I’m preparing for another craft fair for the fall and I was looking for some ideas for table runners to have for sale. Knowing that my mom has done many string quilts I asked her for some tips and tricks on how to go about doing it.
Tip 1: Cut your batting to your finished block size. For example, I cut 10″ batting squares. So why am I cutting my batting my finished block size and not including seam allowance? When you trim your finished block you will cut your fabric 1/4″ larger on each side than your batting square. When you sew your blocks there won’t be any batting in the seam allowance and it will reduce bulk in your seams.
Tip 2: Use an Add a Quarter Ruler to trim your fabric. The lip on the Add a Quarter Ruler will rest up against the batting and give you a perfect quarter inch seam.
Tip 3: Cotton batting is preferred over polyester batting because it is less likely to get caught in the feed dogs.
I couldn’t find much about the history of string quilts. There are plenty of examples of string quilts but they were seen as very utilitarian and were not really recognized as an art form until the late 20th century. Here’s a couple examples of string quits, one made by my mom and the other by her friend.
My mom also recounted the following story about when she first started working at the local hospital in San Diego and her co-worker told her about her experience with quilts and the Great Depression. This story led my mom to get interested in quilting.
“In the early 80s, I worked with a woman who was a child during the great depression. One night, she was telling a story about how she and her 2 sisters were raised by their father, as her mother had left them as small children. She recalled how thrifty every one had to be, because of the depression. She told me that her aunts and grandma would make quilts using the thinnest slivers of leftover fabrics and they called them string quilts.”
While I was visiting my mom yesterday I was sewing on my string quilt table runner and we filmed a short video about the process. In the video she explains and shows the above tips and tricks. I know I always like to have a visual when I’m learning something new. In the video we’ve used wider strings for the blocks. You can use strings any size you’d like but I wouldn’t make them any less than 1″ to 1-1/2″.
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