Got scraps???? I’ve got the perfect block for you, then–STRINGS!
These things are like potato chips–I bet you can’t make just one! They’re a great way to use up strips and scraps from old projects.
I keep a bin (well, two) on the bookshelf behind my cutting table. Every time I need to straighten the edge of a bolt of fabric (or a hunk of fabric), I toss the resulting strip into the bin. If I’ve been using strips for a project and have leftovers, into the bin they go. And what about those 2 or 3 or 4 inches of fabric left after cutting out the pieces of a project. ZIP! Into a strip and into a bin!
I like to use a fabric foundation when I do string blocks. You can use paper, but I hate to tear away paper if I don’t have to! So, if you’re ready to begin, follow along. Layer four pieces of your foundation fabric–anything goes!
Cut into 10″ squares. I like 10″ because you get the best use of your fabric. You could do any size.
String pieced blocks are simple, easy, forgiving even!
Grab a handful of strings. I like mine to be between 1″ and 3″. I like the look of narrower strings in my blocks, but the wider ones come in handy for corners. More on that below. The don’t have to be straight. In fact, some slight angles make the blocks look better!
Take a string of fabric and place it right side up, diagonally, on one square.
Now place a second string, right side down, on top of the first string, aligning the right edges, then stitch down that right side with a 1/4″ seam allowance–or not! It doesn’t really matter!
Press the top strip over–and repeat until you have covered up your square!
You don’t have to use white fabric, and you don’t have to use yardage. Do you have some “ugly” fabric that you are never, ever, ever going to use in a quilt? It’s perfect for the foundation for your string blocks. When I do this, I use the back, as it’s usually a bit lighter. Here’s and example. This is the back of a red print fabric. The red was just a bit “off” and didn’t seem to work with other reds in my stash.
I did my string piecing on it, just like I did on the white foundation.
When you’re piecing these blocks, it works great just to feed a whole stack of them through your machine, one after another.
When you’re finished, they’ll look like this! Notice that I used wider strips on the ends. You don’t want to end up with a teeny tiny strip at the end. It makes it bulky when you’re putting your blocks together.
Just take them to your cutting mat and lay them upside down.
You can either use your foundation square as a guide for trimming, or measure and trim. If you use your foundation square as a guide, your blocks may be a little smaller that the 10″ you started with, as the stitching tends to draw the fabric up a bit. No matter, just make them all the same size.
There’s a lot you can do with string pieced squares. Here are a couple of great examples. This is a vintage quilt I saw on Ebay.
Here’s one from Em’s Scrapbag.
But my favorites look like they have sashing like this one from Quilting Board. Guess, what? They don’t! It’s faux sashing!
Here’s how it’s done. On your foundation block, mark a diagonal guide that’s 1-1/2″ – 2″ wide, centering it with the points on your square.
You aren’t going to sew on these lines, you’re going to line your fabric up with them. If you marked line is 1-12″ wide, your “sashing” will be 1″ wide.
Lay your first string down along the edge of the line and stitch.
Press your string over…
…and keep going!
Arrange your squares and, magically, you have sashing!
It’s fun to play around with your squares, arranging them in different ways.
You can get creative, like this quilt I found from Blue Ridge Girl on Flickr.
And, oh! Your ”squares” don’t have to be square. They could be rectangles, like this one from Leedle Deedle Quilts.
And your sashing doesn’t have to be white! Check out the controlled color palette and black “sashing” in this example from Angelina79.
So, are you ready to try string piecing? I hope you do. And I hope you’ll join my Facebook page, A Quilt Block A Day, and share your photos.