Saturday, February 25, 2023

A Saturday "Finished Or Not Friday" Report For Another "Christmas" Finish

 Yesterday a finish got done just under the wire so now I can send it over to join those gathering at Quilty Girl Alycia's for some finished project review!

This week I've finally got my first finished (although not the first I ever started) string quilt: "Cherry Crunch", woo hoo!

This quilt design is by Bonnie Hunter, the queen of string (and scrappy) quilts who you can find at her Quiltville website.  It was a fun romp through the neutral Strings stash and a chance to use up more of the red fabric scraps from the stash I had gathered for holiday sewing projects. 

This is also another of the projects I started last Fall with the intention of using it for decorating at Christmas and is the next to last of those projects that I needed to finish.  The theme for the holidays was Red & White and the projects were planned to be spread around the house for that.  I clearly didn't start them soon enough because I am still working on them, LOL!!  

In addition to this being a project for the holidays, I had also worked on the string piecing part of this along with another of Bonnie's string quilt designs.  Both of those kept me busy during her annual "Mystery Quilt Season" between the day after Thanksgiving and New Year's while the new "Chilhowie" mystery was being revealed.  The other project I worked on was "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" which is one of her old mysteries that now can be found in her book "String Fling".  

Last month I finished the string blocks for that one but I am still working on these pieced blocks to complete that project.  I sewed those up as leader/enders as I worked to finish the top for "Cherry Crunch".  Unfortunately, that piecing was interrupted once I got "Crunch" layered and ready for quilting!

For the backing,  I used up the rest of the same wide back print I had used for another of the holiday decorating projects:  the "9 Fat Quarter Disappearing Nine Patch" quilt that I finished up just after New Year's.

Even though I had made my top a little smaller than patterned, I still needed to extend what I had of the backing fabric a bit.  So as I usually do, I pieced in a label area using more of the leftover strings and some of the light inner border fabric to give me areas to write in the label information.  

In this design both the light portions of the blocks and the red "piano key" outer border are foundation pieced using old phone book paper to stitch up the strings.  I caught a few selvedges among the strings and left some in for fun:

A reminder of the benefits of "harvesting" your string scraps!

I did consider doing a scrappy binding using more of the strings but figured this quilt was busy enough!  So instead this was finished with, appropriately enough, Cherry Grunge for the binding which I had purchased during a shop hop back in the Fall.  This holiday season was the first time I've used Grunge and now it's in this quilt and in the tree trunks of the blocks in another of the holiday quilts (and which will be the last of the holiday quilts I need to complete).  

I also tried a new binding width based on a new-to-me technique I saw demonstrated by one of my favorite designers, Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts.  For binding, I normally do the traditional double fold method using 2-1/4" cut strips.  Her method starts off like the traditional single fold method, stitched to the front using 1-3/4" cut strips.  Then the strips are pressed to the seam allowance and that folded edge gets turned to the back creating a double fold binding effect!  

While she then hand stitches her binding down in the back, I prefer to machine bind my quilts.  I glue basted mine and tacked it down by stitching in the ditch from the front.  It worked well for the most part with only a few missed spots that still needed to be hand tacked afterwards.   

Because of the busyness, I stuck to doing simple quilting for it:  free-motion stippling in the center and just straight-line stitching to frame the borders.  

I had expected to have finished this a little sooner since I thought the simple quilting would allow me to quilt it up quickly.  All but one of the other Red & White quilts completed have remained out in honor of  Valentine's Day this month.  I had another quilt that was not one of the holiday quilts but does have a lot of red in it so I decided to layer it up along with "Crunch" and try to get it done this month too.  

Inside this tidy bundle is my version of Pat Sloan's Block-A-Day design "String Beans" which is now also ready for quilting.  However, now I'm not sure I'll get it quilted before the month ends.  No matter, it was stitched during last year's quilt along and Pat will be starting this year's QAL on March 1.  So if I can get it done at some point in March, I will be happy that I got it moved along to facilitate that!

So that's it for today's late report!  Once this is posted, I will be headed back over to Alycia's to drool over the other finishes this month and you should too!  

Monday, February 6, 2023

Moving It Forward Monday: Focus is Still on Quiltville "Cotton Boll" and "Cherry Crunch"

Having carried  "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" and "Cherry Crunch" forward from the holiday season and the first of the year,  the good news is now the construction of the blocks are finally starting to feel less like a slog and more "in flow".   

I've worked up a system whereby I sit down with pieces for both and leader/ender them until the "stack of the day" is done.  It generally takes about an hour and a half, much longer if I am interrupted by going to look up things I've seen in the You Tube videos I usually have playing in the background.

At this point I've sewn all the HST triangle sets I had die cut for "Cotton Boll" awhile back into the five piece strips needed for the blocks.

However, at that time I just cut up bits of fabric I had on hand but that did not yield all the pieced strips I need.  I will now need to die cut more HST sets to make the strips for rest of the blocks I need to make.  Speaking of the blocks,  I also got the first of those made up during the leader/ender sessions too.

They are just so vibrant sitting here by themselves!  I don't know how Bonnie came up with this design but it is a real beaut.  As noted before, these will be set on point and alternated with the string squares that I resumed work on during the Fall and Christmas season and finished up last month.

Regarding "Cherry Crunch":  I've been steadily sewing together the string strip units that I had attached red corner triangles to and have gone from this: this.

I need to make two more rows of blocks for the size layout I want.  If all goes well, the center of this quilt top could be completed by week's end.

At that point I'll be hitting the red stash again for strips for the red piano key outer borders that finish off the top.  Actually since I need the red HSTs for "Cotton Boll" too, I'll probably do a session where I pull from the stash to cut things for both.  This will also be an opportunity for re-organizing that stash and deciding if there are any more "red focused" quilts I want to either kit right now or make in the near future.

So what's the bad news?  Getting in the groove for all of this has been a way to avoid the two deadline (let's call them "promised") projects I should be working on, justified by the fact I've managed to keep these two moving forward at a good pace.  With these moving smoothly, it's time to push myself to face the other two.  If history serves, I'll probably find out that I was panicking about working on them for nothing.  Or at least I hope so!