Sunday, September 29, 2019

September Island Batik Ambassador Challenge - Cleo's Kaleidoscope

I'm glad I got an early start on this month's Island Batik Ambassador challenge because it took me until yesterday to actually get it quilted and finished!  I am excited to debut today's quilt - Cleo's Kaleidoscope!

Here is our inspiration for the theme of the challenge:  "Let your inner child come out to play!  Color, fun and playful are all for grabs this month! Make a quilt for a kid that you love or to donate to a kid that needs comfort. Clear out space for magic & whimsy when creating this month!"
We needed to use the new Block on Board die we received in our June Ambassador box, fabric from either of the boxes we received, and make a juvenile inspired quilt larger than 45 x 60. I received the Cleopatra's Fan die from AccuQuilt - so pretty, and this was going to make a good challenge to come up with a quilt that would be fit for a child! This block seemed more like an elegant type of design, so I was intrigued with the idea of making something fun and whimsical out of it.

I decided to use these fabrics that I received in the July box (box 2) They coordinate with the Mermaid's Cove strip pack and are all basics and blenders that are always available! Those and the solid black should make a fun and colorful quilt!

Thanks to EQ8 I was able to create virtual blocks to play with the colors and layout of my fabric before making even one cut! This is what the traditional coloring of the block looks like. Pretty. But I didn't have enough fabric to make the number of blocks I wanted to use in my quilt (12) and I wanted a more playful and whimsical look. So what if you mix the colors up to make some interesting shapes? Like in a Kaleidoscope!
Now we are getting more interesting and fun! It did make the cutting a bit more challenging, but I managed that by figuring out what pieces went where in the block and made a cutting chart for myself. It helped that the die is clearly marked with letters for each piece. I just measured my piece, layered a stack of the appropriate size fabric and cut. It took a few more passes because my layout was a bit complicated, but it really wasn't difficult at all!
You can't cover all the shapes at once because the overlapping fabric would be too many layers, so you do have to alternate pieces when cutting this way. Notice that the pieces are laid out in groups. This makes it possible to use strips for the traditional coloring method and it's easier to cut them out in groups with less fabric waste.
It did get a little tricky because some of my blocks were mirrored and I used two different color stories for my blocks, but by lettering my printouts from EQ8 and making a list of how many of each color I needed that task was accomplished.
Sewing my first block was amazing. I didn't use one pin on this block! The pieces have notches to match up, the instructions include seam pressing instructions and the curves are gentle and easy. Doesn't it look awesome?

My four center blocks were symmetrical, so they were perfect to practice on. First I laid all my pieces out.
Then started sewing! I've done curved seams before so wasn't too intimidated. I like to sew curves with the convex part on top. Start at the top of the curve, matching up the top edges.
Then I use my fingers to line up the edges of the seam, making sure to match the notch. (For a change my fingernails look pretty because of a pre-wedding manicure!) Sew that 1/4 inch seam to the notch, then line up the end of the seam and stitch that:
Ta-da! No pins!
Center blocks up on the design wall. Oh, the possibilities!
After piecing the remaining eight blocks I spent a lot of time arranging blocks! There were a lot of ideas in the running, but eventually I narrowed it down to my favorite - there was a lot of EQ8 involved in this step as well!

It was so hard to pick a favorite, but I finally did and got my top sewn together. I pin basted it, I was really hoping to use the remaining piece from the Hobbs Black batting, which I loved for my March project, but didn't have quite enough left for this project.

I decided to go with the Heirloom Premium 100% natural cotton because it's really a great all purpose batting and would work well for this quilt. I really love the light weight feel of this batting, and the lovely texture you get after washing. Since this quilt is for a child, it will definitely need to stand up to washings!

I was done with this step early in the month, but a busy September kept me from quilting it until this week!
I pulled out all my Aurifil thread and started matching up to all my fabrics. (I also used it for all the piecing - the 50 wt is the perfect thread for nice flat seams!) I found something for every color! I like using the 50 wt for quilting because it really blends in and lets the piecing take center stage. Plus, you don't need to perfectly match the colors to the fabric - this green wasn't quite the same color as the Cherio dots, but it looks great on the quilt!

I stitched a 1/4 inch line around each piece. Yes, that was a lot of thread to clip at the end. I did each color as I finished and it wasn't too bad of a task, plus it gave me a good reason to get up and move, which keeps me from getting knots in my neck! Here is how I keep from getting knots on the back of my quilt:
This is similar to how I pull up the threads if I am going to knot and bury them as well. I bring up the bobbin thread by holding the top thread taught with my thumb, then needle down and up.
You can see the small thread tail that has popped up. I then lift my presser foot and use my tweezers to grab that thread and pull it out.
I then hold both threads together with my thumb, lower the presser foot and take a couple of stitches in one spot to secure the thread. I can then quilt around my shape, coming back to the starting point. I take a couple of stitches again to anchor the threads, then I use the thread cutter on my machine to cut the thread. After quilting all the same color I take my thread to my cutting table and I trim all the top threads flush with the top of the quilt, then flip my quilt to the back and trim all the little 1/4 inch ends that are sticking out. By holding the threads at the beginning you eliminate those nasty little thread ends from tangling up at the beginning of your stitching. If I want to bury my thread ends in the quilt I don't cut my thread at the end of my stitching line, instead I raise the needle and move my quilt a few inches then use the thread cutter so I have longer tails to deal with. I mostly just trim my threads for quilts that will be used and not go out to shows. One of those personal preference things!

For the setting triangles on the sides I used straight lines radiating to the outside of the quilt, and that looks really nice with the piecing, too!

So, there is another lovely finish in the books for September!  I hope you enjoyed seeing how I made my quilt, and maybe you picked up a good pointer or two.  Have you ever done curved piecing?  Are you a pinner or are you crazy like me and like to just sew them with no pins?  I'd love to hear if you have any great tips for sewing curves - it seems like lots of people are a little scared of them, and it would be great to share ideas to help make it a little easier to accomplish them.  I have to say, having the Go! fabric cutter made the cutting a lot easier because that's the part I don't like about curves!  I really love the cutter, and am so thankful to AccuQuilt for providing me with one this year as part of the Island Batik Ambassador program!

As always, a big thank you to Island Batik, Aurifil thread and Hobbs Batting for providing products and inspiration for this project!  I love being an Island Batik Ambassador!

May you be inspired to create something fun as well, today!  Thanks for reading!


Websterquilt said...

Your quilt is absolutely fantastic! I love how you played with it.

Denise said...

Wow this is gorgeous

Laura said...

Wow! You did an amazing job of piecing those blocks and creating a very beautiful quilt.

Dione Gardner-Stephen said...

I am so excited to see this! I drafted a kaleidoscope quilt for this block too... and then chickened out because I didn't think I wanted to make that many cleopatra fan blocks in a month. I am so so glad you invented one, it turned out awesome. Mine looked so different to yours.... can you imagine a room full of quilters tasked with this? You'd have so many different designs, just like the twist of a real kaleidoscope. Great job. :)

teachpany said...

That design is awesome, and lots of fun. I love using the GO! dies for curves, and seldom pin, too. It goes so fast, and is so easy. Gorgeous job, and I do think you should enter it in a show!

Kathleen said...

This is great and so many options. I love the variety of things people did with this block - really pushing the envelope. I love so many of the drafted kaleidoscopes, I don't know how you made up your mind!

Barb said...

I just love this die, great it.

Emily said...

Wow, what a great use of the die! I love the kaleidoscope look! Personally, I HATE curves and avoid them, but if I was going to do it, I would do it with accuquilt.