What Is a String Quilt?
It's easy to learn how to make string quilts. They are made using a simple type of foundation piecing that's also referred to as either string piecing or string quilting. You'll see more terms, too, but they all refer to the same technique, and if a pattern or description includes the word strings, it usually refers to this technique.
String quilting gets its name from the long strips of fabric that are used to make a quilt... the strings. Strings are sewn randomly to a permanent foundation that's often cut from muslin. You can use another fabric for the foundation if you like, or a thinner material, even prints, but choose something that won't show through the strings after the blocks are assembled.
String quilts likely originated as a make do technique created by budget conscious quilters, because the method is a perfect way to use leftover scraps of fabric. The technique is still a great way to use quilting scraps, but today's quilters often purchase fabrics just so they can cut them into strings.
String Piecing Tips
- Strings needn't be straight strips of fabric; cut some with angled edges to create variety.
- Don't worry about fabric grain placement, because the strings are permanently stabilized when sewn to the foundation.
- Forget about trying to match fabrics; string quilts are charming when assembled from a wide assortment of colors and fabric styles.
- Choose quilting fabrics in a many color values (strips that contrast).
- Strings can be any width, and for the most interesting results their widths should differ. I typically cut strips that are 1-1/4" to 2-1/2" wide for 8" or larger blocks; narrower widths for miniatures.
String piecing is a free-form quiltmaking method, so you will not usually mark a pattern onto your foundations. Instead, you'll simply position strips, sew a seam, flip the strip right side up, and then add another. It's super simple, but there are so many ways to string piece that the results are never boring.