Monday, April 10, 2017

Applique Challenge with Sweet Pea

 It's April and time for another Island Batik Ambassador challenge.  This month the challenge for all the Ambassadors was to make something using applique and our lovely batik fabrics.  I like to do fusible applique, so I thought about making a mini quilt of a cute little rabbit from a book a friend of mine has written.

My friend Marcia Leiter is a wonderfully creative artist and has recently published two children's books.  The books are about a darling little rabbit called Sweet Pea.  Here is a sneak peek of Sweet Pea.  Isn't she darling?  Sweet Pea is always busy doing something- here she is cooking some spaghetti...I wonder why?

And here's a photo of Marcia- she's just as darling!

Sweet Pea has lots of friends and a cute following of little mice (meece) you can find on almost every page.  Every book has a fun adventure and loads of  illustrations with fun Seek and Find things to search for.  Marcia has written the stories and created all the cute illustrations.

The first two books are Sweet Pea's Tale of Too Many Tomatoes! and Sweet Pea's Christmas.  You can find these books to purchase on Amazon.

Marcia has several more books in this series that will be coming out in the future- keep your eyes open for them!

Here is my mini quilt with Sweet Pea tipping her hat to you and saying "hi".  This quilt is only
6" x 6".  It was fun to make- but the applique pieces are really, really, REALLY small!  I had fun embellishing with seed beads and embroidery.  Do you see the little mouse in her purse?

The stand the quilt is hanging on is from Ackfeld Manufacturing and just fits a 6" x 6" mini quilt.

I thought it would be fun to interview Marcia and ask her a couple questions so everyone could get to know her a little better.

Me:  Marcia- every since I've known you, you've been making cute doodle pictures of people and things.  When did you first start drawing?

Marcia: As far back as I can remember it was always my favorite thing to do.  Drawing has always transported me into another world, to a safe comfortable place where troubles and time don't exist.  This sounds very silly but the first picture I recall making is a watercolor of an upright vacuum cleaner at age 4.  That always mystified me because we did not have one.  I must have seen one at my Grandmother's house.  Sweet Pea has a vacuum cleaner, but she does not have electricity.  To see how that works, you have to read the book!

Me:  One of my favorite things in the books are all the little illustrations and how things are named.  I have to share with everyone that I'm so proud that Marcia put my name on a booth in the book Sweet Pea's Tale of Too Many Tomatoes!  The booth is called Connie's Quilts!  Can you tell everyone something about all the names in the books?

Marcia:  I wrote Sweet Pea's Tale of Too Many Tomatoes one summer after growing too many tomatoes myself.  For some unknown reason I started drawing one page a day about a little bunny with the same problem, and posting it on Facebook. (I was hoping she would find a way to solve it.)  Friends started to read my story, so I started hiding their names in the pictures, to see if they would notice.  It just took off from there.

Me:  Sweet Pea has her own blog called Sweet Pea - can you tell us a little about it?

Marcia:  Sweet Pea has her own website called  That is where all nine of her stories are posted, in their prototype form.  You can go there to read them and then write to Sweet Pea and let her know what you think.  She will write back to you.  It is nice to get a letter from a bunny.  There are also some pretty bad poems and a picture album that shows Sweet Pea in all of her various moods.

Me:  I love Sweet Pea and all her friends.  Can you share with us what books may be coming out in the future?

Marcia:  Book 2 just came out in December:  Sweet Pea's Christmas, of course.  The next one to come out will be Sweet Pea's Journey. (after hosting all those bunnies for Christmas she needs to get away!)  After that are :  Sweet Pea Gets a Job, Sweet Pea on the Rampage, Sweet Pea's T Party, String Bean to the Rescue, String Bean Strikes Out, and Sweet Pea for President.  String Bean, by the way, is Sweet Pea's best buddy.  He puts up with a lot.  (Sweet Pea can be a handful sometimes.)  There are mice too:  helpful mice and naughty mice.  Kids love to hunt for the mice and see what they are up to.  Which reminds me, at the back of each story (in hardcover form) is a Seek & Find.  Readers will see what they need to hunt for on each page.

Me:  Is there anything else you'd like to share about yourself/your family/your work, etc?

