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March has been an exciting month. First, I received my first box of fabric from Island Batik, to make things out of, for the Ambassador program. Everything inside is beautiful, and I was excited to get started. Also, this year's Mystery Quilt Along started, and I worked on a couple things I just can't share yet.
The first event for the 2016 Ambassadors was the Mini Madness Challenge. The guidelines were simple and straightforward. Create a mini, using Island Batik fabrics, and make sure it is smaller than 24" x 24". We could use a free design, a purchased pattern, or create our own unique design.
My choice was to create my own. I've wanted a 'cubicle quilt' to hang at work. I sketched it out on graph paper before putting it in EQ7. The plan was to make a quilt that measures 12" x 18" and consisted of 4 diamond blocks, made with a gradation of color. In our boxes there was a stash builder pack of 5" strips. this is what I pulled my fabric from. In the end I changed out a couple of the purples with some Island Batik fabrics that I purchased to grow my stash.
Because I knew I would be facing a couple of challenges during piecing (bulk in the seams, odd shaped pieces, sharp points) I opted to paper piece it. Since I was concerned about the bulk printer paper would add I hopped on google to research a no tear method.
I found a tutorial by lynnenew on the Denver Sewing Collective website. She did a really good job of explaining the no tear method using wax paper. I followed her tutorial with one exception. I trimmed my pieces down to 1/8" to help cut down on bulk.
Seeing the progression of the block units coming together was very enjoyable. I took pictures of each step so you can see it.
The method itself was fun, and I'll definitely use it again. I only made 2 full diamond blocks because my templates started to wear out and I thought standard paper piecing would be faster since I could chain piece, and I was more comfortable with it, but boy was I wrong. When it came time to tear the paper out it took a long time, and not all the paper came out.
Standard paper piecing did make getting the bulkiest points to line up a bit easier. For the paper pieced units I pieced together 2 units and then tore the paper. This allowed me to pin well where all the fabrics came together and had to line up. It was a lot of pinning as you can see from the pictures.
The traditional block did come out a little more accurate looking in the end. In the picture below, the block on the left is the no tear method, and on the right is traditional paper piecing.
The quilting in my head was much more intricate than it turned out. I had started with the echoed diamonds to give a nice 3D effect, but I was going to fill each channel with quilting, but once I started marking it I decided to leave the diamonds be. The other part of the quilting I didn't do was in between the diamonds because I ran out of time, and it really didn't need it.
For thread I auditioned quite a few spools before deciding to go with the Fantastico #5109, by Superior Threads, that came in my Ambassador box. Now I will admit I would have never ended up using this if it wasn't in my box, but boy am I glad I did! This thread was so pleasant to work with. It has a nice hand and a really nice sheen, but it still did not take over the quilt. I can honestly say I've never really gotten excited about working with thread before using this one.
Now that being said. I stitched in the ditch with the Superior MonoPoly thread and there was quite a learning curve that I did not expect. This is something I suspect would happen no matter what brand I tried because of the nature of this type of thread. I went with Superior though because it is a polyester vs a nylon, which is found often in other brands, and can melt if you aren't careful.
My machine didn't like this thread at all, especially when winding a bobbin. Next time I use it I will be purchasing their pre-wound bobbins. I ended up having to hold up the thread so it had enough tension to not slip off the spool, wrap around the spool pin and snap. I also dug around in my machine parts and found a second piece to help hold the spool that helped while doing the actual quilting. After working with this thread I ended up having some ice cream therapy.
I am very happy with how the quilting turned out, and glad I challenged myself to try things outside my comfort zone. The affect on the back is very pleasant as well.
Binding was very uneventful. I ended up using some Island Batik yardage I had in my stash. For pictures I opted to go to a park in my neighborhood. The rose bushes were in bloom and I thought they were the perfect backdrop. While waiting for the sun to go behind the one cloud in the AZ sky I took a few rose pictures and decided to share one of them below.
As of today Dimensional Diamonds is now in it's new home at my desk, reminding me that I get to go home and play with fabric in the evenings, and helping to keep me inspired.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post and take some time to hop on over and see what all the other Ambassadors created. There is a beautiful variety of quilts to see and read about.