Friday, June 23, 2017

thread catchers and more

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
This week I decided that I needed to make a half-dozen thread catchers (pattern is available here) with the mini charm packs that I picked up at spring quilt market. I wanted to use them before too long, or I knew that I would hoard them until the end of time. (There is enough fabric in that category already! Hahaha!)
I used three different fabric lines: the good life, by Bonnie and Camille, Flower Mill, by Corey Yoder and First Romance by Kristyne Czepuryk of Pretty by Hand. (All by Moda Fabrics.)
I like using mini charm packs for this purpose, because each thread catcher uses 21 squares of fabric, so you can make 2 from one mini charm pack. (Hurray for that!) These will be gifts and door prizes, most likely....if I can let them go!
Last weekend I traveled to Indiana to speak and teach. It was a CRAZY trip in regards to travel, but the students were amazing, so it was totally worth it! My friend Suzanne drove several hours to attend the class and she brought her finished slopes quilt (pattern is in No Scrap Left Behind) for show and tell. Isn't it fabulous? She busted a whole lot of scraps and made it a twin size. Thanks, Suzanne, for letting me share your quilt! It's so fun to see quilts being made from the patterns in the book.

That's it for me today! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

cutting error

I'm so sorry to say there was a cutting error in the June QAL instructions. For the background fabrics, the instructions should be: cut 2 squares 6 5/8" and cut on the diagonal once to make 4 half square triangles. (Label as C.) I apologize for the error.

The original blog post has been updated with the changes as well.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

June QAL-week 3

Welcome to week 3 of the June quilt QAL! I hope you all are having fun making your June quilt blocks.
After the comments last week, I took another look at my cornerstone fabrics. (The original ones that I picked are the top left squares.) They ARE too light....(thank you for pointing that out!)...so I selected a more saturated red fabric. I like the saturated red cornerstones better, but I had a feeling there was still a better option. I auditioned a LOT of other fabrics, and I found two different aqua fabrics. I like them both, but I don't have enough of either one, individually, so I decided to use both. I think the aqua fabrics will add a lot more pizazz to the quilt. I'm still using fabric that I have on hand, so that's good! Remember what I said about editing until the very last seam is sewn? This is a great example of that very thing.

Today I will be giving cutting instructions for the background fabrics and the cornerstone fabrics. If you haven't finished your blocks from last week (I know I haven't!), find time to finish piecing them this week, if you can. Just a reminder, you will need 36 pieced blocks for the baby quilt and 48 pieced blocks for the lap size quilt. (100 blocks if you are making the quilt in the book.)
For the background fabric you will need:
1 1/3 yards for the baby size
2 yards for the lap size
(This allows for little waste, so please cut carefully and in the order listed, for best results. Feel free to purchase extra yardage if desired.)

For the baby size, cut 2 squares 12 5/8" and cut them in half on the diagonal, twice, to make 8 quarter square triangles.

For the lap size, cut 4 squares 12 5/8" and cut them in half on the diagonal, twice, to make 16 quarter square triangles. (There will be 2 extra QSTs for this size.)

Label as A.

For the baby size, cut 13 squares 8 1/2".

For the lap size, cut 18 squares 8 1/2".

Label as B.

For the baby size OR the lap size, cut 2 squares 6 5/8" and cut on the diagonal, twice, ONCE, to make 8 4 quarter half-square triangles.

(Edited to add, I'm so sorry about the error in the instructions! These triangles should be cut on the diagonal once, not twice. You need a total of 4 HSTs, not 8 QSTs. Thank you so much, Liz, for pointing that out.)

Label as C.

For the cornerstone fabric you will need:
1/3 yard for the baby size
1/2 yard for the lap size
(or a combination of two fabrics to equal those measurements)
For the baby size, cut 12 squares 4 1/2".

For the lap size, cut 17 squares 4 1/2".

Label as D.

For the baby size, cut 3 squares 7" and cut in half on the diagonal, twice, to make 12 quarter square triangles.

For the lap size, cut 4 squares 7" and cut in half on the diagonal, twice, to make 16 quarter square triangles. (There will be 2 extra QSTs of this size.)

