilting, Las Vegas

and she is very lucky indeed.  It’s light, it’s bright, it has glorious fabrics – even found some more southwest souvenirs to bring home! – and I know that the next time I’m in Vegas, I’m going to be stopping by. I only wish I could have taken a class. The place is enormous. I’d personally rather play there when I’m in Vegas that at the slots.

Oh, and I did say something about souvenirs, right?


Bright, Bold Southwest

So my question to you is – do you shop for fabric souvenirs when you travel? Let me know, and welcome to the blog!

Monday Musings – April Showers Challenge!

Last week, Mike and I took a little vacation for ourselves, and the blog took a break. Next week’s blog will be all about the unexpected souvenirs that we found in fabric stores in Arizona and Nevada – both new to me.  Y7w-z71ecYXz90FRbdk76i0RUBL_6g7P5s7LtHD9bVEm1yRzkopD2sQR6jJNo6FHUMhOHA=w1642-h656

I left knowing that the challenge would be due the week I returned, and that I would get to play with the beautiful Splash Collection which was in my spring Ambassador’s box.


Splash is a bright, happy, fun pallette – it makes me think of summertime. I am sure you’ll see several more projects from me using this fabric later this year.

April2 cropped and watermarked

Here’s April, my April Showers piece. I brought some English Paper Piecing materials with me on the plane, and tried something new to keep me occupied. (I also brought my sketchpad – that will need to see another trip).  It turns out that I (along with so many other quilters) love the portability of EPP, and I’m happy that this has been added to my techniques.

This piece also had me stretching my creative wings a bit in other ways as well, which is the point of a challenge!

I used glue basting to position the hexies in position. had recently been introduced to the benefits of using glue by a guild thumbnail_20160424_103357mate, who told me that it had changed her life. I was a bit skeptical, but I couldn’t imagine an easier way to get the hexies into position.  With so many lucite rulers, I was beginning to feel a bit like Downton’s Carson with his measuring rod, but it worked.  This piece will be expanded on in the future.

I also wanted to try something new as a binding; this piece is bound using a ‘magic binding’ technique done via machine that gives you the look of piping (no, I haven’t crossed that boundary yet!), and then there’s the quilting. I’m actually quite happy with the little pop of color that breaks up the border treatment.

I quilted it last night, then put the piece up on the design wall. I was less than happy this morning – but I couldn’t figure out why at first. I finally realized that the quilting wasn’t done densely enough on the first pass.


Quilting – Before it looked like stick figures

April2 cropped and watermarked - Copy

After – it’s more densely quilted.

This month’s challenge allowed each of us to create our own pieces, and publish on our own schedule.  I’ll be editing this post shortly with the links to their posts.  Until then, enjoy this.  I never thought I’d be getting on the hexie bandwagon…but now I get what the fuss is about!

March Mini Madness Project – Under the Wire!


The new class of Island Batik Brand Ambassadors received our newest box of goodies from the home office, along with our first Challenge. We were challenged to create a small mini piece, using the March Mini Madness theme.


I’ve been absolutely amazed at the work done by the ladies in the group – we are a very talented and diverse group of designers, with aesthetics all over the place. Most have better time management skills than I do (but then again, many didn’t have a blog post for something else scheduled mid-month).

I wanted to go with something modern(y), something different in color than the last 2 projects, and something which could draw from my stash of partially constructed pieces – doesn’t that sound better than orphan blocks?  This is my most ironic piece, given that I’m not a huge fan of Pantone’s current dual Colors of the Year.


One of the many perks of being an Island Batik Ambassador is that I have amassed a fairly decent sized stash of Island Fabrics…in many of their color ways.  This just came together…

‘The 80’s Called…’

I had some of the pastel blocks in pink left over, and this is where this challenge took me.  I’m much more a piecer than a quilter, and I found myself actually enjoying the process of figuring out how to quilt it. My big goal for the year creatively is to become more comfortable with free motion quilting…this quilt brings me closer to that, so I am happy with it. It’s done…and I can move onto the April Challenge – oh, yes…wait til you see what’s coming up!

To enjoy a retrospective of the March Mini Madness Challenge, please visit their blogs here:

Purrfect Spots

Pamela Quilts

Lemon Tree Snippets

Ask Angel Creations

Free Motion By the River

MooseStash Quilting

Quilting Affection

Stone Cottage Quilts

Bejeweled Quilts

For Quilts Sake

Maria Michaels Designs

Sally’s Quilting Corner

Inchworm Fabrics

Kauffman Designs

Bea Quilter

Mary Mack

Adele Mogavero

Patchwork Breeze

Desert Bloom Quilting

Knitbug 2

Fun Threads

Webster Quilt

Monday Musings – Quilts & Projects!

Good morning, and Happy Spring! On this snowy spring morning, I have a fun and fast project for you to update your dining table – direct from Wendy Sheppard’s new book, Quilts & Projects from precuts or stash by Landauer. Wendy book

To see the other blogs in the hop (and the projects that go along with them), please visit the following blogs:

March 14th, Island Batik’s main blog page here.

March 15th,  The Fit Quilter – The Crossings Quilt

March 16th, Pamela Quilts – Flight of Colors Pillows

March 17th, MooseStash Quilting – Care for a Cuppa Quilt

March 18th – Bejeweled Quilts – Birds of a Feather Placemat

March 21st –  You’re Here!

March 22nd – Beaquilter – Childhood Memories Quilts

March 23rd – DOUBLE POST – Freemotion by the River and KISSed Quilts – Winter Blues Quilt.  Two chances to win a book!

March 24th – Mary Mack Made Mine – Stars over Columbia Quilt

March 25th – Lemon Tree Snippets – Count My Blessings Quilt

This book blog hop project was offered to the Island Batik Ambassadors, and we had the chance to pick our top 3 projects.  I had a difficult time selecting which ones I wanted to work with (this book will become a well used resource in my library!), and I was thrilled to get my first choice, the   download (1)

Birds of A Feather Table Runner. If you’re following along the hop, there’s a table runner pattern in the same motif that Barb Gaddy profiled last week, and I know I’ve got some placemats in my future.

For this project, I used the Sweet Georgia Peach line, which is a beautiful, rich melody of the peaches, browns, creams and greens that are found on a peach tree.  My runner looks a lot different than Wendys does – but the colors make it so liveable in my dining room.

20160319_091232 - Copy

One of my goals this year is to improve my free motion quilting skills, and this piece gave me a unique opportunity…each of the color bars is quilted using a different (and easy) motif. The runner is about 15″ wide, and that was enough (after some practice pieces) for me to quilt on my domestic machine.   I actually can’t wait to spruce up my screen porch this spring with a set of the placemats.

Wendy’s book is published by Landauer, and they have graciously allowed each of us to give away a copy of the book.  To win my copy (which will be direct shipped to you by the publisher), please leave a comment below telling me whether you’re a precut quilter or a stash quilter – it should be interesting market research! – and I’ll select a winner on Thursday, March 24th.  I’ll notify the winner via email (and update this post when one has been selected.

If you’d like to purchase the book directly (for yourself, or as a quilty friend), I have some links for you…

To purchase the hardcover book directly from Landauer, here is the link for the book, or you can purchase it directly from Wendy’s site, where she’ll be happy to sign a copy for you.  If an ebook is more your style, you can do that as well, by clicking here.

Next up on the blog…what is March Mini Madness all about?