Sunday, November 1, 2020

Maximizing a novelty flamingo print

 Subtitle: Monthly Color Challenge, November 2020

Fabrics fanned out
I joined the 2020 Monthly Color Challenge, a free Block of the Month party hosted by Patterns by Jen, specifically because of this year's color theme: birds. 

You see, I had this fabulous flamingo print that I wanted to feature.  I had a plan.  Those flamingos were gonna pop up all over the sampler blocks.  And they are destined to play a starring role in the overall setting I have chosen for putting the blocks together.

Bought this particular flamingo print eons ago.  And I used it to make a square dancing outfit.  (Because square dance outfits can be extra like that.)  Even entered that flamingo outfit into the county fair.  (Because I am crazy in chasing after blue ribbons, and you won't win any if you don't enter.  So I enter lots of things.)

Flamingo-print top & skirt w/blue ribbon  
Yep, won that Blue Ribbon

So, these flamingos did not end up appearing in August's pink block.  I used a different flamingo print... And I feel kinda bad about it.

Which might have been why I used the flamingo fabric in November's block.  Color: BUFF.  Bird inspiration: buff-breasted sandpiper.

How, you ask?  Well, with fussy-cutting, of course.  Although the prescribed pieces in November's block could not be cut cleanly from just the background of my flamingo print, I was able to piece delicate 4-patch sections, showing faint palm trees and clouds against a creamy sky background.  If you read my previous review of this year's blocks, I have already used fussy-cutting in January and May to get the colors I wanted in each block.  Just one way to make my existing fabric stash work--I consider this the challenge part of Monthly Color Challenge.

And paired with another metallic (a sub-theme for me this year).

quilt block in light tan colors
November Monthly Color Challenge: buff

Thanks for visiting!  Be sure and go check out the other bloggers who are showing off their November blocks.

Stephanie of Quilt'n Party

Becca of Pretty Piney

Sarah of Sew Joy Creations

Alla of rainbows. bunnies. cupcakes (that's me!) 

Kathryn of Dragonfly's Quilting Design Studio

Kathy of Kathy's Kwilts and More

Kris of Scrap Dash

Joanne of Everyone Deserves a Quilt

And did you know there are SPONSORS?  Link up your block at the end of the month (to Jen's linky party) and you might win something from one of these generous donors (these are the 4th quarter sponsors--prizes will be awarded in January 2021)

Sponsors October thru December

Said With Love - PDF Pattern

For the Love of Geese - PDF Pattern

P & B Textiles - Fabric Bundle

Quilters Dream Batting - 60" x 60" Dream Blend

Warm Company - 45" x 60" Warm and Plush

Warm Company - Light Steam and Seam 2

Island Batik - 3 1/2 yards of assorted fabrics

Patterns By Jen - Superior Thread S-Fine 50

Patterns By Jen - PDF Pattern

 Go get this month's pattern directly from Jen--it's free until the end of November.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Triangle Paper for October's Monthly Color Challenge

Wait til you see all these triangles!!!

This month's block for the 2020 Monthly Color Challenge has either: 

  • lots of flying geese      or 
  • lots of half-square triangles. 

The block is the October entry for this year of Patterns by Jen's Block of the Month.  Pattern is available for free all month from Jen.  See below for links to other bloggers showing off October's block.

I'm a bit of a non-rule-follower, so I often don't read the directions for a quilt block made up of components that I can easily discern.  And when I saw the diagram for October's block, my first thought was: HST's.

Flying geese or half-square triangles?

I rushed to my stash of interfacings and such to find some Triangle Paper.  If you are making lots of identical HST's (and there are 32 in this block, if you count them the way I did), nothing is finer than Triangle Paper by Primitive Gatherings for cranking them out accurately in bulk.  (Close second: Thangles, which use the same-size strips as other components of your block, thus eliminating possible 3/8" or 7/8" cutting.)


Thangles as used in February's block

 One downside to the use of both Triangle Paper and Thangles is the need for papers matching the specific size in your block.  Which I didn't happen to have.  Oops...

