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String quilt conundrum!

String quilt conundrum!

Old 02-17-2019, 03:30 PM
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Default String quilt conundrum!

I knew this would happen.

Yesterday I finished the last of 48 eight-inch blocks for a string quilt, using shades of red (with a few pink and purple strips) from my hoard of scraps. I was inspired by one I think I saw on this board that was very pretty. I think it had a Valentine theme -- as in heart fabric -- though mine does not. It's just red....mostly.

Today I tore away all the foundation paper...... and have been laying the blocks out: 3 four-unit blocks across, and 4 four-unit blocks down, to create twelve 16 inch blocks, for a 48x64 inch top, without borders, which I'll probably add. And I'm having the problem I knew I'd have -- deciding on placement! I know it doesn't matter that much; that's the whole idea of a string quilt, but I'm obsessed with getting colors and patterns distributed throughout. I've tinkered with it for a few hours now, moving blocks here and there, and finally just had to stop. Oh, and I've also taken photos, which I always find helpful....except, in this case: not so much.

I know that eventually, I'll just decide it's done and sew it together in whatever the last configuration happens to be......while making sure that distinctive fabrics -- in this case a red and white stripe and a solid purple -- are scattered throughout and not all bunched up on one side or in one corner or in the middle. And, when done, I'll probably be fine with it.

But this is why this kind of scrappy is not relaxing and carefree for me. I'm too much a control freak, or perfectionist....or something. Which is weird, because I love the look, I love string quilts made by others, and I love the idea of using up scraps in this way. I never make quilts from a pattern, only from quilt images I see and then plot out myself, so it's not that I need instruction. It's that my mild -- or in this case, perhaps, not so mild -- OCD makes putting the thing together stressful.

And not only that, but it's on my bed, so has to be moved before bedtime. I can't even let it "cook" for a day or two.

Anyone else have this problem? I hope I'm not the only slightly crazy one here!

Last edited by Friday1961; 02-17-2019 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 02-17-2019, 03:58 PM
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LOL Did I write this post???? Yes I often feel the same way!! You have expressed many of my feelings in some sewing situations that I have experienced!! That's why it sometimes takes me a long time to finish a project and why I don't work with homespuns because the sometimes "wonkiness" and lines not lining up or being off can drive me a bit bonkers

I have made a few string quilts and they have been "controlled" using specific colorways. I love the look that is achieved by many but I have to admit that I do stress over placement and matching up points or block corners and ends. I really don't think I could do a "paper bag" project where you just grab and sew what comes out.

Can you post a pic? It sounds like a fun project with nice results
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Old 02-17-2019, 04:17 PM
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I haven't started a string quilt or even a scrappy (paper bag) type quilt for all of your above reasons. I've spent a bit too much time on quilts where I've used coordinating fabrics with instructions that say to 'place blocks in a pleasing arrangement' - can't imagine how I'd go about a total random string/scrappy! And I, too, love the look of other's that certainly appear random.

Maybe the simple answer is to just 'go with it' and see whattcha get?

Yes, a picture would be wonderful Good luck!
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Old 02-17-2019, 04:42 PM
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A word of encouragement and a sort of challenge.... Just keep on making the scrappy quilts and try to do so with abandon and "randomness". I promise you it will turn out to be a beautiful quilt. I have made over a hundred quilts and most of them have been scrappy and each one has been loved by the person that receives it. Just go for it!!
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Old 02-17-2019, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by costumegirl View Post
I have made a few string quilts and they have been "controlled" using specific colorways. I love the look that is achieved by many but I have to admit that I do stress over placement and matching up points or block corners and ends. I really don't think I could do a "paper bag" project where you just grab and sew what comes out. Can you post a pic? It sounds like a fun project with nice results
Ha! So glad to see I'm not alone!

Yes, the paper bag idea would drive me....well, even crazier. The only way I could do it is if I had each color in a separate bag. In fact, I said to a friend and fellow quilter that I was having trouble choosing the order of the strips to go with the center white strip -- and they are all the same color way and were visible to me. She said "It doesn't matter Just pick one." I said "that's the problem; it matters to me!"

