block o' strings tutorial.

14 May 2009

as promised...a string block tutorial. {the SUPER easy way.}

gather some strips from your stash.
any length, any width, any color, any pattern.
i think i took out about 60ish, just to have a nice variety.

you're gonna want 4 of those strips to be a solid white or a white print.
you will want to make sure that your white strips are all the same size.
{mine were about 1 1/2".}

take some regular printer paper and make four 6 1/2" squares.

on the wrong side of your white strip...
spray a thin coat of quilt basting spray.
quickly adhere it to the middle of your 6 1/2" square.

this is optional...
trim down the white strips.
it doesn't have to be exact, as you can see on mine.

now it's audition time.
play around with your strips until you are happy with them.

i can get 4 to 5 strips on each side of the white strip.
you won't know exactly how many until you start sewing.

lay your first strip right side down onto your white strip.

turn your stitch length down to about 1.5
{just trust me!!!}
and sew your first strip on.

after each strip, press with a dry iron.
it makes a difference to press after each strip, so don't skip it.

keep adding strips until you cover the right side of the paper.

now flip your paper over.
go again until you cover this side of the paper.

your covered block should look something like this.

and the back should look like this.

trim off the stragglers using the paper as your guide.

now here's the fun part.
remember how i told yall to shorten your stitch length???
that was so the needle would perforate the paper for you.
just tear off the paper gently, like you would a check out of your checkbook.
you'll be doing this in sections.

flip it over and've just made your very own mini string block.

now this is important:
spray this block with a lightweight starch.
{i prefer to use magic sizing.}

the reason why i starch is for 3 reasons...
it flattens the seams for easier quilting.
it retains the proper block size instead of stretching.
and lastly, i find that it's much easier to baste my quilts with a crisper, flatter block.

make 3 more of these mini string blocks.

audition time again!!!
play around with your blocks until you are happy.

sew the top 2 mini blocks together.
press seam to the right.

sew the bottom 2 mini blocks together.
press seam to the left.

sew the top to the bottom.
press using more lightweight starch.

and now you have a complete 12 1/2" string block.
isn't it gorgeous?!?!

you can make a doll quilt out of this block. {like this one.}
you can put 3 of these blocks together to make a great tablerunner.
or put 12{ish} of them together for one sweet quilt.

note to add: make sure to change your needle before going back to fabric.
i use a completely seperate needle for paper foundations.

hope yall enjoy.

oh and one more thing...
i started a flickr group for the peeps that make my tutorials.
{this includes my moda bake shop tutorials too.}
i'd ♥ to see them all in one place!!!
so please...go join!!!

Pin It!


SandyN said...

I love reading your blogs from the other side of the world (Australia). You are a very talent lady. Thank you for sharing you gifts with the world. (PS. everytime I go to your blog and the music plays my daughter runs in - she also loves the movie - Twilight). Love and prayers.

Karen said...

AWSOME job! The colors are great;) Thanks for the 'how to';)

Journeying Five said...

I will most definately be making these! Love the pattern and thank you!

Z Family said...

simply put and elegantly displayed! THanks :)

Unknown said...

awesome!!! Thank you!

Unknown said...

Great job on the tutorial!

Pat said...

Good tutorial. I started making string blocks awhile back but my "teacher" didn't tell us to use the same color like you did with the white strips. I like the effect YOU get better than mine, but I'll just continue to do mine the way I started since I already have several made.....and will just have a different look than this one. Thanks for the tutorial....I've been using muslin for each block and the paper might be easier and I'll end up with less bulk....NEXT time I'll do it all differently. :)

Chris said...

Thanks for the tutorial!! LOVE all the colors, great idea for a summer table runner! What an easy way to assemble the strips and it turns out so cute! Looking forward to doing this sometime...ANOTHER one on my TO-DO list! :)

Stacey said...

nice nice, it's great to see your blog again, it felt like months since i have been online!! i want to try and get some sewing done, but not sure, gotta finish spring cleaning for my mother in law also. your projects lookin lovely!!

Karen from Sew Many Ways... said...

Thanks so much for this great tutorial...I love it. Seems very easy and your pictures are perfect in each step.

Terriaw said...

Yippee! I love it and can't wait to make a mini quilt with this tutorial. I especially love the idea of using spray starch. Thanks so much for sharing this!

Robin said...

love it!!! i will be doing this soon! you're awesome!

V and Co. said...

yes it is!!

Dawn said...

I think I can....I think I can...I think I can!!!!

Jodi Nelson said...

Fabulous girl! LOVE it. Thank ya. ooxx`jodi

Lisa said...

What a great tutorial Rachel! Great Job! I love it and I can't wait to add it to my list of to-do's!

Amanda Jean said...

thanks for the starch tip! that really did help. xoxo

Purple Quilter Queen said...

