Sunday, March 7, 2021

String Therapy Draws To A Close With Unity.....


Hi, all!

It's finally arrived - our last session of String Therapy.  I thought a good topic for today might be unity - how we can all get along even if we don't think or act exactly the same way.  Seems like we've lost a lot of that in the world today, but it doesn't mean we can't strive to get it back.  Wouldn't everyone be a lot happier if we were united?

I guess you're wondering how that can pertain to a quilt design?  Well, in today's quilt I've united warm colors and cool colors, darks and lights, wide and narrow strips, for a quilt that feels like a personification of Unity.

Above you can see the quilt that was my inspiration.  I believe this picture came from Bonnie Hunter's blog, as she was sharing some quilts from a museum exhibit of string quilts.  This one has quite a primitive feel to it, a little Gees Bend-y, and is very scrappy.  Looking at it, it took me a while to analyze the thing that I thought made it work, but finally I saw it - all of the corners on each round are made of the same fabric.  In other words, the quilter never changed fabrics at the corner, she continued around.  It gives the eye a  place to rest and enjoy the surrounding fabrics, I think.  And that was the starting point for my own version.

Since I still had quite a bit of the beautiful Kate Spain Latitude batiks on hand, and much of it trimmed to 2.5" wide already, I started with those and added some 1.5" wide strips from the remainder of my Latitude scraps.

I chose a center piece, in this case a 2.5" wide strip of pink that was about 4.5" long.  Next I picked two of the teal pieces and seamed them together, sewing them to the pink block along the long side.  

I trimmed the ends even with the center piece and set those pieces to one side so I could use them to complete my corners.  This beginning is so small it will only take two fabrics to go all the way around.

Here you can see the block after I sewed the strips all the way around, but before the final trimming.  

Once you have sewn your first round, square up the block so that all the corners are square and the opposing sides are equal in length.

And yes, there's a reason for this.  As we go forward, you will be measuring the length for your strips rather than just applying them and trimming the ends.  Have you ever worked with a quilt that had "waving borders"?  There's a reason for that.  We all have a tendency to make our seams just a little bit narrower as we get to the end of the seam, which means that the end of your piece is a little wider than the top of it.  Over the course of a quilt, that little bit can make a big difference!  

So when you are adding borders, you should measure across the center of your quilt and make your borders that length, rather than measuring the edge you are applying the border to.  It might not make a huge difference if you are just adding one border, but in a quilt like this, which is essentially all border, it will help you keep it square and flat.  

So now start building your quilt, border by border.  

Alternate using wide strips and using narrow ones.  

Throw in a block of the opposite color family (or two) as you go for interest.  

Just remember to go around the corner with the same print to give your eye a place to rest.

The length of your strips can vary from 1" to 10" or more - whatever makes you happy and works with the strips you have!

I know it's hard to believe, but I actually ran out of strips in the right colors and widths before my quilt was as large as I wanted it to be... I started auditioning borders.  Neither of these was right.  And as impossible as it seems, I didn't have any yardage stashed away that worked.  Time to regroup!  I dug through my remaining Latitude scraps and saw that I had quite a few that were 2.25", 2" or 1.25" wide - not quite large enough for the 2.5" or 1.5" I was using for the quilt, but I could use them for a piano key border.  

I sewed a few together, and really liked the look.  But what to do with the corners?  I really don't like to miter corners - I'm not a big one for fiddly sewing, but I wanted it to have a nice polished finish on those corners.  So I made some fan-like string blocks for each corner to allow the eye to travel around the outer border.

I played a lot of piano keys to make this one...

...but in the end, I had a top I really like!  And look at how nice and flat it lies!  Measuring for each of those borders pays off in the end.

And here's the finished quilt!  "Quilt as desired" in this case meant a quick loopy meander because I ran out of time for anything fancier...

...but I like the way it looks, and it will make a nice soft cuddly quilt!

And just look at those pretty corners!

Those very different colors came together nicely in Unity, I think!


And now that we've completed our String Therapy, let's share a little love, shall we?  Come back next Sunday for the beginning of this year's Hands2Help Comfort Quilt Challenge, where I'm sure you'll find the perfect place to donate an expression of quilt-y comfort for someone in need.  I can't wait, can you?  See you there!




  1. I agree that those corners are quite powerful on this quilt. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful quilt!

  2. Thanks for this! I have a basket of strings just waiting to be used. Will give this a try.

  3. What a great finish! I love the look of this and it will be new and fresh with each color combination you try!

  4. I love your piano key border and the whole quilt. I don't really enjoy adding borders and this quilt might be too much of that for me. Thanks for inspiring.

  5. I may be wrong but I think your inspiration quilt is actually a Kawandi (often made by the Siddi women of India) - the tiny Fula on the corners are a big clue. But with such a low res photo it is hard to be sure.

    Unity is terrific. I have enjoyed your series!

  6. Looking forward to H2H, I'm working on one now for it.

  7. This week, Sujata Shah talked about her quilt that inspired you. She has, in turn, been inspired by the Gee Bend quilters, but also by a culture in her native India. I hope you can still see her talk at

  8. That is great perception in looking at the museum quilt. Yours is just stunning! Lovely work, Sarah!

  9. Wow! I love this quilt! When I looked at the inspiration quilt, I was luke warm. I love scrappy quilts, but there was just too much going on in the sample quilt for me to embrace it. The harmonizing tones of your quilt really appeal to me. I particularly like the fan corners.

  10. Love the final product and the way you figured out the corner blocks! Will be stitching the binding on a H2H quilt tonight. Hoping to shrink my pile of UFO's and spread some unity at same time. The light at the end of the tunnel is starting to shine!

  11. Those corners are real winners. I have to remember this design next time I'm stuck in a corner. Pink is really not my colour but it is still a great design. Thanks for sharing. ;^)

  12. A great quilt with wonderful colors and I love those corners!

  13. Brilliant use of a piano key border and LOVE those corner units, Sarah!!

  14. Very interesting string quilt. The corners really make the quilt radiate! LOVE it!

  15. Fabulous finish and love the 3D center effect.Love your fabric combo!!

  16. This is such a pretty quilt. I'm still staring and trying to figure out "go around the corner with the same print". It takes me awhile to see things - lol! I enjoyed seeing your process, especially with those beautiful colors.

  17. Wow, Sarah, awesome quilt! Awesome tutorial!!! Interesting way to keep the quilt steady--matching corners. And that border fan corner is amazing.

  18. I don't recall seeing the final dimensions for this quilt. It appears fairly square even though you started with a rectangle center. I like the controlled color arrangement. It makes a calmer quilt.

  19. The center of this quilt reminds me of a labyrinth and those colors look spectacular together. Your piano key border with those corner pieces make this whole quilt outstanding <3

  20. Beautiful quilt, and super tutorial!

  21. Love this quilt and the colors. All my color wheel tools say turquoise and magenta need a pop of yellow (yellow-green). However, so soothing and restful without that yellow. Maybe quilts shouldn't follow art color "rules". your instincts work beautifully.

  22. I love everything about this quilt! Just WOW!

  23. Wow, I love that color palette! Thanks for breaking it down for us. Would never have thought about continuing around the corners, but it makes total sense. And speaking of corners, those outer border corners are magical!


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