Monday, September 29, 2014

Tips for Scrap Quilts

 After making a scrappy trip around the world quilt in 2013 and two scrap quilts this summer (my Nested Churn Dash quilt and my Jumping Jacks quilt), I thought a lot about how much I enjoy quilting with my scraps. Not only are scrap quilts easy to work on between other projects, but they also allow you to have fun again and again with bits and pieces of favorite fabrics.


This weekend I was able to finish up four more scrappy log cabin blocks, but as I dug through my scrap bins for fabrics I realized I needed to do some more "scrap organization." Some of the fabrics are more suited for a couple of other scrap quilts I'm working on: my scrappy strings quilt, and my scrappy strings quilt with Fig Tree fabrics.

 My scrappy strings quilts have kind of been neglected lately, but I plan to revisit them soon after finding more suitable fabrics.

 I plan to take a little bit of time this week and work on filling two new containers: scrappy strings and Fig Tree strings. I'm going to define "strings" as pieces of fabric 1 1/2" and narrower. Strips larger than strings but narrower than 2 1/2" will go into my log cabin scrap container.

And I also realized that a postage stamp quilt or two is inevitable. I just can't throw away perfectly good 1 1/2" squares. As I've tried to get better organized in the sewing room and especially in the sense of how I use my scraps I've come up with a list of ideas to help me get more of these projects finished up.

Tips for Scrap Quilts

  • Choose a variety of scrap quilt projects so you can best utilize scrap fabrics.
  • Organize specific scrap bins by project to make it easier to work on the projects at any given time.
  • Use simple scrap sewing as "leaders and enders" for regular sewing. I've been using my postage stamp 9-patches and my scrappy log cabins as leaders and enders this week.
  • Realize that it's okay for scrap quilts to be longer works in progress. Don't rush scrap quilting.
  • Take time on a regular basis to organize and separate scraps into appropriate containers.
  • Enjoy quilting with those scraps!
Thanks so much for stopping by...

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Favorites on Friday: Fabrics

Happy Friday! Thanks so much for all of the positive responses to these Friday Favorites posts; I've been having fun deciding what to write about each week. Today's Favorites on Friday post has a little bit of this and that, some fabrics I can't wait to sew with and my two favorite reference books.

First up is Milk Cow Kitchen by MaryJane for Moda. This has a fun retro vibe and reminds me of my great-grandmother's Iowa kitchen--my great grandfather was a dairy farmer, too! I can hardly wait to make some new pot holders and casserole mats for my kitchen with these fun prints. 

I am also in love with all of the scallop prints from Bonnie & Camille's Miss Kate collection. I love every color. They make the best bindings, so I picked up 1/2 yard of each.

 And I  heart anything "low-volume." I've been collecting lots of these prints for almost a year now for a few different projects on my to-do list.

And now for a couple of books I love: first is the Quilter's Ultimate Visual Guide which is basically an encyclopedia of everything you need to know about quilting. Even though it is an older book, it really is comprehensive and includes information on a wide variety of topics. It's not available new that I've seen, and the hardcover editions are quite pricey; however, there is a Kindle version available. The other book I've been using a lot lately is the All-in-One Quilter's Reference Tool: Updated. This was recently published and is easy to find. It includes basic quilting information and also has many different useful charts which are great for quilters of all skill levels. I've been turning to this as a resource regularly since I got it a few months ago. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you have a great weekend and that you get to sew and quilt!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Works in Progress Wednesday

Lots of sewing this week...but since much of it is for market I'll be primarily sharing little bits of the fabrics I'm working with. Fall decorating is still one of my works in progress, too. Over the weekend I was able to pull out some of my "fall-flavored" Fig Tree quilts and display them on a quilt ladder in my front entry. I smile every time I walk by, and I can hardly wait to fill this ladder with Christmas quilts in a few months!


 I'm working on two quilts for Joanna Figueroa using her new Aloha Girl collection which will ship in the spring. It's a little reminiscent of California Girl, but I love this collection more. It's got some gorgeous prints that I already can't live without (saving every scrap), and has a fun retro vibe.

 I also just finished a quilt for Lori Holt of Bee in my Bonnet...her quilt is ready to be shipped to soon as I can share, I will.

