What Shade Are You: Rails {a finish}

REPOSTING from RJR Fabrics “What Shade are You” Blog post today.

Today, on “What Shade are You” I would like to share with you on my design journey and inspiration for my quilt “Rails”.


I am Michelle Wilkie. I can be found on Instagram @ml_wilkie, or on my blog Factotum of Arts.

I was so excited to be participating in What Shade are you, and when I received my bundle in the mail a multitude of ideas came to mind. The colors are so vibrant.

My original bundle, had a couple additional colors but the final fabrics I chose were:

Cotton Supreme Solids:
Optical White
Turks & Caicos
Electric Blue
Sunny Delight
Tangerine Dream
Chilli Pepper
Shell pink
Raging Ruby

Additionally, I used some C+S fabrics to add some interest within the solids:
Sprinkle in Corduroy
Dottie in Fedora
Dottie Cousins in Natural

I get inspired all the time from the world around us. For this quilt, it was no different. My husband is from Mannheim Germany, where we both lived for a few years before moving to the US. My inspiration for this quilt came from the Neustheim Train Junction.


The lines fascinated me. I loved the idea of using improvisation strip piecing to try and mimic these strong direction lines. It was an interesting experience bending the fabric to make the gentle curves. Some tips:

  1. I started this quilt at one end and added in one direction, using strips to mark out where I was adding curves that would intersect with other lines.
  2. Use a lot of starch to get the pieces to lay flat and press often.
  3. Make sure you trim your threads and additional fabric as you go, especially when using white.
  4. Lastly, I glue basted this quilt while it was on my design wall. I pressed each layer to fix it to the one beneath. This technique was important as it helped the top to adhere flat to the bottom layers and hold in place as it stretched out some of the puffy areas.

Here’s a close-up of the quilt top. The predominant colors are blues, yellows and white, however as I stepped back with each addition, I decided to add pops of colors. This adds balance and richness to this quilt that helped also break up the stark bands of color. You can see the use of red, purple, pinks, and orange.


For the quilting, I used Aurifil 2410, 2021, 2120, and 2783. I used irregular-spaced wavy lines that flowed with the fabric strips, to complement the colors and design of the quilt. In the binding, I also added some interest and continued the flow of color by inserting a piece of C+S print and a small blue strip to my white binding.


This was so much fun to play with such vibrant colors. I loved the overall finish that the Cotton Supreme Solids provided. Thanks to RJR fabrics for the opportunity and to you for stopping by.

Stop by my RJRFabrics and ml_wilkie (on Instagram) for a giveaway later today.

Mad Dash {Pattern Release}

Today I am releasing my Mad Dash Quilt Pattern. It is now available in my payhip and craftsy shops.


Over some time, I had started to collect a significant amount of scrap and panels of Maze and Vale low volume, hand printed fabrics. Saving them for the perfect quilt. After playing around with dashes, inspired by the lines in a text document, I came up with this design.


In my head, I could envision the recently released Art Gallery Fabrics soft Denim for the dashes, and the Maze and Vale prints for the backgrounds.


I love how this quilt turned out. I have two layers of batting and denim on the back as this is now our picnic blanket.mad-dash-back
The pattern includes 3 alternative sizes. The pattern testers did an amazing job. I love their choices.

Photo Credits to each of the testers:
1. Debbie's Pillow (IG: @aquilterstable); 
2. Katherine's Lizzie House quilt (IG: @katgraycraft);
3. Jacqueline's quilt using solids (IG: @jskarritt); 
4. Molly's in a great woodsy palette (IG: @lane33andhalf)


Name: Mad Dash
Original Design (Payhip or Craftsy)
Fabric: AGF Denim Studio, Maze and Vale Low Volumes
Backing: AGF Denim Studio
Binding: AGF Textured Denim
Dimensions: 60 x 60″
Quilted: Sarah @ Crinkle Love

I would love to see any makes with the pattern. Tag me on Instagram (@ml_wilkie) or use the hashtag #maddashquilt

Black + White: A Colour Blog Series

This month past month (September), Christa (@christaquilts) showed some amazing examples of her use of black and white. To close out September, here are some of the projects I have used black and white.

