STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stringing Along!

Four of my finished string blocks
Do you find that sometimes you just want something "mindless" to work on? Something that doesn't take too much brain power, planning, calculations, etc.? String blocks fit the bill. They are a great way to use up leftover strips, strings and bits. The width can vary so no cutting/trimming required to bring them all to the same size! I do like mine to be straight/even, so sometimes I need to do a little trim here and there just to straighten an edge. After a Guild workday in late January when we made slab blocks for CQA's Big Quilt Bee project, I realized I had a large container of leftover strips and strings all in blues (imagine that! ME with a lot of blues!) Many of them were left over from this string quilt I did a few years ago. It was donated to the Veteran's Unit and I've always thought I'd like to do another. So... or should I say Sew...
As I mentioned above, sometimes you just need a "mindless" sewing project, for various reasons... your brain is just tired, you are stressing over something and need an "escape," whatever. Well I needed an escape for the month of February to take my mind off my worries. My brother, who has been healthy all his life, has had some serious health concerns in the last 8 months. The most recent was surgery to remove a foot of colon, and the days seemed endless while we worried and waited for 4 weeks for the pathology results. I am now very happy to say he is fine and no further treatment is necessary (Whew!) So this project was the perfect thing to work on as I worried and prayed... I guess in the back of my mind I was thinking if I got the blocks done, and we found out he needed chemo, I could quickly put it together for a warm and cozy flannel-backed lap quilt for him to take to treatments. Luckily it's not needed for that purpose so I will likely put it away for now, and finish it later. I have 18 blocks done so will need at least 2 more, and no doubt I'll go further than 20. We'll see. I'll keep an eye out for sashing fabric in the meantime.
So how are string blocks done? It's simply a matter of applying the strips to a "foundation." I use old phonebook pages as the paper is thin and so easy to remove. I cut a square from each page, about 1/4" larger than I need, apply the strips then trim the block to size, in this case I trimmed to 8.5" blocks, so I'll have finished blocks of 8". Because I work across the block diagonally, the strips need to be varying lengths. As you are working, it doesn't take long for your nice neat piles of strips to end up in a scrambled mess like this...

I found I was wasting a lot of time searching through the pile to find the correct length strip to add next. (I try to have as little waste as possible so I'm not just creating more shorter "bits" to use up.) So a trip to the local dollar store fixed that! I bought some trays (3 for $1.25 so not a huge expense) and labelled them from 3" to 13". Then I sorted my strips and strings by length into the appropriate trays. This made things so much faster to easily choose the strips and complete a block. (This would work well for log cabin strips too, or any block requiring strips of various lengths.) When done, the trays nest together and stack so they take up little space. A cheap and easy "organizing" solution!
Have you tried string piecing? It really IS fun (and doesn't take a lot of concentration!)

Piece!
Linda

What do you mean, quilting doesn't count as exercise? Next you'll be telling me fabric shopping isn't an aerobic activity!

5 comments:

Jennifer said...

I love all your blue fabrics.....they will make a great quilt!

Karen said...

I *LOVE* making string blocks. I keep a container beside my machine where I toss my scraps as I sew. There are also a couple of phone books in there. When I have 5 minutes to sew - or need something brainless, as you say - I pull out fabric and paper. It takes no time to have enough for a quilt. Mostly I do mine scrappy, not in the same colour family, so yours look more sophisticated than mine :)

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Since I'm new to quilting, I haven't done a string quilt YET, but know I will because I love them so much. Thanks for the tip on the trays. I HAVE to have fabric organized and I know that I'll use this tip and will certainly look for those trays at the dollar store. Great tip.

Have a great weekend.
xx, Carol

Jeanna said...

Those are beautiful string blocks, Linda. I'm not surprised at all that you had all those blues just waiting to be made into something fabulous.

I'm so happy to hear that your brother is doing better and won't require treatments.

Sheila said...

The blue string blocks are beautiful, such pretty shades of blue. You know I have never made a blue quilt and yet it is my favorite colour , I need to changet that. Glad your brother is going to be fine , it must have been quite a worry for you.

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