Thursday, August 1, 2019

The String Blocks Are A Quilt Top Now!

Did anyone else have an almost two day shutout with Bloglovin'? It looked like their feed wasn't picking up any posts for a very long time. Though I'm annoyed that my most recent post won't be in the blog history, the worst thing is missing new posts from other quilters. Hopefully I can find missing ones and catch up later.
String Blocks
My son was gone for about five days and so of course I took the opportunity to use his bedroom floor. Trying to settle on the layout for the strings quilt definitely took more room than my small design wall had to offer. Not that it actually took five days to make a decision, but so many distractions kept popping up, it did somehow take about four days to sew the rows together. And why not leave the blocks on the floor if they weren't bothering anyone?
Love a good scrap-bin quilt....
There wasn't a lot to choose from {in the stash totes} for the alternate blocks, something I knew all along. Way before this quilt top came together, I had come to the unhappy realization that a large enough piece of fabric {in the appropriate color}, wasn't going to magically materialize in my quilting room. A couple weeks ago, when shopping for binding fabric for Vintage Lily, I also kept an eye out for possibilities for this strings quilt. Because the blocks were so busy, I wanted to keep the background very simple--keep the focus on the energy of the subtle string movement.
A text print inner border
It was an odd choice of a quilt shop {rarely find anything I can't live without}, but the location was convenient at the time and I thought, 'Why not?' Though I wasn't looking specifically for a gray fabric, this Basic Gray tone on tone fabric really seemed to hit all the high notes. I love that it reads as a solid, but up close, there is a gorgeous, turquoise blue texture overlaid across the gray. The final choices seemed to be between a deep, dark, rich blue 'barely-there-print' and this gray 'almost solid'. The quilt store was minutes away from closing and the choice had to be made quickly. Honestly, I was {mentally} crossing my fingers all the way home! I just had this feeling and whew! What a relief to know that my instincts were right on the mark.
Another view
I bought just enough to add a small outer border as my thoughts were to kind of  'float' the string blocks in the background. Then later, when the rows were all sewn together and I could see the final look emerging, it just seemed a little drab. Maybe add a small inner, sashing type border? Off to the stash totes I went, ending up in the black totes after a very brief look at other colors. Nothing seemed to spark any joy until I saw the small cut of black and white text print. It was the remainder of what was originally bought for a border on the Fire quilt and so all that was left was cut on the length of the grain.
And another....
Unfortunately, it was only 7 1/3" wide. Wanting my thin inner border to be a minimum of 1" wide after seam allowance, my heart sank. Just not quite enough for the 5 strips I needed. I looked and looked for other options and thought about mixing up fabrics with similar look prints, something I usually do without any problems whatsoever. Nothing made me happy. Nothing seemed good enough. It's funny, you'd think that having made these blocks from the scrap bin, everything else could have been scrapped together and the make-do look would have done its usual thing. We would have fell in love and lived happily ever after, right? No! I had IDEAS. There was an EXPECTATION. Finally, I measured again, pondered and then cut 5 strips all at about a scant shy of 1 1/2".*sigh  So easy. Why didn't I think of that in the first place?
There's nothing quite like a true scrappy mix of fabrics
So very, very happy with that decision as the text print ends up looking vaguely like a striped fabric in the direction it was cut. Overall it seems to add a little extra spark or attitude to the quilt that mixing several different fabrics would have detracted from. I am absolutely delighted to see it work out. No need to worry why there are so very many pictures! Do you {like me}, admire how the string blocks 'list' here and there and are not perfect little soldiers? Roberta Horton in 'Plaids and Strips' would have said that they are 'casually off-grain'. Oh yes. Gloriously so!
Finished string quilt top
In making the blocks, I started with one string in the center-ish of the paper square and worked to one side and then rotated the block and worked the other side till the paper was covered. Since it was foundation piecing, then technically, I started with a 'pair' of strips. But that pair was always placed just so, in hopeful anticipation that the one on the bottom would be ground zero so to speak. And rarely, rarely are any of my strips a perfect width. They are scraps. Abandoned bits and pieces of whatever has been discarded from the cuttings. So yeah, bias for days.... Thus the foundation pieced efforts for this specific project! You can see it more clearly below, the back side of the quilt where all those lovely papers will have to be removed some day in the future.*ughh
The paper that needs to be taken off
The wonderful quilt below, was my original inspiration for these particular string blocks. You can see where I got my persnickety ideas of how the blocks, and then later the quilt, needed to look! True, I had a very hard time wanting to sew the blocks, but always knew if I could just suck it up and keep going, the quilt was going to be very worthwhile. Antique quilts are the very best form of inspiration, can't hardly get enough. Speaking of that, have you seen Julie's latest quilt? So incredible, you really should go have a look. I swear, she sends me down more squirrel trails than anyone!
Antique quilt inspiration
Something else finally got addressed this last few days too. All the large sets of strips have finally been cut down into the smaller strip units for Shimmer. It hasn't seen any love since February probably!
Cutting, cutting, cutting
It will no doubt still be awhile before I start sewing the units together, but now they are ready for that day when the urge to chain piece becomes irresistible. This project apparently got stuffed into a tote and then mostly forgot about. Shortly after finishing all the cutting, my ruler broke in half. Seriously! Just a fluke thing. Initially dismayed, I felt better about it when thinking back to how long it's been around. 18 years! Wowsers! That's a pretty good investment, considering how much use it gets on a regular basis!
Units for Shimmer quilt
Still working on finishing Big Tipsy Basket for the quilt show and now I feel a lot better about finding time to get some applique prep work in. It's nice to have the 'in-progress' quilt list whittled down to about 5 before I blow it all up and get it back up to the 9 or 10 that seems to be the norm {at least around here!}. What with the AHIQ Floral Challenge and a couple other potential projects taking up lots of head space, there's always plenty of quilt ideas ready and willing to jump on board.... Linking up with Lori's StringAlong. Thank you Lori! Don't think I would have pushed through this specific challenge without the QAL to prod me into action.


