Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Fallen Sky

If I were a James Bond aficionado, I guess I would have changed the name of my quilt to Skyfall. But I'm not, and he doesn't put me in mind of a piece of sky, which this quilt, along with the gemstone turquoise, both do. Funnily enough, when searching the gemstone for quilt name ideas, I came across a few references to a piece of the sky fallen to earth, but this one, "carved from an azure heaven and slipped to earth," I particularly love, as it's so eloquent.

This is the October challenge for us ambassadors for Island Batik. We were to make a quilt using a paper-piecing technique, either English paper-piecing or foundation paper-piecing. This one is made using the latter. All the fabrics (except the backing) were supplied by Island Batik. All of the threads except the purple was supplied by Aurifil, and the batting is Hobbs Batting, though I purchased it myself!

This was one of my goals in the Q4 FAL. My list is here. This post has a lot of discussion about choices of quilting motifs, as well as some tips within it; hence it's a lengthy one!

The pattern is a new release, Outside Stars (affiliate link; I don't get anything if you purchase her pattern, as 100% of proceeds go to the designer, but if you should buy something else, I get a small commission, 4% approximately, no extra cost to you) by my friend Cindy, of Stitchin at Home.
Blocks coming together

It's a great design, entirely paper-pieced. I have come to have a new enjoyment (not quite at the 'love' level) of paper-piecing since I learned how to paper-piece without sewing through the paper (cue the choir). You can read my tutorial here, but I first learned the technique from Joanne of Canuck Quilter Designs. I also use templates, a years-ago invention of my own after being annoyed by how much fabric waste is produced by cutting random hunks of fabric. Cindy uses templates too.
You can see the piles of templates here, as well as templates at the machine and on the little cutting mat, pieces in place, sewing beside the fold, not through the paper. 😁

I also used a cool technique of how to cut HSTs that saves fabric. That tutorial is here.

It took a while. Paper-piecing is by nature, not a speedy process, and I am a slower sewer anyhow. And... I started this as the September stars challenge, but then thought uh, no, the plan was for this to be the paper-piecing challenge, so put it aside for a month! Anyhow last weekend I finally had my flimsy.
So much movement! So glad for a 70s vintage acoustic tiles ceiling in the half-storey where I sew that I can pin into with ease, LOL.
These batiks are from the Basics Bundle we get; the cream background is yardage that we get specifically for backgrounds. My absolute favourite fabric is that water-esque green/blue/aqua one which is called Marbles, KN009-5-Basics if you want to look for some.

Loaded the perfect backing, leftover yardage from my 2015 Parisville Weave quilt, a piece of unbleached 100% Hobbs cotton batting, and the top onto Avril, and got started with the white Aurifil thread we were given in Box #1, the same thread with which I'd pieced the quilt.

I knew I'd do a fancy design in the centres of the Evening Star on point blocks, and probably swoop-dee-swoops in those points, but that was as far as I'd thought. I do my best thinking when it's loaded.
'Fancy' dot-to-dot work in the centres of the half stars with white, swoop-dee-swoops as planned using the green Aurifil they provided in the first box.
You can see at the bottom a different design in that half star block. It's one Judi Madsen does, and I loved the look of it, but didn't want or have that much room to do the 'squashing down' of the background and inner star detail, so I simplified her design. I wasn't taken with how it looked, so I did the dot-to-dot and preferred that. Now what to do? Rip out the Judi one? I rarely rip, and on batik, with a quilting needle (thicker) it wouldn't be I left it and let the 'what to do about that block' thoughts percolate.

It was when it was loaded that I 'saw' a potential to fool the eye. You know how I love that design element!
I was nearing the end here when I thought to show you how you can create different effects within a quilt top just by the choice of quilting motif. Yes, I always float my tops; think I only have ever pinned in two! Never a problem, though I was a bit concerned with this top because all four sides are on the bias. Yeah I could have stay-stitched the edges, but I don't manhandle my quilt tops anyhow, and batiks STICK like a burr in a dog's fur to the batting!!

