What Is a String Quilt?
It's easy to learn how to make string quilts, which are assembled using a simple type of foundation piecing. The technique is also called string piecing and string quilting. If a quit pattern or description includes the word strings, it usually refers to this method.
String quilting gets its name from the long strips of fabric that are used to make a quilt... the strings. Fabric strings are sewn (often very randomly) to a permanent foundation, such as 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 many color values.
- 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 smaller blocks and miniatures.
String piecing is a free-form quilt making method, so you do not need to mark a pattern onto 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.