Archive for March, 2007

Playing with green

The baton has been passed to Robina, who is now working on the first two Australian HeartStrings quilts.
She’s elected to add two borders to one of them. It was assembled from blocks made from the project guidelines, all with red centres. However, because we had such a large stash of blocks, I was able to pull out 48, all of which had one or more green strings in them.

My objective was to create greater cohesion in the assembled quilt than was created by the red centre strips alone. I’m not sure that I’ve succeeded, although I’m quite pleased with the look of the quilt anyhow!

Since then, I’ve started (and now almost finished) another quilt top where all the blocks have red centre strips and at least one yellow strip in them. I’m expecting to have it finished in the next few days, and will post a photo.

Chinese Coins

Since we’re going to collect some Chinese Coin sections for the months of April and May I thought I’d share how I make my sections for those quilters who haven’t made these before. They’re very quick and easy.

First, just to review the guidelines.

  • This is a short term project just for April and May
  • Sections should be 5.5 inches wide by however long you choose
  • For AUS participants they should NOT be pieced on a foundation; US participants can either piece them as shown below without a foundation or may use a muslin foundation.

First I pulled out some of my short strings – these happen to be about 6-7 inches but as long as they are an inch longer than I need to trim my section I’ll use them.

second, I sewed the strings into pairs

then I sewed two of these pairs together and had 4 strips, then sewed 2 of those and had 8 strips – last I added an additional pair. (As I’m sewing my pairs together, I’m careful to keep my left edge fairly even so that when I go to trim the section I won’t end up with a shorter strip not being long enough to square up.)

When the section was as long as I wanted it, I ironed all the seams in one direction

and trimmed the section to 5.5 inches wide – trimming some off of each side to get straight edges on both sides of the section.

I keep my sections shorter than my ruler so I can trim them without having to scoot my ruler along the edge but other than that I don’t worry about how long the sections are.

Any questions? Email me at mmcjohnson@gmail.com

These sections will be mailed to Megan in AUS and to me in the US. If you are sending some in, email me for the mailing addresses.

June and Al – String quilting for Quilts of Valor

June has been sharing with us the work she’s been doing with Al making string quilts for Quilts of Valor. She recently reported that she’d completed the first quilt made using string blocks that Al had contributed and that he’s already made enough blocks for more quilts.
“Al keeps a journal, so we know that I first brought him supplies and showed him how to make the blocks February 9. He made his first block February 10, and since that time has made enough blocks for 5 Quilts of Valor, and two lap quilts for his family. He has the materials prepared for 5 more lap quilts for his sons, grandkids and great grandkids.”
As June posted a photo of their first quilt she shared a bit about Al with the group. “I posted a picture of the first top made from blocks sewn by me and Al, my89 yr old former WWII POW block maker. He has made at least 100 blocks by now. Sunday his neighbor brought him out to see my studio and to pick up some more fabrics. I sent him home with a tub of fabric and 1 1/4″ and 11/2″ strips. He wanted a greater variety of light colored strips.”

June and Al’s first HeartStrings Quilt for Quilts of Valor

Close-up showing June’s quilting.

June emailed me photographs of her and Al and told me “I visited with Al and Helen (his wife) yesterday and showed them the finished quilt. They loved the quilt, the backing, the label and the whole idea. Each of them thanked me for getting him started making string blocks. Together they made a small lap quilt and tied it. They are going to make them for their sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

The Quilt Club

Kathy, one project member, decided to use the HeartStrings Quilt Project as inspiration for her daughter’s quilt club.

She told us that “the string blocks are going to be great for teaching 1/4″ seams, pressing, etc. and we’re going to be doing red, white and blue blocks.”

“In five weeks my daughter and her friends have worked on their heartstring blocks. They are all doing a great job…and having fun to boot! They have completed 42 blocks with blue centers…I’ve done one!!! So, I will make the additional 5 blocks this week and hopefully get it all put together. They are as proud of themselves and each other as I am of them!”

As you can see from the finished top below, Kathy managed to make the last few blocks and assemble their first quilt top. Didn’t they do a wonderful job?

Kathy tells us that the 3 of the girls in the club are 10 and the youngest is 8 years old. Now that they’ve completed their first HeartStrings blocks and quilt, next up will be a project of their own.

