Island Batik had us make a few Funky Friends (cute stuffed animals) for their booth at Spring Quilt Market. Quilt Market is going on now in St Louis. The patterns are by Pauline McArthur of the Funky Friends Factory. They have a load of cute patterns. We made our animals using the new fabrics coming out at Market.
I made a Cherished Teddy using Retro Batiks by Tammy Silvers that are new at market
These fabrics are made with coordinating teal colors.
I also made Gertie Gecko using a couple other new batiks. This guy can be made into a heat pack.
You can see these Funky Friends at the Island Batik booth in a video on the Island Batik facebook page. Take a look at all the lovely new fabrics and patterns that will be coming to stores soon!
It's May! The challenge this month is a Modern Challenge. When I think of modern quilts I first think of quilts with a lot of open background - or negative space like in the logo above. Other definitions of modern quilting are to use bold colors and prints, and to have high contrast and/or to update classic quilt designs.
I decided to use the River's Edge fabric I was sent because I liked the contrast in the light and dark fabrics. I had the strip package and two background colors.
The challenge to myself was to make a modern quilt using the 2 1/2" strips and the two background fabrics. The quilt I made is 36" x 36". It has a more traditional block, with the light background fabric used as the outside strips on half of each block and the dark background used as strips on the other side of each block. This made a strong light/dark look to each square. I call this quilt Shadow Land.
I used two different Superior Threads for this quilt- Masterpiece 159 in the piecing and King Tut 983 for the quilting. They worked great.
I actually used parts of the background and strip package of River's Edge for the March Island Batik Applique Challenge. This is the Nighttime at the Nest I made in March.
I debated whether to use the same fabrics for two challenges, but I thought it might be interesting for everyone to see how much you can do with just one strip pack. Strip packs come with 40 strips- two of each design. That's 100 " of fabric- over 2 yards of fabric in a wide variety of prints!
My first quilt Nighttime at the Nest measures 20" x 15" and the Shadow Land quilt measures 36" x 36". I did use some of the two background fabrics also, but this shows you that you can do a lot with just one strip package!
I was surprised at how many strips and part of strips I had left after making two projects! Quite a bit actually.
Anyone want my leftover strips? I'm sure there's another quilt in there somewhere...
Just leave a comment and I'll draw a name next week.
Have you ever sewn with rayon fabric? Last year Island Batik sent the Ambassadors a yard of two different colored rayon batiks. They would have made great scarves, but I don't really wear scarves, so the fabric was just sitting in my stash waiting for inspiration.
In going thru my stash, we found that one of my pieces of Island Batik rayon matched really well, but it was rayon! Rayon is soft and rather stretchy. Not what you want in quilting.
The solution? I backed the rayon with French Fuse. This is a soft, light fusible that I use when backing t shirts for t shirt quilts. It stabilizes the fabric without adding thickness.
Here's a photo of French Fuse
Here's a photo of the fabric and the fabric with French Fuse ironed to the back. Once the fusible is attached, you can use the fabric like any other cotton.
This worked great! So when you're in a pinch- don't forget those other non-cotton fabrics in your stash. You may be able to use them!
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?
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 sweet-pea.net. 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.
Keep your eyes open for the tales of Sweet Pea and for more books in the near future!
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