How To Make a String Quilt Block

String quilt blocks are easy to make and a great way to use up your scraps. I’ve also heard them called strip blocks. While cutting fabrics for other projects, simply start a storage container. Make sure that you have plenty of strips that are long enough to go down the centers of the size of blocks you wish to make. Strip width is your choice. My strips range from 1 inch to 2 1/2 inches in width. I simply make them with what width I can from a leftover piece of fabric.

string block step 1

Step 1

In this tutorial, I am using 12-inch squares to make my blocks. Once a block is done, I will trim them to 11 1/2 inches. You always want to make your blocks a bit larger than you want them to end up to be because of fabric slippage as you sew. More on that later.

string block step 2

Step 2

I am choosing to make the quilt in the quilt-as-you-go technique. This means that I am choosing to sew my strips onto a block back with the batting in between. This way each block is already quilted. I will do another post at a later date with a tutorial with pictures on quilt-as-you-go.

You may choose to do your blocks on any old fabric. Muslin is a popular choice. Another great choice is flannel because then the flannel can be a thin center for a lighter quilt. Some choose to make their blocks by sewing the strips to waxed paper. The paper is then torn off. You can do this, and then quilt your block to the batting and backing too, or leave it as it and sew the blocks together to make a quilt top to finish later.

string block step 3

Step 3

string block step 3 continued

Step 3, cont’d

Step one: Line up 2 strips right sides together diagonally down the middle of the square.  Pin them to make sure they stay secure for sewing.

Step two: Press open those first 2 pieces. Please note that if you are using non-cotton batting you will need to be careful to only press the fabrics and not hit the batting as it will melt. Also remember that each strip is front sides together when sewing on. You continue adding strips until your whole block of fabric is covered. I have pressed the first 2 open and pinned on my 3rd strip in the photo.

Step three: All strips are sewn on, so now it’s time to square it up–cut it to the size you want it to be. This can be a challenge. Hopefully you do have a ruler like mine with the diagonal guide-line printed on it. This is important to make sure that your block stays with the 2 starter strips staying in the center.

Ta Da! Your first block is complete and you are ready to move on to your next one.

I am including photos of past quilts that I have made using string blocks.  These were made in my very early days of learning to quilt, as this one of the very first techniques that I learned.  One has the blocks put together side by side.  The other one has sashing between the blocks.

string block finished

Finished block

string quilt 1

A string quilt

strip quilt 2

A string quilt with sashing


  1. Kyla Matton Osborne

    I’ve seen these quilts before but never known what they were called. It’s a very pretty pattern, and I think it’s cool that you could essentially make them from scraps.

    1. Marsha Cooper Post author

      It’s going to take me months to make blocks before I start putting them together, but hopefully when I do I will put together a quilt as you go tutorial too.

    1. Marsha Cooper Post author

      Sometimes I think about it….teaching a class that is. Or maybe doing a members demo at least at quilt guild.

  2. Andria Perry

    I love to make quilt tops, I have made several but I have never quilted any.

    I always wanted to do this with old, men`s ties 🙂

    I pinned and stumbled this awesome article!

    1. Marsha Cooper Post author

      Thanks so much for the shares.
      I love making tops but really do not like finishing them.

  3. Rex Trulove

    I should show this to my wife. She started a quilting group at church, with the objective of making quilts and giving them to needy families in the community. They are doing block quilts, but this will probably interest her.

    1. Marsha Cooper Post author

      We have a group at church too. We give most of ours to the Domestic Violence Center.
      When someone started the sewing group is when I started learning how to quilt.

    1. Marsha Cooper Post author

      Thanks. I can’t wait for the months to go by and more colors of blocks to be made so that I can start putting them together.

    1. Marsha Cooper Post author

      Yes, a quilt is a blanket. This is just one block though 11 1/2 inches . Lots of blocks will be sewn together to make the quilt.

    2. Gil Camporazo

      What about if there is no enough materials, how could it make a blanket? It is alright to mix or combine any fabric? Sorry I don’t really understand this.

    3. Marsha Cooper Post author

      If you didn’t have enough fabric left over from other projects and you wanted to hurry to finish this type of quilt, you would have to go and buy more fabric.

  4. Gina M. Menorca

    I was once fascinated by a beautiful quilt story . I think It is from the movie if Winona Ryder if I am not mistaken. what I did was buy a DIY book on quilting. and some fabric. It was very frustrating on my part.

    1. Marsha Cooper Post author

      I would be very frustrated if I had tried to learn how to quilt on my own. Thankfully I am in sewing and quilting groups.

  5. Priscilla King

    Yes, Nakitakona, in the U.S. when we say “quilt” we usually mean something that can be used as a blanket or bed cover. Other things are “quilted.”

    1. Marsha Cooper Post author

      I’ve not even gotten to the second block yet. I stopped and am working on something else for my next tutorial post LOL

  6. Jacky Hughes

    I have always wanted to try quilting. The pieces you show are lovely and now I feel inspired to try. Thank you for this tutorial.

    1. Marsha Cooper Post author

      Quilting was on my list for the longest time. Finally a lady at church started a sewing group to make quilts for charity. I learned a lot in the beginning, then my husband bought me my first sewing machine.

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