Okay, see the diagonal element in that photo where my arrow is (drawn with my finger on my phone how can you tell)? I liked that and considered somehow weaving the quilting through it and under the green-pointed star. That left an odd, half-diamond shape of background though.  Do-able with lines (as Cindy did hers) or pebbles or rays of some kind there... but I also 'saw' a square there. Note that I also 'saw' circles in the entire quilt (check out the flimsy pic and let your eyes un-focus), but they aren't quite there, so I decided not to emphasize the 'almost-but-not-quite' aspect. So you can see that by stitching in the ditch, which I did a lot of, almost always do, to stabilize the quilt, and extending the line out from the star point, and then echoing it twice more, I got a square.

Filled it in with dot to dot (which makes a star on its side didja notice?! I love coherence, in quilting and in writing). Did L's inside the lower triangle. Cool! I was happy.

Sidenote. Did you notice all the mistakes in the above photo? I want to point this out, as this is the kind of thing Angela did in her Dot to Dot workshop I had the privilege of attending a few years ago. Not that I am at her level, ha.
1. the stitch in the ditch of the light purple star point missed in a few spots
2. the L's didn't stay inside the straight line echoes in a few spots
3. there's a thread (gack!) on the lower purple star point
4. the swoop dee swoops in the turquoise and cream HSTs are  actually incorrectly oriented if you were to extend that partial star block into a full block

Betcha missed most if not all right? What's my point? First, that you aren't going to have your nose a few inches away IRL from a quilt, and if you are, and you're looking at it with the idea of finding mistakes, well, buh-bye, you're no friend of mine. Second, the eye sees the overall design, and looks for symmetry, which is what I learned from Angela. So, with symmetry in mind, something else I learned from her course (and I'd already bought it and taken it on Craftsy when I again paid for it to attend the basic same course in person with her, and see? You ALWAYS learn something when you take a course--but that's a whole other post topic) anyhow where was I? Oh yeah, I learned that the eye sees symmetry so if you make a mistake, repeat it, or, in my case, because I wasn't sold on the Judi modified-by-me design, I repeated it.

The half star blocks down the sides of the quilt have her design; those at the top and bottom have the same dot-to-dot design as do the full stars.😇
Here's the entire quilt.

The modified Judi design also echoes the swoop-dee-swoops I did in the aqua star points, as well as within the pinwheel purple star blocks.

A little bit of curves within an angular quilt and mostly angular quilting motifs is pleasing.  There is also another 'I am not sold on this motif' decision I echoed rather than ripped. Notice the dot-to-dot lines in the star points? I think it emphasizes their long skinny points, and I like that. Prior to deciding upon that design, I thought I'd do another Judi design that works well in Evening Star blocks where you treat the entire star as a unit, not separating the points from the star centre. I tried it in these.
See the L's in the partial side star on the right? Compare it to the dot-to-dot lines in the full stars. I felt those L's took away from the long beautiful skinny purple star points, so I elected not to quilt them in the centre stars, but I kept them along the side edges. I felt the thread on the lighter purple showed up too much and detracted from their elegance. But now you see that the half stars along the edges, both aqua ones and purple, are my 'error' or 'I am not sold on this' designs? But they work, because there is a cohesiveness to all the motifs. (Note: yes, I could've used my plexiglass to draw on and audition the motif, or draw right on the fabric with a blue or chalk marker, but I didn't. I jumped right in. Sometimes ya just gotta throw caution to the winds...which, incidentally, were in my favour for these on-the-fence shots and held the quilt nice and flat!)

