Sunday, March 3, 2019

Rockin' Rectangles - On Line!

Hi, all!  

Wow - it's finally here!  Today is the last tutorial in the Rockin' Rectangles series, which means that the signups for the Hands2Help Comfort Quilt Challenge 2019 start next week!  I hope you're as excited about that as I am!  But today I'll be sharing my favorite tutorial in this series - favorite because it helped me use up some of the contents of my String Hamper of Shame...

Earlier this year, I decided that this was just. too. much, and started pressing and folding the strips into a tub.  I filled up a tub...

...but still had a bunch in the hamper!  

Well, obviously just organizing them wasn't going to do any good, so I decided to utilize them, putting them into one of the Rockin' Rectangles quilts.  

I laid out the strips in stacks of 4-5, then took my 8.5" ruler, laid it on top and cut out sets of strips.  I highly recommend this method - you don't have to think about measuring, because your ruler is just the right length.  It's a great way to do it if you are working/talking with friends at the same time!

And this is the result - a tub full of pieces I can now use to create this quilt, which I'm calling "On Line"!

Quilt Size:  Mine is 58" x 64", but yours can be any size you choose, limited only by how many strings you have and how long you want to sew!

Fabric Requirements:

String scraps cut into 8.5" lengths (strings are strips of fabric, usually at least 12" long and at least 1.5" wide.  They do not have to be even widths or all the same width for this quilt. Many of mine are the strips trimmed off of quilt backs after quilting.)  A good variety of fabrics is recommended, but it doesn't take as much fabric as you will think it does.  You'll see this proven later in the tutorial!

Assembly Instructions:

Choose 4-5 of your string strips and sew them together along the long edges.  Press the seams all in one direction.  As you can see from the picture above, it doesn't matter if the strings are the same width on each end, because we're going to trim this panel in the next step.

Now lay your panel on your cutting board, choosing what the straight will be.  I chose to use the seam between the bottom two pieces as my "straight". Trim the right edge straight...

...then switch over and trim the left side.  I was able to trim mine to exactly 8" wide, which made it easy to figure out how large my quilt would be.  You will trim all your panels to the same width.  Now turn your panel so it runs horizontally and line up the top edge with a straight edge on your cutting mat.

Once again, trim the right and left sides of your panel...

...and you'll be left with a panel with nice, straight edges!  The trimmed length of your panel doesn't matter, because you'll be joining them all together in long strips.  Only the width must be consistent.

You'll need to make a bunch of these panels!  For instance, if your panels were all about 10" long, and you wanted a 60" square quilt, you would need about 48 panels.  Trim them all to the same width. You may want to start putting them up on a design wall as you go, so you can see if you are heavy on one color or fabric.  

It's also really encouraging to see that you are making progress with all that sewing!  When you are arranging your strips, you may find that some strips are wider than you would like - if that happens, just  split those wide strips and join them up with more string strips!  

Once you've laid out your strip panels and like the layout, start sewing the panels into columns.  They may not be exactly the same length, but that's not a problem - you can just trim them to the length you want, or add one or two more strings to the bottom to make them as long as their neighbors.  This is a very fluid and forgiving quilt to make!  You can also see that the pieces that are angular rather than straight add a little interest and motion to the quilt.  I almost wish I'd added more of those pieces!

Remember I told you that it doesn't use as many strings as you think it would?  This is how my tub looked after I made all the blocks for this quilt...

...and after I re-stacked all the leftover pieces, the tub was still this full!!!  So much for feeling like I had made some serious scrap-busting progress...

...BUT I did have this lovely top to show for it... and enough strips cut to make two or three more!!  So it's all good!

It's really simple to make this quilt larger or smaller - just add or subtract columns, or make your columns shorter or longer.  It all depends on how many string scraps you have on hand.  And if you've got friends with their own "hamper of shame", get together, have a cutting party, and swap strings!  It's a fun way to get a lovely scrappy variety in your quilt.

And now that your top is complete, it's time for the dreaded "quilt as desired"!  I wanted to do something on mine to add some curvy texture to it, to counter the very linear nature it has just as a top.  

I love the Baptist Fan pattern of quilting, but don't have the patience (or the tools) to do it on my own, so I chose to do a curve that bounced from one point to another, then back again.  It's very random, so it was pretty easy, although thread intensive.  It does give it a nice texture, though!

Then, thankfully, we had a beautiful day of sunshine for photographs!

