In January, we'll be starting the new year gently by making 6" finished (6 1/2" unfinished) string square blocks, in light and dark pairs. String squares are a great way to scrap-bust, and are so easy to make, they suit all quilters from beginners on up.
Here are the basic requirements for this month's blocks:
*This month, one entry into the lotto will consist of one pair of blocks - one block in light colours and one in dark colours.
*Minimum number of pairs you may make is 1, maximum number of pairs is 4 (a total of 8 blocks max.)
*Blocks should be 6" finished (6.5" unfinished). As blocks are built on a foundation, you may wish to make your foundation slightly larger and trim to size at the end
*Blocks should be built on a foundation fabric of 100 per cent cotton.You may use plain muslin, or any 100 per cent cotton fabric you want to use up (except flannel), provided that the pattern on the fabric does not show through any of the strips sewn on top
*Strips (strings) can be any fabric (except Christmas fabrics) and any width, up to a maximum of 2.5" unfinished. Each block should use a minimum of 6 different fabrics. No two blocks should be identical, though a single fabric may be used in up to 3 blocks. [If you are interested in string square blocks with Christmas fabrics, you might like to check out Lou's swap on about.com.]
Instructions for making a string square block:
1. Begin with a square of foundation fabric. Your unfinished block size is 6.5", so you can cut 6.5" squares, or if you wish, cut them slightly larger and trim to size at the end. You may use plain muslin or anyother fabric you wish to get rid of, provided that the pattern does not show through any of the fabrics sewn on top. Here I have chosen a light-coloured patterned fabric for my foundation squares. [To ensure the pattern doesn't show through on my light block, I have actually used the reverse side as the upward facing side for the light block.]
2. Take a strip of fabric and lay it face up on the foundation square, covering the diagonal of the fabric [above left]. Now lay another strip of fabric, face down, aligned with the right edge of the first strip [above right]. Sew these strips together along the right edge. Press open [see photo at right]. Continue in this fashion, adding strips out to the edge of the foundation square on both sides of the centre strip of fabric, pressing open as you go. The strips do not have to be all the same length, just be sure that they are long enough to cover the foundation fabric at top and bottom, once they are pressed outward.
3. Once you have added enough strips to cover all the foundation fabric, your block will look something like this [below left]. Turn the block over and trim carefully to 6.5" - ta da! Here's your trimmed string square block [below right]. As you can see, this block used 8 different strips of fabric; the widest (central) one was approximately 2.5" unfinished.
4. Inspired by a quilt discussed on Melody Johnsons' blog, this month we are doing string squares in pairs - one light block and one dark. Your fabrics may be any colour or pattern, but please use all lights in one block and all darks in the other. At below left, one pair of blocks; below right shows two pairs of blocks arranged in one of many possible settings.
5. Remember, this year we are not mailing our blocks anywhere until a winner is drawn - to be enterred into the lotto draw, you will need to have a digital photo of your blocks available - for more details, please take a moment to read the new lotto guidelines, which are posted at the start of this blog.
If you found that making string squares for the lotto just made you want to do lots more strings (and be warned, it can certainly be very addictive!) , Lou is currently hosting a string square swap on about.com, and has plans to host more through the year, with string variations.