Sunday, March 4, 2012

Decisions, Decisions...

You saw my piles of string blocks in the last post (toward the bottom of the post). Probably the hardest step to take in any creative process is the first one. In this case that was choosing which block to put on the design wall first!

In addition to the string blocks I fussy-cut these images of birds to include in my "reading material" quilt. They look to me like pages out of a book on natural science. But, there were only three different images. Since I was planning wide four columns in my quilt I needed a fourth image. Along the selvage edges of the bird print was a gilt border of birds. I cut and pieced them together to create a fourth block.

That made it easier to know where to start with the string blocks. Once I had the birds roughly where I wanted them to be in the quilt I started adding string blocks above and below them. This was a slow process. After I had fleshed out the four columns I started fine tuning them. The pieced bird block just wasn't sitting well with me. Back in the stash I found another piece of yardage featuring big images of birds and butterflies and things. I was able to fussy-cut a block from that print to make it fit in with what I had going on in this quilt.

You'll see it as the nest and eggs in the second column from the left.

When I had the four major columns pretty well settled I started thinking about what to do between them. There were plenty of string blocks left over but I didn't really want the more traditional format where all the columns are the same width across the quilt top. The concept for this quilt originally came together when I purchased this print of stacks of books:

I knew I wanted to use it for the outer border, but what about using it between the string blocks? A single stack of books from this print would fit nicely, with a narrow sashing strip separating the books and the strings.

Or I could cut my remaining string blocks down so they would finish at three inches and then use a narrow separating strip between them and the larger string blocks. That option more closely mimicked the inspiration for this quilt, the quilt on the cover of Karla Alexander's book New Cuts for New Quilts.

I eyeballed the book print with the wide string blocks and decided to go with option number 2.

It's been as much of a challenge to place the trimmed-down blocks between their big sisters as it was to place the big blocks originally. In fact, it got harder as I went along because I was running out of choices in my blocks. Some of the blocks I'd made just didn't work at all, big or small. I have extended more than one block by adding a string to it before joining it to the next one in the column. I've also removed and replaced a few strings. At this point the narrow columns are just blocks on the wall still, not sewn together yet. I'm letting it rest for a day or so before I tackle the job of making them long enough. Who Let the Dogs Out?! is back from the quilter so I'm putting the binding on that in the interim. When the string blocks are finally all sewn together I'll have to decide on what to use for the narrow sashing strips...!


  1. Sue - this is wonderful. It's got a olde worlde feel about it, but is quirky at the same time.

  2. This looks good. I'm glad you changed the 4th block to the nest and eggs one. I think it looks better. Yes, string quilts take a long time and quite a bit of fabric - more than you might think! But what you've got there is good - I like it!

  3. Very, very cute! Love how this is going!


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