You may have noticed I did a flanged binding. I love it, but it annoys me because it cuts off points. If I leave extra batting and backing, as in not trim even with the quilt top, then I only have 1/8" seam allowance there, because I would need to allow for the approximate 1/8" wide flange, right? Still, I figured the eye would not immediately notice the lack of points...
And I just had to use more (almost all!) of that water batik, and a plain binding meant I wouldn't have had enough. This flanged one, my own tutorial, modified to make a 2 1/4" as opposed to the original one which makes a 2 3/4" one, calls for only 1 1/4" width of the main fabric, so I had enough! I love it paired with the purple 'Cherio' batik too. I love the folds you get when you sew 180" of binding! Doesn't take much to make this girl smile.

The backing, an older no-longer-available one, so okay to show, fits with the water batik, though not exactly with the stars (maybe starfish?!) or the name, Fallen Sky, but it's all my favourite colour, water and sky, and it tones in perfectly with the fabrics on the front.

I stitched the flanged binding down with a beautiful YLI variegated plum thread

The texture shows up pretty well on the back, and that's on a dull, rainy day. Yes, I took these outdoor shots this morning, and it's still mizzling as I type! (Think that's an English expression of my mum's that just popped into my head---okay I had to Google it, now I know why these posts take me hours to write, and yup it means 'rain lightly'; supposed to end by Trick or Treating time.)

The fall colours are at their pinnacle here right now. I must look like an idiot, mouth open in wonder as I walk or drive, often exclaiming in a soft whisper how glorious it is.
That, and pulling off to the side for decent photo ops, this one in Walkerville (zoom in on the Walkerville Brewery truck at the back of their building LOL) which is the Hiram Walker himself-built neighbourhood in Windsor where I go in the very early mornings a few times a week to practice Ashtanga yoga. The quilt literally lives up to its name, as if the sky has fallen onto the flaming hedge, grass almost glowing a lime popsicle green, trees in wrapped in various autumn foliage from greens to golds to oranges to reds.

And I pulled over another time, in Kingsville, at the soccer fields.
There's a row of 'native to our Carolinian-forested area' trees along the entrance, and these two beckoned me, a maple in which the quilt is suspended, (yup, I packed a few clothespegs in with my yoga stuff this morning) and an oak turning a beautiful orange in the background.

Oops, nearly forgot to show you my label, which I decided to make myself, a 6" Evening Star.
I wanted it along the bottom edge, but hadn't exactly planned for it to be that close...yikes, more lost points. (or did you notice?😉)

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: Outside Stars by Stitchin at Home
Size: 43" before quilting; 42 1/4" square after quilting
Fabric: Island Batiks Batik Foundations Bundle: Marbles is the deeper aqua, Marble-Aqua-BE is the swirls lighter aqua, Cherio-Iris and Lavender are the purples, Neutrals- Buttermilk is the background
Backing: leftover 'Tropical Dreams' by SPX Fabrics
Batting: Hobbs unbleached 100% cotton
Quilted: on Avril, FMQ and dot to dot
Threads: pieced on my Bernina with Aurifil cotton white; quilted with Aurifil cotton white, Aurifil 2890, and Exquisite polyester 1324, YLI variegated plum 40 wt; Aurifil cotton white in the bobbin for all but the purple which is paired with The Bottom Line polyester.
Stitch Count: 111 331

Think I'm going to get MacGyver to fashion me a wallhanging-size quilt holder so I can switch out these three similar-sized Island Batik challenge quilts, Beothuk Star, Lift Up, and this one, Fallen Sky, on a monthly basis!

Linking up:
Sew Fresh Quilts
Quilt Fabrication
My Quilt Infatuation
Dizzy Quilts (for the Q4 FAL)
Crazy Mom Quilts
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
TGIFF at Devoted Quilter
The Madd Quilter

Hope you'll come back tomorrow, November 1 for TBT: Throwback Thursday, which happens the first Thursday of each month where we post and link up the stories behind our pre-blogging quilts.


