String Blocks…they are like birthing a baby.

Remember Monday when I was talking about sewing string blocks Cactus Patch, from Bonnie Hunter’s book Scraps & Shirttails: Reuse, Re-pupose, Recycle! The Art of “Quilting Green”.  The only problem…the quilt has string piecing and I am not a fan of string piecing.  I decided to do the string piecing as a leader a ender and amazingly….I have the blocks done.  I confess….they started two weeks ago as leaders and enders and then they turned into a full fledged project.  Even more amazing, I enjoyed sewing them.


My first string piecing experience was when I made my Roll, Roll Cotton Ball quilt.  The quilt was an online mystery quilt created by Bonnie Hunter.  You can check to see if the pattern is still available. I was busy sewing and sewing trying to keep up with the clues as they were released.    If you haven’t done an online mystery it works a bit like this….the directions are posted and typically the people who are making it have a week to sew the step and the following week the next step is revealed.  If you want to keep everything a mystery, you need to get the task done in that time period….or be able to discipline yourself to not peak at the clues (I can’t do that!).

I was VERY daunted by the string piecing portion of the project.  I think many quilters were.  I read comments on line that people were quitting the mystery because of string piecing.  I read comments that people were bypassing that portion and planned to revamp their quilt because of their not wanting to sew string blocks.  I decided that I would just tackle them.  Oh I moaned and groaned….I moaned and groaned a lot….but I trudged along.  I didn’t get them done before the next mystery clue came out, but I did get them done a bit later.    But I thought to myself…never again.  I won’t string piece.


Then I saw the blocks in the finished quilt and LOVE the look.  I still thought no more string piecing.

That quilt is on a quilt rack in my upstairs hallway.  Every night when I go up to bed, I see the quilt….I see the string blocks.  I see those string blocks make the quilt sing.


Then after looking at a few of Bonnie’s patterns, I’ve noticed more string piecing blocks….UGH!  But then I keep thinking how I like the look of those blocks so I tried it.  This time around I was working with a smaller size and I was doing it on my own time frame.  I wasn’t hurrying.  I wasn’t trying to race a deadline.  If I finished them this year great.  If I never finished them…ok…I wouldn’t be out anything except my time.  And do you know what?

I enjoyed it.  I liked string piecing the blocks.    Here’s a few things that are different this time around….I am not sewing in my dining room.


The first time around I was sewing in the dining room.  The string pieces would end up on the floor all over.  The dog would grab them and run.  The pieces got EVERYWHERE.  This time around I am sewing in my sewing room.  Yes it’s a mess but it isn’t all over the house.  More importantly, I’m the only one that really sees the mess.

This time, I know the look is worth the time.  This time I was sewing a smaller sized block making the pieces more manageable.  I was getting SO frustrated that I would pick up a piece and it wouldn’t be long enough.  This time the blocks are smaller so almost every fabric piece fits the size I need.  I have since learned that I need to sort my strings differently.  If a fabric piece is less than 8″ it should be a string….smaller should be kept in a different bucket.

More importantly, this time I sewed them on my time.  I am not hurrying to meet a deadline.  I am not totally “goal oriented”.  I am just “peace of mind”, “relaxing”, “enjoying the process” mode.  I think we all do that from time to time…sew to complete a project….not sew to enjoy it.

If asked, I think I would describe piecing string blocks as a bit like birthing a baby.  Sometimes it’s painful.  Sometimes you get a break.  Sometimes you’re panting just get through.  It’s not the most enjoyable process but the outcome is WONDERFUL…and then 16 years later when you look back, you think oh that wasn’t bad at all.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of string piecing or if you want to know more about it, you can check out Bonnie’s tutorial.   Oh no….I just remembered I have to take all that paper off the back…another part that isn’t my favorite.  I think that will be a TV watching job…I’ll just keep remembering to enjoy the process!!

9 thoughts on “String Blocks…they are like birthing a baby.”

  1. I have to admit all those blocks looked daunting but I had finished one of her other quilts earlier this year…Basket Weave Strings…so it doesn’t look as bad now! I do love your string blocks – very very pretty! I used telephone book pages for the back of mine so the tearing was fairly easy. Good tv work!

  2. When I had lots of HST that I did with papers I used the hubby and his TV time to tear the papers off the back. Just another option – LOL

  3. Your version of RRCB is so lovely with that “S” shaped quilting pattern. It sure was a big challenge to do it, but soooooo worth it!
    Now the little bright plaid string blocks are so cute and happy-looking. Good job!

  4. I love the look of string blocks, but – yup – I’m daunted by them. When I do tackle them, leaders & enders seems like the best plan as a start!

  5. I love string quilting. I use fabric for the backing, old sheets, whatever. Then I just sew a few when I have enough strips in the scrap bin. I just love he way they look.

  6. I use a very light weight very inexpensive interfacing or sometimes fabric that won’t peek through that I’m not holding back for something special. Takes the need for pulling off paper away. Enjoyed your post! Sandi

  7. Those look terrific! Maybe you also liked them more because you got to work with all those lovely colors and plaids rather than neutrals :)

  8. I JUST did a string block quilt from strip/stash- to enable myself to buy more fabric. It was painful but I think this quilt is my favorite – made with less than desireable fabrics. I would think long and hard to do it again anytime soon – but I love how yours turned out!

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