Sunday, January 24, 2021

Making String Blocks

I have made some progress in my quest to move my latest string quilt into the flimsy stage. In my last post I wrote that I was debating about using some of the neutral strings that I had already sewn together and that were waiting to be used in quilts. In the end I decided that the math just wouldn't work out and I would have a lot of waste. 

So, I have been making string blocks. :) I am making these strings to finish at 4" so I am using paper foundations that are 9" x 4.5" and some singles that are 4.5" square.  Making the smaller blocks allows for more variety in the strings as well as using up lots of smaller pieces. 

I was moving right along until I ran out of bobbin thread and all of my bobbins were empty. I am sewing these on my Singer 301 and it is a very fast machine and it eats up the thread from those smaller bobbins really quickly! So I took a break to press and trim the blocks I had made and then took some time to refill my bobbins. I now have 32 little string blocks ready to go and I am ready to put it all together into a quilt top.

On Friday I had a medical appointment that couldn't be taken care of by telephone. It seems really weird to go to the doctor in person now and especially seeing the waiting room completely empty. The bonus is that I was seen exactly at my appointment time. Crazy Covid times!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Building Blocks :)

parts and pieces ready for assembly
I spent a good amount of time in my sewing room over the past couple days and I have made amazing progress on my string and hourglass quilt. I had a real assembly line going. 😀

I haven't really encountered any difficulties making these blocks other than the seams on the string blocks can be a bit bulky. I have found that using my wool pressing mat helps me to get them smashed down. I spritz the mat with a bit of water before I start my pressing sessions and I think it is helping.

I have 30 large four patches finished and up on my design wall and another 19 done that just won't fit on the wall. I still have a few more blocks to stitch together and then I have some thinking to do before I start sewing everything together. 

There is a border that goes around the edges of the quilt and it is made up of neutral string blocks and hourglass blocks. I think I have more than enough hourglass blocks ready to go but I haven't quite figured out the string blocks yet. 

For quite some time I have been working on making full sheets of neutral strings to have ready to go into any projects as needed but I don't know if I want to use them in this project. 😕 I will make that decision today so that I can keep moving this quilt top forward to completion.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Design Wall

design wall

Now that my fun and productive hexagon detour has come to an end I'm back to working on my string and hourglass quilt. This is what my design wall looks like and I am pretty happy with the way it looks.

I had posted previously about seeing this quilt on Bonnie Hunter's blog and I loved it as soon as I saw it. This is a quilt that she is not providing a pattern for so I am making it using my own block sizes.

I'm still sewing lots of my little string blocks into four patches but as you can see I have also started sewing my scrappy hourglass units together as well.

Other than taking Peanut for a walk this afternoon and getting on the treadmill later in the evening I plan to spend lots of time in my sewing room today. I say to heck with chores!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Detour to a Hexagon Flimsy!

My fun little detour has come to a quick end but it sure was an enjoyable trip! I can't believe how quickly this quilt top came together. I'm pretty sure not having to cut all of the hexies contributed to the speed of getting this flimsy together.😀

Luckily for me, I received these hexies from my quilty sister Cheryl after she had tried to put them together into a quilt that she couldn't make work for her. I think I made them work pretty well for me. 😉

I was able to use most of the hexies but there were a few that were spoiled in that some of the corners had been trimmed and I didn't feel there would be enough fabric for the seams. I set them aside into the reject pile and determined that I would just use up all of the 'good' hexies to make the quilt. Once I started sewing the columns together I realized that if I just made four more hexies that I would be able to make another column. I recognized many of the fabrics that were used in the hexagons so I dug into my stash and found some of them. All I needed to do was to cut three more hexies to add to the lone remaining good hexagon.

This quilt top was put together randomly although I did try to not have like fabrics together. I wasn't quite successful when it came to the triangles but c'est la vie. Speaking of the triangles - I added them to all of the hexagons even the ones that would eventually become the edges of the flimsy. I didn't know which hexagons would be on the ends and I figured it would be easy to unpick a few triangles and it was.

One thing I would do next time is that I would trim off the dog ears from the triangles after sewing them to the hexagons. It would be more efficient and easier to sew everything together if they are out of the way.

