Monday, 17 December 2018

Sewing String Blocks for a Bag

I've never sewn a string quilt but I love some of the designs that TheEclecticAbuela comes up with on her blog and, with my two baskets of tiny scraps overflowing, I thought it was about time I had a go. I intended to make a mini quilt, but just went with the flow and ended up with two square panels to use on each side of a shoulder bag. I thought that this would be a really easy project, but I seemed to have to make quite a few decisions.

I started by cutting strips less than 1" wide from my fabric bits, although I did cut the really short pieces for the corners a little wider so that they wouldn't completely disappear into the seams. 

Decision 1 - should I cut dominant fabrics narrower so that they don't ..... dominate? By the time I came to do the second lot of squares I'd decided that the answer was "YES"
I've marked a couple of the 'too wide' strips, in the first block that I did, with arrows, but there were more which I unpicked and changed.

I cut out 2" squares from paper - this is the size that I wanted the string squares to be before sewing them all together. I sewed 4 string squares at a time, without cutting the threads between them, so as to save on thread ...... and thread snarl ups.

I laid a strip across the paper square from corner to corner, right side up.

Decision 2 - should I mark a diagonal line across the paper square so that all the fabrics are at the same angle? "NO" because the wonky angles made the finished block more interesting ...... and even if I tried to keep them straight they'd be sure to go wonky!

I laid another strip on top of the first, right sides together and sewed them together with a small seam allowance and short stitch length.

I folded back the second piece of fabric and trimmed off some of the excess fabric around the edge of the paper square.

Now I could carry on in the same fashion, stitching all my seams through the paper (and sometimes I lost the plot and this is what I did!!), but it's a real drag when you get to the end of sewing the square and you have all that paper to tediously remove. Instead I sewed the next seams just through the two layers of fabric with the paper folded back out of the way, checking each time that the paper square would be covered by the new fabric.

In the pics below I'm adding more strips of fabric in the same way.

Once all the strips are sewn on I trim the edges back to the paper size.

I do like before and after pics - so this is where my squares get a makeover! Don't they look a mess before I trim them?

And on the back only one stitching line through the paper which tears off quickly and easily.

Then Decision 3 - how to arrange the squares for my finished block - I did both 6" blocks the same and (Decision 4) I pressed all the seams open. I added a check border. I laid them on some thin cotton wadding and machine quilted a spiral on each, starting just off centre and extending into the border.

These are the ingredients for my bag:

- 2 sides. I sewed some brown fabric from old trousers to the edges of the blocks to make them 10" wide by 11½" long
- 2 gingham linings the same size
- A 36" handle - the longest I could cut from a trouser leg. Cut 2½" wide and folded to make 4 thicknesses. I would have liked this a bit longer so I made the handle holding loops longer to compensate.
- 2 handle holding loops cut from the brown check
- A zip (from the trousers) with a brown check tab on each end. I would have liked the zip to be an inch longer but heyho.

I made up the bag in the same way as my last Sashiko Bag including a Boxy Bottom.

I didn't make much of a dent in my baskets of scraps. The blue/red/pink basket looks untouched and the "every other colour" basket seems just as full, but not quite so colourful!!

Well done if you've stuck with my marathon of a blog post to the very end .... and "thank you". - Anita x

I'm linking up with Fiber Tuesday

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