Tuesday, June 26, 2012

String Quilt How-To

This being my first quilt, I looked through dozens dozens of pictures, blogs, pins, etc. before deciding to make a string quilt. I chose it because it seems pretty simple. All straight lines, sew squares together, and voila! So, here's my version of a tutorial for piecing this style quilt. Please remember in reading this that this is my first attempt at a quilt, so it's a learning experience for me! Also, this is just for piecing the fabric together. I'll do another post about quilting when I actually get to that point.... sometime before Christmas I hope. ha.

I'm intending on making a queen sized (ish) quilt. I purchased fabric in 6 different colors, 2 yards each.

The quilt is made up of squares sewn into blocks. Each square is built on an 8 x 8 piece of paper. I'm using computer paper. My scrapbooking paper cutter came in handy with this part. I've seen people use all sorts of different sizes. I thought about doing 8.5 x 8.5 and making cutting the paper one step shorter, but the math made better sense for the expected end size by using 8 x 8.

Next, cut your fabric into strips. Now, everything I read said to use random widths of fabric ranging from 1 to 2 inches. If you know me, you know I'm not a random strips kind of girl. It'd be one thing if I had a bunch of scrap fabric laying around, but as I'm just really getting into this sewing thing, I don't. I just kept thinking what a waste of fabric that would be! So, I measured and thought and stared and measured again, and I decided to do a wider strip of the cream in the center to better delineate the pattern and equal widths of the other colors. I wanted a finished square to have 2 inches of the cream and 1.5 inches of the other strips. Taking the standard 0.25 inch seam allowance into consideration this is what I came up with to cut:

Cream: 11.5 inches long, 2.5 inches wide
Other colors: 9.5/6.5/3.5 inches long, 2 inches wide

In retrospect, I should probably have gotten more of the cream colored fabric as I'm using a wider strip of fabric in that color consistently throughout the quilt. Hope it works out! I did want the randomness of how the other colors were pieced together, so once all my strips were cut, I mixed them up in each length stack. Then I started piecing. I took a strip of the cream to set up the center of each square, used a glue stick lightly on the wrong side of it, and placed the paper over it. All the blogs I read said to lay the fabric over the paper, but I found this easier to make sure I centered the fabric on the paper. I use a ruler to verify. When it's where it needs to be, I flip the paper over so the right side of the fabric is facing up.

lightly glue the fabric

this helps me see the alignment better than gluing the fabric onto the paper 

making sure it's even!
I then take a strip of the 9.5 inch long fabric, lay it wrong side up with the border aligned with the cream fabric's border. I sew them together right on the paper with the 0.25 inch seam allowance. One thing that I found to be very important is the stitch length; you want it to be short so it makes it easier to remove the paper down the line. I set mine between 1 and 2. Iron it open, rinse and repeat.

Once all your strips are sewn onto the piece of paper, trim off the excess. The paper should come off in strips as sewing through it makes perforations. I just fold along the dotted line and it tears right off! 

 And tada! You have a super cute square! Sew 4 together to make a block.

I'm kind of addicted now. When I get excited about something I throw myself into it. I've now completed 13 blocks... only 29 to go! Definitely a long term project. I'm so excited to have it completed though. It'll be something that Tim and I will use every day. I love how supportive Tim is of me with things. He went with me to choose fabric, and when I finished my first block he showed a picture of it to all his friends bragging on me. I do love that boy. :)

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