Why do we piece HeartStrings blocks on a foundation?

That’s a question I get fairly frequently so I thought I’d address it here on the blog.

First, I want to make sure that everyone understands that the fabric foundation is ONLY required for the blocks that are sent in for group quilts. Because we are piecing these blocks on the diagonal from strings they have a tendency to stretch. By using a foundation and trimming the final block to 9.5 inches, we can make sure that the blocks coming from different quilters will all work well with each other. You can read the guidelines for blocks sent in for group quilts on our website.

If you are making a HeartStrings quilt yourself, any PATTERN and any METHOD of construction can be used and we suggest you think about the organization that will receive the donated quilt and keep their requirements in mind as you make the quilt.

String quilts have traditionally been foundation pieced on fabric or paper but there are several books that describe techniques for making them without foundations. Some of these don’t actually start with strings and they involve cutting rectangles or strips from scraps or yardage.

Some of my favorites
Liberated String Quilts by Gwen Marston
Strips and Strings by Evelyn Sloppy

While technically not string quilts, I also like the Stack the Deck books by Karla Alexander and Cut Loose Quilts by Jan Mullen for their stack and slash type quilts. I made one HeartStrings quilt based on a pattern by Karla Alexander that turned out very cute and was donated to the Ronald McDonald House here in Minneapolis.

You can find patterns that use a paper or fabric foundation in the books String Quilts with Style by Aug & Newman and Spectacular String-Pieced Quilts by the editors of Traditional Quiltworks and Quilting Today magazines.

Online you can find instructions at Bonnie Hunter’s Quiltville site and I’ve posted some simple instructions at MaryQuilt.com.

So whether you choose to piece blocks according to our guidelines for group quilts or piece your own quilts with or without foundations, I hope you will join us in making and donating HeartStrings quilts to your local charities. Don’t forget to check out our photo albums for more inspiration.

Fishy Strings

Many of you may be aware that HeartStrings blocks sent in for group quilts in the US are mailed to Sue Frank who then pulls block sets to send to group members for finishing and donating. She also pieces tops from donated blocks and sends them on to volunteer quilters.

Sue sent me pictures of a HeartStrings quilt she recently donated to the Mayo Clinic. She wrote: “Louise Cohen sent a beautiful set of blocks. They were so coordinated they had to stay in a set and needed a special presentation . As soon as I saw them I thought of underwater .”

Sue took those donated string blocks and created the quilt you see below.

101 Quilts for African Orphans

Stephanie recently emailed me about a quilt show that included some of her donated HeartStrings quilts.

She wrote: “Julie who was coordinating the quilts for Africa organised a quilt show of the finished 101 quilts as a fund raiser. (Sadly for me, on the other side of Australia)

Here is a link to the photos that were taken. Not all of the quilts are in the pix, but 3 of my 6 are there, Green Sudoku, Baby Rails (photo 6) and the Heartstrings with the purple sashing (photo 39). All 3 of those managed to be in more than one pic. I’ll forward the newsletter about the show shortly.

This was a show with a difference, people were encouraged to hug the quilts, to increase the loving vibes going to Africa. What a lovely idea.”

In addition to the ones she mentions about, I also managed to see another one of Stephanie’s HeartStrings quilts in photo 5. You can see her quilts along with the others by following this link.


Yikes! August is halfway done

I’ve been traveling and busy with some personal projects the last couple weeks and haven’t made a single string block this month!

Luckily, I have a couple weeks left to work on Judy’s Use the Stash Challenge and add some more blocks to my 365 Challenge total.

For those of you still working on Purple Project quilts and blocks you also have another couple weeks to make blocks you’ll be sending in. We’ll allow a couple weeks into September for everyone to get them mailed off. If you’re making a Purple Project quilt yourself, make sure you share a photo for our online album and check out the new labels designed just for these quilts.

HeartStrings Quilt Instructions

If you’ve been watching our photo albums fill up with HeartStrings quilts and wanted instructions you can download the PDF file for our Red HeartStrings quilt.
If you want to make one of our HeartStrings Logo Quilts, those instructions are available also.
Need some ideas for Purple Project quilts? Try this version or a simpler one here.

As always, we’re happy to receive blocks made according to the guidelines if you prefer to send them in rather than assemble a quilt on your own. They add up fast when combined with other donations!