[Side note: Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts has a brief tutorial on different HST papers, including a few that I was not aware of.  If you happen to have Triangle Paper to make 1-1/2" finished HST's, you would need two 10" squares of fabric (1 each of focus fabric and background fabric) in order to make the number required for this month's block.  This would replace the fabrics needed for the flying geese specified.]

So then I looked more closely at the block and its instructions--doh, flying geese!

Another opportunity to practice 4-at-a-time flying geese.  I chose a fat-quarter of a textured olive solid as the focus fabric (been in the stash a long time; I have made an effort this year to use my hoarded FQ stash, as it overfloweth) and a coordinating houndstooth to the one used in May's block for the background fabric.

Feels good to use my stash.  And end up with a cute block to boot.

2020 Monthly Color Challenge - October

Want to see how other folx have interpreted this block?  Check out the others on this list.  (While you're at it, be sure and leave a comment or two.  It's not as easy as clicking "like", but we bloggers really appreciate the love of every single comment.)

Fawn of Quilty Creations by Fawn

Roseanne of Home Sewn by Us

Stephanie of Steph Jacobson Designs

Sheila of So This is Kentucky

Alla of rainbows. bunnies. cupcakes (that's me!)

Kathy B. of Kathy's Kwilts and More

Kathy N. of Penny for my thoughts

Joanne of Everyone Deserves a Quilt

October also starts the 4th quarter.  Important because of the PRIZES awarded. So thankful to these industry sponsors who generously show their support:




Sunday, September 27, 2020

2020 Monthly Color Challenge - progress so far

I have been stitching a block each month of 2020 for the Monthly Color Challenge, a free BOM generously run by Jen of Patterns by Jen.  As we head toward the final quarter of the year, it's time to look back at what I have accomplished so far.

This year's color story is themed around the world of birds.  I had a fabulous flamingo print that I wanted to showcase, so I pulled that out first.  And then delved into my phenomenal stash.  I recently determined that my fat quarters were overflowing their designated storage area, so I "shopped" heartily from those bins.  

(Confession: I have had the habit of collecting fat quarters and then never cutting into them. Finally realized that they are not precious, and should be used.  Because that way I can buy more!)

January: yellow (finch)

Fussy cut the yellowest parts of a yellow/gold tonal chevron print for the focus fabric here (this fussy-cutting will be a repeating theme)


February: aqua (indigo bunting)

Prime example of a hoarded, uncut fat quarter: hand-dyed batik dark teal bought at a maker's fair over 10 years ago(!)  Wanted to use the aqua peacock fabric seen in my original fabric pull photo, but I have another plan that will bring the peacocks into the final quilt.


March: orange (oriole)

Surprised that I had so many mottled fabrics!  They look really good in these blocks.


April: purple (honey creeper)

I went rogue: main block is made from a metallic dark purple print and a lavender solid.  But the outer corners are a mottle batik--which will also be used in a frame around the block.  Because by this point in the year, I had come up with a plan for how I wanted to put these blocks together.  Stay tuned...

May: green (budgerigar)

Another example of fussy-cutting: the green here came from a green-brown floral.  It was a good thing the focus green bits were so small in size for this block--I would have had to choose a different fabric otherwise.

June: blue (blue bird)

 Another metallic (I think that might be a mini-theme here) and a mottle cloud print.  Blue is a hard color to find in my stash...

July: rust (American robin)

This ended up as a really busy block.  Focus fabric is another metallic.  Background fabric is leftover from a quilt made near the beginning of my quilting journey (Y2K?) And I tried the same outer-corner trick as with April's purple block.  Not sure it was entirely successful here.

Sampler quilt wisdom: I have never made a Block of the Month/sampler quilt where I loved every single block.  Only once have I chosen to leave out the hated block.  In the scope of a final, completed quilt, even the "failure" blocks have had a welcome home and contributed to the whole.  So I will embrace this ugly duckling block and press on...


August: pink (flamingo)

After being super excited to use the flamingo print shown at the top of this post, I chose a different flamingo print for August's block.  Metallic fuchsia Fairy Frost is the focus fabric, with 2 different flamingo prints and a mottled polka dot playing in the background.  (Flamingo prints here are from my job as a sales rep for a Japanese fabric importer. So many cute animal prints slide through my fingertips; sometimes I succumb and keep a few swatches after a line has sold out.)

September: cinnamon (cinnamon teal)

 Another color of metallic Fairy Frost, and another mottle.  Realized after I saw other people's blocks posted that I had assembled mine in a different way... oh, well.  Done is better than perfect.


Here we are: 9 months done out of 12.  I have started assembling blocks and I am in love with this setting!!!

"In a Box" quilt setting

Quickly realized that I need to wait until I have all the blocks--this particular setting technique doesn't allow for rearranging along the way.  Fine, I have a few other things to keep me busy until December...

Don't you?

Monday, August 31, 2020

2020 Monthly Color Challenge - September

Subtitle: How to fix a quilt block boo-boo

Well folx, somehow we have made it thru 2020 all the way to the month of September. And that means a new block in the free Block of the Month party hosted by Patterns by Jen.  Jen has been churning out lovely 2020 Monthly Color Challenge block patterns every month, with each month having a different color focus.

I present to you: cinnamon!  (Bird inspiration: cinnamon teal)

When I signed up to participate as a blogger for 2020, I chose months with colors that spoke to me.  I mostly play in the warm/earth tones end of the color wheel, so cinnamon was such a natural fit.

Here is my completed block

Astute fabric aficionados will notice the use of Fairy Frost by Michael Miller (color: coin) as my feature fabric.  This follows last month's use of neon pink Fairy Frost in the flamingo block.

It was a fun block to try out the technique of 4-at-a-time flying geese (otherwise known as no-waste flying geese).  And to give a bit of breathing room, in the face of some of my previous busy blocks.

But what I really want to share with you today is how to come back from adversity when making a quilt block.  Because we all know that "adversity" happens.  And in this case, it was more adversity than even a seam ripper could have helped with.

Did you notice my block's boo-boo?  Not sure how it happened, but I managed to cleanly cut off a corner of the background fabric, after the block was constructed.  (If you saw my cluttered, disorganized sewing space, it might make perfect sense. #honestcraftroom as Jen says.)


The old perfectionist me would have cut a new square of the needed size and re-sewn that portion of the block.  But maybe I wouldn't have had enough extra fabric to do that--I am making these blocks entirely from stash, after all.  So what other option does one have?

Well, you can just patch that bit with more of the same fabric.  Not the first time I've done this sort of rescue (not the first time I've cut into a completed block, yikes).  And although it looks glaringly obvious when I'm 10" away from the block, I've never had a regret about using this technique once the quilt was complete and in use.  The quilting step hides a multitude of sins.

Things to keep in mind if you "patch" a quilt block this way:

  • cut off more fabric, if that makes the area to patch a more regular shape (in this case, a 45-degree angle, instead of the random hack that was there originally)
  • pay attention to grainline of your patch, where possible (another reason for making the 45-degree angle)
  • if the fabric has a strong pattern, be willing to overlook pattern-matching issues (this mottle does not count as a strong pattern)
  • oversize your patch and trim to size after it is stitched in place
  • press open this seam, so the patched section lies flatter
  • due to pressing seam open, consider a shorter stitch length and switching to a matching thread color (seams pressed open tend to show stitching more than those pressed to one side)
  • most importantly, don't point out your mistake!  Unless you're writing a blog post about it, know one ever needs to know.


Thanks for reading this far.  Be sure and go check out the other bloggers who are showing off their September blocks.

Wendy of Pieceful Thoughts

Sarah of Sew Joy Creations

Alla of rainbows. bunnies. cupcakes (that's me!)

