Monday, March 31, 2014

String blocks - a few tips

Is it really April 1 tomorrow? That seems impossible, but it's true. April means lots of good things. Tomorrow, my grandmother turns 89, and later in the month, we celebrate my brother-in-law's birthday. And a wedding anniversary. And the second annual Stash Bash. It's also my month to plan the Love circle quilt for do.Good Stitches!

It's been awhile since I've made string blocks. I don't know about you, but I always seem to have a pile of string scraps lying around.

Last week, I divided them into two piles based on length, and made a bunch of blocks.

Here's a few tips that might help, if you've never made a string block before.
-Working with a foundation is best for string blocks, and I prefer paper. As Jeni pointed out, using a fabric foundation (even muslin) adds bulk, whereas the paper can be ripped away when you're finished.
-If you have graph paper or an old telephone book, this works better than printer paper, but that will work, too!
-Start with your center strip, and glue-baste this piece to make sure it stays in place!

-To create a cohesive look, you can use a single color and width for your center strings. Or, you can mix it up to your heart's content!
-The most important thing is to make sure you keep a 1/4" seam allowance throughout.
-Make sure your strips are at least 1" wide.
-With all paper piecing, it's best to leave the paper on until you've sewn your blocks together. It helps to minimize bias.
-Setting your stitch length to 1.5 or 1.6 will make ripping that paper a little easier, too.
-When pressing any paper-piecing, use a dry iron (no steam!).

-Oh, and little triangle scraps are great for the end pieces!

Any other tips? Did I leave anything out?

Specifically for do.Good Stitches bee blocks this month, I'm asking for 8.5" blocks (so you can just cut a 2.5" strip off a sheet of paper to create that template!). For the center strings, I'd like 1" strips of any blue solid, and then the rest of the strings can be any width and any color. I'd love to see a mix of solids and prints.

As you can see, these are addictive to sew! And my pile of strips doesn't seem any smaller.


  1. These are so bright and fun, your photos make me want to drop everything and make mine right now!! I love this plan, it's going to be a great quilt!

  2. I think scraps multiply when you aren't looking.

  3. I agree with ella - scraps do seem to multiply when you're not looking! mine certainly seem to!

  4. these are fun! I like the idea of glue basting. I just did a whole quilt of string blocks and my pile of strings didn't get any smaller. I have become more picky about what strings I save though! That should help the stash right!?

  5. I love string quilts, their scrappy look is just so pretty and I do believe that the strings multiply in their pile while I am not looking :). I sometimes piece on used dryer sheets because they are so thin and light, much lighter than muslin and then there is nothing to rip off later.


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