Friday, January 15, 2021

A Pixelated Wonder - 2020 Color Challenge Finish

The 2020 Color Challenge came to a wrap in the most amazing way. Jen from Patterns by Jen designed "Pixelated" for setting our blocks.  

Let's start by taking a look at my twelve blocks from 2020.

I chose to make all my blocks in batiks. Alas, I did not choose to make the pixelated sashing with the same material. Creating those pixels were a tad trying. My stash contained wonderful Kona solids that just happened to coordinate well with the blocks. Those solids played so nicely with other fabrics in the past that I just couldn't resist using them.

The strip piecing was easy enough. Truth be told, I have never used my seam ripper more on any project before this one beyond this point.

The first time I pulled jack out was after I got close to half the sashing blocks put together in groups of four. On a whim, I decided to lay some of the sashing out with a few of the main blocks. Something didn't look quite right, so I referenced the pattern. I'm a stickler with following patterns, and upon noticing the incorrect direction of color flow in the pixelated blocks, jack went to work. 

(See that ironing surface in the background? It is truly a poor man's ironing surface that is soon to go the way of the dodo.)

Yep. I completely tore apart a few of those sashing blocks down to their base strips. Then I had the epiphany to turn those little blocks on their sides. Genius! I still had some to assemble, thinking this would be the perfect plan for assembling the columns of sashing and still look correct. Oh, how wrong that thinking was, so once again I had a date with jack. Turning them on their sides avoided the issue of stretch in the fabric (a bias issue) for the rows, however, left the direction of the colors still going the wrong way in the columns. There was twisting and turning of the sashing blocks, breaking out jack to tear those blocks apart as needed, and then putting it all back together again to make it play nicely - fabric bias, color direction, and all. Then it was on to putting it all together - finally!


Yay! The top was finished for the end of the year. Quilting this fun creation will happen over the next month as I take my time giving each color block the attention it deserves. I'm going to try my hand at some free motion quilting on my machine with this quilt as it and other personal projects become the focus for the new year. 

Please head over to see how other host bloggers finished their quilt tops or quilts:

Jen Shaffer of Patterns by Jen
Joanne Hubbard of Everyone Deserves a Quilt
Roseanne Nelson of Home Sewn By Us
Sarah Vanderburgh of Sew Joy Creations
Wendy Tuma of Pieceful Thoughts

Now that you've read all about my adventures with this top and checked out the other bloggers creations, click below where you can join a special year end Quilt Show link-up Jen has created for everyone to share their completed 2020 Monthly Challenge tops and quilts.

As always, keep quilting.


PS - While you're over at Jen's blog, check out the January block for the 2021 Monthly Color Challenge PLUS her latest pattern release - Winter Trees. I will be joining that quilty fun just as soon as possible, as well as sharing a few projects of my own. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 25, 2020

A Special Surprise...

A close family friend put in a special request for her daughter's birthday this month. I took the plunge on something I had never created before - a t-shirt quilt!

It was quite the adventure. I was given the shirts...

Here we have the front and back of each shirt.

 ...loose guidelines on patterns for coordinating fabrics...


These were mom's very loose suggestions for fabric pattern starting points.

...and overall quilt design freedom. Excitement comfortably settled in - at first - as I received the shirts during the middle of gardening season giving me plenty of time to complete the quilt.

 Then, life happened. The garden was more plentiful than we could have hoped leading to very long days my EDS body would not tolerate for the duration. My day job as a childcare professional at a local center being a lead teacher in the infant room (where I was also tasked with additional duties that required my time and attention after work) was more than enough to wear me down. What portions of this project can, and should, I tackle at the end of my work days and on the weekends - and in what order?

I would sneak in tidbits of time to look up coordinating fabrics...

Here we have the very first fabric choices I was looking at for backing and binding.

Two fabrics I purchased with full intent to use one for the backing and binding.

...or sketch layouts for the shirts. 