Making a Statement with Stark Contrasts

I love the use of black and white as a statement. These first two examples are using the whole quilt as a statement. Both the back and front of a quilt,  used to show contrast/differences.

Phased Circles

This quilt was designed using all Carolyn Friedlander prints (Botanics and Architexture). The front of this quilt plays with color and saturation.


The back though, I wanted to show take out the play of color completely from the quilt. I used black, grey and white on the back for a stark comparison.
Phased Circles Block1 Quilted Back

Sunday Best

Sunday Best quilt is an experiment of using scrap solids, almost blindly, in this improv project.

The introduction of the black and white into the front of this quilt, had a lot of meaning. I added the pieced B&W pieces the week I was feeling down and processing some very sad feelings. I did not feel like color.

Once I added these sections I liked the look of them, and decided to also add some stripey B&W fabric as filler and to help balance the small B&W inserts.


For the back of this quilt, I made the decision again to add that stark difference between color and non-color by adding very graphical B&W prints with the various B&W stripes. I used some of the left over string/strip pieces blocks from the front to add those pop of colors and tie the two sides together.


Making a Statement with Pops of Color

The other way I use B&W, is with quilts that are predominantly neutral but then a pop of color adds interest and somewhere for the eye to settle on.

Cheri D’Amour

One of my favorite quilts is Cheri D’Amour. This is made with Frances Newcombe’s Cherie fabric line. The play with the B&W fabrics highlights dark vs light, also brings the industrial feel / structured feel to the quilt.This industrial look is important as it was inspired by a building/warehouse. The pops of pink and blue, I feel, brings so much to this quilt to bring a focal point into the quilt.

Cheri DAmour

Scrappy Pin Cushion

This pin cushion is another example of adding interest with a pop of color. Using the B&W scrap pack from Umbrella Prints with the lime green print of Alison Glass Handmade adds interest to this simple pin cushion and provides that place for the eye to focus on.B&WPinCushionPleatedPocket

Making a Statement with Monotone Quilts

Lastly, the use of graduating non-colors – Black, White and Grey, are one of my favorite things to experiment with. It is very easy to show how color gradients show movement or to play with saturation levels (high vs. low).

Lunar Lines

Lunar Lines is playing with both of these, gradients and saturation’s. I loved playing with various prints from my stash for this quilt. I believe that prints can be used in a modern quilt, and this limited palette helps keep that modern aesthetic.

Tip: When playing with saturation and/or gradients use black and white photographs (using digital filters) to play with placements and see of it reads the way you think it reads. I used this technique in this quilt and it helped a lot.

patchwork projects shot in the studio

Photo Credit: Love Patchwork and Quilting

Negative Crosswalks

The last project I have to share, is one that highlights minimalism. I loved the idea of a crosswalk in which I inverted like a photo negative (the old photographs, before digital). I keep the palette simple, Black, White and Greys in line with the minimal design. Again, I played with the gradient possibilities in this solids only quilt. I do not think that if this was in other colors it would look as simple, minimal as it does in B&W.


Getting started with Black and White: Fabric Lines

First off, it’s not hard to find black and white prints but it is important to note that there are underlying tonal colors that impact how black and grey’s play with each other. The blacks/greys tend to be in a blue or a brown family. It is not easy to recognize when purchasing fabric, you will need to place them side by side, and assess, and remove them if they don’t fit.

Where to start from fabric selections….

Solids: My favorite  solid line for B&W (and Grey) is based on the variety of selections at the moment: Robert Kaufman Kona Solids. Take a look at Pepper, a blue black….amazing!! I bought a bolt.

B&W Fabric Lines, some of my favorites include:


Anyway, that catches us up on the Colour Blog Series. Next week, I will post the October Color and a giveaway for all. Stay tuned.





Blogiversary {Giveaway}

Folks, who knew, that after having sinus surgery and deciding that I should start using the sewing machine I bought 6 months ago, I would be here. Welcome to my 4 year blogiversary. Wow!!

Sometimes, I am amazed that I kept with a hobby for 4 years and other times I can’t believe its only been 4 years, its gone by so fast.

