Part One is All About Heart Tops!
And we are jumping right into string piecing!
Lola is here to get you started!
All About Strings:
Strings are simply narrow strips of fabric of any width – usually the leftovers from trimming down fabrics – the good part that is left after the rest is sewn up into something wonderful.
Most of my strings happen as I trim and cut other things.
Sometimes I will specifically gather fabrics and cut them into strips from 3/4” up to 2” and everywhere in between to use as strings.
Strings don’t have to be straight, or even on grain. They can taper and lean and have uneven edges.
I use paper as my foundation so I can remove it after piecing and trimming eliminating excess in an already piece-heavy quilt.
Phone book pages are my go-to when I am not specifically sewing on a line to make a block design as in foundation paper piecing.
My pages from this phone book are about 8” X 10 1/2”.
Use a rotary cutter and ruler to cut 2 columns 3 1/2” wide from top to bottom down the page. Each column will yield 3 string pieced squares 3 1/2” x 3 1/2”.
The squares subcut from these 2 columns will yield 3 heart tops.
There are 49 hearts in the quilt, so plan on making 98 units 3 1/2” square.
If your pages are this size, plan on string piecing 33 columns. As per your own foundation paper size, adjust the number of pages/columns to get the 98 units required.
Work from Left to Right!
My piecing extends beyond the paper a bit on both edges so I can get 3 units from each column.
“But wait! Haven’t you started in the middle before?” Yes – I have, but it depends on the job at hand.
The best way to avoid seams falling where you don’t want them with these narrow columns is to work from one side to the other so you only have to worry about the last seam being too close to the edge of the paper.
If you didn’t cut columns, thinking you could piece the whole page and trim later, you’ll likely find that your seams end up where you don’t want them so trust me. Narrow columns are the way to go, and working left to right solves seam placement problems.
Set machine stitch length to a smaller stitch. 1.5 on a digital machine (14 -16 stitches per inch on a vintage machine) is suggested.
Place two strips with right sides together toward the left side of the paper column. Stitch using an approximate 1/4” seam allowance.
*NOTE* If your presser foot has an attached seam guide, you may want to switch to any open toe foot to keep paper from ripping and getting caught by the guide.
Press the top strip to the side and continue to add more strips of varying widths across the column. Shoot for 4 or 5 strips per column to keep the piecing interesting.
A big mess of mine!
Trim columns to 3 1/2” wide, again keeping seams from being too close to either side where they will interfere with the next seam allowance.
Cut 3 1/2” squares from each column.
Make 98. Remove paper.
From neutral fabrics cut 196 squares 1 1/2” x 1 1/2”.
Optional Stitch & Flip method:
Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the back side of the 1 1/2” squares.
Place one of the squares with right sides together at the one corner of the blue string square.
Things to remember – the drawn line is NOT your sewing line. It is your FOLD LINE. DO NOT SEW DIRECTLY ON THE LINE. If you do – your folded corner triangle will always be short and not reach where it needs to go.
Place your needle to the RIGHT of the line, into the seam allowance. The left side of the sewing machine needle is right up against the line, but now the fabric can fold up and over my thread and reach the edges of my unit.
Sew slowly, and carefully. Press.
Instead of pressing blindly from the fold toward the corner, align the edges of the triangle you are pressing even with the edges of the base square FIRST. Once these are even, press down on your unit. This will block your unit to help it keep its shape and size.
Once pressed correctly, fold triangle back and trim seam allowance 1/4” from stitching.
Repeat for opposite corner.
Simple Folded Corners Method:
Start as with the basic Stitch & Flip method above, but instead of drawing a diagonal line, place the 1/4” line on the ruler (Mini shown) on the diagonal of the corner square and trim leaving 1/4” seam allowance.
Squares with corners trimmed and ready to head to the machine – stacked upon my ruler for easy transport from cutting table to sewing station.
Remember to sew just shy of 1/4” because the FOLD has to happen on the diagonal of the square for the triangle to reach where it needs to go. A couple of tests should help you adjust where you need to sew to achieve unit size.
Things I find helpful:
If I sewed in one long chain I’d lose all of my 2nd corners before I could get them sewn on.
I worked on 2 units at a time, sewing the right hand corner to both, snipping the first one from behind my machine to bring it forward and sew the left hand triangle on. Then snip the 2nd unit from behind the presser foot and bring it forward to sew THAT 2nd triangle on. Then see two more units through, etc.
It made fast work of the job using each unit as the leader & ender of the other and no corner triangles went missing or needed to be pinned in place in the process.
Lola says these are scraps too small to save!
Join units into pairs to complete 49 heart top units.
Units will measure 3 1/2” X 6 1/2” and finish at 3” X 6” in the quilt.
I love the wide variety of blues from light to dark in these heart tops!
Don’t be afraid to include blues that have other colors playing on them. If everything is a tone on tone or the same shade of blue things may have a tendency to look a bit flat. Push your boundaries and challenge yourself – you just may be pleasantly surprised where this will lead you!
That’s it for Part One. We’ll see you back here next Friday, 4/1/22 for Part Two!
One Day Left to Enter! Drawing TOMORROW!
The response on our March ’22 PDF pattern releases has been fantastic! Thank you so much!
Just remember that you need to download your files through your computer browser after logging in to your account. It doesn’t work from the app.
I will slowly as time allows put up other PDF patterns there as well. Right now there are just the most recent dozen or so. I have added an Etsy tab to the top of the blog for easy access.
Did you enter the gift away yet?
Our Drawing happens THIS COMING SATURDAY!
I will be drawing for TWO winners who will each receive the Monkey Business & Bear Branch Pattern Bundle with one winner receiving a Facets of Brown Color Roll, and the second receiving a Facets of Aqua color roll from Cotton to Quilts!
Winner must have fabric prize shipped to a USA address. If you are outside of the USA, we can send it to a friend within the USA who can forward it on to you.