Christa’s Quilt Along 6.3 – String of Pearls Quilt Top

Welcome to part 3 of my String of Pearls Quilt Along. Everyone is making such wonderful progress! Be sure to visit my flickr group to see all the fabulous pictures everyone is sharing.

String of Pearls

String of Pearls Complete Kit

Starter Bundle

String of Pearls Starter Bundle


For those of you just joining us, it’s never to late to start. You can sew at your own pace and use whichever fabrics you like!

Today we will sew all of our Pearl Blocks together to complete the quilt top. It took me a total of 9 hours of sewing for this lesson. Your mileage may vary. 🙂

Step 1 – Finishing the Pearl Blocks (4 hours)

Lay out a pearl unit surrounded by background rectangles so that you can see how the block sews together. You will be sewing the shorter bands to either side of a pearl unit first.

String of Pearls Bock

Pearl Block Diagram

Chain sew half of the 2.5″ x 7.5″ black/grey bands to one side of 36 (7.5″) pearl units. Be sure to pin generously so you keep everything in proper alignment. If you need to trim the blocks as you go, that’s ok. Just be sure they are all the same measurement.

Chain PiecingHint: Stack up all pieces for all blocks in a pile next to your sewing machine so they are ready to sew. If you are sewing with darker fabrics, use a darker neutral thread.

Sew the rest of the black/grey bands to the other side of the block and press seams open. You should have 36 units that look like this:

Partial Pearl BlockSew in the same manner for the top and bottom of the block. Sew the longer 2.5″ x 11.5″ black/grey bands to either side to complete a total of 36 blocks. Again, press seams open.

Pearl blocksRepeat for a total of 36 blocks. Your blocks should measure 11.5″. It’s not a big deal if they are a little smaller or larger, so long as they are all the same size.

Step 2 – Sewing the Rows (2.5 Hours)

Now comes the creative part. Take a few minutes to arrange your blocks in a pleasing color order on a design wall or other large flat surface such as a table or bed.

Block LayoutHint: to keep your blocks organized, take a picture with your camera phone. You can refer to this picture as you sew for block placement.

Sew the blocks together into pairs. Pin generously, starting at the little black intersections to keep everything neatly lined up.

PinningJoin pairs of blocks together to complete a total of 6 rows of 6 blocks each.

Row of 6 BlocksStep 3 – Complete the Quilt Top (2.5 hours)

Now you can decide whether you would like to press the seams in your rows open or to the side. I still prefer to press open because they lie flatter. I use a wooden seam roller to open the seams. Then I go back over the seam with a hot, dry iron.

Seam RollerHint: If you decide to press your seams to the side, alternate pressing directions per row. For example, press all odd rows to the left and all even rows to the right.

Pinning generously, sew two rows together at a time. Then join larger sections until you have completed your quilt top. My top is a little larger than my design wall so I had to drape it over a bit. 🙂

String of Pearls Quilt TopGive your quilt top a final pressing and display prominently in your home so you can enjoy until it’s time to baste and quilt!


Now it’s time to show me yours! Please share pictures of your progress on my flickr group: Christa’s Quilt Along. You can also email me pictures to christa@christaquilts.com and I’ll share some of them on my blog.

Quilt Along Schedule – links will be active at the completion of each step:

String of Pearls Quilt Along


Grab my Quilt Along button!

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String of Pearls Update – Look at What Everyone’s Making!

I am having the best time making my String of Pearls quilt. But seriously, I’m getting way inspired by the fabrics others are choosing, too. Be sure to visit my flickr group to see all the fun fabric combinations everyone is using!

Here are just a few examples:

Jeannie's String of PearlsJeannie chose to sash her pearls with solid white. I love how crisp and clean that looks!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJulianne K. chose a slightly different assortment of Pearl Bracelets fabrics including a few low-volume hues to mix it up. I love that orange/black pearl combo!!

Nancy D. String of PearlsNancy D. chose prints from Kate Spain’s new line, Sunnyside. That coordinating robin’s egg blue solid just gives me goosebumps – I love it!

Paula C. String of PearlsPaula C. chose ocean themed prints and is calling her version, “Sea of Pearls” – too cute!

Christa’s Quilt Along 6.2 – String of Pearls Block Sewing

Welcome to part 2 of my String of Pearls Quilt Along. Last time we cut out all the pieces for this graphic modern quilt. Be sure to visit my flickr group to see all the fabulous pictures everyone is sharing of their progress. I still have a couple of String of Pearls kits left.

Today we will begin sewing! It took me about 4 hours to complete all of the steps shown below. Remember to work at your own pace and have fun with it!

String of Pearls BlocksStep 1 – Framing the Pearls (1 Hour, 45 Minutes)

Using 1/4″ seams, begin by sewing a short 1.5″ x 5.5″  black strip to either side of your 5.5″ pearl squares. (If you used smaller squares to begin with, that’s fine – just trim down your accent strips.)

For efficiency, you can “chain sew” them. This means after you sew the first unit, don’t cut your threads. Just add the next pearl square and black strip and keep sewing until you’ve sewn one side of all 36 pearl squares.

String of Pearls Chain PiecingString of Pearls Chain PiecingTake the whole bundle off the machine, clip in between each set, and then sew the rest of the strips to the other side of the square. Repeat for all 36 squares.

Using a seam roller (or your finger), “finger press” your seams open.

Press Seams OpenHint: by pressing seams open, it will reduce bulk. It’s easier to line up the pieces without having to worry about the direction of your seams and your blocks will lie flatter, too!

Add the longer 1.5″ x 7.5″ black strips to either side of your squares, chain piecing both sides as above. If your blocks shrink up, check your seam allowances, or trim as you go.

Sew the Side StripsGive the blocks a final pressing and you’re ready for Step 2.

Finished PearlsHint: just sew a few blocks a day or work one one section at a time so you are not overwhelmed with sewing. This is supposed to be fun!

Step 2 – Sewing the Background Strips (45 minutes)

Grab your 2 grey half strips that are 3.5″ wide. Sew them to either side of a skinny half black strip so that you have a strip “band” that looks like this:

Skinny BandIt should measure 7.5″ wide by at least 20″ long.

Next, repeat the process using the rest of your 3.5″ wide full-length strips. The longer ones need to measure at least 40″ long. Remember, use 2 grey strips for every black strip. You should have a total of 4.5 sewn strip bands.

Strip PiecingSewing the Bands

You can chain piece as you go for efficiency. Do not worry if your strips do not end up the exact same length. You will be trimming them before you make your blocks.

Hint: to help prevent your bands from bowing, always sew with the black strip on top, in opposite directions each time.

Wider Background StripsNow repeat this process using the 5.5″ wide grey strips. Again you should end up with 4.5  strip bands that measure 11.5″ wide. Isn’t strip piecing fun?

Step 3 – Pressing Your Seams Open  (45 Minutes)

Press the seams open on all of your bands. Yes, this takes a little longer, but the blocks will lie flatter and it will be easier to match up the sewn pieces. Trust me. 🙂

Seam Roll FirstPress With an Iron

Optional – use a wooden seam roller to open your seams before you press them with a hot dry iron. This will help keep them straight. Press again from the front with your iron.

Step 4 – Cutting the Background Units (45 Minutes)

From the narrower fabric bands, cut a total of 72 (2.5″ x 7.5″) units. If your bands have shrunk up a little, that’s ok. You can square up your pearl blocks to match. Be sure to use a comfortable, sharp rotary cutter.

You should be able to get 16 cuts per 42″ long band with a little bit of scrap at either end.

Cut Smaller UnitsHint: for faster cutting, fold each strip in half so that you are cutting through  2 layers. Just take care that they don’t slip as you cut.

From the wider fabric bands, repeat the process, cutting a total of 72 (2.5″ x 11.5″) units. If any adjustments are needed, wait until the next tutorial when we will sew them on.

Wider BandsRemember to work at a nice even pace and stop when you need a break. Nothing feels worse than rushing and making mistakes. This is supposed to be relaxing, not stressful. 🙂

Ready for the next lesson!

Ready for the next lesson!

Now it’s your turn – show me whatcha got! Please share pictures of your progress on my flickr group: Christa’s Quilt Along.

Quilt Along Schedule – links will be active at the completion of each step:

String of Pearls Quilt Along


Grab my Quilt Along button!

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Christa’s Quilt Along 6.1 – String of Pearls Fabric Cutting

Free Quilt Pattern

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String of Pearls Pattern

Although you don’t have to buy a pattern to make this quilt, a PDF version of String of Pearls is available for your convenience.

Welcome to my String of Pearls Quilt Along. Please work at your own pace and remember, these posts will be a permanent part of my quilt along series, so you can refer back to them whenever you like!

String of Pearls

String of Pearls 66″ x 66″
Designed in EQ7

About This Quilt

Each of the Pearl Blocks is made from one pearl “square” surrounded by a strong black accent, floating against a sea of grey.

It’s an efficient quilt to cut because it makes use of the leftover pearl fabric for the binding.

I used 12 different Pearl Bracelets fabrics (3 squares each) but you can make yours as scrappy or as coordinated as you like.

The quilt size is 66″ x 66″ and  is made from a total of 36 blocks that are 11″ finished. If you’d like a bigger quilt, just make more blocks or add colorful borders!

Total cutting time for today’s lesson took approximately 2 hours. Note, “WOF” means “width of fabric”. My measurements are based on 40″ of useable width.

Step 1 – Cutting The Pearls (45 minutes)

Wash and press your pearl fabrics and starch them if you like. You will need exactly 7.75 inches inches of usable width out of 9 inches. It’s ok if your fabrics shrink up a little, but take care when you cut so you don’t lose too much waste.

