Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Lighter String

String quilts are a wonderful connection to our own past and to our quilting heritage. But the extra  thickness with the muslin was getting me down. So I decided to try stringing without a foundation.

String quilt in darks and lights. Potholder construction.

First sort strings into lights and darks; I didn't follow this rule very strictly. Both groups contain several mediums of the same value although my second (strictly followed) rule was that each fabric could only be on one side. Next I sewed strings from one pile or the other until I had an eight inch block. After cutting them into QST (quarter square triangles) I sewed a light & dark together.

Eventually I figured out how to sew a light block and a dark block together like a 'potholder' which could be cut into QST to make four new blocks at once. Eureka. But not as unique as I'd originally thought. A few months later a friend shared a magazine article with the same method. Later I found this great video from Missouri Star Quilt Company and Three Dudes Quilting. They use jelly rolls but it's the same method. The video is short and very easy to follow; take a look.

For the mathematically challenged: Two original blocks become four new blocks. Since they must be the same area, they can't be the same size. The new unfinished block size will be 0.707 times the original block size. (This is one half times the square root of two.) Mine started at 8" but ended at 5.656". The new blocks are never a routine size but can always be trimmed down if needed. If you plan to use these in combination with other blocks think ahead.

This is a good project to sew over time. The 'potholders' stack nicely. Once they are cut open the new blocks are all bias edges, so wait until there are enough to finish your top. I made most of these blocks a year or more ago.

Meander quilting on String quilt

The alternating diamonds of light and dark are called a barn raising set. The blocks aren't log cabins so in each quadrant, all the darks go one way and all the lights go another. When I originally laid out the blocks they looked odd - either because the strings were different widths or because I had so many mediums on both sides. Finally I added sashing and posts again. Although the sashing still alternates between a light and a dark depending on which side of the block it touches, it makes a zig-zag in this rather than crosses like Red and String. Because of the use/abuse this quilt will probably receive, I meander quilted all over.

This block is fun and easy. The quilt is going to college and hopefully will graduate in four years!

Fret not; enjoy the day.


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