Category Archives: Project Finishes

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

Denim Blues {a finish}

Last night, I whipped up a quick birthday present for a close friend. She had sent me a photo earlier of her new color palette of her living room. I have loved the mix of denim, a white solid and liberty lawn for a while now. I decided that combination would be perfect for a pillow in that room.


I used Art Gallery Fabric, Denim as I had some left over and its so soft, perfect for a pillow. The flying geese are 2 x 4″ finished, and a white solid with a splash of a Liberty Lawn print.

I decided to keep the sleek, more modern look with 1″ straight line quilting on the denim. The flying geese are quilted around the edges.


I love this backing fabric from Amy Sinibaldi, Manuscript in Navy, Paperie for Art Gallery Fabrics. It was the perfect complement to the front. I used an envelope finish instead of a zipper.


It was a great quick project. I really enjoyed playing with these fabrics.


Name: Denim Blues
Fabric: AGF Denim, White Pure Elements, Liberty Lawn
Backing: Manuscript in Navy, Paperie, Amy Sinibaldi
Dimensions: 20 x 20″
Quilted: Straight line 1″ quilting, edged quilting around the flying geese.

Linking up with Amanda Jean over at Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday.


Push-me Pull-me {a finish}

Way, way back….a long time ago, inspiration sprung forth from a Powerpoint presentation and a block design was created. Yes, it has taken 3 years all but my Push-me Pull-me quilt is all done. This means, my son has finally received a handmade quilt from me, on his 9th birthday.


I loved how the block turned out in the blues, with white or grey sashing. I really like the secondary design of the pluses in the between spaces.

The quilt was decided at some stage, was a little thin for a twin sized quilt.  So, I added the 10″ and 5″ strips in my son’s favorite color, which gave a great contrast and I think making it a little more modern traditional.

As this was a twin, I decided to ship it off for quilting to Sarah at Crinkle Love. I used the Southwestern quilting pattern which I think complemented the arrow design. My favorite part is those Indian inspired eagle shapes.

Lastly, for binding I used a navy blue print from April Rhodes with a splash of Tangerine Crosshatch (Carolyn Friedlander print) for one of the border sides. I block matched the binding which you can see at the top here.


Name: Push-me Pull-me
Original Design
Fabric: Kona Flame, White, Ash and a Variety of blue prints
Backing: Crosshatch Wideback in blue, Carolyn Friedlander
Binding: April Rhodes, Arizona, Tomahawk Stripe + Carolyn Friedlander, Crosshatch in Tangerine
Dimensions: 72″ x 90″
Quilted: Southwestern design by Sarah @ Crinkle Love

The Pull-me Push-me Block Pattern is available in my Payhip Shop (Click on the link or navigate from the shop menu above). Here is one last picture of the block in an alternative color pattern.




Fly Away Quilt {finish}

In June, for my birthday, Heather Jones came and taught a class for her Fly Away Quilt. We had so much fun, and it was one of the best birthday weekends I have had. I now have this great finish to remember my celebrations, as I have finished the Fly Away quilt.

I wanted to make this quilt with a muted palette (in contrast to the Sunday Best quilt I was working on at the time). I choose to use a Kona Peach and White, and  a Carolyn Friedlander Carkai print.

Fly Away Quilt Front

I love how the top turned out with this muted color palette. I think, the Carkai print brings great texture with the print in each of the triangles, bringing lots of interest and things to investigate.

I decided to send the quilt of to Sarah at Crinkle Love for quilting. I wanted a curly design to balance the very geometric design. This is popcorn pattern, looking very cloud or wave-like. Fly Away Quilt Close_Up

The back is very simple in nature, both prints are from Carolyn Friedlander. Some of my friends, who attended the class gave me a signature block to add to the back as well.

Fly away quilt Back


Name: Fly Away Quilt
Heather Jones (originating from a traditional block)
Fabric: Kona White;  Kona Peach; The Big One in Gold, Carkai, Carolyn Friedlander
Backing: Crosshatch, & Grid Diamond (Carkai), Carolyn Friedlander
Binding: Carolyn Friedlander, Carkai, Stitches in Parchment
Dimensions: 72″ x 72″
Quilted: Popcorn design by Sarah @ Crinkle Love

I will treasure it, and always remember this event :-). I highly recommend any of Heather’s classes. She is excellent.



Daughter’s Love {a finish}

I have finally finished the quilt, I have been working on for my Mum. Making something for someone you love has been very humbling experience. Even more so, since my mum (as mentioned previously) has a brain tumor and currently undergoing Chemotherapy. This quilt “Daughter’s Love”, I hope will bring her comfort as I can not be with her.

The original design was inspired by the crosses/pluses that are in the stained glass window of a Scottish Castle.


I thought the plus blocks in the original design looked a little heavy, so I removed two of the corners. Alternating the direction, also gave this great secondary square design.QDAD_29JUL2015

While I love the color palette in the original design, I decided to change it to suit my Mum more. Her favorite colors are orange and purple, hence the final colors of orange, purple, yellow, coral/peach, and magenta.  There are 98 different colored prints used, 20 white on neutral prints for the background with 4 neutral solids.


For the backing I used Tula Pink’s wide back print, Free Fall. It worked as such a great complementary print to the front of the quilt.


