Friday, September 16, 2011

Donna's String Quilt w/ 9-patches

I keep telling myself I have so many unfinished things I could work on...should work on... but I have an itch - the kind of itch that drives you crazy - an itch to start a string quilt project. I figure that if I make a few string blocks every Tuesday (Crumb Along Day) that it will be a very efficient use of my time, since the strings will be pulled out then anyway..... and I have that set of old faded cotton bed-sheets that is crying out to be used as foundation fabric. (I was going to give them to my friend to use as drop cloths for painting but this would be so much more fun, at least for me.)

My newest project is inspired by a pic of a finished quilt posted to the Stashbuster Group on Yahoo by Donna D. It really called my name. I have a box full of strings and my 1.5" strip box is overflowing (the lid won't close). I love those tiny 9-patches made from 1.5" strips! I sent Donna an email asking her if she had some procedural advice for making this scrappy beauty, and if I could post her advice and the pic to my blog. To my delight, she agreed. Donna's reply is below.

Hi Michele! So glad you liked my string quilt.

As far as how to proceed: first you collect a hundred jillion strips. Mine ranged in width from 1" up to 2". Most were 1.5" or larger -- the 1" strips can be interesting but don't add much width so it takes a lot longer to finish a block. The strips don't have to be even; if they are wider at one end than the other it can give an interesting wonky effect. The black strips in the middle of my blocks were all 1.5 inches wide.

My foundations were cut 8.5 inches because that was the width of my ruler. I used CHEAP muslin, which I starched, or the ugliest fabrics from my stash -- how did I end up with that fabric? Surely I never bought anything that ugly!

Start sewing! I lay the center strip down on top of the center of the foundation square, then grab a strip, lay it right sides together over the black strip, and stitch away! I like to make a batch of 5 or 6 blocks together so I can chain piece. When I've sewn a strip to one side of the black strips in the batch, I cut them apart and sew a strip to the other side of the black strip. This way I sew two strips onto each block at a time. Then I get up and press them all and repeat the process.
When you get to the corners of the blocks you can use triangles, or your wider strips. Try not to use narrow strips on the very corners or it will make for very thick seam allowances.

Every 20 blocks or so I would stop and make the Rail Fence sashing blocks and the mini 9-patches. If I leave them all for the end it gets too boring.

I highly recommend this tutorial for the mini 9-patches: Making Mini 9-patches Tutorial

Using this method you make them bigger, then cut them to size, and they come out perfect every time! I know 9-patches sound easy but when each little piece is only 1.5 inches they slip & slide and I couldn't get them all the same size to save my life. Bonnie's method saved my sanity.

Hope this helps! Write back if you need any more help, or if you want to share some pics!

Donna D

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