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Use Your Scraps: String Quilt Block Tutorial

If you have strips and scraps of fabric you can’t bear to part with, quilting a scrappy string quilt might be just the project for you.

Multi-Patterned String Block QuiltPhotos via A Quilting Life

Here is a simple tutorial for creating string quilt blocks using a muslin foundation:


  • Start by saving strips and strings of fabric. Don’t worry about trimming them to any particular size — a good variety of sizes looks best in a string quilt. Strips ranging in size from 1 1/4” to 2 1/2” are a good choice. Although smaller strips can be used, they don’t show up well after seam allowances are taken into consideration, and larger strips tend to take up too much of the block. Squares of fabrics can also be used for string blocks — they are perfect for using on the corners of the blocks.

Various Scrap Fabric Pieces

  • You’ll also want to collect fabric for your foundation squares. A thin muslin fabric works best. Using this method will result in a quilt top that is a little bit heavier than normal, however, you can use very thin batting or even a piece of flannel in place of batting to keep your finished quilt from becoming too bulky.
  • Another idea to save on bulk is to skip the batting completely and use flannel or corduroy for the quilt backing.
  • There is also the option of using newsprint or other thin paper for your block foundation — this paper is then removed before sewing your blocks together. However, the removal of the paper is time-consuming and can result in stretched, distorted blocks due to the bias edges of the fabrics.
  • These squares can be cut to any size depending on the size you want your finished block. Add 1/2” to your desired finished block size. For example: cut 8 1/2” squares to end up with 8” finished blocks.

Placing Strip Diagonally

Now, let’s get started!

Step 1:

Begin by placing one strip of fabric face up diagonally across your foundation piece. Secure the strip to the foundation using a couple of pins or a few dots of appliqué glue. You can also use an acid-free glue stick to secure the center strip. This step is important to prevent shifting before the strip is secured on both edges to the foundation.

Adding Second Strip of Fabric
Step 2:

Add a second strip of fabric, right sides together, to the center strip. Sew through all layers using a 1/4” seam allowance. Press to set the seam, then open up and press the top strip open.

Adding Third Strip of Fabric
Step 3:

Continue to add strips in this manner until one side of your foundation is completely covered with strips.

Adding Further Strips and Tapering

Step 4:

Then, begin to use this same method to cover the remaining half of the foundation square.

Square Covered with Strips

Step 5:

Once your square is completely covered with strips, turn it over and trim the strip pieces with the edges of the square. It’s easiest if you use an acrylic ruler and a rotary cutter to do this.

Cutting Strips in Line with Square
Step 6:

Now you’ll want to keep making string blocks until you have enough for your desired quilt size.

Finished String Quilt Block

And that’s all there is to it!

You might also enjoy our post on string quilts for putting scraps to use and our ideas for quilting with scraps.

Come back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow for Free Pattern Friday: Halloween Edition!

Would you like to try making a string quilt block?


ruth junkin

I want to learn how to do this

Anna Maria Q.

Thanks for this beautiful tutorial, I like this work !


I actually use dryer sheets – – – it seems a waste to toss them too!!!


Sorry dryer sheets for the backing instead of muslin…

Mary Varnell

I love this! I am continually amazed at the creativity I have seen since I found Craftsy!’


I use telephone book pages. It’s a great way to recyle and cheaper than fabric foundation.

Teresa Amlin

Thank you for the free video that really helps me. I do better with watching how to do something new then to always read the instructions. Sometimes the instructions seems like mud till I get how to do the pattern for the quilt. I also love these ideas the other ladies told about. This really helps. Now I can make another type of quilt and use a lot of my scraps up. Thank you!


I would like to know how I can see the video I can’t find it I just started quilting thank you

Ruth Hurley

I think it is just a tutorial. I don’t think there is a video.

Val Reynolds

Thanks for the link to the string quilt! I’m using it tonight! 🙂 (I knew exactly who to go to for a scrappy quilt idea…thanks!!) V


Newspaper can leave smudgie ink on the fabric…use an inexpensive musliN instead.


I have a large amount of (unwashed) cotton/poly sheeting that I would like to use for my foundation squares. All of my strips are unwashed 100% cotton. Will i be disappointed with the results if I use the blend as my foundation?


The strips might shrink and the poly cotton probably won’t. That might make you angry at putting all that work into sewing it if it looks wonky .


I’ve tried most every possible kind of foundation material and have found, by accident, that tissue wrapping paper is the best! It tears easily without distorting the block, very light, and no smudges! I buy it cheap (white)after Christmas. Telephone books are almost impossible to find these days.


Love making the squares! I am finding that when I sew the squares together the seam is pretty thick because of all the strips and the muslin. How are you finishing the back?


Can someone tell me if I need to press the seams to the side? I don’t see anything mentioned about pressing and the example looks very flat. Thanks.

Anne Beauchamp

I don’t understand why you need a foundation fabric? New to quilting.


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