There are tons and tons and metric TONS of string quilt paper piecing tutorials and patterns out there. They are fabulous stash busters, easy to master and are also really good beginner projects. After making several wardrobe pieces and several projects for family, friends and the store this summer, I had a large scrappy stash. Space is a limited commodity in our house, so I started looking through some of the tutorials I had saved to see what I could do to use up some of my
hoard .. errr, stash. I fell in love with While They Snooze: How to Make a Quilt… kind of. I loved that she used one solid carried through the middle of each block to tie it together. The more I looked at it and the other string quilts, the more I knew I had to try one!
I pulled out the prints that I loved, and started looking for enough of a solid to pull in with them. Then I remembered a pair of wide legged pants that I had just stuffed into my “to be altered/changed/Frankensteined basket. I had been thinking of turning them into a skirt, but they were the perfect creamy brown to compliment my prints.
I used regular printer paper to make my pattern squares. I folded one corner over and trimmed the excess off the bottom to get my squares. It does not have to be fussy or exact, you can square the blocks up after they are on the paper. (This has also given me an idea for a rectangle string block, I’ll get back to you on that!)
I went ahead and folded and trimmed all of the paper to get it out of the way first. For my quilt, I needed 48 squares measuring roughly 8½” x 8½”. I sew everything with a ¼” seam allowance, for a finished block size of 8 x 8. Clip the paper pieces together and set them to the side. Time to start the strips! Thank goodness for rotary tools and a straight edge! I could have never ever done this without mine! I made all of the solid strips 2 inches wide and about 13 inches long. Adjust your strip length depending on the size of your square.
As soon as they were done, I used a glue stick and lightly glued one strip of the solid diagonally through the middle of each square. Reclip and put back to the side. Then you can cut your prints into strips. I cut them anywhere from 1 to 3 inches wide and long enough to cover the paper. If you want to cut them long and just trim and re-use as you go, that’s fine too. I chose to do very random piecing, never putting 2 strips of the same color on a square.
Once all your prints are cut, you can begin piecing the squares together. It is a simple process, you only have to sew straight lines. Grab a square and your first printed strip. Place it wrong side up, on top of the middle strip. Line up one edge and sew the two strips together through the paper. Do not back-stitch, jut sew a straight seam from one end to the other. (I shortened my stitch length to about 1.5, this will make removing the paper easier later.) Now open the strip up and either press with an iron or finger press. Keep adding strips until you get to the corner. Then place another strip wrong side up on the solid strip and work to the other corner. Now it’s just a matter of finishing all of your squares.
The strips will fly under your needle and your squares will be complete before you know it. I suggest leaving the paper on until you are ready to begin sewing them together. You will want to lay them out on the floor (unless you have a really large table… if you do…. lucky!!!) and shuffle them around until you figure out where you want your squares. I had to move and position my squares a lot before I had a placement that I really liked. The tutorial that I modeled my quilt after called for the squares to be put together in groups that made diamonds. I set them up and moved them, and then changed them all around again. And a few more times just to make sure. Yep, the diamonds just weren’t doing it for me. Here are a couple of the layouts… I kept trying to make it into Xes instead of diamonds, but it just never lined up the way I wanted. I just could not unsee the diamonds.
I changed and re-arranged some more and then it dawned on me… it’s my quilt. I’m doing this for me, so who says that I have to lay it out like someone else has. I picked up all the squares and shuffled them around one last time. I was thinking about an afghan I wanted to crochet, but didn’t have the colors I wanted. The quilt did have the colors I wanted… Problem solved! It’s a little larger than a lapghan, but perfect to curl up in the chair and read or watch TV with!
This is how I ended up with a chevron inspired quilt, made from string quilt blocks. After finally deciding on the proper placement, I picked up the blocks in order of their rows. Start with the first two blocks of a row. Tear the paper off of the backs and place them wrong sides together. Seam one side. You can press as you go, or you can wait and press all the seams open when you finish the row, or all the rows. Once I finish one row, I like to roll it up and label it. That way I can make sure it gets put together like I had designed it. And yes, I even label which way is up!! My big laughs at me and my labels, but if I put a project down, I want to make sure that I can pick it back up and put it together the way I wanted it. No matter how long it may stay in my project basket!
After getting all of the rows pieced together, it’s time to connect the rows. Make sure when you are lining up the rows that you have them turned correctly. You will be sewing the bottom of row 1 to the top of row 2. Then sew the bottom of row 3 to the top of row 4. Same for 5 & 6 and 7 & 8. Now you will have 4 double rows. Sew the bottom of the first double row to the top of the second double row. Sew the bottom of the third double row to the top of the fourth double row. You should now have 2 separate pieces made up of 4 rows each. Sew the bottom of the first piece to the top of the second, and you have a completed quilt top!
I will be back with the second part – Quilting and Binding – just as soon as I quilt and bind it! I am on the hunt for a funky vintage sheet to possibly use. Or maybe a pieced back with some stripes and polka dots. Hoping to finish it all up this weekend and get the second part out early next week. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I will help the best I can!