Sunday, December 13, 2020

String-A-Long--Post 1

Overflowing gallon bag of scraps
Last week, the Saturday Workshop chair decided to go ahead with organizing virtual workshops. Saturday Workshops is one of the Clark County Quilters guild activities that I anticipate every year. Members teach other members. It is a fun learning environment. I get to meet new friends and catch up with dear friends.

I wanted to help and offered to guide a string piecing session. I chose strings as my subject matter because strings are readily available. Some people save scraps that include strings. Strings could be cut from existing yardage. String piecing is a task I like to do because it allows my mind to think of other solutions to challenges in other projects!

Anyone could participate. For people at the point of piecing their strings into blocks, they will want background fabric. Participants might have a piece or pieces in their stash! Bonnie Hunter has several free patterns on her website using strings. 

Position of first strip
I have been adding to a gallon string bag that came from my friend Martha's sewing room. It was overflowing. It was time to use it. I also e-mailed Bonnie Hunter to ask her permission to use her free pattern for the guild workshop. Bless her heart, she not only said yes and to have fun; but, she responded a few hours after I had e-mailed her! Bonnie has in past blogs given her permission to use her free patterns on her blog to groups and guilds. I wanted to personally ask as a matter of respect to her and her work. I have credited Bonnie with the pattern and provided links to her string books and essential ruler.

Two strips sewn and seam pressed
For foundation, I'm using newsprint from the daily newspaper. To utilize the newspaper without the ink transferring to the fabric, I ironed the newspaper. I can remember my great grandmother talking about ironing the newspaper so my great grandfather didn't get ink on his white shirts! The heat sets the ink so it doesn't rub off or transfer to the fabrics during the piecing process.

I sorted the scraps. There were some pieces that were too wide for string piecing and some neutral scraps that worked better in my current Bonnie Hunter mystery project than becoming strings in my sewing session. I placed long strings in one pile and short strings in another pile. I like piecing with strings that vary between three quarter inches to two inches in width. While sorting, there were some string panels that my friend, Martha, had pieced. I don't know what her plans for the strings were. I also don't know if I'll use the panels in this project of if I'll save them for another project.

I cut a couple eight inch squares, a couple 10 inch squares and a couple 3 1/2 inch strips of the newsprint. I began the piecing process. Newsprint is great to use because it available at our house. It is easy to tear away after the strip is pieced. The words on the newsprint help me orient the strips in a more vertical position. Generally, I like to work with strips that contain a consistent width. Occasionally, I like to add a few strips that aren't because those strips add interest to the overall design.

Sometimes, people ask if it is necessary to use newsprint. The short answer is no. You can use other papers that are available to you. It is important to us paper that will easily tear for removal. Vellum and copy paper are often used in paper piecing. You can also use a fabric like muslin. In this case, the foundation remains in the piece. 
Adding more strings

Finally, if you can piece the strings together without buckling or bubbling or stretching happening, then you don't need to use a foundation. If I can piece scraps together without using a foundation, I will. Removing the newsprint takes time away from stitching!

When sewing strips to the newsprint, use a short stitch length. I use a 1.70 setting on my Bernina and 18 stitches to the inch on my featherweight. The shorter stitches make it easier to remove the paper without compromising the quarter inch seam allowances. Shorter stitches mean that the ends of the seam allowances are less likely to unsew. I prefer to press seams after stitching each one because the strips are flatter and easier to work into blocks, sashings and borders. I also like to chain piece the newspaper strips. During my sewing session, I had eight newspaper foundations going at once!

Chain piecing 
Beginning in the middle of the newsprint will allow you to piece on both sides of the foundation. I like stitching on both sides of the newsprint because I fill the paper faster. I also can press two seams instead of one.

If the string is longer than the paper, I cut it off with a pair of scissors. I do let the strings extend a bit beyond of the newsprint. For this project, I chose to use all of the strings. I have string pieced borders and sashing using one main color and I liked that effect.

As the strings cover the paper, it might feel like the project is messy; but, hang in there. Once the newsprint is squared up and the units cut, the strings begin to sparkle. I don't spend much time selecting a color to work with the previous string. I tend to pay more attention to
mixing up the width of the strips. If there is a string that is a little short, I'll piece a fabric to it so that it will fit. Sometimes, I'll include a strip of little leftovers that I've pieced together. I enjoy the process; but, I enjoy watching the pile of strips turn into a block most of all!

String "fabric" at the end of the session
My plan is to cut half square triangles(HSTs) out of the strings. I have a two yard piece of yardage to use as background HSTs. Before I cut the HSTs, I plan to piece more strings on the newsprint. HSTs can be used in a plethora of designs. Warning: HSTs can be as addictive as string piecing can!

At the end of my first stitching session, I took a photo of the strings ready to be squared. I've a good start! I'm linking to Oh Scrap the linky party at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework.

Regarding COVID: 

Worldwide: 71.8M cases; 1.61M deaths

United States: 16.2M cases; 298K deaths 

Oregon: 91,420 cases; 1,138 deaths

COVID cases continue to rise worldwide. In Oregon on Monday, we had the highest reported numbers of new cases on a single day yet--1,610. After ten months of living in the midst of a pandemic, people are struggling from being isolated. The stress of not personally interacting, the stress of job loss coupled with the fear of being infected with the virus continues to wreck havoc with people's lives.  I am thankful for quilting!

More areas are receiving the vaccine. Canadians are being inoculated. In the United States, it is thought that we will receive the okay to distribute the vaccines from the FDA on Tuesday. The Oregon governor said in a Friday news conference that the plan is to vaccinate 10,000 people daily over the next ten months. She thinks by then the virus will be controlled.



Sylvia@Treadlestitches said...

Beautiful strings! I'm in a string piecing mood right now too. Stay safe! said...

Thank you, Sylvia. Strings are little hidden gems aren't they? You don't realize their value until you see them revealed!

Cynthia Brunz Designs said...

Your string blocks are wonderful. I look forward to seeing this quilt come together. Thanks for sharing with Oh!

I hope one day to teach at your guild. Fingers crossed we are allowed to get together in person someday.

The Joyful Quilter said...

I see that you've made a variety of sizes of String blocks. I'm interested to discover what you plan is for all of these. String quilts are SEW much fun!! said...

Cynthia, It would be fun to hear your lecture and attend your class. I hope that happens someday! I do enjoy making the strings into "fabric" and letting my mind idle! Thanks so much for stopping by and for commenting! said...

Joy, I was curious to see which sizes of foundations worked best for my purpose. . .I haven't decided yet; but, maybe that will happen next week! String quilts are fun to sew for sure!!! Thanks for stopping by!

Rebecca Grace said...

What a fun project! You know, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I don't understand why newsprint or any other foundation is needed for a scrappy string project like this one. Why can't you just sew your strips together, press them nice and flat, and then trim them to whatever block size is needed? What advantage does the paper foundation give that I'm missing? said...

Rebecca, if you can sew the strips without them buckling, bubbling, creeping or stretching, then you don't need to incorporate a foundation. The foundation acts like a stabilizer. Using it, one is less likely to encounter angst when piecing strings together. Thanks for your comment and for stopping by!

JoJo said...

Oh how I love all those little scrappy pieces and seeing them sewn together is such eye candy. Makes me want to make a batch of my own! LOL said...

JoJo, You are so right about those little scrappy pieces turning into eye candy! They are actually fun to create! I hope you will go down that rabbit hole with me soon!