Sunday, August 3, 2008

Interlude: String Pieced Stars

After the concentrated effort of making my daughter a dress for the Regency Ball, I felt like relaxing with Something Completely Different. I've had a hankering for string-pieced stars ever since seeing Bonnie Hunter's Out On a String! , so today I pulled out my drawer of strips, strings, and crumbs, and had a go at it.

It had occurred to me that having a diamond shaped template might speed up the process of preparing the foundation papers, so the last time I was at the quilt store I bought Set E of Marti Mitchell's Perfect Patchwork templates. I traced the large diamond onto the scraps of pattern tracing paper left over from making the dress. Using the flip and sew method, I string-pieced the diamonds and then trimmed them down, using the template and a rotary cutter.

I like the fact that her templates have tiny holes to mark where the stitching lines end, but I found that cutting around the diamond template with the rotary cutter was more difficult than I expected. . I had trouble holding it motionless, and I think that if I had done more than the eight diamonds needed for a single block, my fingers would have become cramped and sore. I think it's actually easier on my hands to cut an accurate diamond using my ordinary Omnigrid ruler. But then I wouldn't have those nice little corner holes which will probably make the actual piecing much easier.

I can't imagine how people use the rotary cutter for some of her smaller template pieces such as the tiny diamond for the 6 inch 8-Pointed Star block.

I'll finish this block tomorrow, and then get back to work on the summer dresses for my granddaughters and my Carolina Crossroads quilt. By the way, here are the bits left over after trimming the diamonds. Finally -- scraps small enough to throw away! (Or are there one or two worth saving?)


Mary said...

I think a rotating cutting mat would help. I use one for the flying geese rulers from Eleanor Burns. You make a cut, rotate, make another cut, etc.

I love the string stars too and was thinking I might even be able to do short string pieced units without foundations (kind of like Chinese Coins sections) and then cut the diamonds from those.

I may have to look for those templates.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

I use a small mat which I carefully rotate, leaving the template in place while I turn the mat.

Gwen Marston, in her book Liberated String Piecing, eschews paper foundations. I love her wonky blocks! But since I'm going for a standard LeMoyne Star, I decided that in the interests of precision I'd go with the paper. (Even though I hate removing the paper after the block is done.)

Lazy Gal Tonya said...

great string diamonds - they're going to be a fun star. those scraps are huge!!! dont toss them, give them to someone who likes small pieces.I love Gwen Marston too, but I still love piecing on paper. well, not the part about ripping it out afterwords, but how well it works.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

Well, Tonya, you're right about some of those scraps being big enough to use. After uploading the post and the picture, I relented and fished out about half of them to use on future stars.