Monday, March 31, 2014

String blocks - a few tips

Is it really April 1 tomorrow? That seems impossible, but it's true. April means lots of good things. Tomorrow, my grandmother turns 89, and later in the month, we celebrate my brother-in-law's birthday. And a wedding anniversary. And the second annual Stash Bash. It's also my month to plan the Love circle quilt for do.Good Stitches!

It's been awhile since I've made string blocks. I don't know about you, but I always seem to have a pile of string scraps lying around.

Last week, I divided them into two piles based on length, and made a bunch of blocks.

Here's a few tips that might help, if you've never made a string block before.
-Working with a foundation is best for string blocks, and I prefer paper. As Jeni pointed out, using a fabric foundation (even muslin) adds bulk, whereas the paper can be ripped away when you're finished.
-If you have graph paper or an old telephone book, this works better than printer paper, but that will work, too!
-Start with your center strip, and glue-baste this piece to make sure it stays in place!

-To create a cohesive look, you can use a single color and width for your center strings. Or, you can mix it up to your heart's content!
-The most important thing is to make sure you keep a 1/4" seam allowance throughout.
-Make sure your strips are at least 1" wide.
-With all paper piecing, it's best to leave the paper on until you've sewn your blocks together. It helps to minimize bias.
-Setting your stitch length to 1.5 or 1.6 will make ripping that paper a little easier, too.
-When pressing any paper-piecing, use a dry iron (no steam!).

-Oh, and little triangle scraps are great for the end pieces!

Any other tips? Did I leave anything out?

Specifically for do.Good Stitches bee blocks this month, I'm asking for 8.5" blocks (so you can just cut a 2.5" strip off a sheet of paper to create that template!). For the center strings, I'd like 1" strips of any blue solid, and then the rest of the strings can be any width and any color. I'd love to see a mix of solids and prints.

As you can see, these are addictive to sew! And my pile of strips doesn't seem any smaller.

Friday, March 28, 2014

RJR solids

I'm so excited to share these pillows with you. Are you familiar with RJR Cotton Supreme Solids ? Thanks to Brenda and the RJR team, I was able to try them out, and I found them to be an excellent line of solids.

The range of colors is immense, and the fabric has a lovely hand.

I felt a little overwhelmed when I was choosing colors, but I decided to go outside of my comfort zone. I started with Night-290 (which is less purple than the link), and promptly added Flamingo-338, Seafoam Green-301, Just Peachy-278, Cove-294, Denim-106, Arabian Nights-160, and Cinnamon-196.

I was in the mood for some half-square triangles (I used my favorite method. Using the leftover strips I cut to make the HSTs, I made a second simple pillow, which allowed for some free-motion quilting practice.

I really love how these pillows turned out, and they've made a nice addition to our bedroom window seat!

And we have a little giveaway, thanks to RJR Fabrics! You can win a fat quarter bundle of the eight solids I chose.

Just leave a comment here
(and please make sure you leave an email address, if you are a no-reply commenter!) and tell me about your current patchwork obsession. I've been wanting to make a lone star quilt for about a year now; maybe someday soon!

I'll pick a winner Monday morning.
Thanks for entering!

And if you're on facebook, check out this page, where you can easily follow along with the blog hop. There are lots of fun projects being made with the Supreme Solids!

Comments are now closed. Thanks!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Kahlan's quilt

My cousin, Maclaine, is having her second baby in just a few weeks. I jumped at the chance to make her new girl, Kahlan, a quilt. When we discussed her preferences, I showed Maclaine a wonky log cabin, in Ellen's 1-2-3 Quilt book, which I highly recommend! It was fun to select stashed fabrics in Maclaine's chosen colors, primary with some neutrals thrown in.

And I love the back, possibly more than the front.

That's probably because I'm a fan of off-center designs. Whatever the reason, both the front and back are happy, bright and were made with love for my cousins.

Here's a close-up of the quilting. This seems to be my favorite free-motion stitch of the moment. To me, it feels more organic than a meander.

For the binding, I chose a favorite Color Me Retro print by Jeni. I wanted a print, but something minimal, and this worked perfectly.

I was able to gift the quilt in person to Maclaine and her husband, and I think they love it, too.

Hopefully, Kahlan will arrive soon!

P.S. Thanks to Amy for help with the pictures!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

(Nearly) wordless Wednesday: new cat edition

Fitzgerald has been with us for about ten weeks.

I finally got non-phone photos of her, with Swoon in the background.

The other two?

They are slowly adjusting. And highly suspicious.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A backlog of knits

I haven't shared knitting here in months, even though there's been lots of knitting.

Most recently, I finished an Elis cowl, a free pattern using a new-to-me stitch, Indian cross stitch. It's very simple (although it took a little getting used to), and I think it's lovely in this semi-solid Madeline Tosh Sport.

I've also been working on the Ysolda mystery shawl, Follow your arrow. I'm nearly finished (although those last rows seem to take ages to complete! I have this and another shawl still on the back burner.

I knit this fingering-weight hat, the Serpentine, and promptly gifted it to a sweet friend.

I kept this one (Facets for myself, though. It's gotten lots of wear in the last few months!

This three-year-old pair of socks finally got finished. I really want to be a sock knitter. But they just drag for me.

Finally, I knit Andi's Iz cowl. And I actually got good use of it this winter. Note: this picture was not taken in Houston, but in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with actual snow!

This year, I made a goal for myself to stash LESS. Note I'm not saying NONE! My rule is that I can purchase one skein for each three that I use. So far, there have been no yarn purchases for the year. I've used enough (and destashed a few) to buy, but I'm really attempting to use the yarn I have, which is abundant. It's been a great incentive to knit more often!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Chain + Link

I recently tested a pattern for Elizabeth of Don't Call me Betsy, and today it's available! It's called Chain + Link, and it's a fun paper pieced pattern. Several months ago, I purchased a Pink Castle bundle curated by Anna, and I thought this would be a great excuse to cut into it!

My first block, nearly finished.

These blocks are pretty large, so four make a nice baby quilt top. I'm considering how I want to finish this, but I really enjoyed making these blocks.

And if you're considering the pattern for yourself, it's on sale this week only, for $6 here!

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