So much color in this quilt, and the grandkids will have a good time finding pieces that are in their own quilts, or even some pieces of clothing I've made for them!

And doesn't the quilting make it look nice and cozy?  Thanks to the sun, you can see the crinkly texture!

And I had this beautiful (and large) piece of fabric sitting in my stash, just waiting for the right quilt to back.  I think it looks really pretty on this one, and it shows the quilting nicely too!

And in keeping with the Rockin' Rectangles theme, here's the song that was the inspiration for the name of this quilt...

Thanks for following along with the Rockin' Rectangles tutorial series - I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!  Remember to stop by next Sunday for the beginning of the Hands2Help Comfort Quilt Challenge 2019 - it's going to be AWESOME!!



**If you'd like to save or print the tutorial for this quilt, here's the easiest way to do it.  Scroll to the bottom of this post and look for this little green box:

Don't see the green "Print PDF" box?  That's easy to fix. Go to the top of the post, and click on the post title (in this case, "Rockin' Rectangles Begins! Place Your Bet...").  That will open up this post with the comments, and you will see this between the body of the post and the beginning of the comments.

Click on the green button, and a printer-friendly page will open so you can print and save the tutorial!  Voila! And the best part?  It won't print out page after page of comments and sidebar stuff.  Hooray!

Don't want to print it out?  This tutorial will remain here as long as the internet is alive, so you could just bookmark the post and create a group in your bookmarks for Tutorials!  That way you can find it any time.


  1. Now why didn't I think of that? :) Love this pattern - super duper stash buster without stressing it all so much. Thank you for this idea!

  2. Hi! I just discovered your blog and I love your work. Thank you for sharing. I also love go your altered Baptist fan quilting. Do you think you could show more close-ups of it, or show how you do it in a drawing or video? I've been trying to figure out how to do a Baptist fan without tools (or drawing it all!) for a while. Thanks!

  3. Hi Sarah! Love, love, love the scrappy rectangles quilt...all those beautiful fabrics and the memories they bring back. That's what I really enjoy about making quilts from my scraps. I'm going to have to pack up my sewing room in the next couple of weeks for the move to Myrtle Beach but my first priority after getting set back up is Hands2Help!

  4. Really pretty! I like the wonky strips every so often!

  5. You'd think that you could at least earn an empty scrap basket with these great quilts! but I can see it is a never ending supply ;-) Online is a great choice for at least trying to bust the stash. Fun quilting choice for this. Thank you for another great tutorial!

  6. Love that Baptist fan improv texture! Looks soft and comfy. It will definitely be a loved quilt. :) Great finish. Love the idea of using a ruler the length that you need to cut the strips--sometimes I have squirrel moments while cutting.

  7. Great quilt and tutorial. I made one a little like this and it was great fun. To avoid acquiring a String Hamper of Shame, I used leftover strings at least 15" in length and made a scrappy binding.

  8. Wonderful tutorial! I love the measure the width of your ruler formula. I think one of my H2H quilts will definitely use this!!!

  9. Great idea for a quick string quilt! Hm...I have a pile of strips/strings to the right of my machine. The thought of pressing, stacking, and cutting them is a little overwhelming, but I had an idea as I read this: Take a piece of painter's tape and cut it to 8.5 inches and put it on the table in front of the machine. Then you can pick up a string (or two or three) at a time, measure it against that piece of tape, cut it roughly to size and put it through the machine. Since you have to trim them a little bit anyway, a fraction of an inch here or there in cutting them isn't going to matter so much. Thanks for the tutorial and inspiration!

  10. What a great string scrap user! LOVE the quilting you did, too. I'm just amazed at how many strips are still in that tub AFTER your quilt was completed!!!

  11. Great way to use scraps. I really enjoyed this tutorial series. Now to find time to make one of them. LOL

  12. Great tutorial to use up those strings! It's so clever to use the width of your ruler for a quick way to cut the lengths. I'm also interested in your "faux" Baptist fan quilting! Maybe you could find a little time to do a quick demo? Thanks for keeping us inspired!

  13. I like your free-form Baptist fans! I think I will try that on the house quilt I recently finished and plan to do some kind of all-over quilting on.

  14. Great quilt and quilting! My string hamper looks the
    Same as yours when you started. I keep cutting it up and it multiplies while I’m sleeping!

  15. It’s just so satisfying to find a great use for all of those scraps, isn’t it?

  16. Great quilt and use of scraps! Wonderful tutorial too, thank you.


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