String Orchestra

Today is my day for another fun blog hop. Thank you to Carla of for organizing this musical blog hop. This hop had me sewing like crazy for days, and yes, music is a part of my finish.

I’m calling this pattern String Orchestra, for several reasons. First, it uses strings upon strings upon strings…small ones, tiny ones and some that have been buried in piles for more than a decade. Second, it incorporates some low volume musical notes fabric strings that I have cherished but have now finally used up. Sad, but the good things must get used by us quilters. Third, this quilt just sings to me with all the various little, petite, teeny pieces that bring up memories, make me smile and come full circle into a useable and functional quilt for my family. Fourth, there are longer strips of grey banana fabric strips and some strips ripped from an old set of sheets that my kids beat up at summer camp (where they sang many songs and daily made loud music and a lot of mischief. (Don’t ask me how those sheets looked before I retired them!) This quilt is not my prettiest, but it is my happy, scrappy string orchestra!

Like most quilters, I love all things scrappy!! Remember those long paper strips many of us began making with scraps on paper receipts and/or adding machine tape rolls? Did you make also make a bunch of those and have had them lying around going nowhere? This project is a great use for those colorful paper strip rolls. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out Karen at Just Get It Done Quilts for her helpful video tutorial using adding machine tape.

I’ve included some photos here to show you my process. While it’s not a complete tutorial, it should give the general idea of my process. (This basic string quilt tutorial, by A Quilting Life, is helpful if you have never made one of these type of quilts before.) I began my quilt by finding and/or making some of those adding machine tape strip pieces. I made some at 3″ wide and then without using paper, I assembled some strips at more narrow and differing widths. (Note if you used paper strips, you must remove the papers before you press or sew them into blocks.) I pressed the strips well using starch and then trimmed them. Using squares cut from old bed sheets as my foundation, I began sewing my strips on a diagonal. I wanted my colored scrappy strips to be bookended by low volume strips to make the bright colors stand out. Another round of pressing and and trimming and blocks were done. After playing around with various options, I settled on a zig zag formation which created a square-like secondary design.

First step is pressing all those scrappy little strings into strips.

When trimming the strings, you need to cut down to the thinnest string. Yes, as we know, scraps beget more scraps and before you know it, you’re back with a bigger pile than you began with!!!

This is the point where you remove any papers that back your adding machine tape strings. You need more strips than you think. I used 3 or more colored strips into most blocks, preferring them to be different widths. That means I have more than 168 strings of just scrappy strips in my blocks!! My note above says that some strips should BE at least the length of the diagonal block size. Truth is, I preferred to start my blocks with a low volume on the diagonal. It doesn’t matter what you do, but the longer the strings, the easier it is to proceed through your sewing. Yes, at times I had to stop and add a piece here and there to my strings, but that’s no problem. I’m not an organized sewer so many of you would probably have preferred to begin with everything in place. That’s not my mode of working, alas, I’m a go with the flow quilter.

I took those colored scrappy strips and along and incorporated low volume strips to create 11.5″ (unfinished) string blocks. This project had me taking out some tinier scraps and going to town sewing them side by side into longer strips. When my quilt was lap size, I asked my hubby for comments and of course, he wanted it to be queen size. Back to the machine to make 14 more blocks, but truth be told, I had plenty of scrappy strings waiting for me.

I’m calling this String Orchestra because it has strings of course, but it also includes some last precious fabric with musical notes. I have bits and bobs of beloved fabric scraps and even tossed in some favorite grey banana string fabric for fun. All in all, everything that contributed to this quilt was wonderful on it’s own, but even better all together. This quilt makes me happy…just like a wonderful string orchestra!! On top of everything else, hubby and I have agreed to send it out for long arm quilting. It’s a first for me but necessary as I still am recovering from a broken shoulder bone. So here is the top all complete, and I’ll have to show the total finish when it returns from the quilter.

The blocks got pressed and trimmed to 11.5″ They finished at 11″ each.

I pressed the blocks well and trimmed them to 11.5″ only because a few were too short for 12″. Oh well, it all worked out. When I sewed all the blocks together, I opted for a zig zag design since I adore the secondary squares that got created.

My String Orchestra is 77″ x 88″ before being quilted or washed. It’s a big, queen size creation and no way could I quilt this one on my own. I’m still recovering from a broken shoulder but even if I wasn’t, it’s just too hefty for me.