This year has been an amazing journey. I want to thank all of you who have joined me and supported me on this journey, both here and on Instagram (IG). Looking at October 2015 through September 2016, these are some of my most memorable projects & WiPs. mosaicdd25f3e4fb290200b7e0c21c02c4d93b5baf4c6d

This year has been a big year. I have loved experimenting and playing with different techniques and color. I have loved teaching my new quilting classes. I hope the year ahead is as good to me…I know it is starting out well.


As a thank you, I would like to give away a $80 gift card to Hawthorne Threads. To win:

  • Leave a comment, about what quilting topics and themes you are interested in at the moment.
  • If you are a follower, leave a second comment letting me know how you follow.

A winner will be randomly chosen and announced next Sunday 9th October at 8pm.

Winner: Melanie C (email coming your way with the gift certificate).



In the Works {Update}

Keeping it real…I have made progress since my last post, though not as much as I hoped. At least its moving in the right direction.

So what’s happening…

From the releasing pattern front, I have managed to release the 3 pattern of 4 patterns (Abstract Triangles, Daughters Love and Altitudinal Ecosystem) with Mad Dash coming the first week in October. So overall completed all that I set out to do in September. YAY!!!

From a project perspective, they have all moved forward.

Sew Ready to Play Blog hop – The mastermind project, completed and posted a tutorial on Monday.

Mad Dash – binding is underway. I had some issues, with wonkiness when machine binding so switched to hand stitching it. I think its related to the pressure of the foot while stitching through 2 layers of batting. Only one side to go and this should be finished before the weekend.
Sunday Best – My favorite project at the moment, and I finally got over the fear of what to do with the quilting and decided to just start. After all, a finished quilt is better than an unfinished one. Right??!! Here’s how I started…

I really love this block as a whole:

Orange Creamsicle – all the blocks for the top are now complete. All hand-stitched. I just need to hand-stitch all the straight seams. This is slightly modified from what I posted on Instagram (IG), as I changed one of the blocks backgrounds for more balance (top right).orangecreamsicle_top
Directional Lines – Is a new project start but has a deadline of October 14th. It’s my #whatshadeareyou for RJR fabrics project. It is another improvisation project. Can I say I love this already and I have only done 8 lines.

Overall Project Plan

Here’s my overall project plan and recent changes.

Project Dates Current Status
 Mad Dash  September
(3rd FAL project)
 Sunday Best  September October
(4th FAL project)
 Orange Creamsicle  October TOP (underway) BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Directional Lines  October TOP (underway), BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Quilt Market Project  October TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Fractions  October November
 NY High Line  November TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Ode to Clothes  November December
 Beating Heart  November December

How are your projects going??


Black + White: Guest Post {Christa Watson}

This month’s color for the Colour Blog Series is Black + White. Christa Watson (IG: christaquilts) is our guest this month.

Christa’s blog was one of the first blogs I started to follow, when I started on this quilting journey. I finally got to meet her at Quiltcon 2015, a highlight for me of the show. She has since showed her flare and brilliance with Domestic Machine Quilting with the following book releases : Machine Quilting with Style and The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. Both of which I can highly recommend.

Today, on her blog she talks about her choices and makes using black and white. Her use of black and white is very graphical and she uses pops of color to add additional interest. It’s a great read.

I’ll be back later this week with my perspective of using black + white in quilts.

Sew Ready to Play {mastermind tutorial}

Louise over at I’m Feeling Crafty is hosting Sew ready to Play Blog hop. There have been some great projects created based on a game you play.  Check out other posts:


Sept 9th- Liz and LiZ  from Simple Simon and Co
Sept 14th- Stacey from Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts
Sept 16th- Narelle from Threadistry
Sept 19th- Debbie from A Quilter’s Table
Sept 21st- Louise from I’m Feelin’ Crafty
Sept 23rd- Al from Shaffer Sisters
Sept 26th- Michelle from Factotum of Arts (today)
Sept 28th- Ashley and Emily from Frances Suzanne
Sept 30th- The Recap!

One of my favorite games, since I was a kid, is mastermind.  I decided for this game I played with my husband, using the attempts as a framed quilted block. It will be art for a kids room or playroom.


Tutorial: Kids Framed Quilt Block

Finishes at 16 x 20in.



