Its New Years Day 2014.  I’m feeling quite lazy today, yet motivated.  Is that a contradiction in terms?  Not too long ago I took a pile of black, white, red, and gray scraps from my stash and cut them into random width strips.  I filled a bin with these scraps and put them away for later.

I want to use them up this year so I’ve decided to make a string quilt.  It seems like the perfect project for New Years Day.  Today, I don’t want to worry about measuring and math – I just want an easy, no planning required project.  Plus, I’m still on my kick – (Read that: resolve) to use up some of the scraps and stash that I have on my sewing room shelves. This really is an easy technique with No Strings Attached! 

Bucket of strings, strips, and scraps!
Bucket of strings, strips, and scraps!

String quilts get their name because they are often made from strips leftover from other quilting projects (strings). Often, these quilts are made by quilters (like me) who don’t want to throw any scraps away.  I’ve always liked string quilts for the scrappy unplanned look of the random pieced blocks. These blocks typically have a slightly wonky asymmetrical look that appeals to me. It really is a form of organized chaos.

You can make a block for a string quilt any size you choose. You can arrange them in any pattern you choose, and string quilts are a great way to use those small leftovers from your stash to create something vibrant and colorful. The blocks follow a free-form random color placement. Strips are cut anywhere from 1″ to 2-1/2″ and are sewn to a muslin foundation using a flip, sew, cut and press method.

My string quilt blocks are starting as 7″ x 9″ rectangles.  Although the blocks will be random, the color theme is planned at Black/White/Gray. There will be one consistent color placement in the blocks – a red diagonal strip.  The rest of the strings (strips) will be unplanned black, white and gray in random widths and angles rippling out from the center red diagonal string.

I started by placing the red strip on a diagonal of my muslin foundation.

I selected a strip from my bucket that was long enough to run over the edges of the foundation block. I sewed along the cut edge at a random angle. Once the seam was sewed, I folded the foundation back and trimmed 1/4″ from the seam, flipped the strip over and pressed the seam flat.

2013-12-29 16.52.27  2013-12-29 17.40.04

Place, sew, and flip the second string along the edge of the first string. Turn the block over, tuck the foundation under and trim long ends of the strip, leaving an inch or so of fabric extending past the edge of the foundation.

Continue in this manner until the foundation is covered

I pieced  one side of the diagonal and then completed the second side. The edges on the front of the block looked jagged, and the center diagonal remains the focus of the piecing. I keep a small pressing board and cutting station close to my machine so I can trim and sew without getting up.

Flip the string block over!

The foundation is covered now and ready to be trimmed. Use a sharp rotary cutter and ruler to trim to the edges of your muslin foundation. Make sure the blocks remain true to square at the corners.

2013-12-29 17.40.13  2013-12-29 17.41.24

I still  have a long way to go, but here is the beginning of a new quilt. My first UFO of 2014.

2013-12-29 17.45.35

There are many different sizes and arrangements for string quilts.  You can even use this project as excuse to share and trade scraps with your quilting friends.

Take some time to search for string quilts on the internet and you will see some fabulous quilts!

Here are a few links I found to get you started:

String Quilt Blocks – A Tutorial

String Quilting Primer – Layouts, looks, and sizes

QNN TV – Video Tutorial for String Quilts by Quilty

Happy New Year – Happy Quilting!