Wednesday, September 16, 2009

String Theory?

"String theory is a developing branch of theoretical physics that combines quantum mechanics and general relativity into a quantum theory of gravity."  So say the braniacs at Wikipedia.  They go on to say that string theory involves 1-dimensional strings made up of electrons and quarks.  That the strings can move and vibrate giving the observed particles their flavor, charge, mass and spin.
Okay, 'nuff of the 'way over my head' stuff before I've had enough caffeine!
Here is Dee's String Theory (only necessity for understanding is a McDonald's coke and some raspberry filled doughnut holes leftover from the weekend!):
These are my three dimensional strings made up of scraps and fabric from my stash.  The strings themselves don't move, but the light playing against them and the placement of colors is what gives the quilt its 'flavor', texture, movement, contrast and, I think, appeal.
Flickr has a photo pool called the 'String Quilt Love'.  In it you can see beautiful examples of this type of quilt.  Contributors include talented women such as teaginny, fresh lemmons, midwest psyche, charqsews, filminthefridge, Pikku-Kettu, and Snappy Shop to name a few.  These are of course not their real names, but their account names.  A scroll through their photostreams is a delightful and inspirational journey.
In the book 'Liberated String Quilts' by Gwen Marston, you can learn about the history of the string quilt (few antique samples remain, and they are as 'Southern as cornbread') and see some of the common block patterns such as 'Stars', 'Diamonds', 'Spiderwebs' and 'Snowball'.  All unique patterns based on a foundation piecing (either fabric or paper) of strips or strings of fabric in an eye pleasing arrangement.
Some of the more modern adaptions of string quilting are visually stunning!  The Flickr group especially sees modern fabrics bringing life and light to string quilts!  Brilliant blues, rich reds, deep aquas, lime greens, yummy yellows and outrageous oranges...sometimes blended together like a glorious fruit sald or kept together in specific color combinations for a visually stunning effect.  There is no limit to the imagination in these quilts.
Foundation piecing a string quilt is fun and involves a freedom of creativity that I really enjoy.  It can mean bending the rules and it allows a string to speak to you about what other kind of colored or patterned string it wants to be next to in the piece.  I have found it takes about ten minutes to make a 6"x6" block for me.  That involves anchoring the white center string on the paper, deciding which fabric to sew onto the paper foundation, trimming it to the desired width, sewing the strings on, pressing and squaring up my block. 
Film in the Fridge's Ashley has a clear and concise tutorial at here blogspot.
This is the one I used to get started.  Some tricks I learned that worked will for me were to not glue the whole white center strip, just apply the gluestick to the ends and make sure there is enough 'play' in the strip so that it lies flat and that I can pin each piece of fabric down to the paper before I sew it.  This helps keep the fabric taut enough that it doesn't bunch at the seam.
I highly recommend giving this type of quilt a try!  It's very relaxing and lets me be extremely creative in my piecing.  It reminds me a lot of water color quilting and I find myself using the 'wrong' side of a fabric for a softer look and opens up my range of colors too.  If you're like me, you save every little bit of scrap material and my scrap stash is dwindling!.  Even the tiny traingles come in handy on this quilt because they can be used in the corners of the block.
Here are two more pictures of the quilt I'm working on.  Some of the other ladies on flickr use brighter and bolder colors and fabric, and I love this, but as a soft palett person, I like my colors a little less 'umphey'.
Right now I have 46 blocks finished.  This quilt will be queen sized for our bed.  I'm planning on eyeballing the length (the width is 8 blocks) and sewing a white sash around the string center.  I'm not sure how I will finish it off.  I'm letting the quilt speak to me as I go along!


  1. It's coming along nicely! Very pretty. Good luck with your queen sized goal!

  2. I so love that quilt, and feel like it followed me over her from flickr since I look at it so often over there. It's in my faves. I'm all over the map -- I love saturated colors, soft colors.... Just not big on quilts that are done in all dull, muted tones.

    I love Liberated String quilts! A wonderful book! Thanks for the tip about the flickr group. I LOVE string quilts and never thought to search for a string quilt group there. I'll be checking it out later today.

  3. This quilt looks great! I love that you are letting the quilt take you where it wants to go. It is sure to be beautiful when done!

  4. Thanks for all your kind words. They're encouraging and motivating! I can't wait to see what new quilt is started on the Flickr group for string quilts! Be blessed.


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