WOW - that was super easy! I've always made them with a muslin backing but your way makes them alot less bulky. Great tutorial! Jenn

Trisha said...

Great tutorial! You did a nice job explaining and your pics are great! Paper piecing is my favorite quilt technique and I was SO happy to see that you told everyone to shorten their stitch length. Nice job, Rachel!!

Kritta22 said...

Oh so great!!

i have a bunch of strips that I'm gonna have to use!!

TexasRed said...

What a great tutorial - Thank you for the step-by-step!

jabeybaby said...

Great tutorial! Thanks!

Candace said...

You're a natural, Rachel! Grat tutorial and thanks so much!

Theresa said...

Rachel this is so exciting. I'm going to give it a go after a few more projects (that will really ensure I've got a good swag of scraps). Thanks for you disappearing 9 patch tutorial too. I'm right in the middle of one right now!

Rose said...

This is so cool, once I get a strip stash happening, I'm totally gonna do it! I bookmarked you on my delicious :)
P.S. Did I ever ask you how you get the little hearts in your text? So cute.

Malissa said...

REALLY clear tutorial. Thank you so much!

Rachel said...

Oh, excellent! This is SUCH an easier way to make string blocks. Thanks for sharing. ☺

Renee said...

great tutorial! It will be a great one for using up my scraps! Thankyou so much!

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial - perfect for using up all those small scraps I have floating around!

sewtakeahike said...

thanks for this post Rachel! Ok, so i have some questions though. Why do you sew these down to paper? why not just sew them together and cut to size?

rachel griffith said...


you'd want to use a foundation because strips tend to get a bit stretchy when you sew them together.
have you ever noticed once you sew about 4-7 strips together the middle starts to bow a little bit???
well you can keep this from happening by reversing the strips when you sew them.
use a foundation like muslin or paper.

i chose to use paper because it was removable.
PLUS i didn't want the extra bulk around when it came time to quilt.

hope this helps.

Roseanne said...

I am going to have a go at this. I have lot of strips Left over from my jelly roll. I would like to now where to get the starch from.

rachel griffith said...


you can pick up starch at your local walmart or target. {in the laundry detergent aisle.}
i personally recommend magic sizing.

hope this helps.

Mercedes said...

Thats ´great, easy and colorful . A good way to our scraps. Thanks for the idea of ussing starch.

Regi said...

What a sweet little block... ty for sharing. I am going to add this to my "to do" list.


Roseanne said...

hi again Rachel I went and had a look for the magic sizing starch but could not find any. But i did find other different starchs, I would like to now where ti get the quilt basting spray as well. I am sorry for being a pain .


rachel griffith said...


you aren't being a pain at all.

another starch would be fine. magic sizing is just my starch of choice.

now about the quilt basting spray...i get mine from joann's. or pat catan's.
if your walmart is a walmart that still carries sewing supplies, you should be able to get the june tailor quilt basting spray there.

hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

You used regular printing paper for your back? Do you remove it? I want to attempt this and need a cheap solution...printer paper sounds cheap enough :) So if you can email me and let me know that would be great. Thanks!

sewtakeahike said...

Thank-you so much for this little tut Rachel! I've made my first block using it and am so thankful to you for your personal :) help along the way!

charlie said...

Girl, you are the bomb!!!! Your tutorials are fantastic. This will make a great thank-you gift made into a table runner for a family member hosting a summer get-together. Thanks so much. You absolutely rock.
~ Charlie

Julie @ Jaybird Quilts said...

time to make my first string blocks this weekend!!

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial!!
I'll be using it for my bee blocks next month!!!
Thank you!

O'Quilts said...

Rachel, I showed my husband your blog with the "create a link feature" so he can make one for me on my blog. I chose your blog of all because it is so well organized. Thank you.

bellsjo said...

I am one of comfortstitchings bee peeps and I made the string blocks for her using your tutorial. Thanks - it is fab! I have never used paper before but it was surprisingly easy.

Sarah said...

Thanks for the great tutorial! I am hosting "Bee Vintage" (a VQB) in July and having them make this block with Kona grass as the middle strip!

Khris said...

Thanks for the tutorial...I have put a link to you on my freebies blog if thats okay....hugs Khris

Anonymous said...

I love this! I found this tutorial on the site Craft Gossip and a big thank you for sharing. I will let my friends know about this site.

Bethany said...

I have read TONS of paper foundation tutorials. After reading yours, it finally clicked! I can't wait to give it a shot!

Vanina said...

Love it! Thank you for sharing :)

Stephanie said...

I realize that this is an older post, but I have a question. Do you finish the edges of the strips or press the edges under, or do you just leave them raw? I really love the look of these blocks and I have TONS of scraps so I want to give it a go, but was a little unclear on that. Thanks!

related posts plugin for wordpress, blogger...