What’s scrappy, unique and a great stash buster project? String piecing quilts of course!
String piecing is a brilliant technique which encourages you to become more resourceful. It’s the ultimate upcycling project, transforming scraps into one big, beautiful, colourful piece. It also encourages you to think creatively, working with the fabrics you already have as opposed to sticking to a strict colour palette or design.
Luckily, Elizabeth Dackson loves string piecing just as much as we do. She’s created a beginner-friendly tutorial which teaches you how to make this colourful quilt. Gather your stash, it’s time to quilt!
What is string piecing?
String piecing is the technique of sewing strips of fabric together to create a block or quilt. Sometimes it’s also known as improvisational quilt piecing.
Now you know what string piecing is, it’s time to make! It’s over to Elizabeth for her tutorial…
String piecing quilt pattern
Notes for making your string peicing quilt
- Seam allowances are ¼inch throughout unless otherwise noted
- Press seams open
- Wash and press all of your fabrics before cutting
- Shorten your stitch length to 1.5 for foundation paper piecing
You Will Need
- 6½in squares of paper (Sixteen)
- Light grey fabric (One fat quarter)
- Medium grey fabric (One fat quarter)
- Assorted fabric strings (1in–2½in wide and approx 7in long)
- Binding fabric (⅜yd)
- Backing fabric (30in square)
- Batting (30in square)
- Fabric glue stick
- Quilting ruler
- Sewing machine
Cutting out the pattern
Let’s start by getting our fabric pieces sorted. Grab your patchwork ruler and scissors (or rotary cutter) and let’s get prepping!
From light grey fabric cut eight (8) 4in squares. Subcut each square in half diagonally for a total of sixteen (16) HSTs (half square triangles).
From medium grey fabric cut eight (8) 4in squares. Subcut each square in half diagonally for a total of sixteen (16) HSTs.
String piecing quilt tips
- Give your scraps some order by dividing into warm and cool colours for each block.
- A generous spritz of starch will stiffen your fabric scraps and make piecing those strings a breeze!
From binding fabric cut:
■ Three (3) 2½in x WOF strips.
■ Two (2) 6in squares.
Piecing the blocks
Now we’re getting to the fun part – starting the string piecing process!
Begin by marking each of the sixteen (16) squares of paper with a pencil, as follows. First, divide your square into quarters with a horizontal and vertical line. Each line should be 3¼in from the edge, so they will meet in the centre of the square. Mark two diagonals in opposite corners as shown.
Next, select a fabric string to start with. Use a dab of glue along the horizontal line on the centre of your first paper template and line up your fabric string along the line.
Place a second string RST (right sides together) with the first string, and sew in place, using a ¼in seam allowance (Fig 2). Press the strings open.
Repeat, adding more strings until you have filled the centre of the template paper (Fig 3). Make sure your fabrics hang at least ¼ in over the diagonal lines at the corners.
Flip your paper template over. Trim away any excess fabric along the edge of the block. Then fold back the paper along the two diagonal lines. Trim your fabric ¼ in away from the diagonal (Fig 4). Unfold the paper and give your block a quick press
To create the corners of each template, choose a pair of light or medium grey triangles to work with. Take one of the triangles and align it right sides together with your strings. Sew in place, open out and press. Repeat with the remaining triangle.
Repeat Steps 6–8 with the remaining paper squares, stitching half the blocks with the strings along the vertical line. This will allow you to match the string direction in the final blocks. Press each square again firmly, then remove the papers by tearing along the seam lines.
Assemble the quilt top
Your squares are looking great so far, let’s put them together and make some magic happen!
To create each of the four blocks, arrange four coordinating squares with one another as shown, using two horizontal and two vertical string blocks (Fig 5). Sew units together to create four blocks.
Quilting and finishing the quilt
You’re onto the final stretch – just those finishing touches to go!
To finish the quilt top, sew two rows of two blocks, then sew the rows together, pinning as needed. Press seams open. You’ve finished the top, hooray!
Layer your quilt top, batting, and backing together and baste as desired. Quilt to attach layers and prepare the binding by sewing strips together into one long length and pressing in half, wrong sides together.
Before attaching the binding, press the two 6in binding squares in half, wrong sides together. This creates hanging corners for the mini quilt. Pin the hanging corners in the top right and left corners of the back side of the mini. Once the corners are pinned in place, machine the binding to the front side of the quilt, thus attaching the corners in place securely. Finally, hand stitch the binding to the back side of the quilt to finish.
Don’t forget to label your mini quilt– you could use a fabric marker on the hanging corners to note the project name and finish date for future reference!
Upcycle your scraps into eco-friendly quilts
String piecing is a brilliant way of turning trash into treasure. Budget-friendly and sustainable, it’s not only good for the planet but also fun to stitch.
Let your creativity run wild and pick fabrics which contrast for a colourful result like Elizabeth’s. There’s so many things you can make from scrap fabric so it’s always work hanging on to those offcuts!
Discover more fabric upcycling projects with Gathered
If you have some fabric leftover from your string piecing quilt then why not turn them into fabric shoelaces?