I decided that, I didn’t want to continue the squares and lines with the quilting, so a spiral design it was. Little did I realize it would take a huge ~120 hours for the quilting but I love the end result. Thanks to everyone in the Instagram community that encouraged me through this 🙂 One of the other design decisions, was starting the spiral quilting in an off centered location, which just happened to be one of my favorite combinations of prints. The spiral quilting was 1/2″ lines using Aurifil #2021.


In this close-up of the quilting center you can also see the use of some of the white on neutral prints.  The binding was not as easy a decision as I thought it would be. I was trying a dark orange but it did not work. I landed up using a coral based print with orange stripes (Carolyn Friedlander).


I will be releasing the pattern (pdf) for this quilt,  in various sizes, August 8th via my payhip shop. All sales, in the first month, will be donated to Cancer Society, New Zealand who help provide services to my Mum including accommodation while she was having treatment away from home.


Name: Daughter’s Love
Designed by me
Fabric: 98 different colored prints, 20 white on neutral prints, 4 Kona solid neutrals
Backing: Tula Pink Free Fall wideback
Binding: Carolyn Friedlander, Carkai, Grid Diamond in Creamsicle Metallic
Dimensions: 70″ x 70″
Quilted: Spiral design, 1/2″ spacing, Aurifil #2021


Sunday Best {a finished top}

A few weeks ago, I was stressing out about so many things – work, quilt projects, household tasks, kid things. I decided that I needed a creative reboot and find a project that involved little to no planning, no stress….just free playing around.

I have been inspired by Luci Summers’ “Quilt Improv: Incredible Quilts from Everyday Inspirations” and Sherri Lynn Wood’s “The Improv Handwork for Modern Quilters”  for a while. I thought an improv project would meet my goal. I have to say, I loved every minute of this project.


I added some limits:

  • Only use colored solids from my scrap bin to help me reduce my scraps
  • A single addition is added each Sunday, spending no more than 2 hours to ensure I didn’t over think things or plan too much…go with the flow of that day
  • At some stage (around week 2) decided I would used strip pieces and black/white stripe fabric for fillers.

Week 1

This first week I just wanted to start really simple, so I did some strip piecing by cutting irregularly strips (no ruler used) and placing them in a bag. I pulled out a piece and stitched them to another and continued until the bag was empty. I continued with this method “brown bag method” until I landed up with this strip. I did trim with a ruler once all sewn together.


Week 2

My love for the strip piecing continued, but this piece was inspired by the rail fence block. I played with the vertical and horizontal placement. I was slightly short on a couple of blocks, so I used the black/white stripe fabric as a filler. The saved the off-cuts from the block sections, thinking I could use them as filler pieces later on.


Week 3

I have mentioned previously how much I love Tapa cloths, I actually have 4 in my room. One of the designs is this diamond/double triangle, which inspired this addition. Most of these triangles were cut out of a 5″ charm pack that was in my scrap bin. I then played with the border and realized that I had some colored pieces that were not big enough to do both sides….this lead to the mixed borders around the triangles.


This addition is one of my favorites, and may lead to a new quilt design.

Week 4

Black and White solids were called for this week. It was Mother’s Day weekend. I was feeling down. I was thinking about my Mum and whether this could be her last mother’s day, and then feeling the additional guilt for not having her quilt finished yet.


I started with just wonky flying geese but they didn’t seem to fit. I added some of the HST off-cuts of the flying geese and loved the chaos look they provided to the flying geese. This is what, I finished with.

Week 5

Inspired by Frank Stella’s art work, I decided to play with curves this week. I had so much fun creating the orange peel – like block. I wasn’t done with improv curves though, and added a second block, inspired from my tapa cloths.  After adding these two blocks, I realized that the column layout didn’t work as well. I decided to change the layout some.


Week 6

From week 3, I had a lot of left over triangles. In order to not have additional scraps, I stitched them blindly together (brown bag method) to make HSR (Half Square Rectangles).


Week 7

There have been several quilts lately, that inspired me to make these stripe 45 degree angled blocks. This addition is my favorite part of the quilt. I love how they fit horizontally across the bottom, complementing the columnar piecing from the previous week.


Week 8

I  struggled this week. I had a couple of ideas and neither were working in this gap. One idea was another circular block but I think the color palette I used for the block made it not fit with the rest of the quilt. Don’t get me wrong, I love the block but think it needs its own quilt.


The other idea was various small log cabin blocks. Again, they did not look right. I decided to call it a day. I took the day off for my birthday this week, and gave it another go. Something made me cut up the log cabins and sew them all back together. That was it….a perfect addition to my crazy quilt.


Week 9

At this stage, I was feeling that the project was winding up. I pieced all the left over strip scraps and added the left column strip. Off-cuts from this, and having the old TV end of program sign stuck in my head, lead me to adding the black/white circle block (based on my phased circle block). Lastly, it was just finalizing layout and adding the filler pieces (which I also added for balance).


Week 10

This final week, I conquered my fear of partial seams (not easy when stitching really large parts of a quilt) and stitched it all together. It’s now a finished quilt top, measuring ~ 50 x 52″.


I am totally in love with this quilt. I am thinking, right now, of matchstick quilting it, using yellow thread (or may be various colors). I have to mentally prepare myself though for matchstick quilting.

For now though, I loved this free process so much I have already started another improv project (using that circle block from week 8).

Linking up with Amanda Jean @ Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday.