String Quilting, 5-20-2020

Here is my string quilt again.

I’m somewhat surprised that I had questions about how to do this so here you go. Save this if it’s something you might want to refer to in the future – bookmark it, put it in a folder, set it aside somehow – or be prepared to go back to find this post.

I used phone book pages and cut them 5-1/2″ square.

I save all strips and strings just for this reason.

Lay your first strip right side up diagonally.

Lay the second strip right sides together with the first and stitch. Reduce your stitch length so it perforates the paper.

Fold the strip out and press. Repeat over and over until the paper is covered.

Turn the block over and trim right along the edge of the paper.

Remove the paper. (Blurry picture???) Voila! One string block!

Each block is sometimes homely unless you plan color placement but that’s why I said this is a utilitarian quilt.

Want some mindless sewing? Start tonight!

60 thoughts on “String Quilting, 5-20-2020

  1. Jenny

    My string quilt is one of may favorites, because it has fabric from all my quilts . It was fun, simple sewing with great memories generated. I can now give away all those original quilts and keep the string quilt because it helps me remember all of them.

  2. Sandra

    I have never met a string quilt that I did not like. I usually use a piece of unwanted fabric for my foundation.This quilt uses up a lot of scraps.Thank you,Mary. I loved seeing yours and I have enjoyed your string quilt patterns in your books. Everyone stay safe and keep making these wonderful quilts that many of you share with pictures.

  3. Sherry Whalen

    Oh great. Now I see another quilt I just have to make. (wink, wink, lol) Short note – I am off to get out one of my old phone books!

  4. Brenda in SC

    Thank you so much. I have a bin of Christmas strips and I think I can do this. I say “Think” because I am a new quilter. After it is put together, how did you quilt it? Or how would you quilt it? I do hand quilting and free motion.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Brenda in SC – I do neither of them – hand quilting or free motion. I wouldn’t waste hand quilting on something this busy but any free motion quilting would work. Did you see that I quilted mine in straight lines?

      1. Brenda in SC

        Yes. And that is what I may do….although, my head is full of ideas with the Christmas material…LOL…so many ideas and so little time! Where have I heard this?!?!?

        1. Diane and Squeal in Central ohio

          I forgot to tell you how neat your parrots are. They are beautiful!! We went to a home in Hawaii with 10 parrots. They were lovely😃🦜🦜

  5. Connie

    Mary, I am not surprised that you had a lot of comments on this quilt. It caught my eye too. It looks like the quilt you would want to grab and cuddle up under.

  6. Jeanie S, Central IL

    Thanks for this post, Mary. I have never done strings, but I saved some old phone books and have a bin for string scraps. I love the look of yours.

  7. Barbara Moore

    When I make my strings, I use spent dryer sheets as my base because I don’t like tearing off the paper backing, and they add no weight to the top. It’s been something I’ve done for years and since they’re fabric friendly, there’s no problem being left in the quilt. When I press the block, it smells really good!

      1. Kathy in western NY

        Barbara, I have a string quilt in my UFO pile with dryer sheets too as the foundation. I am using a pile of blue scraps I have had for years and I like the looks of it. The dryer sheets are rectangle so I just left them like that. It will be for myself as memory of fabrics I have used. I worry someone could be allergic to the spring mountain scented dryer sheets I like to use.

        1. CountryThreads Post author

          Kathy in western NY – do you have to iron the used dryer sheets to make them easier to sew corner to corner?

          1. Kathy

            I try to pull them right out when the dryer stops as they are flat then. I keep an old clip skirt hanger next to the washer and hang them right up on it to stay flat on either clip. If I leave the dried clothes and the sheets are crumbled up, they go in a small ziplock bag and I use to them to pick up pet hair clumps (dust bunnies) on the floor.

          2. CountryThreads Post author

            Kathy – what great ideas! Thank you for sharing with us!

    1. patti leal

      unless you have allergies to the dryer sheets. i have that. decided i could never use that on a donation quilt for the same reason. just a caution not a criticism. patti in florida who loves string quilts

      1. CountryThreads Post author

        Patti Leal – good point! Improvise! Do you make lots of donation quilts?

        1. Kathy in western NY

          Yes Patti that is why I would only keep the quilt for me for that understandable reason. I have used no scent sheets in the past, but even that worries me of residue for an allergy sensitive person so just not worth it. Paper or thin fabric foundations is the safest I feel.

  8. Angie from Baltimore

    Love string quilts! The first one I made the teacher made us put the fabric in a bag and pull it out and use it and not put it back into the bag. That was the hard part but they all came out great. You have to have faith,
    Yours is lovely

  9. Nikki M in Tx

    Loved your string quilt… I have always been drawn to anything scrappy. Also think the straight line quilting was exactly what was needed. Have used muslin bases & a bee was in did exchange & we were required to use Bounty paper towels as foundation as could be left in.. I was skeptical but did so & left in…I know has been washed at least 20 times & probably more & is as soft as can be & I have had no problems with it…. shocked me.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Nikki M – I have never heard of using paper towels – I hate tearing the paper off so maybe I’d give it a try!!

      1. Nikki M in Tx

        Lady that picked exchange product told us Only Bounty because of fibers they used. I hadn’t heard of either but it worked.. been at least 10 years & still holding up.

      1. CountryThreads Post author

        Sue Roberts – I really don’t know how to help except tell you to resubscribe. That’s what my tech gal says to do. I have no idea!!!

  10. Judy from Minnesota

    Love your string quilt! I’ve made several, they are really a fun, mindless project. Fun to play with block settings, I haven’t used your zig zag setting – maybe next time. I used featherweight non fusible interfacing for the base on my last string quilt; It didn’t add much weight to the block and I didn’t have to tear off the paper. I purchased the interfacing at JoAnns Store with a coupon and was not that expensive. Thanks for sharing Mary.