Having fun Down Under

Stephanie (seated, far right) has been a prolific contributor of blocks to the Australian HeartStrings Quilt Project.

Stephanie hails from Perth, which is the state capital of Western Australia. Perth is proud to boast that it is the world’s most remote city. The closest city of any similar size is Adelaide, the capital of South Australia – 2,736km (1,700 miles) away. That’s about the same distance as Los Angeles to Chicago!


The good news is that quiltmaking is alive and well in Perth. Not only has Stephanie made a mountain of blocks herself, her boundless energy and commitment to helping those less fortunate is apparently contagious, as she had no trouble persuading members of her local quilting group, Stitch by Stitch (pictured above), to spend a day making HeartStrings blocks.

They made 58 blocks using red centre strips, in keeping with the Project guidelines. Some have already been included in two tops now with Robina in Canberra (also marked on the map) for machine quilting. The remainder will be used in the next month or so as more tops are made.

What’s more, The Stitch by Stitch group members also very generously agreed to pose for photographs, some of which will be published in the May issues of Australian Quilters Companion and Homespun magazines. (More on that another time.) I’ve been able to persuade Stephanie to allow the photos to be uploaded on to our blog, so we can all share them.


A display of 35 of the blocks made by the group.

Stitch by Stitch member Dee hard at work on her string blocks.

Thanks very very much ladies. It was wonderful to receive your blocks.

HeartStrings blocks and quilt donations

I was curious how many blocks had been received by Sue (in the US) from project members so I asked her for an update.

It’s nearly impossible to count all the quilts in progress but Sue has received 660 blocks and another 144 were sent directly from one member to another for a total of 804 blocks.

She has pieced 4 tops and sent them out to volunteer quilters and mailed out 7 block sets to volunteers who will complete quilts and donate them locally.

Sue reports she has a partial set of bright ‘s ready to send on Monday to Deanna and has 59 Red,White &Blue blocks in ” stock ” and 42 miscellaneous blocks.

In addition, we have a number of quilt tops that have been pieced by one member and passed to volunteer quilters for finishing and lots of quilts being made start to finish by individuals.

I’ll let Megan update us on the number of Australian blocks but I know she’s reported two tops assembled and passed on for quilting and more blocks received.

While we have a number of completed quilts that have not yet been donated, there are already 17 quilts listed in the database as having been given to our local charities or individuals in need.
I realize that with HeartStrings Project quilts being donated locally it will be a challenge to capture and document all the donations. Please take time to make sure your donations are recognized and counted by either reporting them yourself if you are a member of the Yahoo group OR emailing me directly at mmcjohnson@gmail.com
The above represents a tremendous amount of work in the brief 3 month period since the HeartStrings Quilt Project began. Thank you all for participating.

Quietly working away in Australia

Maxine Mossop, one of our Australian members, writes me that she’s completed and donated 4 HeartStrings quilts to the Lady Huntington Centre in North Melbourne and has 2 additional quilts ready to be donated to Royal Children’s Hospital Intensive Care Unit Parkville in Melbourne. I had no idea she’d been so busy working and finishing this many quilts.

In this first one she’s used the same fabric for the block centers, an inner border, and the binding which pulls this quilt together very nicely.

Of this second quilt she writes; “This is really a strippy I suppose I used all I/Spy scrap as this quilt was to be used by the sitting babies as a floor rug and I wanted it to be interesting…the feedback on this quilt was very positive m 46′x 56″ Instead of using a plain colour between the strips I used very small pieces to separate”

This 3rd quilt is made from leftover strips from quilts made for her grandsons and the blocks are only 4 inches square as she was working from small scraps. This quilt and the next are for the 3/4 year old boys at the centre.

Of these last two, Maxine writes “ these 2 quilts both 36″x48″ which I have just finished will be going to the Royal Children’s Hospital Intensive Care Unit Parkville in Melbourne Vic Aus. they have very specific instructions for size as the quilt must just lay on top of the cot/bed /isolette.”

More string quilt photo’s and designs

Strings quilts have long been a favorite of mine and this project fits in nicely with my interest in trying just about every variation I can think of. My favorite quilts tend to be very scrappy and usually from traditional patterns and string quilts certainly fall in both categories.

