Backing for Batik Flower Garden Quilt

essential dotty waves

I will be ready to baste the Batik Flower Garden Quilt in a week or so at the rate I am going. I’ll probably just be adding one more row of hexagons to all four sides, maybe another additional row to the left and right. However, soon I am going to have to back this baby and baste her.

I recently learned about the 108 inch backing fabrics that make it unnecessary to sew together lengths of yardage for large quilting projects. I decided to take a look over at The Fat Quarter shop to see what they had. I order my Kona solids from them. They didn’t have many wide fabrics, and nothing I thought suitable, so I headed over to Amazon on a hunch. I was amazed at how many fabrics they had. I started saving ones to my wish list that looked like likely candidates. Then I came across the gorgeous fabric pictured at the top of this post, and it was love at first sight. The fabric is named Essential Dotty Waves. The darker color in the background looks as if it will nearly match the burgundy I will be using for the binding. The large swirls will work beautifully with the circular quilting that I plan to echo the the hexagon flowers. I did a sample quoting piece, and posted about it earlier, but I will include a photograph of the quilting design below:


I noticed that the order was going to be fulfilled by, so instead of ordering from Amazon, I decided to head over to directly and search for it. I ordered three yards of it, got free shipping on my order, and stated an account with the site.

While I am a supporter of my local quilt store for patterned fabrics, they don’t have much in the way of solids, and I doubt that they have any 108 inch backing fabrics at all.

I Cancelled My Janome 720 Order

I had ordered the Janome 720 specifically to take with me to the Slow Stitching Movement Retreat coming up in April in Lambertville, NJ.

Unfortunately, there have been shipping problems that have delayed my oder. After nearly two weeks the machine has still not shipped. In the mean time I discovered that Pocono Sew and Vac would be supplying Janome machines for the retreat. Those machine are bound to be much nicer than the 720, so I decided to cancel my order and put myself on the list of people needing a machine. That way I will be able to experience a better machine before making my final purchase.

I have to admit that when I found out that Janome machines would be on hand for the workshop I started to experience machine envy and regret my 720 purchase. I didn’t want to be the only one not using a cool machine at the retreat.

I’m looking forward to using my mystery Janome machine for three days. And who knows? They may even offer us a deal at the retreat.



Fleshing Out the Edges of the Batik Flower Garden Quilt

This quilt is improvisational insofar as English Paper Piecing can be. I say that because I keep changing my mind, but that’s what makes improvisation so much fun.

I dragged my quilt top out on the porch, my usual photo staging area, in its wicker basket to take photos for this post. The quilt top is currently way too large to lay out on the porch, but I think that draping edges outside of the basket will get my ideas across quite nicely.

When last I wrote about this piece I had planned to add a row of burgundy flowers to the left side and the right side of the quilt top. To that end I had started to make flowers and managed to put together eight of them. It had just started to snow when I took these photographs, and you can see flurries on the flowers below.


Seeking a change of pace, I decided to flesh out the top and bottom edges of the quilt with burgundy hexagons. It had to be done eventually anyway. While tackling this job I realized that the left and right edges were going to have to be fleshed out with hexagons in a similar fashion as the top and the bottom. This would add more length. It was at that point that I decided that I would be better off to allow the sides to fade to solid burgundy and simply stop adding more hexagons when the borders had reached a satisfactory length. Having changed gears, I threw these eight flowers into my scrap hexie flower bowl to become part of another quilt some day.

The following photographs show the various edges of the quilt top with rows of burgundy hexies added.

This is the bottom of the quilt. The next two photographs show closer looks at the bottom of the quilt. The bottom will require another row of hexagons, or a half row of hexagons depending on the method I choose to employ to finish the binding.

Looking at the photograph above you can see that if I were to simply discard half of the last row of hexagons it would result in the binding overlapping a portion of the flowers with the crimson centers. That won’t do. I have a couple of ideas about the quilting for the edges, and I have not yet decided which method I will use. Yet since the burgundy hexies are the central element of the quilt I can’t allow their shape to be broken by the border.

The next photograph represents the top edge of the quilt.

Here too, at least one addition row of burgundy hexies is required for the same reason as for the bottom edge.

Here is a reminder of what the central portion of the quilt looks like on a bed.