Label as E.
Next week we will get into quilt top assembly!

If you have any questions, I will try to answer them in the comments. Thank you so much for quilting along with me!

Friday, June 16, 2017

pincushions!

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

Hey, did you know that I love pincushions? (Hahaha!) This week I finished a bunch of them! I love making them because they are so cute, fairly quick to finish and they make great gifts. I've been giving them away nearly as fast as I make them, which is actually a good thing!
I'm calling these "granny pincushions", which are knit from scrap yarn. I love them so much! I remember my own dear grandmother had a pincushion in this style, but it was rust, teal and gold, if I recall correctly. Personally, I like the updated colors much better. :)
My daughter selected this yarn color combo. It's spot on, isn't it? This one is made from worsted weight wool yarn. (Technically, I finished this one a few weeks ago, but I haven't shared it here yet...)
This is another one in worsted weight yarn...the outside band is leftover yarn from my sweater!
This one uses chunky weight wool and it is all leftovers from two previous projects, both for my daughter. The orange and pink were from a skirt that I knit for her and the cream was from a hat that I made for her when she was just a little one. It's fun to be using the leftovers! It's also nice to have a momento of those days.
The middle ring used all but a few short inches of the cream yarn I had left. I was pretty happy that I played yarn chicken and I won. Barely. Haha!

There is a pattern that is similar here for the worsted weight pincushion if you care to make one (or a hundred) of your own. I'm working on making some in other size yarns and I plan to share the instructions here on the blog after I do a bit more testing. :)
I was cleaning off my cutting table the other day and I came across a scrap of this cute strawberry fabric. It was begging to be turned into pincushions. It IS strawberry season, after all! Hahaha! I like quilting the front panel of my pincushions, almost always, for added texture. I love these three together, but they will be going to three different people. They are just so happy!
The last two pincushions were made from the scrap basket. (As if I only have ONE scrap basket, HAHAHA!) The top one is about 3" square and the bottom one measures about 2" x 6 1/2" or so. I love how they turned out! (All of the sewn pincushions shown in this post are filled with crushed walnut shells.)

Now, it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June quilt QAL-week 2

Welcome to week 2 of the June quilt along! (If you are new to the QAL today, please check out my intro post here.)

This week we are making strip set blocks for our June quilts. I took a lot of photos to share and I hope that you find some tips or tricks to help you along the way. They are simple blocks to make...I hope you have fun with them!

This is my initial fabric pull for my low volume blocks. Anytime I make a quilt, I start with a fabric pull, but I edit constantly, up until the last seam is sewn.
These are a few of the strips that I took out, because when it came down to it, they were too bold for my liking.
Here are a few fabrics that I added because I needed more variety of subtle colors and prints. Successful scrap quilts take a lot of editing! It's a good thing there is no shortage of scrap around here. Ha!
No special tools are required for this quilt along, but I found these two very helpful. The ruler is 4 1/2" x 8 1/2"...the same exact size as the unfinished strip sets. The thread snips (by Farmore Cutlery) are wonderful for chain piecing. They are easier to pick up than a pair of scissors and are sharp, with a slightly curved tip...perfect for cutting the threads between quilt blocks.
One thing I hate about working with strings is just that....they are stringy! I recommend cutting a fresh edge right before you start using the strips. It makes it easier to sew the pieces together and the finished quilt blocks will be tidier. It takes a bit more time, but it eliminates a lot of frustration.
Isn't that much better?
Once the strings that you selected are tidied up, cut a few segments that are slightly longer than 4 1/2".
Sew two strips together and press the seam to one side.
Sew on a third strip, press seam to the side. (I like to press all the seams in one direction, but it really doesn't matter, in this case. If you are going to use a variety of lights and darks, I would press the seams toward the dark fabric as much as possible to prevent shadowing.)
I like to work on two or three strip sets at a time. Then, I can chain piece and that makes me feel efficient. Haha!
Audition strings and add pieces to either the top or the bottom. Or, some of each!
At this point, I measure my block. I have about 1 3/4" of space left to fill, so I start weighing my options and auditioning fabrics to finish the block.
I could either add in one wide strip....
Or add two narrower strips. Remember to account for seam allowances when measuring, especially when adding multiple strips. The goal is to avoid ending up with a very skinny strip (3/4" or less) on either end of the strip set.
I decided to add the one wider strip to the block. At this point, press the strip set well. A little bit of spray starch or steam is helpful for getting the blocks to lay flat.
Measure the block again and make sure that the strip set is larger than 4 1/2" x 8 1/2". There is a bit extra on nearly all sides, but very little waste. Hurray!
Trim the strip set to 4 1/2" x 8 1/2".
If you look closely at the block, you will notice that one of my strips was just a touch short (less than 1/16"), but that will be hidden in the seam allowance, so I am not too worried about it. If that strip would have been much shorter, I would have removed it and added a new one. :)

