Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: Year in Numbers

Happy New Year! Well, almost.  It's time to look back at the 2014 year of quilts, right up to last Friday's Scrappy Strings.

In 2014 I completed:
31 quilts
4 bags
1 hat
at least 4 little blankies
and a dozen or so baby bibs

I also made it one whole year in a "real" job, bought a car, and got a boyfriend.  Here's to 2015!  (PS, check out last year's review post here.)

(Mosaic made with BigHugeLabs Mosaic Maker. You should check it out!)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

String Braid Top Finished (and a tutorial)

The first string braid top is done. I say "first" because I still have plenty of triangles left, so there will be at least one more quilt to come.  This top measures 70" x 56".

(It''s wider than shown. At the time I still had light for the pic one column was not yet in place)
This is still part of the series of string quilts I am making after sorting my strips a few month ago. The first was the blur and brown string quilt here.  Organized scraps are so inspiring!

This design comes from the blog American Quilting. Several commenters asked her for the pattern but I don't think she was able to find one. There may not be one. It's a simple enough design to make and perfect for eating through scraps.

The triangles can be made in two ways. You can piece together shorter scraps into a rough triangle shape. Lay your ruler over them as you go to make sure all the pieces are long enough.

Press, with STARCH (I have never used starch before, but it was a lifesaver this project. There are plenty of recipes to make your own on google). Then cut out using a 60 degree triangle ruler.

For the longer strings, piece them into strip sets that are just wider than your ruler and press, again with starch.

Then cut triangles, alternating the direction of your ruler as you go.  And that's how you make 60 degree triangles from your scraps. Arranging them in columns as I did in the first picture make a braid effect. I am planning to experiment with some other layouts in the next quilt(s).

I hope this tells you what you need to know to make your own string braid, please email or comment with any questions!

Linking to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Oh SCRAP! at Quilting is More Fun than Housework.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The First Scrappy Strings Quilt

Merry Christmas! I hope yours has been full of family, food, and sewing!  Remember a month or so ago when I sorted my overflowing strings bin?  Seeing all those strings neatly organized gave me an instant bug to make quilts from them! The blue and brown string stacks were the largest, so I tackled them first and set about making traditional string blocks foundation pieced on top of phone book pages.

The string blocks measure 6" finished. Making this many blocks nearly, but not quite, wiped out my blue and brown strings.  Adding solid borders brought the top to 60"x84".

I love scrappy quilts like this because of all the bits you can use up.  Very traditional fabrics mixed with childish and modern ones. Flannels, quilting cottons, and corduroy, everything goes!

This little bit of Tasmanian Devil flannel came from some fabric my mother made me pajamas from when I was a child.  Long before I started sewing, and yet here it is in one of my quilts.

The body of the quilt is stippled while the borders got a curly wave design.  The binding, of course, is scrappy.  For the backing I found a brown and blue flannel. The quilt is awfully heavy, but wonderfully snuggly. Perfect for cool winter nights.

Wilson was as helpful as every during my photo shoot.  The fall days are just wonderful, I wish it could last forever!

Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it Friday.  Merry Christmas everyone!!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

January do. Good Stitches Tutorial

Hello do. Good Stitchers! I am the quilter for January again this year. Has it really been a whole year since we did Drunken Circles? It doesn't seem possible.  This time we are making foundation pieced string blocks that for now I am calling "Mix Tape."

(edit: See the finished quilt here)

These blocks will be foundation pieced using a quilt-as-you-go technique right onto the batting.

Start by cutting yourself two foundation pieces of batting 13.5-14" square, depending on how much leeway you think you need. We will be trimming to 13" square at the end.  You'll need to use a pretty firm batting, something similar to Warm and Natural, that doesn't stretch or warp much.  I used Hobbs 100% cotton with scrim. If you need me to send you some pieces of batting, just drop me an email. I have plenty of scraps.

Gather up your scraps. You'll need strings in 2 colors per block.  Try to go with bright, saturated colors and keep it boy friendly (no pinks or purples).  Start by placing one string right-side-up across the batting, making sure it goes all the way to both edges. The angle at which you place this first string determines the angle that all the strings on the block will lay. Choose any angle you like.

Place your next string on top of the first, right side down, aligning one long edge, and sew with a quarter inch seam.

After making the seam flip the 2nd string over and press.  Continue adding strings in this way until you cover the entire block of batting.

Somewhere in your block mix in a string of a contrasting color.

Trim your block to 13" square. This may be easier to do from the back side so you make sure that you have batting over the whole block.

Sew around the edge about 1/8" in to pin down the edges of the strings to the batting. This will make things much easier for me as I go to join the blocks into a quilt.

Here is what my second block looked like. As you can see, I added a second, smaller, contrasting piece in this one.  Following this basic design technique have fun with your blocks!  You should end up with (2) 13" square string blocks foundation pieced on top of batting by the end of the month :)

Drop me and email if you have any questions.

(edit: See the finished quilt here)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fair Isle Christmas Quilt

Just in time for Christmas, the Fair Isle Quilt Along is over and my quilt is complete!  As you can see I changed the colors from the original. I am trying to get away from my habit of always using white as my go-to background.

Lee designed the pattern for this quilt based on nordic, "christmas sweater" type designs.  I love the blocky, pixelated looking elements, especially the reindeer.

The whole thing got a basic stipple in white thread. When it came time to quilt this one I decided that done is better than elaborate custom quilting :)

As it worked out, I just inherited 2 winter-themed flannel sheet sets. The flat sheet from one went on the back of this. Blue and white snowflakes-- perfect!

There are in fact 2 shades of white/cream in the poinsettias but the contrast is hard to see.
I bound the quilt in more of the blue solid that was the background. It measures a hefty 72"x77" finished and is already in use, warming toes in front of the fire!

Linking to Finish it Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts and The Fair Isle QAL at Freshly Pieced.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sweet Sisters

As some of you may (or may not) know, I'm a nurse. Specifically I'm a med-surg/tele nurse.  My unit has the (theoretically) least-sick patients in the hospital, meaning that I typically take care of at least 5 at a time and they come and go quickly.  I estimated once that I take care of over 50 patients a month (and I only work 15 days a month).  All this to say, if a nurse has ever taken care of you and when you run into each other in WalMart she doesn't remember you, there's a good reason.  Generally, if I remember a patient they were either very unpleasant or things didn't go well for them. But not always. Sometimes patients just stick with you. And that's the way it is with Mrs R.

Mrs. R was my patient back in about October of last year.  She was admitted with something fairly minor, particularly considering that she was over 90 years old. She was a charmer, always pleasant and smiling. I remember her being concerned about missing Seniors Game Day at the library, an event she coordinated and ran every week for seniors- mostly younger than herself- who needed some place to socialize.  She was anxious to discharge so she could drive to Dallas to meet her new triplet great (possibly great-great?) grand babies.

Her sister, also in her 90s, came to visit her one of the days I took care of her. They were both retired school teachers, with the tiniest most perfect English teacher handwriting I've ever seen. Had both outlived their husbands. Both still driving and living alone. Something about them just grabbed on to me.  Mrs. R and I exchanged Christmas cards last year.

I saw her again on our unit, sometime in the Spring. She had come down with heart failure-- the common cold of the elderly. Unfortunately it's chronic and progressive.  But she was still maintaining her usual schedule of obligations.

On Thanksgiving day I happened to see her again, admitted to another unit in the hospital, and it was such a sweet reunion.  She told me that she had prayed we would see each other again and there she was, sitting in the hallway as I was leaving at the end of my shift.  She was anxious to make sure I still had her address and I assured her that I'd kept it. This year, I said, maybe you'll even get a present ;)

So naturally I had to make quilts for Mrs. R and her sweet sister.   Smallish so that they can fit on a hospital bed or over a wheelchair. As cruel as it is time marches on, and I can see that Mrs. R is more frail than last year.  I backed them with cozy flannel and pieced in the leftovers from the front.

This was my first time to try rolling the backing over for a binding. I love the look, but it took just as long as binding the conventional way.  For some reason I had thought it would be faster.

These went in the mail today, with a Christmas card, on their way to Mrs. R.  I told her that she gets first pick of the quilts, but I have a suspicion that she'll want her sister to choose first.

It's so wonderful to have patients who remind me of why I went into nursing, even if it is not very often.  I hope these quilts will bring love and warmth and that these sweet ladies have many happy years ahead of them full of grand babies.

Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it Friday.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Happy Accident

My room looks like a fabric store exploded in here. It's the combined effects of working on a last minute Christmas project and a string quilt at the same time.  I now have 2 of the 5 columns I need for the string quilt finished.  Last night as I was moving them over to make room on the design wall this broken herringbone sort of design emerged.  I added to green sashing strips to see how it looks, what do you think?

Portions of this design wall have been modified to prevent certain individuals from snooping on their Christmas present.  Unfortunately I won't be able to show this one on the blog until after it's gifted :)

Linking up to WIP Wednesday.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Newest String Quilt on the Design Wall

The newest string quilt is on the design wall today.  A mix of girl spring time colors cut into 60 degree triangles.

I think if I actually put all these into one quilt it would be huge, so there may be more than one quilt in potentia here.

And as for the previous string quilt? Well, here's a sneak peak.   It will have its big reveal later ;)

Linking to Judy's Design Wall Monday.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Friday Finish, with Ruffles!

Todays Friday Finish is a special one for a special family.  The Nalles are adopting again!  A few years ago I sent a quilt to their little boy Aaron, so this quilt is for his future sister.

Harper is coming from an eastern European country where it is hard to be an orphan, especially one with any special needs. Sometime this Spring, hopefully, she will know the love of a family for the first time.

This quilt used the same techniques as this one I made before.  A focus fabric to pull colors from and strip piecing, each strip quilted differently.

Also, like the first one, I used ruffles.  Such a fun, textural touch for a girly quilt.

I really enjoy quilting like this, using a variety of patterns in the same quilt. The most time consuming by far was the flower petals design I did on the focal fabric. The rest were all quite quick. I even did one brand new (to me) design, beads on a string.

The quilt has a cozy flannel back with cute novelty designs.

I had to piece the back since it finished at around 46" x 61".

The Sweetgums are just brilliantly yellow right now. They are trying to make up for those little sticker balls they drop all year round with their beautiful colors.

The Nalles are struggling to raise the amount of money it will take to cross the ocean and bring Harper home. Please go read their story and donate if you can! You will helping to change the life of a little girl forever.

Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts Friday Finishes.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Design Wall... Tuesday

For the past couple days I have been quickly assembling a couple of sweet little sixteen patches for a pair of sisters quickly approaching their 100th birthdays!

My stash is sorely lacking in "cute old-lady" fabrics, so I hit up Hancocks Black Friday sale and bought 1/4 yard chunks of two dozen different fabrics. The poor ladies at the cutting counter had a job!

The tops are both done and I have flannel for the backings, now just need to get them basted.  Linking up to Design Wall Monday, if the linky is still open ;)