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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Strata Squared

Hey there, friends!  As promised, I'm delighted to share my latest scrap quilt finish with you.  Since this quilt took awhile to put together and the process spanned several blog posts, I am including everything in here for those who want to give it a try.  But first, the big reveal!  Here she is, in all her 84" glory.


I'm calling this one Strata Squared.  The stacked random layers of scraps create such a neat effect, and I feel like that name captures the pattern perfectly.  If you're a scrap quilt lover and want to make your own Strata Squared quilt, this post is for you!   The steps are very straightforward, but I'll address some of the specific difficulties that come along with sewing this number of narrow strips together.  So, let's jump right in!

First, you'll want to cut your scraps to 1.5"wide, leaving them at random lengths.  I didn't cut any length off of my scraps at all.  They were left at whatever length they happened to be, ranging from 2" all the way to a full selvage-to-selvage strip!  These strips finish at just one inch wide, and it's the narrow width that gives this quilt such a neat look.


A word about sorting-  I always store my scraps by color (never by size), using one glass jar for each color of the rainbow, plus gray/black, and a multi-color jar.  The two baskets are for my white scraps and Christmas scraps.



You'll notice that my jars are not huge.  They only measure about 6" in diameter by about 12" tall, but they hold more than you might think.  I purposely don't have large scrap jars.  I know that if my jars get full, I can get two or three lap size quilts out of them, or about one queen size quilt.  That's about the amount of scraps I can process at one time without getting overwhelmed, so I choose to keep them manageable and NOT get bigger containers.  And you'll notice that after this quilt, they're ALL empty (with the exception of one scrap of backing fabric from this quilt)!

If you have more scraps than I do (and I know many of you do), don't despair!  Just grab a couple of handfuls of scraps from each color for this quilt and leave the rest for another project.

Next, grab and sew!  Randomly grab scrap strips and sew them end to end, creating one loooooonnnnggg strip.  Random is the name of the game here.  Mix in your white strips randomly as well.  You'll see that when you start to actually sew the quilt top together, you won't have any control over what fabrics touch each other, so just let that go right now.


Since you won't have any idea how long your strip is, you also won't know exactly how large your quilt will be.  I guessed that mine would be somewhere between a twin and queen size, but only because I know how much my scrap jars hold from past experience.

Okay, so because I didn't originally plan to write a tutorial for this quilt, this is the part that I didn't take photos of, so you'll just have to bear with me.  Choose a scrap piece to be your center. I chose a white scrap measuring about 1.5" x 2".  If you want a more rectangular quilt, you can choose a longer strip for the center.

Start sewing around the center scrap like a log cabin block.  When you get to the end of one side, cut your long scrap strip in line with the side (I just use my scissors), turn the piece and continue sewing down the next side.  Keep sewing around and around the center piece and watch your quilt top grow!  I took a few photos while sewing mine together.  Here it is at 48 inches-


and 54 inches-


and 60 inches-


and 72 inches-


Keep sewing your long strip to each side around the center until you get to the end.  Once you get toward the end of your scrap strip, you may find that you don't have enough length to make it all the way down the next side, and that's the point where you'll want to stop.  I had about six feet of my strip left over, and after all of this repetitive sewing, I felt just fine tossing that last little bit in the trash (but you can keep it if you want to).

As your quilt top gets bigger, it can become more tedious to sew.  Keep the weight of the quilt top on your sewing table so it doesn't pull, which will help keep your sewing straight, and try not to stretch your strip while you sew.  Both of these things will make your life much easier later on.

And finally, my quilt top finished at 84 inches-


Notice in the photos that I did NOT press my quilt top during the process.  When adding narrow strips like this, pressing over and over can easily distort the strips, making them wavy (think about adding borders to a quilt), and little bits of distortion can really add up to make bigger problems later.  I know this seems counterintuitive because as quilters we usually press often, but trust me on this.  Leave the pressing to the end.

Once your top is finished, then (and only then) should you press it.  When pressing, use a very hot, dry iron with plenty of starch.  Try not to pull your quilt top with the iron, and always iron with the direction of the strips.  This means that instead of pressing the quilt from top to bottom as I usually do, I pressed around and around the quilt to keep the strips as straight as possible.

Basting was probably the biggest challenge of this quilt.  Despite my very best sewing and pressing, and despite the fact that the strips all looked nice and straight after pressing, there was still some fullness in the quilt top.  These narrow strips naturally want to snap back toward the center of the quilt (especially at the corners).

