Michael Miller Mondays with Tropical Batiks

I received this bundle of 25 fat quarters from the Michael Miller Tropical Batiks collection. I have had it for several weeks and didn't bother to open it until I was on the MM website and saw all the skus. Big WOW! I couldn't believe the motifs and the rich colors.

Fat quarter bundle of Tropical Batiks by Michael Miller
Oh. You want me to open it up and show you all the fabrics? I can do that!

Tropical Batiks in all their glory!
I'm still trying to figure out the best pattern to showcase their beauty. I have worked with batiks for about 20 years and find that the simpler the pattern, the more the fabric gets to do the work.

These are fat quarters and that challenges me to make the best use of the fabric. I developed a series of patterns in the early 2000s that I call Magic Stax. They all start with 10-1/2" squares and are stacked in a small pile and are cut at the same time (ie, stacks of 5 or 6 or 9). Then the patches are shuffled, swapped and stitched. I had several different quilts published in quilt magazines and decided to revisit one pattern called Pickup Sticks.

No templates. Just stacks of squares. Measure and cut - that's it.

Pickup Sticks was made in 2011 with a pile of bright batiks from a variety of vendors. I had some black and white no-name batik left from some workshops and decided to go with that.
Pickup Stix
Under that freezer paper is a stack of four 10-1/2" squares (this works with 10" squares, also). I measured in the same number (as listed in the pattern) on each side to get this uniform, slanted X.

Freezer paper ironed to a stack of 4 squares
 Four squares cut at the same time.
Peeled freezer paper away
Now we shuffle the patches. Note that the cut runs from top left to bottom right. I call this Block #1.
Same fabrics in each stack, but in different order
Time to add pre-cut strips. Looks similar to stained glass (to me). The slant on this stack goes from top right to bottom left. This is Block #2.

Adding strips to the blocks that slant the other way
And let's revisit that first stack of Block #1. This only needs to be trimmed at the edges with the black strips. Careful stitching is required. The key is to match those horizontal strips when you add the center strip!
Block #1 before trimming the excess black strips.
I stitched 16 blocks into four horizontal rows, but haven't finished the stitching (as you can see). Since I only have fat quarters, I'm going make a pieced border using the remainder of the fat quarters. But I thought you might like to see what I have so far. These blocks finish to 10", so the center will be 40" x 40".

Bad lighting in my sewing studio. When I add the borders, I'll go outside and get a better pic. But here she is!

16 blocks in four rows of four
Take a visit to the Michael Miller Fabrics site to see these glorious Tropical Batiks up close. They truly are splendid.

You can find my pattern for Stained Glass Pickup Sticks at my Etsy shop, too!


  1. Hi Debby! I just LOVE pickup sticks!! Ooh, that red version is beyond fab and this batik version - soooooo very nice. Those colors . . . with the black dots in between . . . I never would have thought to do that but WOW. Great. ~smile~ Roseanne P.S. I tagged you on my blog today for Geo Pop! Thank you again.


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