Tammy of Tamarinis

Sandra of Textile Time Travels

Joanne of Everyone Deserves a Quilt

And did you know there are SPONSORS?  Link up your block at the end of September (to Jen's linky party) and you might win something from one of these generous donors (these are the 3rd quarter sponsors--prizes will be awarded October 1st)


Sponsors July thru September

Quilters Chic - PDF Pattern
For The Love of Geese - PDF Pattern
Carole Lyle Shaw - Pattern and Grunge bundle
Quilters Dream Batting - Dream 80/20 - 60" x 60"
The Fat Quarter Shop - Fabric Bundle

Warm Company - Warm 80/20 - 55" x 60"
Warm Company - 1 yard Insul-Bright
Make Modern Magazine - 6 month subscription
Patterns By Jen - Superior Thread S-Fine 50
Patterns By Jen - Magic Wand


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Quilt Qwazy Queens - a tiny wardrobe

For World-wide Quilting Day in March, Marian from Seams to Be Sew hosts an annual blog hop.  This year's theme for "Quilt Qwazy Queens" has us post about our craziest make.  I must admit that I've made my share of crazy unusual items over the years.  (See here, here, and here, for example.)

I'd like my epitaph to be about my boundless optimism and wild creativity...

Note: giveaway info and full blog hop schedule at the end of this post.

Today's post is about a tiny wardrobe.  And the handsome fella who gets to wear it.

Meet Oakie: world traveler & fashion icon

It all started with the raincoat.  Oakie came home from a spring break trip to England where he had spent much of his sightseeing time inside a ziplock bag due to the incessant rain.  (Spring can be that way, right?)  Sweetie asked if I could make Oakie a raincoat.  Um, sure thing.  Black pleather OK for that?  And a visor on the hood (to keep his beak from getting wet).  And a striped lining (just because I can).

Casual beach attire

Formal wear (the lad has been in multiple weddings)

Hanging out at QuiltCon 2018

Dive hoodie: a real hit with the ladies

Makes friends wherever he goes

Tiny dinosaur backpack--with pockets & piping!

You didn't really get to see all the places Oakie has been: London was just the tip of the iceberg for this little guy.  He makes a great travel companion--takes far better photos in front of the coliseum in Rome or Hubbard Glacier in Alaska or the Sydney Opera House than anyone else.

His wardrobe has grown to the extent that I made him luggage (seen in photo at right).  And I talked others into participating in the tiny wardrobe madness.  The mini-quilt and orange life vest pictured above were made by others (as were his Santa hat and Minion beanie).

And, as he clearly loves the camera so much, I go to great lengths to photograph Oakie & post to Instagram

Someday, I will make tiny clothes for grandchildren.  But for now, this is my craziness.  Thank you so much for the chance to show off. 


There are two $35 gift certificates for The Fat Quarter Shop to be won by some lucky blog reader and commenter.  The Rafflecopter link is here.  Closes on March 20, 2019.

Full Blog Hop schedule:

March 18, 2019
Days Filled With Joy
Life In the Scrapatch
Rainbows. Bunnies. Cupcakes. (you are here)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Text It! Blog Hop - life is short...

Hello BlogHoppers!  I'm Alla (rhymes with Paula).  I love fabric and whimsy and learning new things, so I jumped on the chance to play with wool and applique in ways that are new to me.  Welcome to the "Stay Awake" day of the Text It! Blog Hop.

When I was looking thru Sherri Noel's book Text It! Quilts and Pillows with Something to Say, there were so many projects that appealed to me.  I knew I couldn't make just one.  In fact, I'm working on 3! (I may have a problem with focus.)

But the main one I wanted to share on the Blog Hop was the  Stay Awake wallhanging.  The reason?  This sign on my kitchen door:

It was a phrase my mother often used.  I purchased this decal from the Etsy shop It's Written in Vinyl just after mom was killed in 2015.  Needless to say, I knew which project was first on my list.

