Operation Use It or Lose It continues. This project is all about using up all the little bits and pieces of quilting cotton I’ve collected over the past few years. Most of this came from bolt ends and remnants left of fabric from the store. Some are scraps left from previous projects.
There are lots of string quilts on Flickr and Pinterest to look to for inspiration. I made a similar smaller quilt at work out of Amy Butler fabrics in blues and teals. It is a simple process that can produce some pretty impressive results.
I started by pulling out all my fabric and cut it into strips that varied from 1.5” to 3.5” wide. Some are the full width of the fabric and others are shorter depending on what I started with of course. I also cut several 1.5” wide strips of the dark brown print for the center strip on each of the squares. I chose the dark brown because my bed is a dark wood and I thought it would set off the other mixed colors nicely. Also, I had a lot of the brown! I also cut 80 13” squares from a light colored cotton that has very small dots in light blue and green. Normally I would use a good quality muslin for my foundation squares but I didn’t have any and this project is all about using up what I have so I chose the lightest fabric I had and went with that. I could have also used paper for my foundation pieces but I wanted finished 12.5” units and didn’t have any paper that large. Plus I really didn’t want to have to pull off all that backing paper when this was all done! This is going to be used on my bed and the extra durability that the foundation fabric gives the finished quilt will come in handy with dogs sleeping on the bed too. I wash my bed quilt at least once a month, sometimes more depending on the dogs so it has to stand up to a lot of wear and tear.
Because this quilt is going to be king size when it is finished I wanted to start with big foundation squares. String quilts made with smaller units are very striking but I’m all about getting this project done in as little time and effort as possible. Each unit starts as a 13” square and gets trimmed down to 12.5” after all the strips are sewn on.
Place the center strip diagonally across the foundation square.
Place next strip face down on center strip, aligning edges. Stitch, using a 1/4” seam allowance along edge of strips, attaching it to the foundation piece.
Flip strip open and press. Continue adding strips on both sides of center strip until the entire foundation square is covered.
Completed, trimmed unit.
Four units make up a full block. In my case a block will be 24” square. My plan is to make 80 units or 20 large blocks and configure them in a 5X4 pattern to make an extra large king size quilt. I’m pretty sure that for the first time I will be sending this one out to be quilted on a long arm. However with my new machine on its way, I could conceivably quilt this on it. But I have a feeling there will be so many other projects that I will want to do on it that it will be better to let someone else finish this quilt for me.
Not only am I using this project to use up all my miscellaneous fabric scraps, I’m taking this opportunity to empty all my bobbins and use up odd colored threads. With the way this is pieced and the variety of colors and patterns in the fabrics, the thread color really doesn’t matter. I have so many random bobbins with weird colors wound on them that I just set this holder next to my machine and when one runs out I just grab the next one in line and use it until it is gone. There are a few on here with rayon or decorative threads. I won’t use those, I’ll just have to remember to pull the old thread off those someday.
This is my set up when I work on this project. I have a stack of foundation squares next to my machine. On the other side is my ironing board. Usually I lower the board to be level with the table and all I do is swivel my chair from machine to iron between each strip, press, cut and add next strip. I keep the basket of strips next to me and just reach in and grab whatever I need. The pile of brown center strips is on the end of the ironing board. I can quickly move through the sewing of one unit without getting up from my machine with this set up. When I finish a unit I get up and take it to the cutting table and trim it. My goal is to make at least 4 units, or one big square every time I’m up in my sewing room. It would be great to have this quilt on my bed by the holidays.
In related news, I am working with a friend to get a Modern Quilt Guild started in our area. If you are interested in joining us please like our Facebook Page and join us for our first meeting on September 27 at 6pm at Sew Generously, St. Charles, IL.