This block was better, with overhang on all sides....
and no gaps!
As you are making the strip sets, you may come across a time when one of your strips is no longer straight, but curved, as shown above. If this happens, take a second and trim it straight. (Or straighter, it doesn't have to be perfect.)
Then continue to add strips to the piece until it's the desired size. Sometimes trimming off a small sliver of fabric makes a big difference! You could also add a wedge shaped piece to the end to compensate for the curved piece. What you want to avoid is a banana shaped strip set. Those are pretty hard to square up.
Here's one other tip I wanted to share. It's pretty simple, but it's something that I think bears mentioning. I try to USE as many scraps as I can, without making a mountain of 'by-product' scraps. When I came across this scrap, just under 2 1/2" wide, I had to think it through. I could trim it down to 1 1/2" and leave a 1" strip, which would be hard to use, but also hard for me to throw away....
OR, I cut it in half, and have two usable strips. That's a much better solution! No waste, and no awkward scraps leftover. Win, win!
I managed to finish about a dozen low volume blocks for my quilt this week. I think they are so pretty all lined up together! I am very happy with my fabric selection and editing so far, too.

Here's your homework:
For the baby size, make 36 string set blocks.
For the lap size, make 48 string set blocks.
For the quilt in the book (85" square), make 100 strip set blocks.
Each block should measure 4 1/2" x 8 1/2".

After I made several low volume strip set blocks, I arranged them on my polka dot background fabric to see how it would look. It looked awfully bold and a little "out there". I wasn't completely sold on it.
I decided to audition my blocks on a chambray fabric instead. It's ok, but it's too safe and a little bit boring. After several days of consideration, I'm definitely going with the red and white polka dot background. Both would work, but I like the first option better! Often times seeing an alternate option helps make the decision. Taking a few days to think it though helps, too. There are hundreds of other fabric options out there, but I wanted to use my stash, so that's a big determining factor.

That's it for me today! I hope you have fun sewing up your quilt blocks! I will try to answer any questions in the comments. Thank you for quilting along with me!

Friday, June 09, 2017

socks for Z

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
Late last night I finished knitting my 20th pair of socks to date. That's a pretty exciting milestone! I loved knitting them, even though it seems like they took forever. These are for my 16 year old son, who loves gray as much as I do. Hurray! For my next pair of socks, I've decided that I'm going to try to knit two at a time. I don't have a problem with second sock syndrome (not wanting to make the second sock after the first one is finished), but my perfectionist side goes bonkers if the socks are not exactly the same. If anyone has great tips for knitting two socks at a time, I'd love to hear them!

(The quilt in the background is oh my stars!, which is one of my favorite ones that I've ever made.)

Now, it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. And thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a great weekend. xo


Tuesday, June 06, 2017

June quilt QAL-week 1

Welcome to week 1 of the June quilt Quilt-A-Long! This will be very informal...I will share instructions here on the blog each week and you can sew along with me at whatever pace you wish. Feel free to share your progress on social media. If you would like to post your progress on Instagram or Facebook, use the hashtag #JunequiltQAL (I realize that it is a little bit redundant, but I'm going with it anyway!)