This flimsy finished at 65" x 80". I am not sure if I am going to keep the edges as they are or if I want them trimmed straight. I will quilt it like this and then decide if I want to trim them later.

One other thing I have decided is that I am going to return these hexies to my sister instead of donating the quilt. I am sure my sister will love to have this quilt to snuggle under.😀 I know I will make many, many other quilts that I will donate to charity.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Hexagons Continue

I'm still a little obsessed with these hexagons and it is a good thing to have something to focus on other than the Covid situation in my area.

As of yesterday, my province is now in a state of emergency with a stay at home order. My region of the province had already been in a lockdown since December 14 and then on December 26 the lockdown was extended province wide. I am a bit confused because I don't know what the difference is between lockdown and the new order other than maybe with the lockdown they were telling us to stay home and the state of emergency they are ordering us to stay home.

Happily, this quilt top is really moving along quickly and I have already started sewing the blocks into pairs and then the pairs into sets of four. I will end up sewing three of these four block chains together to make a column. 

Normally when I put a quilt top together I prefer to sew the blocks into quadrants and then join them together but I can't with this one. This quilt top needs to be put together in columns or rows because of the way the hexagons fit together. Once I get to the point of joining the columns it will be straight sewing - no pins - hopefully!!! 

I am really happy with the way it is coming together. 😀

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Hexagons and Triangles

I'm still distracted by the hexagons that I received from my sister Cheryl. 😊 I wasn't sure which fabrics I would use for the connector triangles but after I made the second test block I knew I liked the blue. It turned out to be a good option because none of the hexies are blue and there would be some contrast. I also decided that scrappy would be the way to go.

I was able to raid my 3.5" strip bin for a variety of blue fabrics. Some of these fabrics are oldies - I don't use 3.5" strips very often and you can tell that a lot of the strips had been in the bin a long time. There are plenty of hairy strings hanging off the triangles that I cut. lol

Aligning the triangle for sewing was a breeze!

I started sewing one triangle onto each hexagon and after I was done I thought I had cut way too many triangles. Reality set in when I tried to layout out more than two blocks together. Oops...I needed to add another triangle opposite the first. I honestly don't know what I was thinking.

By the time I had finished sewing all of the triangles onto the hexies I only had a couple extra triangles left. 😁

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Taking a Little Detour

Quite some time ago my quilty sister Cheryl gave me a stack of large hexies that she had cut for a quilt but she couldn't make it work for her. They have been taking up table space and I've been constantly moving them around and out of the way. Well, last night I took a little detour from the string bins and tried to figure out what to do with them. My sister and I texted back and forth and talked on the phone about what to use for the connector triangles. In my minds eye, which is not reliable at all, I thought I could use the larger triangle that makes up part of a triangle in a square block. 

I did a test and it absolutely did not work! It was difficult to sew and it bubbled up in the center where the triangles met. I realized then that it needed to be an equilateral triangle. Luckily for me I just happened to have the perfect ruler to use to cut those triangles. 😊

This is the second test block and it looks so much better. It was easier to sew together as well but I will have to pin where the triangles meet in the center. I am so not a pinner!

I have to decide which fabric or fabrics that I will use for the connector triangles but other than that I am good to go. I think this version will be a donation quilt because as I was working on the test blocks I got an idea using different fabrics for the hexies.

Monday, January 11, 2021

More String Blocks

My sewing machine has been humming along as I continue to make string blocks. I am using all colours of strings in my blocks but I am tending to use more of the medium tones.

I have made a total of 3 batches of string blocks that I have already cut into squares using my Studio cutter. I didn't count how many squares I got from the first batch but I did from the second and third. My string blocks are pieced on 8" papers and I made 17 in the second batch and 20 in the third. 

I am using the 2.5" studio die to cut my squares and I got 153 from the second batch of string blocks and 180 from the third. It was amazingly quick and easy to cut all of those 2.5" squares. Just a few passes through the Studio cutter and voila! 

I find that the whole process works much better for me if I remove the papers and give the blocks a spritz of starch before pressing. On more than one occasion I have stitched my seams a bit too narrow because my strings are not all straight. If I remove the papers first I have an opportunity to check for wayward seams and I can fix them prior to cutting the blocks to size.

