We have more chipmunks around this year than last. They are so cute and we love seeing them. They scurry so quickly it’s hard to get a photo of them that isn’t a blur. I managed 2 yesterday.
Here’s an old “chipmunk” joke. Warning! It’s a real groaner!
One day while driving home from his fishing trip in the pouring rain, a man got a flat tire outside a monastery. A monk came out and invited him inside to have dinner and spend the night. The motorist accepted. That night he had a wonderful dinner of fish and chips. He decided to compliment the chef. Entering the kitchen, he asked the cook, “Are you the fish friar?” “No,” the man replied, “I’m the chip monk.”
As you may already know, the theme of this month’s Island Batik challenge is Playful Paper Piecing. My project was meant to be presented in mid May. Unfortunately, circumstances decreed otherwise and here I am presenting it to you on the last day of the month.
I must admit that paper piecing is not a favourite technique of mine. I much prefer working with templates, but sometimes it is the only way to deal with very small geometric or unusual shapes. There have been paper-piecing tips along the way in our Ambassadors’ blogs. Mine is about removing the paper after the sewing is done. – Wet a cotton swab and run it along the stitching lines to dampen the paper. It will pull away much more easily and leave your stitches intact. Should your fabric become dampened, leave it to air dry or press it with your iron.
This time around, it took me a long while to think of a design. I loved, then discarded one idea after another. Finally, I spotted a little block I had sewn several years ago. It was from another of my husband’s geometric drawings and my intention had been to create a pattern for it. (He’ll draw large squares on paper, then put a different design in each.) This one is perfect for a quilt design and for paper piecing as well.
When the center of the top was finished, but not yet pressed, I picked it up just as the sun poked through a cloud and shone into the window next to my cutting table. The effect was interesting and surprising, so I quickly taped the quilt top to the window and took a partial photo. It looks just like stained glass, doesn’t it? I love the effect and was tempted to leave it just as it was. Were it not for the fact that the sun would fade it, I would have! What a delight it would be to see it like this every day. I playfully thought of commissioning it to be made in glass, but the lovely Island Batik Fabrics I used could never be duplicated so the effect would be lost.
Where else does the “Playful” come into this quilt? Well, first I had fun playing around with possible ideas in my mind, while rejecting one after the other until finally narrowing it down to this one. I had fun playing with my Island Batik Fabrics delightfully looking through them, then choosing as many of the beautiful blues and yellows as possible. It was even more fun to play with positioning the fabrics for the best effects. I chose fabrics from the Seashore Collection and from Island Batik Fabrics used in my previous blogs.
Want to have some playful fun identifying them? Click on the fabric link just above. You’ll enjoy viewing all the gorgeous fabrics and playfully dreaming of all the things you can do with them! Just be sure to click on each for lovely larger photos! “The better to see you with my dear,” to quote a line from Little Red Riding Hood.
The next bit of playful fun was deciding where and how to place those colours for best effect. More playfulness happened when trying to determine which part of the quilt shape stands out most, the stars or the skies behind them. It’s fun – and playful – seeing how our eyes point out one area of the quilt, then bring another to the fore. They seem to go back and forth as you look at them – almost like 3D. There is definitely a primary pattern, a secondary pattern, and even a third. Do you see them all? Do you see any others?
More playfulness! I quilted the borders in an irregular, straight-stitch design all around. By “irregular” I mean that I started at one point and when turning at the corners, varied the width between rows with no rhyme nor reason. You can see 2 examples below. It was fun and a bit scary because the idea was so new to me. Interesting, I thought, but also effective in its own way. We should allow ourselves to play and to experiment, and to do both much more often!
The next part was, and still is, choosing a name for this quilt.
I’m hoping you’ll help me with it by leaving a comment with your preference. Please either choose from the list or create a name you like better. Here has what’s been suggested by family and friends so far.The next playful part was, and still is, choosing a name for this quilt. I’m hoping you’ll help me with it by leaving a comment with your preference. Please either choose from the list or create a name you like better. Here has what’s been suggested by family and friends so far.
Stars and Beach Balloons
Stars and Beach Umbrellas
Stars Light, Stars Bright
Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars
Dancing with the Stars
I’ll tally the votes and announce this quilt’s name either later this week or next week when I hope to post our June challenge.
If you haven’t seen all of the Playful Piecing projects our Island Batik Ambassadors have created, you won’t want to miss them!
My Canadian Flag Pattern is a good way to show your patriotism and to celebrate by including it in your decorations. It also makes the perfect gift for Canadians working and living abroad.
You can also use just the Maple Leaf pattern on jackets, sweatshirts, T-shirts, tote bags, pillows, and whatever else your creativity inspires. It’s also a stash-buster needing only small pieces and strips of your red fabrics.
To learn more about this pattern or to buy it, click here. If not for the 149th, you’ll definitely want it ready for next year’s big celebration – Canada’s 150th Birthday!
Once you have made your flag, I’d love to see photos and also, if you grant permission, post them in a future blog.
We Island Batik Ambassadors were given a fun challenge this month – create a quilted project with an April Showers theme.
I received an absolutely beautiful bundle of fabrics – Island Batik‘s Seashore Collection. Here they are spread out in a fan shape to view and appreciate. Be sure to click on their link above – the better to see and appreciate their wonderful colours and their beauty!
I was inspired by a stained glass project in the Stained Glass Pattern Book by Ed Sibbett, Jr. With the permission of Dover Publications, I used its flowers and leaves to create my April Showers wall hanging.