  • 3 1/2in strip Kona Titanium
  • 3/4in strip Kona White
  • 4in strip Kona Citrus, Kona Sour Apple, Kona Red, and Kona Astral
  • 1/2 yard Kona Sliver
  • 16 x 20in Batting (Cotton)
  • 16 x 20in Muslin (backing fabric)
  • One (1) 16 x 20in Picture Frame (White)
  • Olfa Circle Rotary Cutter
  • Glue Stick
  • Ruler
  • Hera Marker
  • Spray Glue

Cutting Instructions

Fabric  Finished cut
Titanium  One (1) 3 1/2 x 13 1/2in Strip
White One (1) 3/4 x 13 1/2in Strip
Two (2) 3/4 x 4in Strip
Silver Two (2) 3 1/2 x 2in Rectangle
One (1) 1 1/2 x 16in Strip
One (1) 15 1/4 x 16in Rectangle
Sour Apple
Four (4) 2 1/4 Circle


RST – Right Sides together
All seams are assumed to be 1/4in.


  1. Take the titanium strip and the white 13 1/2 in strip, place them RST. Stitch a 1/4in seam along the long edge of the rectangles. Press seams open.
  2. Take the two short white strips and sew them to each short end of the titanium rectangle. Press seams open and trim as appropriate.
  3. Again, on each of the short sides of the titanium rectangle use the one (1) 3 1/2 x 2 in rectangle of silver Kona. Press seams open.  Trim evenly on both sides, so that the finished block is 16 in.
  4. Take the silver 1 1/2 x 16in strip and sew the bottom of the titanium strip (the white strip used in step 2 is the top of the block).
  5. Place top of the block and the large silver rectangle (15 1/4 x 16 in) RST, matching the two 16in sides. Pin and sew the pieces together. Press seams open.

Circles and Placement

  1. To cut out the circles I used a Olfa Circular rotary cutter. It works pretty well, you just need to ensure a smooth motion while cutting. Layer no more than two pieces of fabric.
    Note: I cut a couple of extra so I could choose the better ones for this piece.img_7262
  2. Start within the titanium colored rectangle for marking. Using a ruler and a Hera marker, mark half way on the height of the titanium strip (this should be 1 1/2in).
  3. To place the circles, I used this center line and eye ball the middle for each circle. Placement starts at the left by measuring 1/2in. Fold the Astral circle in 1/2 press with fingers. Use the glue stick on the back of the dot and press down with warm fingers. Place the astral circle centered with the left edge against this 1/2in starting placement.
  4. Each additional circle is 3/4in apart. Repeat the glue process with each. You should land up with 1/2in at the right side of the sour apple (green) dot. Once all circles are on the row, press with an iron.
  5. Now that the first row are attached, use the ruler and Hera marker to draw the vertical lines through the center of these circles to the top. This will be used for placement of the upper circles and quilt lines. Note: the lines will be approx. 3in apart.
  6. For top horizontal lines, that will be used to also center the circles and quilt lines, measure 3 1/4in from the top of the silver fabric. Use a Hera Marker along this line for row 1.
  7. Repeat with a Hera Marker every 3 in. until you are approx. an inch from the bottom row “box”.
  8. Fold each circle in half and then in quarters. Press with your fingers. Place glue to the back of the circles. Use these hand pressed lines to match up with the Hera Marker lines.  Hold the circle down with your hand as the glue adheres. At the end of each row, press with an iron.
    Placement of the circles for each of the rows are as follows (L–R):
    Top (Row 1): Red, Astral, Sour Apple, Citrus
    Top (Row 2): Astral, Sour Apple, Citrus, Red
    Top (Row 3): Sour Apple, Citrus, Red, Astral


Quilt Construction

  1. To make your quilt sandwich, spray glue the batting to the muslin (preferably outside or in an open space). Press with an iron.
  2. Spray glue the batting and carefully align and place the top to the batting. Smooth with hands. Press the top to the batting.
  3. Quilt your sandwich as you desired. I used the Hera Markings as guide for 3in gridded quilt lines. Trim if needed.
    Note: I matched my thread to the silver background fabric.
  4. Place your quilted block/ mini quilt inside the frame and it’s now ready to be hung in a room.
    Note: Remove all lint before placing into frame. Photo’s will be best without the glass.