I Bought a Sewing Machine

Janome copy

It was not an easy decision buying a new machine. I have an old New Home that was manufactured in the 1960s or 1970s. Though I learned how to sew on a Singer treadle machine that was converted to a motorized model, the New Home served me well during my First Act In Fiber Arts when I made my first few quilts back in the 70s and 80s. The problem with the machine is that it is very heavy, and loud. I was unable to find a manual for it online and I don’t even know how to oil it, which may be why it is so loud :-)

In any case, I am attending a quilting retreat in April, the first Slow Stitching Movement Quilting Retreat in Lambertville, NJ, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump from where I live. However, I will be staying over at the hotel to get the full retreat experience. I had considered attending the retreat with no sewing machine at all since I mostly paper piece, but there are going to be skill building exercises as part of the activities, so I felt as if I would be missing out on a lot of new knowledge if I did not have a machine. I was embarrassed to consider bringing my old noisy New Home, and decided to start shopping for something better.

At first I thought I might get the Juki TL-2000Qi Sewing and Quilting Machine. When I went to American Sew and Vac to try it out they did not have it. They showed me the Janome 1600P-QC High-Speed Straight-Stitch Machine. I liked it a lot and noticed that the Janome machines are actually New Home machines. I learned that Janome bought New Home. So there was a certain level of sentimentality associated with being able to continue using a New Home machine since that was what I learned on.

I liked the idea of a straight stitch machine that would be good for free motion quilting, and I do eventually want to get one. It will set me back about $1,000.00 when I do.

I decided that I was going to do a little more research on other Janome models and I came across the Janome New Home 720 on Amazon. This machine had ten reviews and every one of them was five stars. It is only 12 pounds. It is a 3/4 size machine. It got recommendations as an excellent machine to take on retreats and to guild meetings. And even though I do not have much interest in special stitches it would be nice to have a machine that can do a zigzag or make a buttonhole even if I eventually end up doing most of my sewing on a superior straight stitch workhorse. It would always be handy to tote along to retreats. It would be kind of like having a Featherweight that could do a little more than straight stitching.

What tipped the scale in favor of the 720 was the pricing of the Apple Watch. I am planning on getting the stainless steel Apple Watch with a Milanese Loop. It will cost me either $649.00 or $699.00 depending on whether I get the 38 mm or the 42 mm. So now is not the time to drop $1,000.00 on a sewing machine.

Though I have linked to Amazon so you can see the reviews, I bought my machine from Pocono Sew and Vac because Mark Lipinski recommends them.

Back to the Mattress Store

It was time to head back to the mattress store for another photo shoot of the Batik Flower Garden Quilt.

In the photograph above the hunter green and crimson hexagons almost become polka dots on burgundy fabric. It makes me want to make a whole quilt this way.

Cat hair alert. Look at that corner.

After comparing how the bottom of the quilt top extends over the edge of the mattress with how the sides of the quilt top extend over the mattress it became obvious to me that I am going to need another border of burgundy flowers on the sides to make up for the fact that the flowers are taller than they are wide.

The next order of business is going to be to purchase more burgundy fabric since I have used all that I have. Then I’ll need to make about thirty flowers and sew them in place. I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Monthly March Star Count

For quite awhile I have been participating in the Monday Morning Star Count link back from Jessica’s Life Under Quilts blog. Jessica has been really busy lately creating and sharing via Instagram, and she has decided to go to a new monthly link back schedule. I don’t blame her for that. While I will miss sharing on a weekly basis, I think we all benefit from consistency. If we can be consistent on a monthly basis, then that will be good. I know that during the weeks we did not link back I definitely experienced a level of disappointment in not seeing the work of others, and not having my work seen either. I also felt as if those weeks were likely to go unseen when we did finally link back again. Knowing that we will be sharing once a month instead, however, I want to optimize the exposure of my work.

When we were linking back every week I would provide what is referred to as a permalink. The problem with that approach, however, is that it makes it impossible to scroll down to see a full month of progress.

Moving forward I will simply provide the link to my blog and encourage people to continue scrolling down as long as they are viewing new material. The plus side to this is that I may post more frequently than once a week now, knowing that all posts can be seen in that once a month viewing binge. I had reduced my posts to once a week a short while ago because I didn’t want the “Star Count” crowd to miss out on anything.

I really have enjoyed linking back, and have felt as if my blog traffic has been largely dependent it. The good news is that some of my recent blog traffic is certainly not dependent upon the link back, because I already have two comments on this week’s blog post WITHOUT linking back.

I do need to find other ways to create traffic. One of them is to put links to my posts on Facebook for my friends to see.