Ordinarily when basting, I smooth out the entire quilt top and make it lay perfectly flat before placing the first basting pin.  No matter how much I tried though, each time I tried to smooth out one side, the  strips on the adjoining side would start pulling toward the center (those corners again!).

After about an hour of smoothing the quilt and not really getting anywhere, I was on the verge of tears and realized I had to come up with a new plan.  Instead of smoothing the entire quilt at once and then pinning the whole thing, I just started pinning from the center outward, working just one side at a time and smoothing the quilt as I went along.

The thing about narrow strips is they're a bit stretchy.  That could be seen as a bad thing, but the stretchiness can also be used to your advantage. Once you place a few pins, you can smooth and tug (very gently) to make sure the strips are as straight and taut as possible, and the pins will keep the quilt from snapping back toward the center.

Just work in small sections, don't get discouraged, and pin your way around the entire quilt until you have it basted.  Then it's time to quilt!


My original plan for this quilt was a very dense, giant spiral to echo the design, but after basting and realizing how much the strips want to pull back toward the center, I realized that there were too many little places where fullness in the quilt top might lead to a fold while quilting.  Because you can't change direction on a whim if your quilt needs it, straight line designs (and straight-ish designs like a spiral) are less forgiving of fullness in your quilt top.  With stippling, if you encounter a place in your top that has a tiny bit of fullness and see that your quilt might want to fold over, you can just change direction to avoid those puckers.


I quilted Strata Squared with a very dense stipple.  This 84" quilt used 17 bobbins of my favorite 50 wt. Aurifil thread!  I chose to quilt with Dove gray, because amazingly, it blends into every color just beautifully.  All you see is the lovely crinkly texture.


For the backing, I used Moda Grunge Basics in Silver, along with this fun print from the Endless Summer collection for Anna Maria Horner's Conservatory.  This print picks up plenty of the colors from the front and really pops against the gray.


I love how the sunshine filters through, showing a hint of the colors from the back!  I went with a crisp Kona black binding to finish it off.


This quilt was a labor of love from start to finish.  Though the steps are simple, there were a few hiccups that I had to work through to get it done.  And in closing, let me just say that perfection in quilting is wildly overrated.  Is every strip in my quilt perfectly straight?  No, and that's okay.  Am I worried about the fact that there are little places where I had to "quilt around" some fullness?  No, and that's okay.  This quilt is full of cherished scraps, and I'm okay with letting it be what it is.  What's more, I really LOVE it for what it is.  It's going to live on my couch and get lots of snuggles for many, many years.

Hopefully, sharing my process will help you avoid these pitfalls and let go of your own worries in your own Strata Squared quilt! So, dive right into your own scrap bins, and give it a try!



Wednesday, July 8, 2020

A Teaser, Winners, and NTT

Happy Needle and Thread Thursday, y'all!  I have finished up my scrap spiral quilt, and I cannot wait to share it with you.  I have had SO many emails and questions about my process that I figured I should put all of the information into a single post to make things easier to access.  Plus, this quilt just deserves its own dedicated post.  So for today's NTT, you'll have to make do with this teaser of the quilting-


Be on the lookout for a photo-filled post tomorrow, where I'll discuss the process I used to create this quilt, how I overcame some of the challenges that occurred with sewing tons and tons of narrow strips, and why I chose to densely stipple this quilt instead of using a spiral or other design (there is an important reason!).  Until then, I hope this peek has your curiosity piqued (see what I did there?).

Before we get to last week's party highlights, I owe you two giveaway winners.  Comment number 23, momto1, is the winner of the mug rug kit from Shabby Fabrics, and comment number 7, Tammy is the winner of the gift certificate to LouLou's Fabric Shop.  Congrats, ladies!  Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take screenshots of the Random.org generator when I chose the winners, so you'll just have to take my word for it  ;) .  Sorry about that!

Now to the highlights!  This pretty Tula string quilt by heARTs Creations-


Look at this beautifully vibrant pillow by Louisa at Sewmotion-


This quilt by Anja Quilts is so much fun!



And this sweet little bee by Jayne at Twiggy and Opal makes me happy!


Alrighty then, friends!  Let's do this thing!

