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String Piecing

String piecing is an old style of scrap quilting worked using a simple sew and flip technique.  It's called "string" piecing because it uses long, narrow scraps or "strings" of fabric which aren't really suitable for other types of piecing.  String piecing may be worked one of two ways.  One method uses a foundation (paper or fabric) cut to shape.  The strings are sewn to this foundation then the excess is trimmed.  The other method pieces the strings into new fabric which is then cut using a freezer paper or plastic template.

Foundation Method

Cut the foundation from either paper or lightweight muslin.  (Muslin will be left as part of the quilt and is especially suited for fancy fabrics such as taffeta and other light, silk-like fabrics.) Place the first fabric right side up on the foundation and pin in place.  (When using a paper foundation, shorten your stitch length so that it's easier to remove the paper.)  Then, place the second fabric over the first, right sides together, and pin.  Sew approximately 1/4" away from the raw edges, sewing through the foundation as well as both layers of fabric.  Open out the fabrics and press.  Position the third fabric the same way on top of the second fabric, sew and press open.  Continue in this fashion until the foundation is covered.

Turn the whole piece over and trim the straggly bits of fabric off so that all the fabric edges are even with the foundation edges.

Once all the pieces for a block are ready, piece these together (foundation and all) to make a block.  Don't remove a paper foundation until the block -- or even the whole top -- is pieced.

After the blocks are pieced, give each one a couple of sharp tugs to loosen the paper from the seams.  Remove paper, and there you are!

Freezer Paper Method

Begin work for the freezer paper method just as if making a strip section for any other kind of block.  The big difference here is that it doesn't matter a bit if the strips are all wonky or bend in the middle.

Line up several strips of fabric in a layout that pleases you.  Don't fuss too much, this is a scrappy project.

Sew the strips together into a single strip set.

Working on the right side of the strip set, place the freezer paper templates shiny side down. Press the freezer paper templates into place with a warm iron.  Leave at least 1/2" between each pattern.

Cut pieces out, cutting 1/4" beyond the edge of the freezer paper.  Peel off the freezer paper.

Arrange these pieces with background pieces just as you would for any other block, and sew block together. 

String piecing can be worked over any number of foundations for any imaginable shape.  Personally, I think string piecing looks best when used in a star or kaleidoscope style block.  However, imagine string piecing a fan shape or the rings in a Double Wedding ring.  It’s your quilt, do what you love!

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