Thursday, November 16, 2017

Beach Find

I was gone most of the last week, so no sewing was accomplished. One of my niece’s was getting married in Malibu, and I was thrilled we got to attend.

All my nieces are beautiful, but this one was especially lovely on her wedding day.

After the wedding, DH and I headed down to Oceanside, CA to enjoy some time at the beach without as much traffic as the LA area.

We saw some gorgeous sunsets, pretty drastically different from day to day. 

We hit a couple thrift stores in Oceanside, and I bought three rolls of fabric for a total of $30.

This tag was on the fabric far right. The roll was full, and did indeed have 50 yards of fabric on it. The middle roll might have been full, or possibly had just a couple yards off of it, but the roll far left has about ten yards on it. So, I got over 100 yards of cotton fabric for $30, or less than 30 cents per yard. The prints are out of style, but I’m thinking they will be fine for quilt backings. 

I wanted to wash all this fabric, but washing 50 yards at once wasn’t going to happen. When I buy quilt backings, I tend to buy 120” wide backings, because a lot of my quilts run 108-110” square. With that in mind, I am cutting all this fabric into 120” lengths, knowing that I can piece it back together if I need to, but the shorter lengths make washing all this fabric much easier. 

If anyone is near Oceanside, California, I didn’t buy all the fabric rolls they had, and if you are into garment making they had some 98 yard rolls of knits, still at $10 per roll. I believe it was the DAV thrift store, but we went to several that day. Some people may think it was excessive to buy as much fabric as I did, I think I showed great restraint. There were other rolls of cotton as well as all the garment fabric, so the fact I limited it to three rolls, was good for me. Since all of the rolls I bought have neutral backgrounds, I think they’ll do fine as quilt backs. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Hot Mess

While some things are going great in my life, other areas are a hot mess, and it’s just that reason I am so enjoying working with strings right now.

When some quilters make string blocks, they are actually working with strips. Strips are even cuts with nice edges. I am working with strings, uneven cuts, rejects of the scrap user system than can’t be cut into any of the sizes I save. They are wonky cuts, possible leftovers from cutting strips from scraps, weird sizes and shapes that don’t fit anything. If I’m lucky it’s just a WOF cut to straighten up an edge before cutting strips from yardage.

Right now I’m working with strings from recycled fabrics, men’s shirts I’ve cut up to scrap user system sizes, and what doesn’t work for that goes into the string bucket. I’ve got quite the oddball pieces in here. Collars, cuffs, odd leftover bits that I can’t get a strip from. My personal favorite? The odd bits left from cutting out a stain! I’m not using the stained part, but around it, that’s good fabric!

I always use some type of foundation when string piecing. Most of the time, that foundation is paper. I will cover a square of paper with strings, then square it up before removing the paper. Right now, I’m covering 15 degree wedges cut from Golden Threads paper, so I can make a Christmas tree skirt. I’m also using Warm and Natural batting as a foundation for string Christmas stockings.

String blocks, stockings, wedges, anything, always start out looking like a hot mess.

 Hot mess! Look at those wonky pieces!

Hey, look, it’s a stocking and kind of cute!

Hot mess!

Two sides of a stocking, not bad!

Hot mess on the left. Use the wedge ruler to neaten things up, and hey, that could be used for something fun!

Just like these shapes made up of wonky bits, I'm hoping the areas of my life that are a hot mess will get neatened up and be a part of something good in the end. Until then, I'll make order from bits of fabric, and dream of happy endings.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Off Week

Boy, do I wish I could say I had a really productive week, and finished up all those Christmas stockings! I wish I could say that, but I can’t, because I didn’t. This has been a pretty emotionally driven week, and I didn’t get much done at all. I have gotten on a more even keel now, and I’m hoping for a productive weekend since DH works all weekend.