Here's a quick rundown of what each week will entail:

Week 1: sort scraps // choose a color scheme // gather materials

Week 2: start sewing the string blocks

Week 3: cut the background fabrics // finish sewing the string blocks

Week 4: assemble the quilt top // quilting ideas

Scrap Sorting
The first step in the making of any scrap quilt is to sort your scraps and assess what you have to work with. My string box is FULL! I have to be honest, the string scrap category is my least favorite. It's a constant challenge to keep up with them, probably because they aren't very inspiring to me. (It's true!) All that to say, this QAL will be a good challenge for me. :)
I dumped out all the strings from the box and started sorting.
In this photo, the top pile is strings to give away. They are fabrics that I've used over and over again or ones that I just don't care for or I don't see myself using. I plan to pass them along to someone who will be excited to use them! The center pile of strings are ones I plan to cut into squares. (They are all wider than 2 1/2", so I will cut them into 2 1/2" squares.) The bottom pile is the multi-colored pile...fabrics that don't have a predominant color. I also took out any odd bits and any very short strings. (Scraps take a lot of maintenance. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!)
The remaining strings are sorted in color order. Man, that is so satisfying!

Choose a color scheme

The next step in the QAL is to choose a color scheme. When I made my June quilt for the book, I started sewing the string sets together first, then I chose a background color. It worked out alright, but this time I am recommending that you choose your background color first. The main reason for doing this is so that you can avoid using the background color IN your string blocks. If you were to use a red background fabric, and you used a lot of red in the string squares, there will be a lack of distinction in colors and the pattern of the quilt would get lost. If you use a red background fabric, you can still use red fabrics in the strings, but I would recommend doing so sparingly. Or, at the very least, make sure that there is a value difference between the two.

Here are some ideas for background fabrics:
Small scale polka dots with a light background would be a fun option. Here's an example of a quilt with various red and white polka dot backgrounds. I used a black and white polka dot fabric in the quilt that I made for my craftsy class. It's hard to go wrong with dots!
Solids are a safe bet for a background fabric, but they don't have to be boring. If you use a linen or chambray, it will add a textural element to your quilt. The fabrics shown in this photo are Essex Linen (in natural, perhaps?) by Robert Kaufman, Chambray by Andover, Shadow (Kona cotton) and a lovely bright pink Essex Linen.
I'm a big fan of red and white polka dots, too! It's a bold choice, but it would make a super fun quilt.

Gather materials

I'll be giving instructions on how to make a baby quilt, which will measure 51" x 51" and a lap size quilt, which will measure 51" x 68". (I realize that is a little large for a baby quilt, but it is the best size option I could get with an on point setting.) If you want to make an 85" square quilt, as shown in the book, by all means, please do! :)

For the background fabric you will need:

1.3333 yards for a baby size quilt (there will be about 2"-3" extra)
2 yards for a the lap size quilt (there will be about 5" extra)

I recommend buying a little bit extra yardage than listed above, but I'll leave just how much extra up to you. That is why I specified how much wiggle room there is in the yardage listed above. (I hope that isn't too confusing!)

For the cornerstone fabric you will need:

1/3 yard for a baby quilt (there will be only 1/2" extra)
1/2 yard for the lap quilt (there will be 2" extra)

Again, buy the additional amount of fabric that you feel comfortable with. I'll leave how much up to you.

For the quilt in the book, I used two different fabrics for the cornerstones, but for the lap and baby sizes, I am assuming that you only will use one fabric for the cornerstones. Feel free to substitute in a second fabric if you wish.

Of course you will need plenty of string scraps, too! Select scraps that are at least 1" wide and 2" wide or less. Scraps should be at least 4 1/2" long. If you don't have a lot of variety of string scraps, you could chop up a bunch of charm squares into 1 1/2" or 2" widths. That would give you a lot variety without spending a lot of money.
------
I'm undecided about what kind of quilt to make myself, but I have two options that I came up with...
I have an awful lot of low volume scraps and I know that they would be lovely paired with this red and white polka dot. I have more than enough fabric to make a lap size quilt.
This is the second color option that I came up with: all the colors of scraps except reds and black & whites, paired with Essex linen. (Ironically, I have the most red scraps! Ha!) I have just enough background fabric to make a baby size quilt.

Unless I come up with another brilliant option, probably will make both options listed above. Because if it isn't ridiculous, it isn't worth doing, right? Ha!

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. I'm excited to see what you come up with for your quilt!