It was a lot of fun to sew with her Flower Patch collection which is just in shops now. This collection has more of a fall feel to it, which is perfect for sewing now, and it also has a bit of a vintage vibe. I'm going to have to pick the perfect project for the fabric Lori sent along for me to sew something for myself!'s back to the sewing room for me...thanks so much for stopping by!

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Playful Petals Blog Tour

Happy Monday! Today I'm super excited to be able to participate in the blog tour for Corey Yoder's recent book C&T Publishing Playful Petals: Learn Simple, Fusible Appliqué 18 Quilted Projects Made From Precuts.  I've been following Corey through her blog for several years now, and I'm always inspired by her fresh sense of style and design. I was finally able to meet her in person in Pittsburgh last May, and she was just as nice and kind as I knew she would be, so I consider it an honor to be asked to participate today.  


Corey asked us to make a small project for our stop on the tour, and I was immediately drawn to the rectangular pillow on the cover of the book. Since I'm doing a little fall decorating right now, I decided on a version using some of my scraps from the Fig Tree Somerset collection.

I've done this type of machine applique before, but it had been awhile; I really appreciated the clarity and simplicity in Corey's instructions which are perfect for a beginner or for someone with a little experience using this method. I also really liked the fact that she gives diagrams for the most efficient way to do the machine applique--it was just one less thing for me to have to think about. I had fun using my Aurifil Fig Tree threads I shared here...they matched perfectly, and the 50 weight threads were the perfect weight for this method.

I did some simple machine quilting after I finished the pillow top and used Corey's method for creating an envelope style pillow back. I then bound the pillow to finish it up, and it now has a home on an antique rocking chair in my living room.

Corey's blog tour is going on for the rest of this week. You can visit the earlier stops and finish out the tour with a giveaway at Corey's blog at the end.

September 15: Amy @
September 16: Melissa @
September 17: Jessica @
September 18: Faith @
September 19: Amy @
~Break for Weekend~
September 22: Sherri @
September 25: Amanda @
September 26: Lee @
September 27: Corey @ Final Round-up & Giveaway

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Favorites on Friday: Fall Quilts

 Since I've started doing a little Fall decorating around the house (Monday is the first day of Autumn) I thought it would be fun to share my favorite fall quilts for today's favorites post. My absolute favorite fall quilt is one I did about ten years ago using scraps. It was one of my first attempts at machine applique using fusible material along with a buttonhole stitch.

 I had it custom quilted by my friend Andrea who just brought the quilt to life. I always hang it in my front entryway from September until Thanksgiving!

 I also have several smaller fall quilts that I love to decorate with. The "Happy Harvest" mini and the turkey pillow are Debbie Mumm projects from when I was a new quilter. The fall leaves topper was a gift from my grandmother many years ago...I love getting it out each year.

I also have quite a few pumpkin pillows embellished with buttons and decorative stitches. These are also from back when I first started quilting!

 My own fall leaves wall hanging is a favorite. My grandmother had one just like this, and I could hardly wait to make my own. I think she gifted me some of the fabrics from her stash to make this. I also think these might have been the first half-square triangles I made...

I always wonder about when to get out the Halloween fall September too early for this? My favorite Halloween quilt also has been beautifully brought to life by Andrea and uses lots of scrappy Halloween prints from my stash. This is another quilt I made about ten years ago.

I love the stripe for the socks, and I love the scrappy checkerboard!

I love the stars, the potion bottle, the bats, and the cat, too!

And is my favorite Halloween table runner (pattern by Heather Mulder Peterson).  Back when I first started blogging I made about twenty of these runners one fall...many were gifted to family and friends, but I did keep a few for me! And the fabric basket (pattern by Pink Penguin) is perfect for storing Halloween treats!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What I'm Working On: Scrappy Log Cabins

 I just can't stop making scrappy log cabin blocks. I went through my scraps and separated a lot of "low-volume" fabrics to use for the "light" sections

 I try to pick out fun center squares and then make sure there is a good mix of colors in each block. So the blocks aren't completely random, but I'm not being super picky, either.

