how to: string quilt blocks

whenever i have small scraps, i either cut them into a nice strip, put them into my larger scrap basket, or save them for bibs later.  when one of my bins gets too full, i make things with my scraps, like bibs or a string quilt for my etsy shop.
since i've gotten a lot of questions about my latest quilt, i thought i would share a tutorial on how i made it.
i know there are lots of versions on making string quilts, this is just what works for me. 

First, this method is foundation pieced, meaning you have something you are sewing everything to.  I used regular 8 1/2" x 11" scrap paper from our printer because that's what I had, but you can use any size you'd like. 
I cut my paper into an 8 1/2" square.  For every block I make, I use one piece of paper.
I take white fabric and cut it into 1" strips.
Using one swipe of a gluestick, glue the fabric down the diagonal of the square.  It's not perfect, I just eyeball it.  Don't use a lot of glue- just enough to get it to stick because you're going to tear the paper off later.
Take a strip of fabric and lay it on the white strip Right Side Down so one raw edge is lined up with one raw edge of the white strip.
*Set your stitch length on your machine lower than the usual 2.5.  It's not mandatory, but it will help you tear the paper off later.
Sew the two strips and paper together, sewing through all three layers.
Press the fabrics open so it looks like this:
Sew another strip to the other side of the white strip exactly as you did with the first strip and press open.
Continue adding strips on each side and pressing open until you can no longer see the paper under all the fabric.

Flip the block over so the paper is on top and trim the fabrics even with the paper. 
You now have a perfect 8 1/2" square block.
To remove the paper, I start on the outside edge and fold the paper back to the stitching, then tear it out just like I'm tearing a check out of a checkbook.  Be careful not to pull any stitching out.
I make a few blocks whenever I feel like it, or make a whole stack in one sitting.  It's fun to mix and match all my fabrics in different ways.
Now you can sew your blocks together however you want. The diamond pattern is my favorite, but there are lots of designs you can make with these blocks.   This method would also work to make more than just quilts.  It's a great way to use up random scraps to make bigger pieces of fabrics.


adventure knitter said...

I used that technique to make 3" triangles. I thought it was so much fun to tear off the paper on the back when I was done! (except the novelty wore off on triangle 300 or so...)

Kristin said...

Ooo this looks pretty fun. A good way to use up some left over jelly roll strips.

Mandy said...

Oh la la! I LOVE IT!

Cindy Robinson said...

so i am just wondering... why do you need the paper?
Is it just to keep the size in check?

sara said...

Cindy, yes the paper is just to keep the size in check so you can add strips randomly as you go. :)