String Quilting

Today, I want to share with you a scrappy quilt that is made using a method called string quilting. It is not new; in fact it is a very old technique in which strips of fabric are cut into different widths and then sewn onto a foundation fabric.  It is a great way to use up leftover scraps you have in your sewing room and a fun way to have a memento of the many projects you have made.  You don't have to worry about, "Do these prints go together?" or, "Is this too busy?"  Just collect the fabrics you want to use (or rather, the ones you want to remove from your fabric stash).

I use thin muslin for the foundation.  Prewash it first because it will shrink; wash it even if your other fabrics have not been washed.  Decide what size you want your finished blocks to be, then cut muslin squares about an inch larger than this.

Fabric strips can be cut between 1-1/4" wide and 3" wide.  Try to have most of them around the 2" to 2-1/2"  widths, but variety is helpful.  You will see why as you make these blocks--it's not just for appearance but for usefulness as well.  The length of the strips will vary -- 3" on up is best.  My blocks here will be 6" finished because they are easier to photograph and demo with.

My muslin square is 7".  Lay a strip of fabric right side up diagonally across the muslin square.  Place a second one on top of this, right sides together, raw edges together and sew.  Flip over and press or finger press the seam.

Repeat this process to the corner, keeping the strips parallel. Be sure the previous strip is lying flat before sewing another strip on.

Repeat this on the other side of the square so that fabric strips cover all the way to the corners.  Press the finished square with an iron.  Be sure that the strips are pressed on the top side and press it all nice and flat.

Turn the square over onto your cutting mat with the muslin face up and square it up to 6-1/2".  (The 6-1/2" ruler is perfect here).  Ta-da!  Isn't this fun?

Make four of these and sew them together to make a 12-1/2" square. Press seams open.

At this point you are probably hooked.  Most of us find it so much fun to see what the block looks like after trimming it up that we just want to keep going! 

This is what my strips look like after pawing through them to make my blocks.

I like to make larger blocks, too.  10" muslin squares are a nice size to make the quilt come together a little quicker, but there is a certain charm in the smaller blocks.  When I make the larger blocks I just lay them out in rows and then sew the rows together.

Why should you make a string quilt?  It is fun!  

It can also be economical.  If you use your scraps it is almost a free quilt.  The foundation muslin adds a bit of filler and weight so you might consider not using batting, or use flannel instead.  Seams do not match up with each other, so there is no need to worry about matching when sewing blocks together.  You also can use up lots of thread in colors you don't know what to do with, and finish up old bobbins.

String quilting is so relaxing--no precision sewing and not a lot of thinking required.  It's a nice project to work on while taking a break from a more complicated quilt pattern.

Here is a PDF version of the pattern as well.