  11. Rosalie

    I usually use muslin as my foundation. I did use old newspapers for the string quilt I took in your class 21 years ago but hated taking the paper out!

  12. Janet

    Mary Thank you for sharing this pattern . I love all of your quilts. Thank you for inspiring us to make these great quilts.

  13. Saundra Handy

    Thanks Mary for your brilliant ideas. I’ve got a little girl and her Momma I’ve started teaching to quilt. I let her use my Featherweight and I can’t wait to teach her this method!!🤗

  14. Charlotte Shira

    I love your string quilt and the way you quilted it. Thanks for sharing that Mary. I have plans to make one and I hope I can quilt it like you did. That is one that I can teach my granddaughter.

  15. Kimberly Lusin

    Love this!! Thank you for the explanation and pictures. I can’t wait to try this!

  16. Gayle Shumaker

    Sadly I can’t use phone book pages. I’ve seen menus that have more pages than our phone book. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 I use used Bounce dryer sheets.

  17. Lori Porter, Montana

    Mary, I have wanted to make a string quilt for some time now. You have inspired me. I retired in April & am enjoying my time. I’ve been going through my fabrics today & have many strips of scraps from log cabin scrappy quilts that I’ve made over the years. I’m guilty of saving my scraps & need to use them up. Your blog has given me so much pleasure, thank you for sharing your life.

  18. Jo in Wyoming

    “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!” Nuff said.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Jo in Wyoming – haha! Now where have I heard that before? This was one of my favorite books that we ever published!

  19. Brenda A

    Mary. I use dryer sheets also. I just cut them square.
    I can’t stand having to tear the paper off.
    I usually make one or two with left overs from what ever quilt I finished. Have a box full. I guess I will have to put a quilt together. Lol

  20. Susan in PA

    I make my string quilts exactly like you do. I got a kick out of the kitty in the picture with the Mason City phone book. She looks like she is peeking out of your sewing machine. Is it her reflection?

  21. Sandy

    Hi Mary, I don’t use a foundation to see on , just join strips with a good seam allowance , press then cut. Will send a photo of the latest top with the odd leftover block thrown in tomorrow via my son.lovethe zigzag setting, I can feel another string quilt coming on ! Best wishes from sandy .
    ult coming

    1. Judith Ann Jaques

      I had wondered if it was necessary to use the paper. I have done many scrappy quilts . Thanks for sharing your comment as I was going to ask if one had to use the paper .
      Mary I love straight line quilting.


  22. Jean

    Sure just as I threw out my phone books because I never use them anymore! I’ll have to gin up something else I guess. Gonna make that quilt!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Jean – oh, I knew somebody was going to say that! Any paper will work really – copy paper even – anything! Because you’re going to remove it anyway – or use scrap fabric and leave it in the quilt. Dryer sheets are great but very flimsy – improvise! This is a utilitarian quilt from step one.

      1. Diane and Squeak

        I had someone show me how to use butcher paper like from a deli. It worked, but I like the phone book idea!

  23. Sue in Marion, IN

    I love string blocks! And I love your zigzag setting with the straight-line quilting. I use dryer sheets, too. If you’re sensitive to scents you can wash them. OR just buy lightweight interfacing when it’s on sale. Fun! If you google string quilts and hit the images button, there are zillions of ideas for settings.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Sue in Marion, IN – yes, there are zillions of layouts – mine is just the easiest – ha! And any paper will work – even newspaper because I always wash every quilt when I finish it.

  24. Wonda Myers

    I have used dry waxed paper for wrapping sandwiches. 500 hundred to a box. Cut each piece in half, works well. Got at Sams. Can use coffee filters. We don’t have a phone book anymore!

  25. Mrs. Goodneedle

    I’ve done plenty of string blocks, your step-by-step is so helpful for explaining the method. Last summer my then 6-y.o. granddaughter was going through an orphan block bin in the closet and pulled out a few string blocks, she laid them out on the carpet and wanted to stitch them into a quilt for Hannes (our dachshund). We did that, afterwards I gave her a trash can and showed her how to remove the paper backings. After she’s worked at that for about a minute and a half she declared that the paper removal was boring and messy; I had to laugh, I agree; that’s the worst part!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Mrs. Goodneedle – out of the mouths of babes!!! I so agree!

  26. Bea knight

    Thanks Mary
    I made a copy in color of your instructions. I love this quilt! Perfect for me and my dog!
    Blessings to you!!!!!
    Bea knight

  27. Debbie B

    Love string quilts! They are so colorful and there’s lots of ways to set them. Thanks for the tutorial!

  28. Jan In Texas

    I have never made a quilt. But think I will give the string quilt a try. I love it.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Jan in Texas – a string quilt would be a great starter quilt! I hope you’ll just love the process – I do!

  29. Margaret in North Texas

    Thanks for the instructions for the string quilt. Yours is a beauty!!

  30. Linda baker

    I must be the oddball here, cause I actually like removing the paper! Maybe everyone could send me their blocks, and I can rip away. We would all be happy.

  31. Paula Philpot

    Would you please ask Karla T to let you know the Weave Quilt pattern that she used. I love this and I looked online and there are many but I don’t see one like hers. Would love to make . Paula in KY

  32. Felicia Hamlin

    I am the Queen of procrastinators and I want to make one, except I don’t know when. The funny part is that I actually taught a friend this method To make one. Mary, your an expert in combining colors!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Felicia – the string quilt? That’s not color coordinated at all! I can help you if you want it more controlled.

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