This is what I did work on this week. I cut out a Weed Whacker quilt when I cut out the Waterfall quilt. I had so many 2” blue strips I needed a couple big quilts to put a dent in them. I’m double sewing the corners so I get a nice pile of bonus HSTs to play with. The container on the left has the bonus HSTs, the container on the right has the units I need for the Weed Whacker quilt. I had sewed all the blue strips into pairs while I was working on the Waterfall quilt, and this week, since I was rather out of sorts, sewing on lines for knocked off corners was a good, easy thing to do. I’m not finished making units, this is about 2/3 of the units I need to make. I’ve been debating what pattern I’d like to do with the bonus HSTs, but I am still undecided. I don’t need the units for a border, because I already made a piano key border for the Weed Whacker quilt. Did I mention I had a LOT of blue 2” strips???

I tried starting the string stockings I’m making with men’s shirts, but I realized I need to press the shirt strings first. The shirt strings are so wonky and so wrinkled I just can’t deal with both issues and get a good flat stocking without pressing first. As soon as I post this, that’s what I’m heading to do, press a decent amount of shirt strings so I can string piece tomorrow with no drama. I’m really careful to not wrinkle my pre-cut strips, but I tend to just cram strings into boxes. Most of the time with quilting fabric I can get away with that, but these recycled fabrics aren’t being as forgiving, so rather than fight with them as I sew, I’ll just take the time to press them now. I’m hoping to finish the units for Weed Whacker as leaders/enders while I string piece stockings. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Christmas Sewing

You’d think I’d start Christmas sewing by making the gifts, but instead, I’m starting with the decorations. 

Here is a close-up of one of the stockings I string pieced. DD#1 wants her Christmas decorations in a green, purple, silver color scheme.  

And this is what I got done this week!  I need to make a couple more stockings for our house as well, I’ve got 18 stockings to fill this year!  I’ll also be making stockings for DD#3’s family. I decided I’d string piece all the fronts and backs, then deal with assembly. When I string piece stockings, I use Warm and Natural batting scraps and foundation piece directly on the batting. 

I’m making Flying Geese units as leaders/Enders while I work on string piecing. I’ve got enough flying geese made for several blocks, and that gave me an idea for another quilt which I started cutting for today. I really need to be careful cutting because of my arm, but my arm is much better now! I plan on whittling down my string stash next year, and flying geese units are such a good leader/ender for string blocks I’m planning to piece the almost 2,000 flying geese I’ll need while I’m string piecing. 

My determination to work on strings next year came from working on the stockings. I have my strings separated by color, and when I took the purple string container out, the lid was on tight. After making all those stockings, everything got fluffed up and now the lid won’t fit back on!  I didn’t add anything to the container, but that’s the way strings are, they only seem to multiply, not go down...besides, I love string piecing, so working on string quilts and finishing UFOs will be my priority next year!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Slow Progress Is Still Progress

My arm is not hurting nearly as much as it was, but the numbness is not better. I'm still taking things very slowly, and if I can avoid surgery, that will be great! 

My to do list is getting longer and longer, and there's not too much I can do about that right now. This week I cut out all but one of the Christmas gifts I hope to make for the grandkids. I really needed some sewing time, for sanity's sake, so I had a couple play days where I worked on some blocks that just don't matter. 

I made nine of these blocks, completely scrappy and not for anything specific. I have a bunch more of these pinned up and ready to sew. I finished the colorway of nine patches I've been working on for DD#3's wedding quilt too. Two more colorways of nine patches to sew up and then I can assemble the top!

Mr. LJ (DD#2's son) is getting so big! Hard to believe he turns 1 next month. My mom made him that blue teddy bear, and he's started dragging it around with him everywhere. Isn't it great when handmade things are loved so much!

School photos came back for the grandtwins. I got to spend a lot of time with these two last week because it was fall break. 

I'm going to keep on doing what I can, and I'm spending a lot of time thinking of ways to make things easier on my arm. Right now my sewing priorities are Christmas related, and when I get those finished, I'll ease my way back into quilting.