Monday, October 1, 2012

31 Days of String Blocks: The Basics


Welcome to 31 Days of String Blocks! I'm hoping to use this month to highlight a lot of different quilt blocks that will showcase the scrappy strings in your stash. I'm starting out with a bucket full of Christmas-y strings. This particular fabric is Joy by Kate Spain.

I'm hoping to end the month with a cute stack of 31+ string blocks and maybe a less full bucket of strings. I hope you'll find something useful out of all the stringy mess this month!

I'm starting out the month with the basic string block. The skills used for this block are applicable to pretty much every other block I'll show you this month.

joyous strings

I could give you a step by step breakdown of how to make a string block, but that's already been done by a LOT of other bloggers, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel.

Like any good librarian, however, I will provide you a list of links (a bibliography, if you will) of string block tutorials that are already out there and that I find useful.

Important tips I'm trying to follow this month:

1) This nugget of wisdom is in pretty much every string tutorial, but it bears repeating: If you're using paper foundations, shorten your stitch length when making your strings - go down to 2.0 or even 1.5. It lessens the likelihood that you'll rip out your stitches when you rip the paper foundation off the back. It also means your needle will dull more quickly, so don't be surprised if you need to change it more often in the middle of a big string project.

2) This particular project won't be my normal "assembly line" operation. I'm making a whole block at a time and then the finished blocks will sit in a box until I think of something to do with them. So if there are stringy seams around the edges of my blocks after I trim up the edges and square them up, those stringy edges are pretty vulnerable to fraying. I'm stitching 1/8"-1/4" or so all the way around the perimeter of the "high-risk" blocks to stabilize the stringy seams and avoid future frustration. Exhibit A:


If you're planning to go straight from trimming your blocks to sewing them all together, or if you're going to add sashing to them right after you trim them, this isn't as much of an issue.

3) Before you start sewing, decide if you want your block to be "straight" or "wonky." If you want it to be straight, make sure that each string is the same width from top to bottom. The uneven edges will cause the stringy seams to not run exactly parallel to one another. Right now, I'm kind of digging the un-parallel seams and the wonkiness, but that's where my life is right now.

4) The skinnier your strings are, the longer it will take you to make your block. Skinny strings = lots of seams = more time sewing and pressing and less time staring at a finished block. Duh, right? But it took me a couple of string projects to make this connection.

Enough with the jabbering! Here's my block numero uno for this month!

string block: basics

Once I sash it and/or set it, it will finish at 8" (8.5" unfinished).

I'll start a new tab up top for the posts from this month that I'll try to keep current, so it's easy to find the blocks you like. Update: The page has been added!

Need some inspiration? Here are a few of my favorite string quilts using this basic string block:

"31 Days" is an annual event sponsored by The Nester. All around the web, there are all kinds of bloggers writing on a specific topic every day in the month of October. Check out the link party, if you're looking for some nuggets of wisdom this month - there are lots of awesome topics!


  1. These simple string blocks make such awesome, sweet quilts! I love them. Thank you, Megan.

  2. Hmmmm...... maybe I need to drag out that stash of old Christmas fabrics, cut them into strings, and make one of these! I keep hoping that someday I'll finally get through that pile of old Christmas stuff so I can buy some new.....

  3. I might have to make some string blocks so that I can use up all the strings I have left of Halloween fabrics. Might make another cute table topper or some placemats.