How My Shoo Fly String Quilt Was Born

The original three blocks of this quilt started out as sample blocks for the string class I teach. When I made them I wasn’t worried about the fact I only had two fat quarters of the teal colored fabric, only that I liked how vibrant it looked next to the string triangles and the bold black middle square.


However, every time I got ready to teach the string class I looked at those blocks and fell in love with them all over again….

I just had to make an entire quilt of String Shoo Fly blocks. And, of course, by this time that same shade of Riley Blake blender was no where to be found.



Undeterred – after all I do like a scrappy challege – I found a grunge fabric that worked well with the first blender. Digging through my stash I discovered a few pieces of a Marimekko fabric that also worked.

Two blocks with both grunge and blender backgrounds

Two blocks with both grunge and blender background .

Detail of quilting

Close up of all three background fabrics.

I wanted to make shoo fly blocks in different sizes. Ultimately I made 12, ranging in size from 4″ – 19″ and put them on the design wall. Hmmm. I didn’t have enough Marimekko fabric. But my alter ego quilter, Lynne, was only one phone call away and yes, she had a few pieces of that same Marimekko fabric. If I was careful I might have enough. (For another background fabric story click here.)



making more strings

making more strings

shoo fly in pieces

shoo fly in pieces










Moving onto the next challenge: the final placement of  blocks and most critically, how to sew them together!! The quilt was on my design board for at least three months as I moved blocks around, made a few more, and contemplated my design.

With the limited fabric I didn’t have room for miscuts. I sewed some parts together, working in large blocks, some rows and lots of partial seams. Luckily, I do like puzzles but this truly challenged my puzzle aptitude. I have never created a quilt with so many partial seams.

checking seam alignment

checking seam alignment









top half - pieced and squared up

top half – pieced and squared up

I found a perfect back, just the right size, in my stash and after a few starts and stops I figured out a quilting design. The quilt has traveled around in my basket all summer until I finally put in the last few binding stitches.

quilting detail

quilting detail

Finished quilt 41" x 52"

Finished quilt 41″ x 52″

Back of quilt

Back of quilt with 40-50’s ladies and funny sayings










“I sent my son to college so I could keep my fabric in his room…expensive storage.”






“When I learned to sew I forgot how to cook!”


“If I sit here long enough maybe they will fix their own dinner”…..Try it! Sometimes it works!

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday!!

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10 Responses to How My Shoo Fly String Quilt Was Born

  1. Pam says:

    This is one of my favs

  2. tarnia says:

    You are very brave, cutting into your Marimekko fabric. Mine is still folded, and stored carefully away. Finland isn’t a place I am likely to get back to, so I am waiting for the perfect project to show itself.

  3. I love the result of all your experimentation – it worked out quite well, I would say.

  4. Kat says:

    Great scrap quilt! I love that background fabric.

  5. Frieda Wisshack says:

    LOVE this one, and we got to see you working on it UP CLOSE and PERSONAL :) LOVE the quotes!!!

  6. Pingback: Bossy Quilts - Textile MavensTextile Mavens

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