Monday, February 4, 2019

More String Piecing

A couple weeks ago I took a string piecing class with Kevin the Quilter. It was a lot of fun, so much so that I continue to play with strings at home. I'm making a smaller version of Kevin's pattern "Goodnight Darleen!" shown here.

First up: the centers for Economy blocks. I didn't piece them onto phone book pages like we did in class; I just strung pieces together until I had units big enough to cover a size guide.

The Economy blocks came together quickly.  Once squared up and trimmed, they showed off my variety of greens nicely. I'm making a smaller version of Kevin's pattern, so I need fewer blocks than the pattern calls for.

String piecing makes quite a mess! In addition to all the strings and strips all over my cutting table, I had a big pile of trimmings and off-cuts from squaring up my blocks.

Then it was on to circle blocks. Again, no phone book pages. I just strung pieces together. I did use starch before I cut out the circles; I rarely do, but it may have helped here. These are all raw-edge pieced, zigzagged around the edges.

More trimming after making the circles, and the pile of snippets grew larger. I set aside some of the pieces from squaring up the economy blocks to use them as narrow strings when I make the border strips.

What I like about this process is that it's not all predetermined. Usually I have an EQ rendering and I know exactly how the quilt will look, but this string piecing process has a little more mystery about it. Although I have a general idea, I don't know exactly what this quilt will end up looking like. It's very liberating.

What I don't like about this method is the waste and the mess. Many people say string piecing uses up otherwise unused bits, but since I'm not a keeper of strings, I cut strips for this project. I may have cut too many - I won't know until I get the rest of the units made - and whatever I cut but don't use will have to find a new home. The piles of strips/strings and trimmings all over my cutting table are crowding me out and driving me nuts!

I took the class and I'm continuing to pursue this project in an attempt to get me to loosen up and relax more in my quilting endeavors. While it's an interesting experiment, I can't see myself adopting string piecing as my primary method of quilt construction. I do, however, see the benefit of the depth and texture it gives to what would otherwise be a very flat looking quilt. I could see adding string pieced low volume background units to an otherwise structured design, a la Bonnie Hunter. I'll definitely keep string piecing among my arsenal of tricks, but I don't see it becoming my favorite method.

Toward the goal of loosening up, I'm taking a Dumpster Diving workshop with Quilt Diva Julie in early March, so any leftover strips from this string pieced project will go toward that. Meanwhile, I'll continue on to the setting triangles and the border strips for this project.

Monday Link Ups:
Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Em's Scrapbag
Love Laugh Quilt


  1. Really like you green string pieced blocks. They will make a really nice quilt.

  2. I'm glad that not knowing the final outcome feels liberating. I can definitely relate to feeling crowded out for scrap piecing (or paper piecing). They can be fun projects for me occasionally but will probably never be my go-to techniques, either.

  3. Your string blocks look great! I have only done one string block quilt and I enjoyed doing it. I did not use paper and I think my blocks turned out fine. Can’t wait to see your final quilt!

  4. I was hoping you'd save your leftover string strips for the workshop! And yes, string piecing is messy but it is also a lot of fun (especially when you leave out the phone book pages). Sometimes making a mess is fun - especially when there's a great quilt coming out of that chaos.

  5. Its coming along great - and I know -but what fun a mess is right? ha ha - enjoy!!

  6. I feel like a proud Papa! Thanks for your enthusiasm concerning this pattern. Your version is going to be the vanguard for your artistic freedom in future quilt making endeavors! And, your units looks great!

  7. Good for you for branching out into a new area! It is messy, but I love the results of string piecing. The color depths are worth the work :)