The layout started with the shirts arranged as they are in the photo on the right, but the size was just too small at only 45"x45". It was at this point that I decided to use the backs from the shirts that had them adding an entire row. With it still being a bit narrow, I decided to not create individual blocks, but custom cut the useful part from each shirt - front and back - and add sashing to build up to an overall column size. From there, a final border could be added to complete the top before quilting to acheive a desireable size. That final layout is what you see sketched on the graphing notebook above on the left. 

During that time, we wrapped up harvest (for the most part), and my body decided to let me know that a spring/summer spent gardening in a "new to us" way took a big toll. Every year I deal with some extra exhaustion as the season changes and the cool of fall sets in, but this year was extreme. What I normally deal with in the middle of winter was hitting me hard at the end of September. The good news is time was still on my side.

That necessary physical down-time is where I sat and triple checked numbers on my pattern design and continued looking for a suitable backing. Those measurements need to be correct for ensuring I buy enough stabilizer, backing, and have enough of the batting that I am sure is stashed. Above are good examples of why checking those numbers are so important, with the shirt on the left having a small useable space that was roughly 6"x11" allowing me to pair it with another shirt in it's own space on the quilt top. However, the shirt on the right required figuring out how to use some of the sleeve, and back if necessary, making sure there was enough fabric for the seam allowance without detracting from the graphic. The shirt on the right also happen to have a women's cut to it, creating an additional challenge. 

I had research to do on which stabilizer I wanted to use. I chose Pellon midweight knowing that I needed everything to stay put during assembly and quilting. If the stabilizer deceided to spearate or go lax after the quilt is finished, no harm/no foul. This quilt is meant to be loved and used, and this stabilizer is typically more firm, however, after all the handling, washing, and just it being used on the back of knit material, kept things quite flexible like in a typical cotton quilt. When all was said and done, I feel the stabilizer gave the quilt an extra layer of warmth for the duration more than stability for the long haul. Yes, I am aware of the purpose of a stabilizer, but I also know the final feel of this particular quilt. No regrets, and the quilt police can find something better to complain and nitpick about. See, one of the best parts of my day job is that infants and toddlers constantly remind me that tools can have uses beyond their original intent - always!

Next was on to choosing thread color(s) for stitching and quilting, batting, and deciding just how I wanted to quilt this creation.

With my machine, Gutermann thread runs through it the best leading me to choose this neutral grey from my stash. Considering all the colors of the shirts, using Kona in Stone seemed perfect for the background fabric. Bringing the top and back together with a border in the same fabric felt best for finishing the top off. The chosen thread happened to blend pefectly for stitching and quilting.

Then I found this gem and the chosen fabric for outer border, binding, and backing.

With this particular quilt, I chose straight line quilting with an alternating width pattern. The shirts needed to speak for them My goal was to place the memories in a way that kept certain activities together (academics, sports, etc.) and not detract from the shirts. I also strongly feel that any coordinating fabrics should look nice, but also let those start pieces shine. The fabric, Mandala Drops Marrakesh in Cream from Art Gallery Fabrics and designed by Mr. Domestic was perfect for this quilt. The fabrics I previously purchased just felt too dismal in conjunction with the shirts. Something light and happy was necessary. I feel confident saying that goal was met.  

Here we see the recipient with her children enjoying the surprise. She said she loves it and is very happy to have the memories to enjoy for many years to come.

What's something homemade that you've received that you treasure? It doesn't have to be a quilt. For me, I have a Christmas stocking that my grandmother made for me when I was very young that is personalized. It is knitted and it is glorious and I wish I could master that skill to create them for my children and grandchildren. Alas, my hands have a hard enough time typing, let alone working knitting needles. Bless my mother's heart, she has tried time and time again to teach me easier ways. It is just not meant to be. Another post for another time.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to reading what your favorite homemade treasures are!

As always, keep quilting.



Tuesday, December 1, 2020

December 2020 Monthly Color Challenge

Yay!! We made it to December. This has been a challenging year in so many ways. Finding time that I thought would be easy to work in for my quilting has been a bit tough. This next year I will have to work on setting scheduled times for all my endeavors as I will also be going back to school. (Wish me luck!)