Several people mentioned that the Creative Grids company has You Tube tutorials for the ruler which are excellent, so I won't do a full tutorial, but I will share briefly how it works. The only requirement is that your center square measures exactly 2 1/2" and that the other strips have one straight edge and meet the minimum width requirement. I actually have found it's easier if the strips are a little bit bigger than necessary so the blocks don't end up too small.

As you can see in the photo above, begin with a center square, add two light fabric strips, and finally add two dark fabric strips. At that point trim the block for the first time using the special markings on the ruler.

 After adding two more light strips and two more dark strips,  trim the block for the second time, squaring it up again.

After adding the third set of light and dark strips the block is trimmed for the final time.

I also want to share my new patio furniture cushions; they are made with gorgeous coated fabric I won several years ago in a Minick & Simpson blog giveaway. I was going to re-do the cushions myself, but then I found someone much more capable and had them made! Now (as you can see from the photo) I need to re-paint the wicker to finish up this project! There are actually two chairs and a love seat in the set, and with the new cushions my patio looks much more inviting!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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Monday, September 15, 2014

A Little Weekend Quilting

 I did get to do a little quilting done this weekend...well, actually, I did a lot, but some of it I can't share just yet. But I worked on a couple of my own projects, too. All of those flying geese...they are now part of my "Whit" quilt. And now I just need to hand stitch the binding for the finish.

 Originally I planned to use the aqua scallop from Miss Kate for the binding, but after taking a picture for Instagram (you can follow me there @sherrimcconnell) I realized that the aqua was just too light. My quilt needed something bolder because of the red and navy fabrics and the grey contrast background.

 So I very carefully pulled out the navy scallop strip from my jelly roll of Miss Kate to try out my theory. I was instantly in love with the navy! I love how photographs can really illuminate hits and misses with fabric choices! A friend happened to be stopping by the fabric store and picked up some more of the navy scallop for me. I just need to remember to cut a strip and put it with the jelly roll!

 After trying out the Log Cabin ruler on my Bee blocks the other day I was anxious to start a project I've had in mind for a little while: a scrap bin log cabin quilt.

I'm going to try and spend a little time going through the scraps this weekend to separate the bits and pieces that are big enough for these blocks. Then I plan to have two separate containers to pull from as I piece the blocks: the low volume and backgrounds in one and the brights in another. And, because there have been so many requests, I'll prepare a tutorial on how to use the ruler.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Favorites on Friday

 For a little while now I've been thinking about a new blog feature I want to do on Fridays: "Favorites on Friday." This will give me an opportunity to feature favorite fabrics, favorite notions, and even favorite quilt designs and patterns. It will be something different every week! 

Recently I made some log cabin blocks for my "Bees Knees" quilting bee group and decided to try out a ruler I'd had in the drawer for a while (fabrics are S'More Love by Eric & Julie Comstock for Moda). A few months back I saw the Creative Grids Log Cabin Trim Tool for 8" Finished Blocks Quilt Ruler (CGRJAW1) demonstrated at a quilt shop. It looked like a nifty way to utilize some of my strip scraps and get them put into perfect log cabin blocks.

 I was pleased with the results! You start with an evenly cut center square and then use strips. Only one edge of the strip needs to be straight, the strips can be all different sizes as long as they meet a minimum width requirement, and you trim at three different points while making the block. The result is a log cabin with absolutely no "wonky" edges at all. I really feel like this will help me use some of my scraps--since the strips don't need to be cut to exact sizes I'll save a lot of time.

 So, this is definitely a ruler I'm happy I purchased. The ruler also offers options for half log cabin and courthouse steps blocks. I'll have to try those versions as well: maybe I can make a noticeable dent in my scrap bin!

And also for today's "Favorites on Friday" is the Aurifil Fig Tree Thread collection. I do sew a lot with Fig Tree fabrics, and often need the perfect color for sewing bindings or for applique. This is a wonderful collection of thread that will last me for many years to come, so I was okay with paying a little extra to get this. The colors are beautiful and blend wonderfully with the Fig Tree fabrics.

Thanks so much for stopping by! If you have any suggestions for upcoming "Favorites on Friday" posts, please feel free to send me an email or leave your idea in the comment sections.

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