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String Quilting Primer

In loving memory, 1925-2003. I will always love you, Momma. Nancy's Fabrics 218 West Edgar Avenue Ronceverte, WV 24970 (304).645.0010 www.nancysfabrics.com info@nancysfabrics.com Nancy's Tutorials Twitter Facebook LinkedIn

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String Quilting Primer! Different looks, different block sizes & settings!

This is my bin of strings! :c) What a mess! But so much potential! Into this bin I toss odd shaped pieces from squaring up backings, tapered ends from trimming up yardage when rotary cutting, anything that I don't feel like cutting down into uniform strips, and anything less than 1.5". This is the END of my fabric food chain! The last stop on the road to being "useable". But strings, as humble as they are...can be beautiful and so fun and rewarding to work with! If you don't have a collection of strips and strings you've been saving, you can cut random strips of varying widths from 1" to about 2" wide from your scraps for this project. It is great too if not all the strips are straight...angle them a bit. It adds a lot of interest to the quilt! In addition to your strips and strings, you will need fabric foundation squares for this project:

You can use ANY size square that you would like. Marsha used 11" squares for her base. The white that you see forming the diamond 'sashing' in this quilt is actually a center strip down the diagonal of the square that is left 'uncovered'! You can use any color of foundation square you would like. You might choose a black if you are working with all brights, or red if you are working with all blue strings. Think of your fabric foundation squares as being your 'accent color'. It gives your eyes a place to rest in between all the busy scrappy strips!

Using your ruler and a pencil, lay the one inch line corner to corner on the diagonal of the square. Draw a light line. This is a 'placement' line, not a sewing line, so it will be covered up in the next step. Flip the block around and do the same thing. You can use your previous line by putting the 2" mark on it, and drawing the second line 1" from the center on the other side of the block.


Take your first strip of fabric, and align the right edge of the strip up against the first pencil mark. Sew 1/4" from the edge of the strip as shown.

Flip and press your strip out towards the block corner. Place another strip on top of the first with right sides together and stitch, flip, press! Continue adding strips until you finish one side of the square, and then repeat for the remaining side. It helps to put a piece a couple of inches wide at the very corner or you will "lose" it in the seam allowance later!

Looks a little jagged, doesn't it? That's okay! Next we trim!

Press the whole block well and trim it to 10.5" square! One block quarter complete!


Two block quarters make a block half, two halves make one big 20" block! Quilt uses 48 block quarters sewn into 12 big blocks set 3X4 for a quilt center that measures 60"X80". With borders, her quilt measures approx 80"X102". My Quilts!

I made this lap sized string quilt for a children's charity! My quarter blocks finish at 8", and I used paper foundations, covering the whole foundation square, without leaving the accent strip uncovered as Marsha did above! A slightly different look! You can use fabric foundations for this one too, but I prefer to remove the papers after trimming to eliminate the bulk of leaving fabric in. To make my quilt the size it needed to be, I have a row of 1/2 blocks at the bottom of the quilt center. This is my friend, Kabnet Wax Paper!

See how beat up the box is?! I get this at Sam's Club or Costco. This is the kind of deli paper that you would find lining the food baskets at your local deli, the size is about 10X10 and is great for foundation piecing. It tears off very easily when it is time to remove the paper. Other paper I like to use....OLD PHONE BOOKS! The pages aren't as large, but the paper also comes off easily when it is time to remove it. For this project I do like to use paper foundations because my strings are not all straight cut strips of fabric. Some have torn edges, some have slightly curvy edges...and having a foundation means I am going to have a square of "manufactured fabric" from my strings that will lie flat.


lay your first string/strip down the center of the block on the diagonal. Take your second strip, and place it on top of the first strip with rights sides together.When piecing through paper, you want to use a larger needle (like a denim needle, size 14 or 16) and set your stitch length smaller. This makes the paper very easy to remove after trimming the block. Stitch this strip with an approximate 1/4" seam. Because some of my strips have uneven or torn edges, I am more concerned with "enough" of the fabric being caught in the seam, and the seam being straight, than I am with the exactness of that 1/4".

Press the second strip open away from the first, and continue adding strips to either side of that center strip in the same way, filling up the block. I like to go beyond the edges of the paper so that I definately have enough when squaring up the block. You don't want to run short and not have enough to catch in the seams when you join the blocks together.

Trim blocks up to 8.5" square. Remove papers at this point. Stitch blocks together in rows, and stitch rows together to form quilt center. One that I made in Amish Solids:


String Quilting Primer