String-pieced Lap Quilt

21 12 2018

Lillington, NC where I live is about 1 1/2 hours from Archdale, NC. You may ask, “What is in Archdale?” The warehouse of Pineapple Fabrics! And several times a year they host a sale which is well worth going to. And they offer boxes of scraps to groups that sew and donate quilts to those in need. (Management prefers an email prior to the sale if you would like to be on the list to receive scraps.)

At a recent sale, one of the ladies in my church quilting group requested a scrap box since our group makes quilts for young ones as well as the elderly. Pineapple Fabrics gave us “a boatload” of selvage ends from their kit-cutting process. The strips or “strings” are pinked one one side and have selvages on the other with about 1″ width of usable fabric.

I used two fistfuls or hanks of black and gray print strips when making this lap quilt. I used about 1 1/2 yd. of electric blue fabric for the sashing, border, and binding. I quilted spirals all over and gave the quilt to Johnny, who lives at an assisted living facility.

Tips for sewing with selvage end strips:

  • Sew the strips together prior to trimming off the selvages.
  • Begin in the center of the strip set and work outward, adding strips to both sides as you go. This will economize your time in making trips to the ironing board.
  • Sew the pinked edge of one strip to the pinked edge of another.
  • Likewise, sew the selvage edge of one strip to the selvage edge of another, allowing as much of the print as possible to show. Trim off the selvages, leaving 1/4″ seam allowance.
  • Press seams to one side as you go.
  • Determine the width of the string-pieced strip set that will economize with the length of strips you are working with. For example. all my strips were about 31″ long. I calculated that I could cut four 7 1/4″ squares from this length with about 2 1/2″ to spare. So I string-pieced 7 strip sets that were at least 7 1/2″ wide. (Given this 31″ length, I could have made strip-sets that were at least 6″ wide and cut five 6″ squares from each strip-set.)
  • The next step is cutting squares from the strip-sets with rotary cutting equipment.
  • Cut the (2 1/2″ wide) sashing pieces the same length as the string-pieced squares, 7 1/4″ in my case.
  • Choose cornerstone fabric that draws some attention to add secondary interest to the quilt.
  • When attaching sashing strips to blocks (or sashing rows to block rows), pin and sew with the sashing uppermost because all the seams of the string-pieced blocks tend to stretch and spread when they are uppermost.

Are you working on a strip-pieced project? If you would be willing to share your idea with blog readers, send me a picture, please.


“Earth Movers” Baby Quilt Finished!

19 11 2018

What inspires you to make a quilt? A patchwork design you want to try? A seasonal motif? The need for a gift or decor item? Fabric? (Fabric designers and manufacturers are counting on the latter!)

Fabric was definitely the inspiration for the “Earth Movers” baby quilt. I acquired the central fat quarter in a pack labeled “Gray.” Gray? Well, I guess the roads are gray, but not much else reads gray in that fat quarter! I considered fussy cutting the trucks and signs to include in an “I Spy” quilt, but the vehicles are larger than my other “I Spy” patches. What to do with this “gray” fat quarter? Then, when I received a trucks and diggers with light green background in a fat quarter drawing last month at my guild, I was inspired to combine the two fabrics in a baby quilt.

After squaring up the central fat quarter, I added a gray “roadway” border and a border of red print. Alternating a light blue print with the squares and rectangles of the truck print stretched my fat quarter into an interesting border. And binding with the red print finished the quilt nicely.

I met my personal challenge of using every bit of the two “Earth Movers” fat quarters in making this fun baby boy quilt. I think I might try this design idea again with a large floral print or Disney princess print for a little girl!

By the way, “Earth Movers” was one of the 12 projects Trinity and I finished on her recent visit. Several of you guessed 12, but Karen P. was the first to respond with that number. Karen, would you like a couple of fat quarters of batik fabrics or a couple of fat quarters of Tula Pink fabric?

Quilting Retreat for Two

17 11 2018

About a week ago our daughter Trinity arrived with a backpack full of quilt tops she planned to complete while visiting us. The weather was chilly and rainy – the perfect incentive to stay indoors and quilt. We kept my longarm humming!

On the far left, you can see the Texas themed quilt, a raffle quilt for grandson Keith’s junior class to benefit the prom. We also finished a quilt for her son, Kaleb, who is now over six feet tall and needs a longer bed quilt. And then, there was the stack of baby quilt tops, all completed now. Did you notice the plum and blue star table runner on the top of the pile? Trinity’s visit coincided with a runner class I taught at Sew There! Quilts and More. Teamwork had Trinity longarming while I machine sewed binding on the quilt previously finished.

We’re offering a fabric and quilt pattern prize for the first person who correctly guesses how many projects we completed on our retreat for two. Write a number in your comment below.

Toward the end of her stay, we went shopping, yes, for fabric for two more quilts, and also for a suitcase. Trinity came with a backpack of tops and left with a suitcase full of completed quilts!

“Scrappy Squares” Finished!

2 11 2018

I’m happy to show you my Leader/Ender project made with 2″ squares. You can read about the beginning of this project here. And you can read about the middle of the project here. The blocks measure 6,” finished, and the quilt is 42″ square. This is a great lap quilt size for a rest home resident. (The Tarheel Quilters Guild, of which I am a member, donates lap quilts to our local VA Hospital.)

This quilt is fun to look at because of the variety of textures and prints it contains. From juvenile to Christmas, from polka dot to paisley, from florals to stripes, from Civil War repro to batiks, this quilt has it all!

