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WIP Wednesday: It’s So Tinsel

Happy Wednesday from Christmas Central! Every year I’m surprised to remember how much work Christmas is. And yet somehow, every year, I manage to add even more work for myself by doing silly things like getting an extra Christmas tree or attempting to knit a new set of stockings for the whole family.

Which is a long way of me saying that I didn’t do much sewing this week, I just checked off a few Christmas to-dos. Ah well.

But look! The stocking has a foot now! Or at least part of one!

And the tree is in da house. (Still need decorations on my white tree in the studio though.)

What are YOU working on this week? Here’s how to link up:

1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the Instagram icon at the bottom of the link-up screen, and use the URL of your IG feed as the link (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag #wipwednesday and mention me, @lee.a.heinrich.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.
4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!
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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 7: Assembling the Top

Welcome back to the Fair Isle Sew Along! It’s an exciting moment, because this week we finally get to assemble the top. Home stretch, you guys!

Theoretically, when sewn together, all of your rows should measure 72-1/2″ wide. Theoretically. : ) But in reality, there are a lot of seams in these rows—and of course, being just a tiny bit off on your seam allowances can add up to major differences across all the seams in each row. My zig-zag rows, for instance, actually measured 73″, not 72-1/2″. (My reindeer row ended up surprisingly accurate. I’m sure nobody is more surprised about that than me!)

So my advice for this week is, don’t worry about the size of the blocks or the rows. Don’t even think about it (much). I’ve left some room to trim from the sides of each row if necessary.

So start by getting all of your rows sewn together. This should be quick work, since the zig zag and checkerboard rows should already be done. Next, measure all of the completed rows. For any rows that are too long, trim them down to 72-1/2″. If you find that one or more rows are too short, trim all the other rows to the length of the shortest row (you will need to trim your long sashing pieces as well).

Now you’re ready to assemble all of the rows into a completed quilt top! It’s like Christmas came early (literally)! I found that it worked well to sew the sashing pieces onto the top and bottom edges of the zig zag and checkerboard rows. Once you have that done, you should have only two more sashing pieces left, which go at the top and bottom of the quilt. Then it’s just a matter of piecing everything together and …. done.

Next week is our final post in the sew along, and we’ll be talking about the back and the quilting. Great job, everybody, I have just loved seeing all of your versions of Fair Isle! That really is like Christmas for me. : ) And remember, if you still want to play along, you can buy the pattern here.

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WIP Wednesday: A New WIP

This week I find myself in need of a couple of quick baby quilts. So I started with the one for the baby whose gender is already known. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Gender-neutral baby quilts are no fun. Mothers who want to be surprised: I totally get it, and I’m sure baby quilts were of very little consequence in this decision, but your surprise is highly inconvenient for quilt-making. LOL.

So anyway, I’ve been sewing upA  HSTs for a baby girl quilt. The cool thing about this quilt is that the baby has two older sisters, both of whom have their own quilts that I made. So I can’t help feeling like this quilt should kinda sorta coordinate with the previous two. Or at least look like it belongs in the same family. Since it will literally belong in the same family. It’s a fun design challenge, and it’s also fun to think about this quilt going to live with two older sisters of its own. : )
Other than that, I’ve been trying to bust out the Christmas decorations. I’m still working on my knitted stockings. Charts and color work are super easy for me, but increasing and decreasing and slip stitches and all that nonsense? That’s where knitting starts to lose me, you guys. So as you can see, I’ve finished the fun part, and now I’m toe-deep in scary things like forming a heel. Wish me luck.
And then there’s the tree. In the past we’ve always put our Christmas tree in the front window of what is now my sewing studio. But since I moved the studio into that room, the tree won’t fit there anymore. We’re contemplating actually moving a leather chair out of the family room to make way for the tree this year. But in the meantime, I decided to splurge on a smaller fake tree for my studio. And it’s white!! I’ve been wanting a white Christmas tree for years. Now it just needs some decorations. That’s another of this week’s WIPs, I guess!

What are YOU working on this week? Here’s how to link up:

1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the Instagram icon at the bottom of the link-up screen, and use the URL of your IG feed as the link (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag #wipwednesday and mention me, @lee.a.heinrich.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.
4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!
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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 6: The Checkerboard Row

Welcome to Week 6 of the Fair Isle Sew-Along! This week we’ve officially arrived at the Christmas season, and all of the busyness that entails, but if you’ve been keeping up with the sew-along, you’re in the homestretch now! This is your last row prior to assembling the top and quilting it, and it might be the easiest and quickest row of all.

As I mentioned before with strip-piecing, pay attention to your seams when cross-cutting the strip sets, NOT the raw edges of the sets. My suggestion is to keep adjusting the long strip sets as you cross-cut, so that the seams are always lined up with the grid on your cutting mat, and cross-cut at an exact 90-degree angle to the seams, not the raw edges. That way, if your seams curve a little, you’re accounting for that as you cut, and everything will work out anyway.

