Jan 19, 2015

Patriotic String Quilting

In the same week, one of my online message board groups has been discussing 'strings' and 'string quilting', my own blog readers have mailed me letters asking me how I make my patriotic string quilts that I feature on several of my blogs, and I have actually been working during an online quilting bee on making additional strings for another project for donations.

The three different readers who  wrote me at my blog email addy wanted help in getting string quilting blocks to surround a pre-made quilt panel such as the ones I use for patriotic quilt donation.

So, I decided it's time to post about this fun style of quilting once again!  For those of you who have never seen Gwen Marston's "Liberated String Quilting" book..this is a lovely example of how easy and fun it easy to make string quilts.

Example abound every where you look, once you begin to recognize them! I used this example when I posted about making    Ojo de Dios "The Eye of God": In Craft or Quilt
This one, below, is one that Julie Silber found and posted on facebook.  Notice how it can look so wonderfully liberated and yet it is a much older quilt with many of the characteristics in appearing as a traditional quilts and quilting or arranged to create designs...I love hearts, of course! So, I've made lots of these. Unfortunately, many before I was taking photos for a future blog, but here are some of my heart string quilts:

And then, the ones that I was asked about this week.  String quilts that are created when the strings are arranged pre-purchased panels...I love the military ones and make them for donation to wounded warriors or those in service to our country. I was so happy to make and donate these to a wounded warriors program.  Some of them, I have made in the same style multiple times..I love them that much!

Making a string quilt block:
String quilting, whether done straight across, or on the diagonal, is simply the sewing down of a variety of strings, or strips of alternating fabrics of many colors into blocks. Diagonal strings have a tendency to stretch on the bias, so underlying foundation blocks are more essential for them, but not required in simple straight piecing.

And as for the 'skinny' on string quilting... strings for these quilts are usually somewhere in the 1" to 2  1/2" range unless you're working in miniature or super sizing something! Smaller than 3/4" is too small..it's easier to start big and sew a wide seam to miniature them for things like small format art quilts etc. And bigger than 3" like in my pillows, doesn't really look like strings much, anymore!

So to cut and sew simple strings for string quilting..and it is ALWAYS better to use up your scraps, first..before decimating brand new pieces of fabric just to 'make' fabric..which in the old fashioned days was always called patchwork, anyway! 

So, to string these along you....

Start by simply cutting foundation blocks out of ANY scrap fabric..it doesn't have to be white! and then adding..from the center out to each diagonal end....strips and pieces of varying sizes, piece by piece until the block is 'all filled up.' 

To create a pattern in this final quilt top, I am using blue for the first center strip. But any repetitive color can be used as an anchoring strip. And if you wish, you can be totally random, as well..with no
center 'anchoring' color!

1. To begin this block, to make its final quilt, I used a 10" foundation pieces and a variety of cut strips of many colors. Others prefer blocks as small as 6" or as large as 12 1/2"...the choice is yours. Larger blocks multiply spatially a lot quicker! Lay down a center strip of any color, diagonally across the foundation piece. (I iron a fold into the center of both the foundation block and this first string piece for matching the two pieces.

 2. Sew down the second strip, right sides together.
     Then sew down the third strip, as shown.


 3. Press each seam open after sewing.

4. Sew down each succeeding strip, one by one, ironing after each new seam.

 5. When strips fill the foundation block, iron flat, then align and trim to size desired.

 6. Lay out completed blocks on your design wall or floor ;) and select arrangement and desired size of quilt top.

NOTE: To add around a center panel or block, you need to either plan your block sizes, or wiggle and jiggle and trim, as I did!  (See tips section near bottom of post.)

 7. Finally, you would attach block seams in rows as desired, using additional strips to fill in size differentials around center panels or other additional blocks, sashings or cornerstones, if you so desire!

Tips and Ideas:

The idea for turning a series of blocks into a quilt is as easy as simply placing your finished string quilted blocks into a pattern or arrangement..with, or without a center panel such as shown in this one.   I remember it took a bit of recalculating to get my string blocks to fit around the center panel as I had miscalculated my sizing.