Sherri's book encourages you to make the projects your own: there are seven full alphabets included, not just the letters for the words in the book.  Advice: if you do change the wording, some other things might have to change:
  • the amount of wool/fabric needed for applique
  • the size of your background fabric
  • the orientation of the piece
This last change, orientation, came as a surprise to me.  I was placing my words this-way and that on the background, and just couldn't get them to look right to me.  The word "dessert" was just too long; no other words wanted to fit on the same line with it.  So I switched from landscape to portrait.

Behind the Seams: cup applique from the back

For the cup and saucer applique, I used a freezer-paper technique from Jenifer Dick's book The Modern Applique Workbook.  This was a new-to-me technique, but it worked out well.  Just as shown in the Text It! book, the individual pieces are layered--cup over the saucer, cup interior over the cup--rather than being fully separate from each other.  For the freezer-paper technique, I stitched everything down with a narrow zigzag monofilament. Which is another new-to-me technique.  (Don't you love learning new things?!)

I also chose to piece my background, because I really wanted to use this chocolate-bar novelty print for the word "dessert".  But I also totally wanted to use a cream-colored wool felt (this project in the book uses wool for all the letters).  Solution?  Two different fabrics for the background, with the cup and saucer applique artfully spanning the dividing line.

Had so many questions as I worked with wool for the first time.  I discovered: wool felt is not the same as felted wool.  It all worked out in the end.

Since my amazing chocolate-bar-print really didn't show up as well as I hoped, I chose to add a novelty chocolate border.  More is more, I always say.  #maximalist

My final note on construction involves outlining the applique letters.  I used machine blanket stitch on the quilting cotton letters.  Since I have worked on multiple projects from this book, I have ended up using three different sewing machines.  Each of their blanket stitches are just a touch different, requiring adjustments of stitch length and width, and especially tension.  I also learned that there is such a thing as a non-stick sewing machine needle (who knew?), which could have helped with the buildup of gunk on my needle while blanket-stitching around the applique letters.  Advice: choose the sewing machine with the knee-lift when doing blanket stitch around applique!

My whip stitch (before I ripped it out)
For the wool letters, I tried the recommended whip stitch by hand, but didn't end up liking the way it looked.  I think my use of wool felt, rather than felted wool, contributed to this.  I un-stitched, and used a simple running stitch instead.  For thread, I tried cotton sashiko floss.  I had heard some of my wool enthusiast friends talking about how nicely it pairs with wool, and has a matte finish.  It was definitely easy to work with in this application.  I bought mine through Kimonomomo.  (I will be giving away a skein to a commenter on this post; see below.)

Buy the book

Sherri's book is so awesome!  As I said at the top of this post, I'm working on other projects from the book, because they are just so very appealing.  Plus, I've used her alphabets to write messages on other projects I had in the works, too.  If you'd like to purchase a signed copy of the book, you can get it directly from the author at her Rebecca Mae Designs online shop.

Giveaways (win the book?)

  • Book publisher Martingale has generously offered a copy of the book for me to give away to a lucky visitor to this blog (U.S. only).  
  • Aurifil is giving away two spools of thread.
  • I am offering a small bundle of fat quarters of the swirl and chocolate fabrics used in my project plus a skein of sashiko thread.
  • Grand prize: Sherri Noel has a final giveaway bundle available through commenting on any/all of her Blog Hop posts (like today's post)
To Enter:  
Leave a comment below telling me what phrase you'd like to applique onto a quilty project. Winners of the 3 different prizes will be selected by random drawing on March 19th.  (If your comments are set to "no reply" I have no way to contact you and you cannot win.)
If you live in Canada, Joanne is holding the giveaway for the book from her blog, Quilts by Joanne.

Keep Hopping

Sharing posts with me today are:
Becca Fenstermaker  at Pretty Piney
Katie Bock at Sewing with Katie

Thank you JW Marriott dessert bar!
Go show them some love!

Plus, see the full schedule of bloggers at Rebecca Mae Designs. 

The Blog Hop for Text It! started on March 4th and goes through the 16th.  Thanks so much for visiting!