1You can link finished projects or WIP's , but just keep it about quilting and sewing!
2. Link to your specific post (not to your home page!) to make it easier for others.
3. Please remember to spread the word and post my button or a text link within your 
    post.  
4. Spread the comment love far and wide!
5. Following me is not a requirement to link, but is so very appreciated!

*If you're new to the party, here's a helpful tip for linking up- select "Auto Crop"  when selecting your thumbnail photo.  For some reason, trying to crop your own image results in the dreaded "white question mark box," and we definitely want to see your awesome work!  :)





Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Scrap Spiral and NTT

Welcome to Needle and Thread Thursday, friends!  I have been madly sewing my loooooonnnggg scrappy strip for the past several days and I am fully in love with the way this thing is looking so far.  Please forgive my completely unpressed, inside photo.


Truth be told, I'm kind of over the sewing of all of these strips.  As the quilt top gets bigger and bigger, it becomes more difficult to sew the new strip layer on without the weight of the top pulling against it.  Right now, this top is 77" square, and if you think I've finished sewing, you'd be incorrect.


The pile has diminished, but it definitely isn't gone yet.  The good thing is, as the top gets bigger, it takes more length to make it all the way around the square, and each full layer only adds 2" of finished quilt width.  I'm really hoping that I only have about 3 more layers to sew on, which will result in a quilt about 83" square.  That's just a guesstimate based on the size of the pile though.  If it gets too much bigger than that, I might end up adding to the top and bottom only to make it a rectangle, rather than a bigger square.  The bigger it gets, the more I love it, so I'll just have to see how it goes!

Last week's party was full of awesomeness!  Vasudha at Storied Quilts linked up this gorgeous bit of sunshine-


Look at this cheerful Village quilt by Linda at Flourishing Palms!


Shannon at The Flemings Nine showed off this lovely, fresh quilt-


And Sew Yummy shared this vibrant finish (you know I love a rainbow!)-



I am just a little bit later than usual with this post (I was trying to get my quilt top completely finished but realized that wasn't going to happen before my post), otherwise I would choose extra highlights for you.  Last week's party was jam-packed with great stuff, so if you missed it, go take a look!

Let's make the first party of July a great one, y'all.  It's time to party!

1You can link finished projects or WIP's , but just keep it about quilting and sewing!
2. Link to your specific post (not to your home page!) to make it easier for others.
3. Please remember to spread the word and post my button or a text link within your 
    post.  
4. Spread the comment love far and wide!
5. Following me is not a requirement to link, but is so very appreciated!

*If you're new to the party, here's a helpful tip for linking up- select "Auto Crop"  when selecting your thumbnail photo.  For some reason, trying to crop your own image results in the dreaded "white question mark box," and we definitely want to see your awesome work!  :)





Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Summer Sponsor Deals and Two Giveaways!

Well friends, as much as I hate it, COVID just won't go away.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would still be dealing with it in (basically) July, or talking about whether kids would be going back to school in August.  But alas, here we are.  I also don't think I've ever been more grateful for the amazing online shops keeping us all supplied and sane while we spend more and more time at home, and it is my pleasure to share the latest news from my favorites.  As my post title suggests, this post contains two giveaways, so read on friends!



So, let's kick off this summer post with one of the giveaways!  It's never too late to sew for a holiday, and Shabby Fabrics is giving away this adorable wooly mug rug with a patriotic theme that goes together in no time.


Shabby Fabrics has all of their patriotic products in one place, which makes them easy to find.  You can see all of them HERE.









If you aren't looking for a holiday themed project but really want something fresh and summery, check out this stunning Bumblebee Blossoms quilt.  You can find the kit HERE.


                      Shabby Fabrics








I love to sew smaller seasonal things just in time for the holiday, but for a full quilt sometimes you need a bit more preparation time.  Over at Fort Worth Fabric Studio, they're already welcoming the latest holiday collections into the shop to help you get a jump start on your Christmas sewing.







My favorite of the latest holiday collections is Yuletide by Riley Blake.  The colors and prints are classic Christmas, and sure to fit right into any holiday project.  If you're looking for something specific to make with the Yuletide collection, check out this Pine Hollow kit.  I love it!


                 Fort Worth Fabric Studio






Lady Belle Fabrics is also a great place to watch if you want to see some of the most beautiful new fabrics.  Take a look at this gorgeous Heather Ross 20th anniversary bundle.  Her fabrics are always so whimsical and fun!
















And I know there are LOTS of Liberty of London fans out there, and Lady Belle has you covered there too!  This Flower Show Summer bundle is absolutely beautiful!