I have also started cutting the quarter square triangles for the hourglass blocks using another Go die. I already had some stashed in my bins that were leftover from a quilt I made for my niece Amanda. I need to add a lot more variety in the colours and I need a ton of neutrals as well so I still have lots of cutting ahead.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Prep Work

In December I wrote about my efforts/hope/goal to sew up all of the strings that I have been collecting so that I can use them in quilts. I also gave links to string quilts that Bonnie Hunter had shown on her blog. I was really enamored with her quilts and I decided I would make at least one of them.

I started cutting phone book paper to the size I needed to make into blocks that would be subcut into 4 smaller string block segments. These segments would be mixed and matched to make up one of the blocks in the two block quilt. I made a few of them and then I had a cutting error. I was able to trim two of the block segments to the correct size but of course the remaining two were too small. I thought there has to be a better and more accurate way for me to make these block pieces.

After thinking about it I had an aha moment. I could make the initial string blocks much larger and then cut them into smaller squares using my Studio cutter. It is working out great and taking a lot less time too! The Studio die system can cut up to 10 layers of fabric but because there are so many seams in these blocks I don't push it to the limit.

I had purchased the Studio die cutter and dies from my sister when she was moving and she realized she wouldn't have space for it. I thought it would be a really good idea to keep it in the family. 😊

I am glad that I am putting this tool to good use because I just don't use it as often as I should. Because I was a dedicated follower of Bonnie Hunter's scrap user system I already have a ton of precut fabric pieces ready and waiting to go into quilts. As I use those precut pieces up I will absolutely use the die cutter much more often. It is so convenient to use and makes quick and easy work of cutting fabric.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Dog Tales

Odie and Peanut
Adam and Anna got a new puppy and they needed someone to look after him for a few days that they both had to work. Of course, we were more than happy to spend some time with our new grand dog Odin and give him lots of lovin'. He is a schnoodle and he is four months old and so stinking cute and sweet!

At home, he had really taken to sleeping on and playing with some old couch cushions so they decided they needed some replacement covers. They knew who to ask and of course I was happy to make them so they brought them along when they dropped off Odin.

I think he's happy with the new covers. There were actually four cushions but I didn't get a photo of the last one I made. The covers are made very simply - envelope style - so they can be removed easily for cleaning.

It was such a joy to have him visit. Peanut is 8.5 years old and tiny so she is a bit overwhelmed by him but I do think she was enjoying the company. We lost our precious Molly on November 29 and we are all so heartbroken.

my sweet Molly girl
Molly was a mini Schnauzer and she had the most beautiful personality. She was diagnosed with heart failure at 8.5 years and we got to keep her for 1.5 years after her diagnosis. We are so grateful for that extra time we had with her. She tried so hard to stay with us and we tried so hard to keep her. We gave her lots of love and care but you don't always get what you want.

Monday, January 4, 2021

My First Finish of 2021

I did it! I have my first finish for 2021 and I just love it. The first time I saw this quilt it was on the cover of the Treasury of Quilts book and I was totally smitten. I just had to make it. 😀

I had a few trials and tribulations as I was piecing it but that was because of tension issues with my sewing machine. I figured out the problem and then it was smooth sailing from there.

I have decided to call my quilt First Class Postage and I think it suits it perfectly. The quilt finished at 72" x 89". I used 80/20 for the batting and I quilted it with brown thread top and bottom. I quilted it using my long arm and I used a panto called Antique Lace and it looks so pretty.

I really like the backing fabric I chose!
I should have checked my earlier blog posts prior to quilting because I had previously decided to quilt it using a baptist fan panto but then so much time had passed that I had totally forgotten that. Oh well, there will be plenty more quilts in my future that I can use that panto on.

After I took these photos I realized that I still needed to tuck in my thread tails from quilting. I will take care of that and then I think I will put this quilt on my bed for now. I am sure this quilt will give me many sweet dreams!

I hope everyone had the best Christmas and New Year celebrations possible. Let's all hope for a much better 2021.