  1. Pretty quilt - love your color choices. It certainly has an interesting secondary pattern.

  2. we talk about mizzle as well. Mizzle is rain that doesn't wet you right through initially buy can make your hair frizz. If you are out for a short while, your cardi or jacket has like a mist of wet on it, if you are out for longer, it seeps in almost without you noticing.
    Skyfall, defnititely for me. I know it is sexist and all the rest, but I love James Bond, a secret vice for me. And I love your quilt, and the depth and range of colours, my favourite shade of blue

  3. Perfect quilting for this yummy one.

  4. What a great quilt, I have done some paper piecing this year, but always small projects. When I see your fabulous quilt, I think it is time to start with a paper pieced quilt. It is definitely worth it. I really like your colour choice and the quilting just rounds everything up.

  5. I love this one! I feel like maybe I've told you that before in another post. But this is definitely in my top five of your quilts.

  6. Gorgeous! Stunning! Love the quilting and those yummy fabrics! Love it thanks so much for using my pattern and making it look so good!

  7. What can I say? It's stunning.

  8. Love the quilt and color selections.

  9. What a beautiful quilt; the quilting really takes it over the top to an artful finish!

  10. Truly magnificent, Sandra! I so enjoyed reading about the whole quilting thought process. I especially liked being reminded how our mistakes don’t show in the end!

  11. I love the quilt. Thank you for sharing your quilting process as well as your “mistakes”, Angela always says to repeat your mistakes and it will be fine but I always questioned it. Your highlighting it really showed that this was true, thank you again.

  12. For some particular reason, my inbox did not notify me of this post. Anyhoo, I love the quilt, as you well know! I am (im)patiently waiting for mine to come back from the longarm, because I was nervous about quilting this one. I love what you did with the quilting on yours, and thanks for taking us through the process. Also a great reminder on those little mistakes that will only be seen by the maker, unless someone is specifically looking for them. Next time, I'll use the non-paper method; it would save mucho time! Beautiful fabrics, beautiful quilting, and a lovely pattern! And I think mizzling is my new favorite word!

  13. Beautiful work. Lots of love in that quilt.

  14. Beautifully done, Sandra! The colours are beautiful and definitely do look like a bit of the sky has fallen (which has me thinking of Chicken Little, lol) and your quilting looks so perfect. I loved reading about your process as you decided how to quilt it and how to work around some choices you weren't happy with. Repeating those elements definitely worked!

  15. Just beautiful!! The colors are lovely and your quilting is too!!
    PS - I love a flanged binding. It adds such a nice touch to the project!

  16. Oh, I love those colors! This is a great quilt. And I love your discussion of the quilting decisions. Is swoop-de-swoop a technical term? :) Have a good weekend!

  17. Such a lovely block pattern, Sandra. By setting it on point you've added a bit of magic to it. I love batiks in general but the blue, turquoise and purple ones are the best!
    Thank you for your no-waste paper piecing technique. I need to try it out sometime. Anything to avoid tear away paper from a finished block.
    Love the quilting too - the lines clearly emphasize the pattern.

  18. SANDRA! I couldn't read anything past the first sentence. It should definitely be named Skyfall!! Come on - not a Bond fan?! What - how can that be? Have you watched them - really paid attention? Okay . . . now I'll go read your post. Geez. Wow, your photos look so nice especially that first one suggesting it has fallen from the sky. The colors in this quilt are really, really beautiful I have to admit in spite of the name. So calm and restful, yet vibrant at the same time especially the turquoise one. Even pointing out your mistakes, I didn't see them. Yup, I definitely look at the overall design, fabric, pattern - I don't care about individual stitches. I really like the swoop-de-swoops, and thank you for the closeup photos!! I don't know that I would have thought to use dot-to-dot and swoops together but it really works. Totally didn't notice the flange binding nor the points but it sure does look nice!! Oh boy, that red hedge is just glorious showing off this quilt. I am still driving around some parts here saying I have to stop and take photos - the reds with the golds behind it. Well, this is long enough. In my mind, this quilt is called Skyfall. ~smile~ Roseanne

  19. As always, your quilting is amazing. Wow. You knocked this one out of the park.

  20. You know I love me some good process description, and this post was just chock FULL of your brain meanderings! Thank you for taking the time to write it all down. The photos are just so drool worthy, all those wonderful fabrics and yummy quilting texture. And my favorite part is the list of all your mistakes. Of course, I didn't see a single one. A great lesson for all of us to stop comparing our worst to everyone else's best!

