String Quilt Block Tutorial using AccuQuilt
Whether you have an AccuQuilt cutting machine already or are looking to get one, this video & blog post combo will show you how to make a variation of a String Quilt Block as part of a 2-block quilt while using the AccuQuilt Angles Companion Qube. I’ve teamed up with my friend HollyAnne Knight from String & Story to each teach a tutorial for a quilt block, which come together beautifully in this gorgeous quilt!
AccuQuilt users will find this tutorial particularly helpful, but you can make a quilt like this without one too!
First off, I’ll share how to make this string quilt block using the 8″ Mix and Match Qube and it’s Angle Companion. To learn how I cut, sew, and press to make this block – watch the video, or keep reading, if that’s more your speed! Later on in the article I will also show how to implement this block into a baby size quilt like I did!
How to Make this String Quilt Block
There are a lots of different methods and processes out there for making string quilt blocks, and this is just one option. To make my version here, I used my AccuQuilt cutting machine to precisely cut out all the fabrics needed. I used a specific technique so I could cut the pieces on grain while minimizing fabric waste, which I share below.
Sewing the pieces together can be a little tricky since you are sewing on the bias, but I hope the tips I share in this post make it a little easier and more precise! I’ll also share my tips for pressing too, since I found it made a bit of a difference on this particular quilt block.
AccuQuilt Qube & Angles Companion
To make the string quilt block, I used my 8″ Mix and Match Qube that came when I ordered my AccuQuilt cutting machine starter set. (If you’re considering getting an AccuQuilt machine, this is the set I got and I highly recommend it!) To make this block, you’ll also want to use the Qube Companion set – Angles for cutting out the trapezoids.
I found the inspiration for this kind of string quilt block in the AccuQuilt Angles Pattern booklet (get the digital download here). Check out the “Inspire” quilt block on page 71. I switched up the color placement a little bit but the shapes are all the same!
If you don’t have the Angles Companion set, but still want to make a similar quilt, you might consider making the below block instead with the Mix & Match Qube. This is called the Zero Block and can be made scrappy as well! Find the full pattern in this digital download booklet on page 133.
Using the Cut and Shift™ Method with AccuQuilt Angles Companion Qube
One big reason a lot of people might not want to use a die cut machine for quilting is that many believe that it wastes a lot of fabric. While at first I did waste a little, as I use it more and more, I learn new ways to reduce waste – one technique that reduces waster is the Cut and Shift™ Method.
The Cut and Shift™ Method is super helpful when using the Angles Companion set. In order to use the Cut & Shift method, you will run the die through the machine, and then shift your fabric for your next pass, run that through the machine, and continue the process. I was able to get 7 trapezoids from a 5” x 21” strip.
Tips for sewing the String Quilt Block together
Before we get started sewing, I want to share some extra tips with you. Since these string quilt blocks involve sewing on the bias, you’ll want to be extra careful while piecing. If you aren’t careful, you can easily stretch and distort them out of shape. These tips might help reduce stretching and create nice results.
1. Use a Straight Stitch plate on your sewing machine
Some sewing machines come with two plates – one for straight stitching and one for zig zag or decorative stitching. The plate used for straight stitching has a smaller hole, and therefore less of a chance that your machine might eat the corners of your fabric when you begin sewing each piece.
2. Use a new needle
A sharp, new needle is always a must! I prefer using size 70/10 needles while piecing. You can buy them in bulk so you always have plenty on hand! My general rule of thumb is to change out my needle for each project.
3. Use leaders/enders
If you’ve never used a leader while sewing, this one is a game changer! Sewing with a “leader” is when you grab a scrap piece of fabric and sew a few stitches on it before feeding your actual piece through the machine. Stitching on your leader keeps your threads in place and reduces the possibility for a big bulky “nest” of bobbin thread on your piece right at your corner.
Constructing Your String Quilt Blocks
Begin constructing you block by laying out the pieces to see how they will go together. Each block will use 8 triangles and 8 Trapezoids, like shown below.
First you will sew together each triangle to the short side of each trapezoid. Then press each piece open (scroll down to see all my pressing tips!)
Now you will have 8 large triangle shaped pieces. Match each one up in your desired layout and sew the long edges of the trapezoids together, making your patches.
Now, you sew these 4 patches into a block by matching up two at a time.
Finally, you sew the last seam to make it one complete block.
Chain Sewing for Multiple Blocks
I personally love sewing blocks like this together in a chain-sewing fashion. String blocks like these are a perfect block to do that for! I do recommend making one block from start to finish first to get the hang of it. Then, you can chain sew the rest of your blocks for a speedy finish!
When to Pin while making String Quilt Blocks
I believe pins are essential for quilting, but I don’t use them for every single stitch that I sew. For these blocks, I chose not to pin until the patches were done. After each of the patches were sewn, I use pins to line up the points to sew them into the final blocks. I then also use pins while sewing the blocks together.
Tips for Pressing the String Quilt Block
When to Press Open, and When to Nest Seams
I personally prefer to press seams to the side for a few reasons. 1. They’re stronger when pressed to the side. 2. It’s easier and quicker. 3. I like nesting seams. However, I found that while making these String Quilt Blocks, the seams match up better when the seams are pressed open.
You can see on the back of the quilt top below. Notice how I tried to nest my seams for the Sawtooth Star quilt blocks. I pressed the seams open on the String Quilt Blocks.
When sewing the blocks together, I found that pressing to the side created a lot of bulk. I opted to press open for those seams as well.
When you are ready to press your seams, “set the seam” by ironing the stitches just as they are first. Then, proceed by opening the pieces. If you decide to press open, you might consider finger pressing first to get it started and then using the iron on it.
Helpful Tools for Pressing
Using the right tools for pressing can make all the difference in getting your blocks to lay extra flat. I personally enjoy using Best Press on your fabrics before cutting and then also as you press each seam. You’ll definitely want to try out the Unscented version (the scented ones make me cough!). I get a whole gallon at a time. You can then use the giant jug to fill up a small spray bottle to keep handy while pressing.
Making the Baby Size “Twice the Fun” Quilt
Do you want to make a baby size 2-block quilt like mine? You can do it with scraps or fabrics from your stash! I used 13 Fat Quarters for the colors. You’ll also need about a yard of background (I used just over 36″).
If you are using Fat Quarters like I did, here is how I cut them. From each Fat Quarter, cut 2 – 5” strips. One strip will likely allow for 7 Trapezoid shapes. From the other strip you’ll want to cut out 1 trapezoid, 1 die #1 square, and 8 die #5 HSTs. The 8 trapezoids then can get mixed & matched in batches of 4 for the String Quilt Blocks. The square and HSTs will be used all together to make a Sawtooth Star block.
From background fabrics, cut:
- 96 – #5 (2.5″ Unfinished HSTs) – to make 12 String Quilt Blocks
- 52 – #4 (Quarter Square triangles) – to make 13 Sawtooth Stars
- 52 – #2 (2.5″ Squares) – to make 13 Sawtooth Stars
Go find String & Story’s Sawtooth Star tutorial! HERE is her video on YouTube. and HERE is her blog post!
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