I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Blue Baskets String Quilt ~ January Update

Good evening! Is the Polar Vortex headed your way? I'm not sure what is headed here, but my fridge is full to bursting with food. It's cold but perfect sewing weather. I've been working on my Blue Baskets. [apologies to my regular non-quilty readers if this is a smidge repetitious].

String quilt history~ here is my friend Mel's memory of making string quilts with her mom, in  Missuori, maybe 1970s?
I love string quilts, and just because they're a 'thing' right now doesn't mean squat. My mom used to make them, and like the vintage top, there were all kinds of prints in them - usually skinny scraps left over from making clothes, curtains, etc. Not much got thrown away! Mom would cut block-sized squares from newspaper and sit at the machine with a stack and a basket of scraps. She'd sew a short piece at one edge and fit longer strips all across until the block was covered. Actually, she just kept going from one block strip to the next block in a continuous line - I stood behind the sewing machine and very carefully snipped the thread between the blocks and stacked them back up for the next line through. I loved having a job to help! (I was maybe 4? Not very big!) Then when the paper squares were filled Mom would trim them and sew them together, and I 'got' to peel the paper off the backs, lol. Tedious job, I'm sure Mom appreciated that I LIKED doing it! [from Melody L/ Kansas]
This project is SO FUN! I am having such a great time, I do love it. The design has been on my mind for a couple years so Lori's sewalong was the perfect impetus to get going. Inspiration quilt here.
Four Baskets made so far!

The first two went slow as I worked out my pattern and method.
I do love working with patterns that I have drafted myself. I've always been a good patternmaker and I suppose using my own pattern takes "I wonder what she meant?" out of a project. Often both time wasting and annoying.

The biggest decision was about the construction of the base of the Basket. Sometimes that section is one big triangle.

Or it can be two HSTs and a square. I went with the squares, it's neater.

The strips are torn from my thrifted men's plaid shirts. I look for Ralph Lauren and a few other fine brands. The cotton is so  fine and soft. Nice but I found that the strips do better if lightly starched.

This top blue solid is lovely but the fabric grows and ripples every time I press it. I hate to rip it out though.

I like tearing random strips, a nice change from the labor of cutting with scissors and templates or puzzling over rotary instructions, praying my finger tips survive.

"I help, mommy?"

Unlike some quilters I don't deconstruct the shirts ahead of time. I always think, Oh how wasteful, what if I never use the cut ups bits, but the shirt is now destroyed. So far for the Baskets I'm just using a sleeve of each shirt for a random look.

Even the white shirting is an XXL GAP shirt. I'll use it up then switch to something similar,
maybe not a shirt though.

The cheddar handles are starched and ironed; I fold the double-fold bias by eye, and cut. Then trim to approximate length and press the arc firmly, stretching the piece as I iron.

Mark the handle hoop with a template and a Frixion pen.

[I've never had any probs w Frixion pens and I like them. My only complaint is they dry up very fast, so wasteful. BUT last week it was so cold in my sewing room that the dreaded white lines did appear on something. How funny and odd. The white lines disappeared with the touch of my iron, not an issue .]

As I mentioned above, I make patterns on paper, by hand, I make templates and cut with scissors. It's how I learned and I like it....I'm not into mass production or hurrying, or in making a thousand quilts per year.

I estimate my quilt will need about 25 10" Baskets. Possibly a zigzag setting in either the blue plaid shirts or a white sprig. Another option is spacer squares in a white ground shirting. Just, please, no sashing.

If you'd like to read my earlier post about my inspirations and choices of design, my previous string quilt, my antique string quilt, here is the link. A String Quilt Year

Pinterest design inspiration link HERE

PS To make note: this project is about string quilts, not scrap quilts; the correct term is String, not strip or Strippy. Strip quilts refers to a style of setting blocks in vertical columns with spacer fabrics, often striped or distinctively figured in between. So remember: your project is a String Quilt, not a Strippy, historically speaking.



gone to the beach...............

Here's a link to Lori's show and tell/ linky post so you all can see everyone's string quilts! Scroll down to the end for all the other string quilts.


  1. Lovely. I like the check behind the baskets too.

  2. Are all your 'baskets' going to have horizontal pieces? I was thinking it might be fun to make a couple squares and cut them so that the triangle baskets have vertical stripes. Or maybe that wouldn't work out?

    I kind of like the zig-zag setting with the blue check/plaid!

    Yup, we are having what feels like a polar vortex (anyone else having flashbacks to the movie "The Day After Tomorrow"?) - by 6am it's supposed to be 5 degrees here with a windchill index of -10. Needless to say, *I'm* not going outside AT ALL!

    Hopefully it won't last long.

    Stay warm!

  3. Brilliant baskets - great start. They look infectious. Once you start, you can't stop as you want to see the next combination of fabric. The zig-zag setting appeals to me too.

  4. Beautiful shirt baskets--I love the antique look the shirt strips bestow. ;)))
    We are expecting Ms. Polar Vortex tonight I hear.
    I am still makin' soup...hugs, Julierose

  5. How fortunate you are to have thrift stores with Lauren and other wonderful brand shirts! Around here the thrifts mostly have the big W big box store castoffs, sigh. Your baskets will have such a silky soft quality. I love your little cheddar handles too. You have a great start on your string baskets ... yes I'm one of those who knows they're called strings but the brain/mouth connection is sometimes lacking and it comes out strips - arrgh! Off to read your link to your other string quilt.

  6. Your blocks are stupendous! And I like the zig zag checkered fabric and setting!!
    After I remove the paper I am using starch cause my blogs are pretty stretchy too.
    No vortex here although our weather has changed- no more sun, now fog and chilly. The grey skies really bog me down and that's when I try and get in to my sewing room and brighten the day.

  7. This is going to be a gorgeous quilt. You came up with a great string idea.

  8. Nothing like blue and cheddar. The baskets are turning out so lovely.

  9. Love these string baskets! And the cheddar handle is just perfect.:)

  10. Oh I love this one! And those wonderful cheddar handles! :) No polar vortex here. It missed us. Kit

  11. That is the cutest basket quilt I have ever seen!!! Love, love!!

  12. I absolutely love your basket blocks! Great design for a string quilt.

  13. It looks so cute so far! I have to Google Frixion pen now ;) Tha addition of Mo in the post certainly makes it appealing to me. Love him in blue.


  14. The baskets are lovely- I like the using of shirts

  15. I love your baskets! I'm making a string basket quilt, too, from shirt strings! Haven't decided how I'm going to set mine yet.

  16. I love them...may I make some too????

  17. What a great idea to use old shirts etc - love the basket idea.

  18. Your insight is impressive and you are very creative. We'll try this at home. Big thanks. bangkok suits for men and women

  19. Strippy baskets... love it! Great colours!

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