  1. This is so cool, Audrey! Great job, and the background color sets the string blocks off perfectly.

  2. This quilt turned out great. I really like the bluish fabric. It quietly stands in the background so the blocks can shine. And, as a bonus, it's muted color brings everything together. The border accents the center, just as it should. Fun quilt!

  3. I like this gray with the strips - LOL but where is the applique :)
    I use Feedly reader not bloglovin so didn't have the problems

  4. I like the neutral with your string blocks. I have two shoe boxes full and thought I would remove paper before stitching but I suppose that bias would be a problem. Well, to the back burner haven't settled on a layout but I like the simplicity of just using an alternate block.

  5. Love your string quilt and am jealous that you have finished the top. Since I'm only doing a LARGE block per month, it's taking a while. That's OK, I'm not idle -- for sure! I too was sick over the lack of posts the other day for TWO WHOLE DAYS! So glad I wasn't the only one wondering what the heck??!!?? Lol! Keep up the good work!! Love your quilts!

  6. Oh it's a great top, very solid looking, love it. I don't use Bloglovin anymore. Just keeping it simple, with the google reading list. How are you going to remove the foundation papers?!

  7. Your string quilt top looks fabulous - and I can so relate to your thoughts on not having just the right fabric for a scrappy (!!) quilt. Thanks for the shout out -- and yes, I had Bloglovin issues, too. Far fewer than many other services but still annoying.

  8. Oh how this one came it was providence to settle on the grey. It couldn’t work better!

  9. I agree, old quilts are such great inspiration, and this one is a classic. Beautiful interpretation of it. As I was looking at your photos and reading along I kept wondering what you were going to do next. So many of your quilts are surprises in the making!

  10. What a beautiful movement on your string quilt top! The grey background is just perfect!

  11. Wauw your string quilt looks beautifull, it looks so cosy and antique. Love the gray fabric. I started working from the scrap box and maybe I should make something similar to really use some of the fabric.

  12. Woohoo! Another finished top and, a beauty it is! Love reading your though processes and how things just work out sometimes. Love your "Shimmer" colors. And, you must have a very neat son. When my son was living at home, I wouldn't have been able to find the floor of his room to layout a quilt! I love him anyway!

  13. That dark, dark grey makes a wonderful background for your strings. It looks quite masculine. Not that I define quilts that way but I do recognize that my soft pinks aren't what my sons like most. Since this was put together in your son's room, perhaps that aura rubbed off a bit. The inner border and plain outer border add to this quilt, too. I'm glad you used them.

  14. Love casual improv of your strings. The dark setting fabric is spot on and the little inner border couldn't have been more perfect. I've used Roberta's phrase many many times when I've worked with plaids. It's a good one.

  15. A great quilt! Love the grey with your string blocks, it sets them off beautifully. And another clever addition with the text print too!

  16. The thin black text border does add spark, great top finish!

  17. That blue-gray fabric is the perfect background for your string blocks. Love it!

  18. Love the string quilt. And yes, that inner border is perfect! And then I thought so strip sets looked familiar. LOL Glad to see you are playing with them again. It'll be fun to see your version.


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