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.”