On to the December block. It is simply fun and fitting and beautiful. The color is red with the bird being the cardinal. I am fortunate to live in an area that we get to see these rather nosy birds year round. I liken them to the neighborhood watchdog. We live in a small village that has quite a few cardinals. When one watches you as you are out walking, it will literally follow you while sounding the alarm to the neighborhood and beyond that you are there and he is watching. It became so obvious that when I used to have my family childcare center and we were out for a walk, the kids would ask about them unprompted. Now that's a boisterous bird!

My block? The fabrics before being cut definitely had contrast. After cutting and assembly, the contrast is more subtle.

You can see in the final block above that the block design shows for the most part, however, the photo below demonstrates my concern for losing the color contrast once piecing started.

I was grateful for the pattern difference in the material as I feel this helped maintain the color contrast necessary to create what ends up being the cutest block of candies. 

Once I placed the finished block into its space in the quilt, well, it became clear my fabric choices were just fine. The blocks around the December reds help to make the block design more prominent. We will see what happens when I get the sashing and border on this quilt. It already has so much life.

Now that you've seen what I've created with batiks for the year, keep scrolling to check out our quarterly sponsors and their respective prizes followed by the month's other bloggers. Please stop on over to see what fabric choices they went with or if they are creating the full quilt this year - or maybe two! Don't forget to grab your free block this month from Pattern's By Jen to get started and watch for an update later this month to link up your completed block.

This Quarters Sponsors & Prizes

Warm and Plush - 45" x 60" and 1 package of Lite Steam - A - Seam 2

PDF Pattern

PDF Pattern and Superior Thread S-Fine 50

3 1/2 yards of assorted fabric

Dream Blend - 70% Cotton 30% Poly - 60" x 60"

PDF Pattern

Fabric Bundle of over 60 fat quarters

This Months Bloggers

Jen Shaffer @ Patterns By Jen

Becca Fenstermaker @ Pretty Piney Quilts

Kathleen McCormick @ Kathleen McMusing

Create with Claudia @ Create with Claudia

Kathy Bruckman @ Kathy's Kwilts and More

Joanne Hubbard @ Everyone Deserves a Quilt

Thank you for stopping by and reading. I look forward to sharing the finished quilt!

Keep on quilting!


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Monthly Color Challenge Catch-up

 It has been a busy fall at work after a similarly busy summer in the garden. Getting to my sewing machine has proven to be challenging. Having the time to get caught up on my missing months blocks this weekend was so enjoyable.

With three previous blocks to complete - August, September, and November - and being a blogger for the December block and final quilt (cannot wait to share those with everyone), I dove right in to those beautiful batiks tackling August first. 

The original August block called for light and dark pink. I substituted a the light pink for a blended batik that had light pinks swirled about in its design. My favorite part of this particular block is knowing Jen's love of flamingos and that the solid pink portion of my block stands out like flamingo heads walking about in their flocks. Brilliant!

Up next was the beautiful cinnamon colors for September. Like the August block, this was easy to assemble. The dark reddish-brown contrasting with the light in this block in such a wonderful way that I am eager to see the multitude of colors in the full quilt come together.

Last was tackling the current November block. Working with colors is much easier for me than working with neutrals. November's block is light and dark buff based on the buff-breasted sandpiper, which are neutrals through and through. Finding the fabric for this block was a struggle as I needed to make sure the colors stayed buff without going brown, yet you could have enough contrast to tell light from dark. I looked up pictures of the sandpiper to take shopping on my search for suitable fabrics. My dark fabric appears brown from a distance, but when you get up close, the darker shade of buff can be seen mixed with a light shade of brown. 

All I had left to do was lay out all the blocks thus far to see them all together. 

Those colors are are absolutely beautiful together. The block patterns Jen has chosen showcase the colors perfectly. One more block, then it's on to the sashing, background, and finishing this beauty. I had all intentions of donating this quilt, but seeing these fabrics together is making it harder to say this one will ever leave my house. Ha! 

Are you participating in the 2020 Monthly Color Challenge? How are your blocks coming along? Do you have a favorite? I find myself enjoying finding appropriate fabrics to help make the entire quilt have coherence, and trying new sewing techniques.

As always, keep on quilting.