To match the background fabric, I chose white thread. Meandering adds curvy texture to soften the angular squares. I had planned to bind the quilt with a black polka dot fabric, but after trimming the excess backing from the quilt, I decided to use backing scraps instead. I think the teal Grunge is a great choice; it lends a happy finish to the quilt, and it’s surprising how many of the teal squares in the quilt’s interior are now noticeable.

The making of this quilt has reduced my box of 2″ squares to light backgrounds and boring dark colors, so I’ll use my box of 1 3/4″ squares for my next Leader/Ender project. If you say the block design is similar to the quilt pictured above, you’ll be correct, but daughter Trinity says I should set the blocks on-point and add a piano key border. Stay tuned as I chronicle my progress!


“Play Ball!”

31 10 2018

I won a bunch of fat quarters at the October quilt guild meeting!

Back Story: Each month our guild holds a fat quarter drawing based on a stated theme. “Sports” or “School Teams” was the theme this time. I was happy to contribute a FQ of biking fabric – one I received in a fat quarter pack of gray textures. I thought, “Oh, good, I can pass off this biking fabric that I have no idea how to use. ” But then . . . I won the drawing . . . which included my biking contribution! (Does anyone need a biking FQ?)

From my winnings, I was inspired to use two baseball FQs along with some red polka dot, light gray, and solid navy from stash. You can find a link to the pattern on my Patterns page. Scroll down until you see “Vroom!” and click on the name of the quilt to link to a printer-friendly instruction page.

This quilt was super quick and easy to make! If you are of an analytical bent, you’ll notice that I switched the width and colors of the first and second borders. I felt the light gray would better frame the patchwork as a first border, and I wanted a wide light border for writing/quilting baseball words in red thread. So I used  narrower red strips as the second border rather than the first border.

I quilted most of the quilt on my longarm with a medium gray thread, leaving the light gray border unquilted. After removing the quilt from the frame, trimming and binding it, I quilted baseball related words in the gray border on my home machine. Home run, batter, umpire, strike, first base, catcher, diamond, out, pitcher, glove, foul ball, slide, outfielder, bat, shortstop, mitt.

I expanded the backing with a row of 6″ “Ups and Downs” blocks. These scrappy blocks, my go-to Leader/Ender project, are also useful for fillers and borders.

As I sewed, I prayed for the little guy who will receive this quilt. Entering this world earlier than expected and then being whisked away to the NICU is a trauma for the baby and for his parents. I pray that the quilt as well as expert help from the medical staff will ease anxious hearts and aid his development.

“Scrappy Squares”

11 10 2018

Guess what is on the design wall . . . my “Scrappy Squares” leader/ender project. To see the beginning of this project, click here.

My plan was to make a quilt with a 7 x 7 grid, i.e. 49 blocks. Sewing squares together in between other projects, I made 25 blocks. The centers were cut 3 1/2″ square and were surrounded by 2″ squares. Once I completed these 25 blocks, I placed them on my design wall. If blocks are on the wall rather than in a box, they are more likely to become a quilt. Seeing them is motivation to work on the project!

I chose a simple design for alternate blocks that utilizes Four Patches leftover from my “Confetti” quilt. Click here and here to see the “Confetti” quilt. The colorful squares were cut 2″ x 2″ and the white strips were cut 2″ x 3 1/2″ and 2″ x 6 1/2.” Here’s a close-up of a section of my “Scrappy Squares” lap quilt.

It is so exciting to see “Scrappy Squares” coming together. I might be tempted to complete the alternate blocks in one sewing session rather than piecemeal as leaders/enders.

What motivates you to finish a long-term project?

“Patriot Stars” Finished!

24 09 2018

Following Hurricane Florence, after power was restored, I quilted “Patriot Stars.” I began this quilt as a Leader/Ender project at the prompting of Bonnie Hunter, scrap queen extraordinaire. This block design is the “Jewel Box Stars” Leader/Ender challenge she issued in July. You can read about the beginning of my project by clicking here.

I made nine 16″ blocks which, with sashing and border, make a nice sized lap quilt. Most of the fabrics are leftovers from various patriotic quilts I’ve made with Wilmington Prints strip packs for magazine publication. It feels great to give these vibrant, Americana scraps a place to shine!

For quilting, I used a light blue variegated thread and “Becker’s Shooting Star” pantograph distributed by Urban Elementz.

By clicking on the picture, you can zoom in to see the quilting design. I love the contemporary feel this stitching brings to the quilt.

Practical Life Insight: I blogged about a scrappy Leader/Ender project that I began prior to finishing “Patriot Stars.” I hesitated sharing the new project for fear that you would chastise me for having too many scrappy irons in the fire.

And not one of you, my faithful blog followers, called me on the carpet for beginning a new project before finishing an old one. Not one of you judged me for my enthusiasm on the one hand and procrastination on the other.

This makes me wonder how many of us won’t begin something new or won’t share our excitement for something new because we are afraid of other people’s comments. When the truth is, most people don’t pay that much attention to how many projects are on our to-do list; they are only concerned with their own spread-sheets. The people who love us will applaud our excitement with a new endeavor, and they will encourage us along the way.

Now I’m not advocating abandoning your “old” projects and never completing them, but I am encouraging you to put fear aside and follow your creative instincts. I certainly won’t be the one to judge you!