For the first time, I used fabric glue instead of fusibles to place each flower, flower center, and leaf. I just rubbed some glue into the center of each which held them down nicely for stitching around the raw edges. It was my intention to do a simple raw-edge applique, but then realized I’d prefer a very loose satin stitch.
Can you see the raindrops? For those, I did a free-motion stitch. My original intent was to use a silver metallic thread for them. However, I’d had the thread for a long time and found that with just the slightest tug, it broke. I’m assuming it simply dried up (brand name unknown). Instead, I used a light gray thread.
I love Aurifil Threads and used them for all of my piecing and most of my applique stitches, too.
Finally, it came time to decide on a border, but when doing trials, I realized I wasn’t happy with including one. Slept on it and in the morning, realized that a wide binding was just what was needed.
In the full view, it may be difficult to see the raindrops falling on the grass and some of the leaves and petals. Here are some closeups.
Island Batik‘s fabrics are not only absolutely gorgeous, they are terrifically wonderful to work with!
You will want to see all of the other April Shower projects presented this month, so visit each of our Ambassador’s Blogs and where necessary, scroll down to find them. A few have yet to be posted, but will be by week’s end.
As promised, here are the links to tour our Island Batik Ambassadors’ blogs. Visit them and where necessary, scroll down to view all the March Mini Madness quilts that have been made! You will find an amazing variety of inspirational minis and designs!
Ark Angel Creations
Desert Bloom Quilting
For Quilts Sake
Free Motion by the River
Inch Worm Fabrics
Lemon Tree Snippets
Maria Michaels Designs (You are here.)
Moose Stash Quilting
One Quilting Circle
Sally’s Quilting Corner
Stone Cottage Quilts
We Island Batik Ambassadors were given a March Challenge – Mini Madness! Our task was to create a mini quilt no larger than 24 x 24 inches.
Challenges are fun! Naturally, I had to think a while and plan. Finally, while looking at the Sweet Georgia Peach line, which I planned to use, an earlier pattern came to mind.
Years ago, when embroidery machines were just becoming popular, there were many quilters who wanted to use embroidery in quilts, but who didn’t have these specialized machines. Looking through my husband’s drawings, I found a perfect one to use.
He enjoys drawing mushrooms and had several to choose from – drawings that is, not mushrooms – and this is what I came up with. He got to choose the name – Not Mushroom – which many quilters questioned. That meant having to explain his strange sense of humour. Explanation: There’s a crowd of mushrooms here so there’s Not Mush (Much) Room. And yes, I can hear you all groaning!
This embroidered 9 x 9 inch design does not require a special machine, only a straight stitch. I used my window (my substitute for a light box) to trace my final pattern onto the white background fabric. Then, I simply stitched over the lines. Those with free-motion experience can use that method, but it isn’t necessary.
The mushrooms on the borders were traced onto 4 strips of tracing paper and/or light newsprint, pinned into position, and stitched over in the same way. The paper tore away easily afterwards.
Looking at my Not Mushroom mini made me realize that the Sweet Georgia Peach was perfect for recreating Not Mushroom as an applique. I used it for all of the mushrooms. The white background is Sprinkles from the Neutrals Collection. The sky, grass and border fabrics are from the fabrics I had left over from Island Batik’s Summer in the Country Blog Hop and a different Ambassador project I’ll share with you another day. Hop back and see if you can find them.
Nan Baker of Purrfect Spots shares the same type of humour as my husband. As you can see, she carried on with his theme by naming this one! It’s absolutely perfect! However, is that more groaning I hear?
This one is 15 x 15 inches. The mushrooms in the border were done the same way as for Not Mushroom. I used fusible applique for the mushrooms, but stitched over the raw edges as well. The grass is free-motion embroidered. As you can see, I used echo quilting for the white Sprinkles background.
I like to use my stitching over raw edges as my quilting stitches. That way, two things get done at once. It makes for an interesting backing.
All the piecing and most of the embroidery threads I used were my favourite Aurifil Threads. As I finish with other threads, I am replacing them all with Aurifil. If you haven’t tried them yet, make sure you do! They are wonderful to piece and quilt with!
All of us Island Batik Ambassadors have been sharing our Mini Madness projects. You’ll want to see them all, so stay tuned! I’ll present a list of them soon!
Island Batik will post the winners of their beautiful fabrics.
From among those who entered my giveaway by answering all 3 questions, 6 winners were chosen.
Congratulations to our winners!
- Lori S
- Rina M.
- Celeste P.
- Sheila I.
- Jackie M.
To Claim Your Prize:
1. Visit my Pattern Store at Craftsy.
2. Choose the pattern you would like.
3. Email me with your name and the pattern you have chosen.
To email, copy the following, eliminating all of the spaces and changing “at” to “@”. – maria at mariamichaelsdesigns . com
Thank you for helping to eliminate the spam I would otherwise get!
A Bonus for Everyone Who Reads Maria’s Quilt Scraps!
Today is the last day of the wonderully exciting Island Batik Hop – Planes, Trains & Automobiles!
If you have missed it, scroll down to my turn where you will find a list with all the necessary links. Visit each stop along the Hop and enter to win the various giveaways including free fabrics from Island Batik.
Here are today’s stops. You won’t want to miss them!
I will be announcing the winners of my giveaway tomorrow, so stay tuned! You have until midnight EST tonight to enter.