Full confession: I had to take the finish photos at work because it’s been raining ever since I got the top done. I am sending this baby out to be long armed and will post an update when it’s back. I hope by then to have some nicer, brighter outdoor photos to share with you.

I love blog hops because they keep me challenged and moving in new directions. They sometimes keep me stressing over deadlines, but that’s all part of the pushing forwards. Given all the work we each put into our projects and posts, please do check out the other fabulous bloggers for some fun and inspiration.

The Pinterest Board is a lot of fun to view as well.

Monday, November 14th

Just Let Me Quilt

Words & Stitches

Selina Quilts

Ms P Designs USA

Homespun Hannah’s Blog

Tuesday, November 15th

Kathleen McMusing

Just Sew Quilter

Pieceful Thoughts 

Songbird Designs

Desertsky Quilting

Wednesday, November 16th

Den syende himmel


That Fabric Feeling YOU ARE HERE!

Karrin’s Crazy World

Karen’s Korner

Quilted Delights

Thursday, November 17th

Creatin’ in the Sticks

Elizabeth Coughlin Designs
Quilting Gail

Just Because Quilts

Purring Cottage


44 responses to “String Orchestra

    • thank you for stopping by. yes this used lots and lots of scrappy strings- the fun is in viewing so many of my favorites.


  1. Wow, that is really an amazing quilt! You essentially created new fabric by piecing all those teensy scraps together! What a lot of work, and it turned out fantastic. I love your hint about using old worn-out bed sheets for the block foundation. I do have a question though – did this quilt make a dent in your scrap stash? Lol, just when I think I’ve got a handle on things, they multiply!


    • Thank you so much for stopping by. Nope, didn’t really make a dent!! i love it nonetheless. It is like making new fabric and that requires patience but is also so fun. The tiniest strips and bits of beloved prints become special all over again.


    • Thanks so much, It’s a behemoth but i’m happy with the results. I’m also already thinking of other variations.


    • Kim, these tiny strings were getting on my nerves. I’m so glad to have found a purpose for them. Good luck with yours’.


  2. One of the things I like best about this hop is the variety of interpretations of Carla’s challenge. Yours is just wonderful – and soooo much work! Great flimsy though – Really well done!


  3. Calling this beauty “String Orchestra” was spot on for it. It definitely meets the challenge and looks amazing! Thanks for sharing the process of making it.


    • Thank you so much. It is the title that first came to mind. I love blog hops for how they push us to try new ideas.


  4. Well you nailed my scrap busting heart here. I love your String Orchestra quilt. I too love piecing those silly little pieces together and may just have a big jelly roll wheel of them sitting in my sewing room. From time to time, I keep adding more “should have gone in the trash” bits to it. One of these days, it will turn into a quilt! LOL!!


    • Joan you are so right. The scraps call to us in our sleep. i had so many adding machine tapes made and it was wonderful to put some of them to use in this project.


  5. Oh, my, that’s a great quilt. Using ‘pieces’ to sew into a strip was a super idea and makes it possible to use those pesky smaller pieces, too. You are a great upcycler – fabulous!


    • thank you so much. Those tiny pieces just beg to be utilized. i want to try this again against a black background instead of the low volume strips.


  6. Well, you definitely nailed this challenge, right down to the name of your quilt! I have never done a string quilt, but I’m thinking I need to add it to my ever-growing to do list.


    • Wendy string quilts are very fun but addictive. Beware also that the scraps multiply when you’re not looking! i want to try other variations of this quilt idea. it has so many possibilities.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Nailed it!! Your String Orchestra is perfection. Thank you for sharing the process. It will be so wonderful when it’s finished, for sure. Thanks for sharing the Pinterest link – I’ve tried to be up super early every day to keep that up to date. I often wonder if anyone notices. Now I know!


    • I love the Pinterest link but don’t stress it- we are all busy and eventually it will all get there. I am thrilled that you guys keep these blog hops going. I really do appreciate all the work it takes you. Thank you so much.


  8. I love your string orchestra! Very clever! It reminds me that I need to do something with all of my strings too. Thanks for sharing!


    • Carol you never know how many ways one can play with strings. i want to try some other variations of this quilt next.


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