My first string quilt was made from a pattern in the book Great Lakes Great Quilts (my version was not nearly as bright as the one in the book).

Although I love multicolored string quilts, I frequently experiment with color. The colors for this next quilt were chosen after reading a magazine article that discussed using fabrics from half the color wheel in a quilt. Well they used the *warm* side but I tend to like the *cool* side better so I pulled all my blue, green, purple and yellow strings for this quilt.

Don’t you love the scalloped border on this one? Anyone following my blog realizes that I do very little applique and no needle turn EXCEPT for these scallops (that means they’re really easy!). This pattern was in an issue of Quiltmakers All Time Favorites for Kids magazine.

Another experiment in color led to this next quilt. I was making blue string blocks and as I got about 1/2 way through making the blocks I wasn’t sure I was going to like the quilt. I searched through my books and came across an Hourglass string quilt in Gwen Marston’s book Liberated Strings and decided that would work just fine.

Once I started cutting and sewing the hourglass blocks, I changed my mind about the original quilt and made both. You can see my Blue Strings here.

A more recent experiment with color came when I decided to make a quilt using a rectangular block. I pulled a border fabric from my stash that I’d been trying (unsuccessfully) to use in a quilt for several years and rummaged through my strings for all the colors in the border. Here you can see the first 4 blocks along with the border. The final quilt top can be seen here.
Some additional links for you to view:
You can keep up with my current quilts via my blog Making Scrap Quilts from Stash. Finally, Blogger and Picasa web albums play nicely together and have automatically created a web album with all the photo’s posted to this blog. To view them all together click below (and bookmark) the HeartStrings Quilt Project blog album.

New to string quilting?

I’ll warn you that making string blocks is addicting but if you’re ready to begin we’ll point you to Bonnie Hunter’s Quiltville site where you’ll find a String Quilting Primer to get you started.

If you plan to make blocks to mail in for HeartStrings group quilts PLEASE read the guidelines first as Bonnie’s blocks are constructed with a few differences.

However, if your plan is to make the top and request it be quilted by a volunteer quilter or if you’re making the entire quilt yourself then any method, any string pattern goes! This Basketweave Strings is one of my favorites from Bonnie’s site.

Make sure you check out all the string quilt variations by clicking the links at the bottom of the String Quilting Primer page and you can find more string quilts and instructions on making them by clicking these links:

When you’re ready for something a little more advanced, check out Bonnie’s String Spiderweb
Don’t forget to take a look around while you’re at Quiltville.com, Bonnie has a lot of great non-string quilt patterns and quilts too and you can follow her current projects on her blog.

The Queen of Strings

Darlene is taking a break from string quilts for the moment but I have a feeling she’ll be dragging out her string bins before long. By the 31st of January she’d already mailed 247 HeartStrings blocks to Sue and we’d only officially begun the project the 1st of January.

She reported her progress recently and shared some of her finished tops. I love this first quilt where she’s used the narrow light strips on either side of the center green one. Notice the floral and novelty print versions below as well.

“Since the beginning of January I have made.

5 tops worth of blocks sent to Sue

9 quilt tops for Cricket’s homeless shelter project

1 quilt top for Quilts for Kids in Maine

1 queen sized top for myself


I’ve gone through a bolt and a half of 90″ wide muslin. I just bought another bolt, so I have it on hand when I am ready to pull out my strings again.”

Darlene and Cricket met the beginning of February and Darlene began working with Cricket on making quilts for the homeless.

Cricket tells me that these quilts will be donated to one of the shelters in Western Massachusetts, around Springfield. “The way I determine it is to see how many quilts I have, what sizes they are, and then call a shelter that uses those sizes. I give one quilt to each person in the shelter at that time, and the quilts are theirs to keep. I donate to 5 or 6 shelters in this area, depending on how many quilts I have. They are a treat to the residents and cause great excitement among residents and staff each year. ”

She reminded us all during a discussion about the attractiveness of our string quilts that these quilts will be valued by the recipients and she should know because she’s been making quilts for homeless families for 10 years as well as spending time volunteering in shelters. There’s still a lot of work to be done to make these tops into quilts but I can tell Cricket is up to the task.