Then sew ’em up, and in no time at all, you’ve got your checkerboard row.

And with that, we’re ready to put it all together into a completed quilt top next week! I know a number of you are ahead and already have your tops together, which is awesome. I can’t wait to see all the completed tops in all the different colorways. It’s so much fun!
And remember, if you still want to play along, you can purchase the Fair Isle quilt pattern here.
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WIP Wednesday: Thankful

Happy Wednesday! And happy day-before-Thanksgiving!

I’m thankful for many things, but one of them is that I don’t have to go out of town this Thanksgiving. I don’t have to host either. I can sit on my couch and knit Christmas stockings and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with the girls, and then I can go eat myself silly at my in-laws. Thankful, thankful, thankful!

Another thing I’m thankful for? All of you wonderful peeps. Truly. Your WIPs make my Wednesdays a whole lot brighter. You make this blog tick—you and all my wonderful sponsors over there on the right-hand side. So thank you, one and all. : )

WIPs? I’ve really just been knitting this week. But look at all the progress I made on my Christmas stocking! I’m having so much fun knitting it. The pattern is a free download on Ravelry—you can find it here.

Next week I hope to be diving into several fun new sewing projects, so same time, same place!

What are YOU working on this week? Here’s how to link up:

1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the Instagram icon at the bottom of the link-up screen, and use the URL of your IG feed as the link (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag #wipwednesday and mention me, @lee.a.heinrich.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.
4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!
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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 5: Zig Zag Rows

Welcome to Week 5 of the Fair Isle Sew-Along!
So how did everybody do with last week’s reindeer blocks? I saw some really cute reindeer out there on the Interwebs! But I know some people also had some frustration with getting seams aligned. If your seams look puckery or wobbly, or your reindeer generally look like they had too much eggnog at the Christmas party, I’ll return to what I said in last week’s post, which is that your 1/4″ seam is probably not as consistent as it could be. You get that seam consistent, and I promise your reindeer will be perfect and completely sober. : )
It’s not easy though, so above all, please don’t get discouraged. A few suggestions that might help are putting masking tape down on your machine bed to help with alignment, or you could do what I saw from sew-along participants a few times this week and eliminate some seams entirely, and just make your reindeer out of unpieced horizontal strips. That will require a little math, but if you’re proficient in such things, go for it! I went back and forth about whether to actually write the pattern that way, but in the end I decided it would make the pattern-writing too complicated and the pattern would have to be even longer than it already is. It also would have made the cutting a lot more complex, and I’m sure you all agree that cutting this bad boy was plenty complex enough as it was. LOL. But for those of you who are able to do the calculations, it’s a great time saver.
And the bottom line is, the real key to happy reindeer probably just comes down to practice—practice, practice, and more practice. I’d bet good money that your seams were better on the last reindeer than they were on the first, right? So just keep at it, and don’t worry if your deer are a little wonky—quilting covers many evils! : )
Okay, so on to this week’s task: The Zig Zag rows. Honestly, I don’t have much to say about these, other than that they’re really easy and fun, especially right after the reindeer! LOL. It’s just strip-piecing, cross-cutting, and piecing again.
And when you’re done, you end up with this (these are from my first Fair Isle quilt):
So have fun with the Zig Zags, and I’ll see you back here for the next installment!

Want to play along with us? You can buy the Fair Isle pattern right here. I’m going to publish the next installment on Friday, Nov. 28, since the 27th is Thanksgiving. Until then, can’t wait to see how you’re doing—don’t forget to either link up below, or use the hashtag #fairislequilt. And have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with joy, love, and pie!

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along

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WIP Wednesday: Obsessions

You might notice a theme in this week’s WIP Wednesday. That theme is red, white, and knitted. Or at least knitty looking. : )

Yes, my Fair Isle obsession continues, this week in the form of knitted Christmas stockings. Suddenly, I MUST have knitted Nordic Christmas stockings. There’s just one catch: Here in Milwaukee, everybody celebrates St. Nick’s Day by putting out their Christmas stockings on Dec. 6. Think I can finish at least two stockings by then? (Because, one for each girl. There must be either two, or none. One is not an option.)

And of course my other project is my red and white Fair Isle quilt. Zig-zag rows are up next on the Fair Isle Sew-Along! It doesn’t look like much right now, but come back tomorrow for this week’s installment in the sew-along, and I promise there will be more to see!

And just so this week’s post is not excessively one-note, don’t forget that my new Picnic Plaid pattern is now available! Grab the PDF version now!

What are YOU working on this week? Here’s how to link up:

1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the Instagram icon at the bottom of the link-up screen, and use the URL of your IG feed as the link (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag #wipwednesday and mention me, @lee.a.heinrich.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.
4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!
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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 4: Reindeer


Welcome back to the Fair Isle Sew Along! It’s Reindeer Week! Kind of like Shark Week, but more festive. : ) (I promise these reindeer won’t eat you alive!)