    Congratulations on another fabulous finish! Fallen Sky is beautiful :)

  21. Well, here I go, leaving comments on blogger again. Thanks for your tip the other day. I'm not there yet to being able to post on everyone else's blogs, but I'm getting there (although the last comment I left indicated my full name, which I never use on Blogger--go figure) Anyway, this quilt is a triumph, Sandra. I always learn so much from your posts (not that I'm brave enough to apply it to my own quilting). It's fun to get in your head as you describe your process. My favorite part of the quilting on this one is how you made those squares with the lines of quilting. They just add even more to the depth. I'm impressed with how well the quilting shows on the back, too, despite the print. And it appears as a much bigger quilt than it really is, so the quilting must be very detailed in person. I think you must be the IB ambassador's Ambassador. Now I'm smiling at you pulling over for all the photo ops!

  22. Two things:
    1. Awesome, fabulous quilt and I love the quilting and
    2. You put so much thinking into your quilting it made my head hurt. I just do whatever, whenever, wherever on the longarm. Circles till I get tired. Then squiggles, maybe, and when I'm tired again, I switch to well, whatever.
    Of course, I can't make a straight line for anything. Rulers help but not a lot cause I get bored. I should come take lessons from you because this is awesome and the quilting is perfect no matter how many errors you claim to have.

  23. I love the quilt and all the pointers on how and what you did. I am doing one of Angela’s classes and am horrifiied at my inability to do straightish lines when I FMQ. It really is a stunning quilt. Oh, and thank you for pointing back to that trick for the half square triangles. I have used it, but it is always good to remember. Those points have a nerve making their way into the border/beinding. I sometimes think we should float all things so we just don’t have to do it. Are your templates for paper piecing the exact size of the piece or do they have another 1/4’ inch cround. I have been cutting them aproximately a half inch larger around than the finished piece, but now am wondering if it works with exact size. Sorry it has taken me so long to get to this!!!

  24. Fabulous quilt and fabulous post Sandra. It's so interesting to read and process all your points, ideas, thoughts and words of wisdom. I think I'll be leaving thos post openin my browser so I can come bck to it and re-read and go to your links :-)

  25. It is a lovely pattern and your color choices have only enhanced. Congratulations to both Cindy and you. I can see that bias edges may have been a challenge to a lesser soul but you tamed them well. A faux piped binding adds the perfect oomph.

  26. It's just stunning! I absolutely love the colors, and all that dot-to-dot quilting is exquisite and really highlights all the blocks!

  27. Don't know why I missed this post! Your quilt is beautiful, and I had to laugh as you pointed out all the little 'mistakes' - I tend to do the same thing, lol! And in the end, it really doesn't matter. I've had the pleasure of taking classes from both Judi and Angela, and it's interesting to see the differences in their approach to quilting. Finding an easy 'medium' between the two is refreshing! You've nailed this quilt, and if you had not pointed out your flaws, we would be none the wiser! Thanks for taking the time to write such a long post to explain your process. Good to know we're all in the same boat!

  28. This is such an amazing design by Cinday #1, but your fabric and quilting choices just sent it over the moon! I love everything you did, like wowzers! I love how you created those squares with the quilting, it completely changes the focus of your eyes. Now I want to make this!

  29. This is a triumph! Beautiful design and amazing execution, plus the quilting is next level!

    Thanks for linking up to the FAL, on behalf of the global hosts.


I wholeheartedly appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment, as they make my day! I answer every one by personal email. :-) Unless... you are a "no-reply" blogger, which can occur for a few reasons. You can get around that by writing out your email within your comment so that I can answer you.