 But I think, I used a 13" piece of fabric as my foundation blocks for under the strings I sewed onto them and then cut them down into either 12" or 12 1/2" blocks.  Keeping in mind that the 1/4" seams on each side of the block takes away from making them fit that center panel.

 The use of a plain foundation fabric keeps the diagonal strings from stretching out. Some people use paper..like old phone book pages, then remove them after stitching, but I prefer using an inexpensive piece of cotton fabric or sheeting for my blocks. It creates another layer of quilting and doesn't require as much batting then.

And in summer climates, the foundation pieced blocks is all you would even need for thickness..no extra batting required. These are referred to as 'summer quilts'..lighter and thinner.

So, basically, foundation piece strings onto blocks, arrange them around your purchased center panels, add batting and quilt or tie with crochet cotton at different intervals. Mine is machine quilted in a simple meandering pattern ..the famous little puzzle piece shaped machine quilting.

All of my military panels were purchased years ago...from Walmart...and I make and donate a lot of them, so I bought quite a few at the time. But I think they still sell them there. Mine came in groups of six and  in different branches of the military, some in all army, some just generally patriotic. I'm not sure if Joann's or similar carry them anymore. A really large quilt shop might, but smaller ones tend to keep newer fabrics in stock and then move them out as fast as they can.
It does make a unique quilt and each one looks so different depending on how you cut up your finished blocks!

Quilt As You Go With String Quilting Blocks !

Quilting for Charitable Causes..donate a block, donate a top, or donate
a quilt to those in Australia and the many island nations surrounding
it with Jan MacFadyen and her amazing Oz Comfort Quilts and Sew Many
Quilts blogs. Check them both out, she's a wonderful quilter and amazing






 Quilt As You Go Block Tutorial Part 1 

Quilt As You Go Bock Tutorial Part 2

 Tutorial for Joining QAYG Blocks

Then, of course, there are bed quilts!

A string quilt is an easy way
to make a large quilt ...easily and quickly!  Here is one that I made
queen sized, but it ended up king sized..so it goes down to my bed
ruffles. I covered it up with a more decorative quilt to match my
bedroom, but this inner quilt ..as one of FIVE..that I sleep under...is
sooo warm...I just love sleeping under it at night!

leftover bits and pieces of strips and strings can be used in super simple baby quilts. You don't need a foundation fabric if they're not sewn on the diagonal..but still you are using leftover strips and
strings!  These are baby quilts I made in a day! But you could make similar quilts in the red, white, and blue, or using patriotic fabrics for a new little one in an Armed Forces family!

And  then, of course..there's the Bento.  Still made from remnant strips and strings...irregularly pieced and cut and resewn togehter.   I didn'town a pattern or have any real idea of how to make this one..so I winged it as I went along.  My version is named  "Bento'ed Out of My Box" with a tutorial..as I made this one... for making the wonky squares here:

And my rainbow brights?  Oh, I still love this quilt I made a few years ago! I held onto this one for myself !


Still using string quilting, only with some some scrappy "a mile a minute" style blocks........
the original name for 'making fabric' that so many are using now. You justtake scraps and sew them as fast as you can...a mile a minute...until you have blocks the size you want!

I've made a lot of these, and I love making them.I've even made string quilts for donation to children in foster care or other group care or homes like this one, below:


But you don't have to start out with a super sized quilt, or a wall quilt or even a baby or child one.
It can be as easy as .....

Making a simple set of potholders:
or making pillows.....

 And can even make a somewhat wonky but wonderfully liberated cancer support ribbon quilt! A wall hanging? A small lap quilt for chemo care? Or just to show your love and support!  For patriotic...use red, white and blue!!!


The ribbon quilt, above, is from Mary Johnson at her own Heartstrings Project at MaryQuilts.com

 See more links, patterns and ideas at my post:     String Quilting:Tutorial and Free Patterns

 But here are some other great ideas that I also found:

 Last images from Google free images..no credit available for these..sorry..I didn't make this group!  The idea is that you can create stars, triangles, diamonds etc!

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey from Alaska to Oregon with thousands of free Quilting, Sewing, and Crafting Patterns and Tutorials. Help change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!

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