Hint: wash lights and darks separately in a garment mesh bag on gentle cycle. Throw a dye magnet in the wash to catch any excess dye.

Pearl Bracelets Bundle

String of Pearls Fat Eighths Bundle

From each of twelve 9″x20″ fat eighths of Pearl Bracelets, cut:

  • 1 (5.5″) strip and subcut into 3 (5.5″) squares
  • 1 (2.25″ x 20″) strip for binding
  • You will need to cut one extra 2.25″ x 20″ strip for binding for a total of 13 strips.

Pearl StripsString of Pearl Squares

For a total of 36 pearl squares and 13 strips of scrappy binding. By the way, I just love the Olfa Splash rotary cutter I’m using. Its cute and ergonomic!

String of Pearls Cut Pieces

Step 2 – Cutting the Backgrounds (1 Hour, 15 Minutes )

There is very little waste when cutting and you may lose an inch or two to washing and trimming. If you are new to cutting, be sure to add on an extra 1/8 to 1/4 yard to the measurements below.

Hint: Be sure to measure twice, and cut once.

For those of you purchasing kits, I’ve thrown in a couple of extra inches of black and grey solid just to be on the safe side.

From 1.5 yards of black fabric cut 34 (1.5″ x WOF)  strips for the “strings”.

Black Strips

Cut 34 Black Strips – 1.5″ Wide by WOF

  • From 14.5  strips, cut 72 (1.5″ x 7.5″ ) rectangles – you should get 5 per strip.
  • From 10.5 strips, cut 72 (1.5″ x 5.5″) rectangles – you should get 7 per strip.
  • Cut 1 strip in half so that you have 2 (1.5″ x 20″) strips and set aside.
  • Set aside the remaining 8 strips for strip piecing in lesson 2.

Hint: if you stack them up 4 per pile as you cut, it will take 18 piles of each. That helps me count!

Cut Black Pieces

72 (1.5 x 7.5 in.), 72 (1.5 x 5.5 in.) 2 half strips, 8 full strips

From 2.5 yards of grey background, cut 9 (5.5″) strips and 9 (3.5″) strips

  • Cut one of the 5.5″ wide strips  in half so you have 8 full-length strips (5.5″ x WOF) and 2 half-length strips (5.5″ x 20″).
  • Cut one of the 3.5″ wide strips in half so you have 8 full-length strips (3.5″ x WOF) and 2 half-length strips 3.5″ x 20″).
  • Set aside for strip piecing in lesson 2.
Grey Strips

Grey Strips – 9 (5.5 in.), 9 (3.5 in.)

That’s it for today’s lesson. Now you’re ready to sew!

Ready to Sew

String of Pearls Pieces, Ready to Sew!


Now it’s your turn – show me whatcha got! Please share pictures of your fabric selections and your cutting progress on my flickr group: Christa’s Quilt Along.

Quilt Along Schedule – links will be active at the completion of each step:

String of Pearls Quilt Along


Sharing is Caring

Please share your work in progress in my facebook group: Quilt With Christa . 🙂

 

Christa’s Quilt Along 6.0 – String of Pearls Introduction

Ever since Lizzy House’s Pearl Bracelets line was released, I’ve been itching to make a quilt from it but I couldn’t think of what to do. Then I saw variations of this block popping up every where and thought it would be perfect for another quilt along! I’m calling my version String of Pearls.

String of Pearls

String of Pearls 66″ x 66″
Designed in EQ7 by Christa Watson

Of course, you don’t have to use Pearl Bracelets – any colorful set of fabrics will look fantastic! How about using solids, or  scraps you’ve been hoarding saving?

The key to the success of this design is in the contrast. Just make sure the bands around the “pearls” (center squares) really pop and that your background, or “negative space” really contrasts or recedes.

String of Pearls Kits are available in 2 options: a complete kit including all of the fabrics for the quilt top, or a starter kit with the Pearl Bracelets fabric only.

String of Pearls

Click the picture for the Complete Kit

Starter Bundle

Click the picture for the Starter Bundle

Fabric Requirements

  • 12 chubby eighths of colorful prints – a chubby eighth measures approximately 9″ x 20″ or half of a fat quarter. You will need one extra 2.25″ x 20″ strip for a scrappy binding.
  • 1.5 yards solid black – I am using Kona Pepper.
  • 2.5 yards grey or neutral background – I am using Kona Medium Grey.
  • 4 yards for backing (or lots of scraps and leftover pieces).
  • Piece of batting that measures at least 70″ x 70″.

Quilt Along Schedule – links will be active at the completion of each step:

Please note, this time around I will go two weeks in between each step. I’d like to give everyone plenty of time to work at their own pace.
String of Pearls Quilt Along

Be sure to share pictures of your progress on my flickr group: Christa’s Quilt Along. I can’t wait to get started!


Grab my Quilt Along button!

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