Today I’ve added the ability to subscribe to this web site for those who don’t want to wait a full month to hear from me again. If you look at the left column near the top you will see a new widget titled “subscribe to blog via email”. I’d encourage “Star Counters” to subscribe to get notification of new posts by email. I’ll look for a way to subscribe to your blogs as well.

So… looking forward to showing up in your in box sometime soon, and having you show up in mine, but in the meantime…



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Adding Burgundy Flowers Around the Border

This week I added burgundy flowers to the left, right, and bottom edges of the quilt top.

The Batik Flower Garden Quilt has gotten so large at this point that it is necessary to keep most of the quilt in a laundry basket while I am working on it sitting on the couch. If I didn’t keep it in the basket it would drag on the floor and pick up dust and dirt.

Quilt Con is Nearly Over

Quilt Con will be over in a few hours. I wanted very much to go, but it just wasn’t possible this year. I’m a bit jealous of those who were able to attend, and hope some year to be among their number.

Last week I made 20 burgundy flowers for my Batik Flower Garden Quilt. This week I made another 20 burgundy flowers which will give me 40 burgundy flowers to create one more round of flowers on the two sides as well as the bottom of the quilt.


Lori Loves the Batik Flower Garden Quilt

Lori has recently discovered that she likes to hang out in the laundry basket that I use to transport my quilting supplies from one location to another.

What she really likes, however, is to plant herself down on my work in progress, especially if I leave it on her chair, which I sometimes do without thinking about it.

Lori is mostly white, so this is the result of her napping on my Batik Flower Garden Quilt for a couple of days. I took a lint brush to the quilt top and stored it out of the way where she can’t sleep on it anymore.

Here is my progress for the week. I assembled twenty more burgundy flowers like these:


Time to Recycle

Since I started working with hexagons I have been saving my used paper pieces in plastic containers. I now have about ten gallons of one inch hexagon papers, and I think it is time to memorialize them with an aesthetically pleasing photo shoot, and then quietly let them go. It is time to recycling them.


I started saving these pieces because I thought I might use them more than once. I actually did use some of them more than once, but not too many of them. I used to pierce my papers when I basted my hexagons, but no more. In spite of the fact that I believe that piercing the papers is the best way for beginners to learn to paper piece, I am no longer a beginner. If I were not a blogger I would probably continue to pierce my pieces as I baste because it is easier, and I would probably reuse my papers at least once. However, I have come to enjoy the way my progress photos look with no basting stitches to mar their appearance. For that effect I need nice new flat papers each time. I cut them myself too rather than wasting money on them.

After I gave up the idea of reusing my papers I continued to save them for awhile because it gave me a feeling of satisfaction to see them piling up, but at this point I don’t need that kind of feedback anymore. I know how hard I am working and what kind of progress I am making, and my used paper pieces are just taking up space. So away they go…

Now for my progress this week on my English Paper Piecing…

I decided to take a break from the Batik Flower Garden Quilt because I am nearly out of the burgundy thread I am using to piece my flowers. I’ll be going to the Pennington Quilt Works this coming Tuesday for a guild meeting, so I decided to wait until then to replenish my supply of burgundy thread.

Last week The Missouri Star Quilt Company had a deal on Windham Fabrics Ivory Basics Jelly rolls. I decided to buy one, and it has already arrived. These fabrics are a collection of low volume prints.

They ran the same special last summer. You can only buy one of the special at the reduced price. I bought a roll at that time too, and cut the entire roll into 2.5″ squares to be made into one inch hexagons. I’d seen so much about “low volume” work that I wanted to make some low volume hexagons even though I wasn’t sure how i was going to use them.

Here is the photo of my first jelly roll cut into squares. I had posted it at the time of the U.S. Go Congress:

I spent the majority of my week basting these squares into hexagons. I have basted about a third of the first jelly roll. By the time I get done with the second jelly roll I will have quite a collection of low volume hexagons. Then I’ll think about what to do with them.

I basted 116 low volume hexagons this week.

I’m a big fan of basting hexagons with no particular purpose in mind. I sometimes stitch together units with no particular purpose in mind. I just have faith that the ideas will come.

The patterns in this collection are often subtle. The photos below show the back and front of one of the fabrics.

In addition to my low volume hexagon basting, I also based burgundy and crimson hexagons for the Batik Flower Garden Quilt. I could do that without the burgundy thread on hand.