Monday, December 28, 2009

It's a String Thing Quilt Tutorial

Tutorial: Making a String Block Quilt

First decide what size quilt you would like to make and your block size. Since I use the mini-phonebook pages as my foundation, I can get a nice 6-inch square out of one sheet of paper. Tear out your pages carefully and square up each sheet paper to

6 inches.

My finished quilts range from a 30 to 36 inch square.

Add borders if you like.

There are no rules, just fun.

Gather up your color coordinated strings and get ready to sew!!

I use strings or strips anywhere from 3/4 of an inch to 2 inches. Two inches is probably my maximum width for a 6 inch block.

You can cut strips from your stash. You can use the strings you've collected. Don't be afraid to cut them crooked.

The wonkier the better.

I like to have two piles in my color-controlled life. One pile is for one side of the block and the other pile for the next side.

You can decide what color you would like your common center strip to be. You can see that I like to use white and yellow a lot (white is always very stunning). Use your imagination and take a peek at my show-and-tell for other quilts that I have made.

The Heartstrings Quilt Project prefers you use red as your center strip.


Here we go...

If you use a 6 inch piece of phonebook paper, your center common strip will be approximately 9 to 10 inches.

Cover the paper from tip to tip.
I like to chain piece these as I go. Usually working on up to 6 blocks at a time.

If you have a strip or string that is 42 - 44 inches long, sew along the right edge of the fabrics (right sides together) until you get to the end of your first page of paper. Snip the two fabrics apart. Grab another piece of paper, a commom center strip, center it along on the diagonal, add another colored string on top and repeat this process until you have a nice pile behind your sewing machine.

Finger press as you go along toward the outer edge.
Your string requirements will be getting shorter and shorter as you move along to the edge of the paper. Save your short strings, and add them as you like as you work yourself along to the last piece. When you get the last needed piece, they may work for you. I also like use up some of my "waste triangles" that I have saved from other projects.

A 2 1/2 inch square cut on the diagonal works perfect as well.

If you are as obsessed as I am, I just can't make one block a day. But that is all you really need to do in this challenge.
Once you get all your strings sewn on to one side, start on the other side with your coordinated string or strip. Sew along from the top to bottom using a 1/4 inch seam.
Finger press and then repeat the process until you get the whole page covered
with fabric.
You can now easily tear away your phonebook pages. It helps me if I fold one end over and finger press the paper just a bit.
Now just rip away.
I haven't had to change the stitch size on my machine. However, I would check your stitches before you make a lot of these blocks. I'd hate to have your seams pop open with all that tearing. All machines and threads are different, so do a trial.
Watch out because this is where the mess comes in. Pretty soon you'll have a mess of torn phonebook pages all over.
Turn block right side up and Press!!
I like to use a lot of spray starch.

I'll give you my special yummy spray starch recipe in my next post.

Press all your blocks before squaring them up. This will make them nice and flat. It will also press away any extra room in between the seams.
I now make sure that I will be able to square up my block to
5 1/2 inches. Lay the ruler on top of your pressed uncut block.
Check the markings on your ruler and then square up one side.
Flip your block around and do the same for the other side.
You will now have a perfect 5 1/2 inch block
Arrange your blocks in a pleasing manner
Diamonds are fun (and a girl's best friend)
Zig-Zags are Cute!

Enjoy this method and let me know if it works for you! Feel free to ask me any questions that you may have.
Come on and join the fun!!!


  1. WOW, Stacey! This is great. Nevermind my previous questions. . .I found this tutorial! I'm going to start pulling colors together tonight. Thanks for your inspiration and guidance.

  2. Great tutorial for wonderful string quilts.

    Personally, I hate to tear out paper and now I use any 'ugly' fabric that I have for the foundation, usually using the wrong side of the ugly fabric to sew the strips down. Works great and NO having to tear off paper, yay.

    warm quilt hugs, sue in CA

  3. Stacey-I lllooovvveee the idea of making the small 6 in block! They are so cute! I am used to the traditional Heartstrings size of 9.5" I will have to try this! 2 questions: Why don't you use muslin foundations, and Why do you take the foundation out before trimming-aren't you concerned about distortion?
    emali me at if you like.

  4. I got hooked years ago by a good friend into making 8" blocks (I think that just happend to be the size the paper would cut too the best) Anyway, we made sure all strips hung over a tad bit and pressed our blocks still on the paper. I use a smaller stitch length. I save my 'tearing' out for when we have company with kids. 6-11 yr olds LOVE getting to take the paper off. I have even taken several quilts worth to church picnics and let the kids help me. Good luck to all who add this to their TO-DO list for 2010- These can be pretty neat quilts to make and share. cheryl

  5. I love string quilts. You have inspired me to try one or two.

  6. I love it! I've got to try this soon as I can find a phone book. Thanks!

  7. What a great way to use up phone books! And the paper is always thin, so taking off the papers would be so much easier. Thanks for the idea.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.