When I designed this quilt, I wanted the reindeer blocks to be very pixelated, because I felt that was the most Fair-Isle-ish look. But pixelated quilts are a huge pain—it takes forever to sew all those tiny little squares together. And I find it especially frustrating when you’re sewing dozens of tiny squares together that are the exact same fabric! So I’ve incorporated some short cuts into this pattern that could potentially save you days of your life, but we’ll still end up with something that looks like a pixelated quilt. Or as close as we can get to fully pixelated without pulling hair out. : )

My number one tip this week is consistent seam allowance. Say it with me: Consistent seam allowance. An accurate 1/4″ seam is soooo important when you’re making something with so many seams. If your seam allowance is even the tiniest bit off, that adds up across 12 seams.

But even more important (for this pattern, anyway) than a pinpoint-accurate 1/4″ seam is just that your seam allowances are consistent. If your seam allowances are a hair-width off, but they’re all the same hair-width off, you’ll be fine. It isn’t crucially important for your Reindeer row to be exactly the same width as your Fir Tree row or your Poinsettia Rows—I’ve got some extra space built in along the sides of the quilt to trim and even things up a little if necessary. So don’t freak out if your finished Reindeer blocks aren’t measuring exactly what they’re supposed to. It’ll all be good in the end, I promise. : )

On the other hand, if your seam allowances are all over the map, that’s when you’re going to have problems with this block, because that means your squares within the reindeer won’t line up. If you have issues lining up your seams when you’re sewing together the reindeer, an inconsistent seam allowance is probably to blame. Don’t whip through this as you’re sewing the strips together—slow and straight wins the race here. And if you need to, get out your ruler and measure your seam allowance in a few places. Again, consistency is the key, so if you find your seam allowance veering off here and there, try to pinpoint why in order to correct that.

I spent about 2-1/2 hours sewing together all the strip sets, and another 4 hours or so sewing together the cross-cut strips to complete the block. So all in all, this week’s time commitment for me was around 6-7 hours. Plan accordingly, based on how your time spent has compared to mine in the previous steps. (I know we all sew at different paces—my timing is just meant to help you judge yours!)

Want to sew along with us? You can buy the Fair Isle pattern here. Can’t WAIT to see all your finished reindeer! It truly is satisfying to finish these guys. And once they’re done, all we have are a few simple rows left. Don’t forget to link up below, and/or hashtag #fairislequilt on Instagram. See you next week!

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along

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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 3: Fir Trees

Welcome to the third installment in the Fair Isle Sew Along! Have you guys seen all the amazing Poinsettia blocks from last week? I’m so impressed with all of the creative color palettes and prints! I didn’t this particular design was one people would change up very much, but I’m loving the creative spins.

This week: Fir tree blocks. I know last week’s Poinsettia blocks were time-consuming—there are lots of little pieces in the Poinsettia blocks, and with 10 in the quilt, it’s not quick. So I think you’ll enjoy the simpler, faster assignment for this week. : ) And in fact, these blocks are so simple that I don’t have many tips to give you this week.

My one tip is that good pinning is crucial when making these blocks. And if you find that the length of any of these units is a little off, just fold the units in half and press them to make a crease. Then line up the centers, not the edges. That will help you compensate for any units that don’t end up exactly 11″ long.

It took me a little over 2 hours to make the Fir Tree blocks this week, so plan accordingly. (Told you they were fast!) Which is good, because next week, we’ve got reindeer on the schedule. : ) Don’t forget to link up your blog posts below, or use the hashtag #fairislequilt on IG! See you next Thursday!

Want to make this along with us? Click here to purchase the Fair Isle pattern!

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along

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WIP Wednesday: Sewtopia Bound!

T minus one day until I leave for Sewtopia in Salt Lake City! I haven’t been on a purely fun, non-working sewing retreat in more than a year and a half. And since my personal “fun” sewing projects are the ones that always take a back seat when I’m on deadline (and since I seem to be on deadline pretty much 24/7 recently), I decided to dedicate this weekend to sewing for ME.So I better get a lot done this weekend, because I might not get another chance to sew just for ME until the next Sewtopia. LOL.

But I did spend the week working on a few other WIPs, primarily my Fair Isle quilt for the sew along. We’re having lots of fun with the Fair Isle Sew Along, and we’ll all have a finished Christmas quilt by Dec. 25—doesn’t that make you want to jump in and join us? : )

I’ll be Instagramming for Salt Lake City this weekend, so follow me there if you want to see what’s going down! And don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the next installment of the Fair Isle Sew Along.

What are YOU working on this week? Here’s how to link up:
1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the Instagram icon at the bottom of the link-up screen, and use the URL of your IG feed as the link (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag #wipwednesday and mention me, @lee.a.heinrich.

3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.

4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!