I made the Now and Later quilt which also uses scraps and didn't have this problem....or at least to this extent. For that one I only had to choose the order of the colors, as in which color came next.

I'll post a photo when my camera charges so I can upload them.
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Old 02-17-2019, 06:31 PM
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Here's a photo . I've moved some blocks since this was taken, namely the middle area where there is a too heavy concentration of the red and white stripes . I'll probably make more changes before I began to sew the blocks together, compulsive as I am about this.

Meanwhile, I've numbered and pinned the units so I can lay them out again in this configuration. Should anyone care to make comments or suggestions, I've numbered the 12 blocks (made up of 4 small blocks) as #1 beginning at the top left, moving horizontally to the right, then second row would begin with #4, third row beginning with #7, and so on. With the smaller units in each block, from left to right: a, b, c, d. Hope that makes sense.

I've realized that in the photo some of the white strips don't appear to be the same width. They are, though, except for one block -- the first "block" in Row 2, which would be #4. The strips in those units are slightly narrower, which is why those units are in the same "block". I inadvertently cut those white strips a quarter inch narrower, had made the units before I realized it, and was unwilling to redo them. The other white strips are all the same width.

What I've realized from this is that I'd also like a strip quilt in which each color strip is the same width and in the same place, so that each block would form a secondary box-in-a-box illusion pattern. But matching seams could be a nightmare!
string-quilt-layout.jpg

Last edited by Friday1961; 02-17-2019 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 02-17-2019, 07:08 PM
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I have made many string quilts and I too spend a lot of time arranging and rearranging the blocks until I am happy (or as happy as I'm going to get) If I have a color (like your purple) in some blocks but not all, I look at each row and distribute them in the row and then look at the columns and again move them around again until it looks sort of evenly spaced out. In yous I count 27 with purple (not sure if this is correct but for my example I'll use 27) you have a total of 48 blocks. 3 x8 = 24 so I would put 3 in each row and then add in one more in 3 of the rows.one extra maybe in the top row and one extra somewhere in the middle and one extra in the bottom or next to the bottom. It dosn't really matter. I might start one row with a purple, the next row I would skip a block and randomly add the 4th. I would probably look at the stripe fabric as well. If I understand your numbering I mught move around #7 (made of 4 blocks) and #8 so that I didn't have the 3 purples all together but you probably only have to move the lower left one in #8 and switch it with the one below it (top left of #11). But really in the end it all works once it is sewn together. Also, even if you don't have a design wall, you might like to get a vinyl table cloth the kind that has the soft fuzzy backing ( they are really cheap, maybe $3 or $4) when you lay blocks on it they sort of stick and then you can roll it up when you have to move it and they stay in place when you are ready to unroll.
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Old 02-17-2019, 07:43 PM
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It looks good and just accept the fact that after you get it all quilted, you will find 2 fabric the same beside each other.
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Old 02-18-2019, 02:31 AM
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I certainly applaud your ability to put that purple/blue in the blocks......my OCD would never allow ME to do even that! So you are ahead of some of us. I sort my scraps by color and when I make a string block, I work with that one color....different shades, designs, with bits of other colors, etc, but always in the same family.
At any rate, your quilt looks great and please remember that 99% of whoever sees it, will see the overall design and "look and feel" of it. Not even many quilters will examine it to the degree to even say "you have too much red here, or that block would have looked better over there". Unless you ask them to!
As Tartan said, no matter how long you re-arrange it, when finished, YOU will see something you wish was different.
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Old 02-18-2019, 03:22 AM
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If this is of any "help", the only one I've done like this, I tried to coordinate the triangles so they looked somewhat planned. In fact, I think I waited until the very end to put the triangles on so they matched. They made the hourglass. Love your work though and, as others have said, even when you have it organized, sewn and even quilted, you will find one that glares at you that it doesn't play well with its neighbors--as you see it!
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