BCQuilter's Weblog

String Quilts and “The Chieftan of the Puddin’ Race”

Posted on: 25 January 2010

What a fun day, at the Saturday workshop our Guild held.  There were scrap strips flying and machines a whirring.  Several times, participants commented on how quiet it was (no murmurming, no chatting).

Our instructor displayed several design options for us.  They can be viewed at the guilds blog. So where does one begin? We were given a supply list, and were told to bring our strips.

After the presentation, and the wonderful variety of design options… how does one choose which way to go!  Squares?  Diagonals?  Double Diagonal (Split Diagonal)?  Rectangles?  Diagonal Rectangle (4 blocks make a diamond)? Spider Web?  X’s and O’s? Fans?  Equilateral Triangles?   I chose not to go the “easy” way.  If I had, maybe I would have left with more than four blocks done… but that’s okay.  I am sticking with my choice.  I chose the Double Diagonal.   If you select a design option that requires just straight stitching with all the strips going in the same direction, these options lend themselves to chain piecing, which will make things go a lot faster.

Now the next choice was colour.  Now, you don’t have to have a colour option in mind, as I soon found out, I didn’t have a lot of certain colours.   You could use all one colour, and select darks, lights and mediums.  Make one block all darks, one all lights, and alternate, and rotate to give a really neat basket weave effect.  The possibilities are endless!  Okay… back to what I decided to do.

I chose two colour options… blue and yellow.   I had brought all my strips with me… from 1″ right up to 6″.  I only used up to the 3″ strips.   (PAUSE:   My mind is wandering all over the place here, so bear with me, I’ll eventually get on track.  I’m getting excited about all the different options that are buzzing around in my head!  But first things first, I need to get back on track and tell and show you what I did).

I didn’t have any old sheets laying about, so I had picked up some very inexpensive muslin.  I first cut the muslin into squares of 9″.  I started with just 4.  To make things go smoother, I think I would have cut them all.  Working at home, I will definitely cut them all up, and then they are ready.  I prefer my cutting table, it does not cause any back pain, from being hunched over!

To begin the Double Diagonal, you need to draw a line from one corner to the other, and use this as a guide.  You then start adding your strips.  Strip 1 – wrong side to muslin.  Strip 2, right side to right side of Strip 1.  Stitch and finger press open.  Oh Yeah!  Remember I said no rules!  No pressing with a hot iron required!

Click on the photo to read the descriptors.

This is another block with three strips added.  You work from the centre… but not quite the centre, and move out towards one corner.  Then you continue in the other direction from the centre piece.  Over extend the end of your strips at least 1/4″ for when you add the second diagonal piecing.

I used the pencil line as a guide, but actually I ignored it.  Some of my blue pieces did not quite reach over, so I lined up the yellow, allowing at least 1/4″ or so to the blue ends.  Stitched.  Trimmed to at least 1/4″… some of those pieces were long!  Then pressed.  I have to confess, I did press the yellow strip with an iron.

And more yellow strips (strings) being added.

Yellow strip added, right sides together, just before being stitched

It was much easier chain piecing the yellow strips.  This part of the blocks went by much quicker.

You may recall, that I mentioned I cut the foundation fabric to be 9″.  This is NOT the unfinished block size.  Our Instructor suggested cutting the foundation piece a bit larger than your planned unfinished block size.  I then trimmed to 8 ½”.  What a difference trimming makes!

This is the four blocks completed, and laid out, with a yellow centre.  If you look closely, you’ll notice that some of the strings are a bit “wonky”.  You can precut your strips to be wedges, and stitched, or stitch them so they are a little off.

Isn’t it amazing how changing the orientation of the blocks, gives this quilt a different feel.    Warm colours have a tendency to advance, or come towards you, while cool colours will recede, or move away from you.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to make pillows, or make a quilt from them.  I do have 4 more blocks on the go, and will be using this quilt as a fill-in between finishing up some of my UFOs!  Photos of the other participants will be posted on the Guild blog within the next few days.  Be sure to check them out, for some other design and colour options!

And now for the remainder of my Saturday.   The Robbie Burns dinner was a very neat affair.  A beautiful Prime Rib dinner, with some haggis.  What a tradition.

The Head Table

The Noble Pudding

Piping it in, and presentation to the Head Table.  After this point there was the toast, and the subsequent cutting into the Haggis.

The evening would not be complete without some entertainment.

And that sums up my Saturday activities.  I did try the Haggis, and unfortunately, there wasn’t enough gravy.  I can’t say I liked it, but I can’t say I disliked it either.  I found there was way too much Sage.  But I’ll keep my options open.

OOOh… and today is Robbie Burn’s Birthday.   I just remembered that!



8 Responses to "String Quilts and “The Chieftan of the Puddin’ Race”"

Wow Alice! I can see why this one caught your fancy. Those unassuming blocks transform into a stunning combination. Looks like I’ll have to add string quilts to my list. I rather fancy a spider web.

Your Burns’ Dinner looks line a fine affair with due reverence to the star of the evening – the Haggis! Not sure they make enough gravy to convince me to eat it though.

As it happens, Burns was born in the small town near where my dad was born. I like his poem To A Mountain Daisy and To A Mouse.

I’ll leave the Haggis for you! Instead I’ll take the string quilt! I am going to start organizing my strips as I travel through my quilting world! I’ll be watching your progress here. —“Love”

Your string quilting class looks like fun and I love the way your blocks turned out. This is on my “to do” list one day and I’ll see how it turns out. Can’t wait to see more pictures!


I really love foundation piecing, and this method looks so much fun. The wonky-ness adds beautifully to it!

Kilts! I love seeing a bloke in a kilt – Ant looks good in one, even with his knobbly knees!

You make the string quilt look so easy and so pretty. I am thinking about my scraps in a new way. I am going to have to try it.
The dinner looks like it was fun. Glad you had a good time.
Look forward to seeing more of your work. Beth

I love how your blocks are turning out – makes me want to go sort through my scraps to see what I can come up with!

I like your string pieced blocks. I enjoy string piecing but hadn’t seen that configuration (double diagonal) before. I’m going to have to try it!

[…] blue and yellow, and blue and yellow? This crazy string quilt I’ve been working on.   I can’t believe it, I am half way through the last 12 […]

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