Marcia:  Each book will be dedicated to someone important in my life.  My husband's patience and diligence is a model for the helpful mice, always taking care of important things in the background.  My oldest son was an adventurous world traveler like Sweet Pea will be in the next story.  For many years he kept asking me "Are you writing stories yet?"  He knew what I should be doing.  My younger son is the inspiration for String Bean and is like him in many ways.  He is a graphic designer and is a big help to me.  Like Sweet Pea, I live in the middle of a garden, get in a tizzy sometimes, and do not like to clean house.

Thanks Marcia!
Keep your eyes open for the tales of Sweet Pea and for more books in the near future!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Island Breeze published

My pattern Island Breeze was published in the May/June 2017 McCall's Quilting magazine.

This pattern used the Tradewinds collection by Island Batik Fabrics.

Monday, March 27, 2017

March Paper Piecing Challenge

One of the fun things about being an Ambassador for Island Batik is that we all have a challenge each month.  Every month is something different, and this month it was a challenge to make a small quilt with either paper piecing or English paper piecing.

Since I love to paper piece, I decided to work with that instead of English paper piecing.  I also thought it might be fun to do something besides just repeating blocks which I have done a lot of in the past.
After a lot of thought and effort - this is my finished quilt called Nighttime at the Nest.
Size is:  20" x 15"

This quilt was a true challenge for me.  I decided to use the fabric Rivers Edge.  Island Batik sent me this lovely 2 1/2 strip pack that includes strips of the different fabrics in the line.  I find that 2 1/2" strips work really well when doing paper piecing.

When I got to really looking at the fabrics I noticed that the fabrics all tended to fall into dark/black, medium brown and lighter brown.  Not a lot of variance in the colors.  I didn't know what to do for a long time.  What could I make with basically three colors?

I decided it would probably be a night scene, and the browns looked like they could work for animals or birds.  I found the free bird foundation pattern on Pinterest
I changed a line or two on the pattern and reduced it to the size I wanted.  I also reversed one pattern so that I could have two birds facing each other.

I was happy with how the birds turned out.  I used three different fabrics for each bird- hoping this would give the subtle look of a male and female.  Do you see the printed fish swimming on the black background at the top?  I did NOT want fish in the quilt, so I deliberately cut the black fabrics so they were not recognizable.

I decided to make the birds perched on the edge of a nest. One bird is angled slightly.  I wasn't quite sure how to proceed with making the nest.  I wanted to put two eggs in the nest.  I picked out a blue Island Batik basic called Shark for the eggs because the blue matched the blue in the black/blue fabrics I later used for the borders.  I needle turned the eggs and put two layers of light batting inside to give them a curved look, then added scraps of leftover fabrics, bits of thread and cord for the nest.  I partially sewed some strips, lightly glued some and left some to fluff out.  I did this before basting and finishing the quilt.

Notice how the piecing above the birds heads doesn't have any fish now!  There are actually three different black fabrics in the background.  They are very similar.

I wanted to make it look like the birds had made a nest in the rafters, so I created a paper pieced pattern to give that effect.  It is actually one pattern and one reversed pattern. There were a couple fabrics that had black backgrounds with blue designs, so these were used in the rafter blocks.  Eyes were added with small beads.

Here is the quilt again - Nighttime at the Nest

This was part of the March Mini Madness Challenge for the Island Batik Ambassadors.

You might want to check out the other Ambassador blogs to see what they've been doing for the March Challenge

Nan from Purrfect Spots Designs
Turid from Den Syende Himmel
Stephanie from Quilt’n Party
Pamela from Pamela Quilts
Anna from Ark Angel Creations
Kathy from Kathy’s Kwilts and More
Jessica from Desert Bloom Quilting
Connie from Freemotion by the River
Kate from Seams Like a Dream
Sharon from Yellow Cat Quilt Designs
Tina from Quilting Affection Designs
Jennifer from The Inquiring Quilter
Barb from Bejeweled Quilts
Sally from Sally’s Quilting Corner
Jeanette from Inch Worm Fabrics
Connie from Kauffman Designs
Joan from Moosestash Quilting
Bernadine from Needle and Foot
Bea from Beaquilter
Cheryl from Cheryl Lynch Quilts
Maryellen from Mary Mack’s Blog
Joyce from Hearts Creations
Marlene from Kissed Quilts
Karen from The Quilt Rambler
Marian from Seams to be Sew
Laura from Slice of Pi Quilts
Linda from Inspired Layers
Vicki from Vicki’s Crafts and Quilting
Nancy from Masterpiece Quilting
Carol from FunThreads Designs
Terri from Meanderings Along Lizard Creek
Alison from Little Bunny Quilts
Suzy from Adventurous Applique and Quilting
Jean-Sophie from Sophie Junction
Janet from Whispers of Yore

Monday, March 20, 2017

Quilting with Westalee Rulers

I recently was given a fabric panel and made it into a quick quilt.  I decided to try quilting a border using the Multi Arc ruler from Westalee.  This ruler has 6 sizes of half circles, so it will work with a wide variety of border widths.

This ruler is 3mm width and with the special ruler foot from Westalee, I am able to use it with my domestic machine.

I'd never attempted a border treatment with this ruler and it went very smoothly - even for a first time! I thought I'd share a few pointers.

First I lightly marked the arc's on the border with a chalk marker.
I started marking at the corners.  There is a line thru the center of the arc that is easy to line up along the border seams at the corners.

The arc's along the border needed slight adjustments to make it fit the length of the border so in a couple places when I marked to the top of an arc, I slightly moved the ruler then continued marking.  This made the arc slightly longer without a noticeable difference.

I quilted the borders with the Westalee Ruler, using the marked lines for some guidance. Then I marked the second row of arc's matching up the center line with where two arc's met and quilted them.
***If your arc's fit the length of the border, you wouldn't need to mark them***

Here's a  photo of the corner of the quilt.  This made a very nice quilted border.

The Westalee Rulers are sold by Sew Steady in the USA.  Check out their website for the special ruler foot and all the great rulers they have now for domestic machines.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Heart Quilts

My friend Mary Ebert made this beautiful heart quilt from the pattern Open Heart Quilt  by Rachel Pellman.

The colors are lovely the way they are shaded from one to another, and she followed the colors in the pattern.  She thought the pattern would look really nice in batik fabrics and knowing that I'm an Ambassador for Island Batik fabrics, she asked me about it.  I thought it would be a great idea and sent her my leftover fabrics from the Island Batik Drizzle collection to try it out.

It turned out lovely!

Here are the two quilts together, with my sister Jody Warner and Mary holding the quilts.
Thanks for sharing Mary!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Lotus Blossom

My pattern Lotus Blossom is published in the latest Special Edition magazine by Quilter's World called Springtime Quilting.

photos used courtesy of Annie's

The fabrics are from Island Batik's Drizzle.  I love how they are cool and refreshing.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Guest Blogger

Today I am a guest blogger with Tammy Silvers- a fellow Island Batik Ambassador.  You can go to her blog and see my post at: 
In  return, Tammy is posting on my blog today.

What’s in a Name? Juxtaposition Explored
I'm thrilled that the talented Connie Kauffman is guest posting on my blog today - and that she's letting me post on her blog today too!
I'm Tammy Silvers, quilt designer, new fabric designer, and confessed batik fanatic and fabric-a-holic.  I design under the name Tamarinis, as well as designing projects for Northcott to highlight new fabric lines, and occasionally am published in many of the quilt magazines, including American Patchwork and Quilting, Fons and Porter, and McCalls.  You can see my full pattern line at
I'm often asked about the names of quilt patterns, so I thought it would be fun today to take a look at one of my more recent quilts, Juxtaposition.
A little bit of background - I taught high school English for a number of years - sharing my life long love of all things written.  I don't teach any longer, but I do still have a passion for the written word, and that love creeps into my quilt designs and my quilt titles.  Juxtaposition is one such quilt.
So the dictionary defines juxtaposition as follows:
the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.
"the juxtaposition of these two images"

Juxtoposition new
So here is my "two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect" - a light background batik and a dark background batik, each surrounding a different coordinating print.  Like Connie, I LOVE Island Batik, and this quilt is no exception.  It showcases a stamp set (a set of 10" squares) and two different Island Batik backgrounds - a juxtaposition of light and dark.  Proof that not only do opposites attract, but that they help each other shine.
Thanks to Connie for letting me offer up a little vocabulary lesson - and an example of why contrast (juxtaposition) works so well!