Lady Belle Fabric
Finally, let's take a look at what's happening at LouLou's Fabric Shop.  I always love seeing the perfectly curated fat quarter bundles that LouLou's puts together each week, and this week's is no exception.  
One of the best things about these bundles is that, even though they are often seasonal in color, they usually contain prints blenders that are perfect for stash building.
           LouLou’s Fabric Shop









LouLou's is very generously sponsoring the final giveaway for the day.  They are giving away a $25 gift card to one lucky winner, and trust me- you won't have any trouble finding something to spend it on!





Take some time to give these shops some love, but before you go, be sure to enter ONE comment on this post to enter both giveaways.  Don't forget to leave an email address if you're a no-reply blogger, and remember, only one entry per person please!  Unfortunately, replies to your own comment counts as an entry (the system numbers those, too), so remember to put your email address in your comment if necessary. 

Additional replies/comments/entries are always deleted.  I'll announce the winners at next week's NTT (July 8th).

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Strips Ad Nauseam and NTT

Hey there friends, and welcome to Needle and Thread Thursday!  Remember that pile of 1.5" scrap strips I shared in my last post?  Well, I've been sewing them together into one looooooooonnngg strip for the past few days.  Though I welcomed some good, mindless sewing after finishing the quilts for my book, I underestimated the tedium of the task.  I managed to get about three hours of good sewing time in each day before I just had to stop.


Just for reference, that pile is about 2' x 3', and about two feet tall.  Now that the strip sewing is all finished, I can't wait to watch this quilt take shape.  Since I grabbed strips from my piles randomly, I won't have any control whatsoever over color distribution or fabric placement, and because I have no idea how long this strip is, I don't even know how big this quilt will be.  It's all an exercise in letting go.  Since I love scrappy quilts so much, I'm just taking it on faith that I am going to love the finished product.  We shall see.

Before we party, check out the highlights from last well.  Sandra at mmm quilts shared this powerful quilt-


Gretchen's Little Corner shared progress on her Nameless quilt-


I love this quilt by Jan at The Colorful Fabriholic-


Vasudha at Storied Quilts linked up this pretty quilt-


And Janine at The Sweetest Dreams showed off this beauty-


Without further ado, let's link up!

1You can link finished projects or WIP's , but just keep it about quilting and sewing!
2. Link to your specific post (not to your home page!) to make it easier for others.
3. Please remember to spread the word and post my button or a text link within your 
    post.  
4. Spread the comment love far and wide!
5. Following me is not a requirement to link, but is so very appreciated!

*If you're new to the party, here's a helpful tip for linking up- select "Auto Crop"  when selecting your thumbnail photo.  For some reason, trying to crop your own image results in the dreaded "white question mark box," and we definitely want to see your awesome work!  :)





Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A New Scrap Project and NTT

Hey there, friends, and happy Needle and Thread Thursday.  I've been working for the past several days on cutting every single scrap in my jars to 1.5" wide for a new quilt.  Yes- every. single, scrap.  I'm not exactly sure how it's going to turn out, but I'm hopeful that it will be something really awesome.  Even though I love a rainbow, this will NOT be a rainbow quilt, despite how my scrap piles look.  It's just that I sort my scraps by color, so that's how I process them before I use them.  I just have my multicolored and white scraps to cut, and then I'll get to start sewing!


I used lots of scraps in making the quilts for my second book, and with our puppy and the move to our new house last fall, I've done less quilting than usual since my scrap purge last year.  I have a feeling these scraps will still make a good size quilt though.  We shall see!

Last week's party was fantastic!  I just love this quilt by Anja Quilts-


Jayne at Twiggy and Opal shared this wonderfully cheerful quilt top-


And my, oh my!  This one by Sophie at Luna Lovequilts is a stunner!


Alrighty, y'all, let's get our party going!

1You can link finished projects or WIP's , but just keep it about quilting and sewing!
2. Link to your specific post (not to your home page!) to make it easier for others.
3. Please remember to spread the word and post my button or a text link within your 
    post.  
4. Spread the comment love far and wide!
5. Following me is not a requirement to link, but is so very appreciated!

*If you're new to the party, here's a helpful tip for linking up- select "Auto Crop"  when selecting your thumbnail photo.  For some reason, trying to crop your own image results in the dreaded "white question mark box," and we definitely want to see your awesome work!  :)





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