Okay now before we head down the path of cutting all your beautiful fabric into strips for your string blocks, let’s quickly talk about your appliquéd circles.
I have seen two different approaches to appliquéing circles: fusible interfacing and some kind of template you iron around to tuck your edges under.
Anna Maria Horner has a tutorial on how to use a template and foil to iron those pesky edges under for a perfect circle.
While I have done this method successfully with appliqué, I had been searching for an easier way to do them in mass. I found that using the fusible interfacing method not only gives you nice edges, but it also allows you to fuse the appliqué to the quilt top and not have to do a lot of pinning while sewing the appliqué.
Kris, over at Summer At Grandma’s House, has an excellent tutorial on how to do the fusible interfacing method on circles.
Now you are all thinking that is all fine and dandy, but how do I make the template or mark a perfect circle on a piece of fabric. Well, there are several methods.
- go out and purchase on of those handy dandy Olfa circle cutters like the one
- use plates, bowls, glasses and lids as a template to mark around. Everyone has these items in their kitchen.
- use a thumb tack and a piece of string tied to a pencil to make a compass to draw your circles.
- purchase a ruler compass from Dick Blick. Though I had a hard time finding a ruler that the darn thing fit on. I ended up using a metal yardstick ruler from Micheal’s.
Regardless of which tutorial you choose to follow, you will need to make circle templates. In Anna's you will use the template to iron around. In Kris', you will use it to mark a sewing line for the edge of your circle.
Materials you can use for templates are the heat resistant template plastic you get at your local quilt shop, posterboard, or paperboard, like frozen pizza and cereal boxes. A really thin piece of cardboard would work too. I like using the posterboard. It is easy to come by and it comes in a variety of sizes. Get the white kind though, since we don’t want any dye leaching onto your pretty fabric now would we. Also the plastic template stuff only comes in 12” X 18”; certainly not big enough for our largest circle.
In the end, what you need are three different sizes of circles for you appliqué. I suggest using whatever you have laying around your house to make your templates. Just make sure there is enough size difference between the three for visual impact. My design has a 5” difference between each size.
Options 1, 2, and 3 all have the same number of appliquéd circles. So follow this chart for the size of quilt you are doing. Option 4 doesn’t have appliquéd circles.
(2) 15" Circles
(6) 10" Circles
(8) 5" Circles
(1) 15" Circles
(4) 10" Circles
(4) 5" Circles
(4) 10" Circles
(3) 5" Circles
You will want to cut out a square that is a 1/4” larger that the ending circle size. So for our 15” circles, you will want to cut out a 15 1/4” X 15 1/4” square.
Then follow the tutorial of your choice to make your appliquéd circles. Set them aside and we will sew them on a little later.
Check out the breakdown pdf to get the number of string blocks you need to make.
Here is a tutorial from the Sometimes Crafter, Christina, on how to make string blocks using paper piecing. Now don’t freak out about the paper-piecing bit. It is super duper easy. No fretting, okay.
The only deviation from the tutorial we will make is for those of you making Option 1. Since this design uses curved piecing you will need to make your sting blocks a half inch larger, 13” x 13”, to accommodate the curved piecing step. Options 2 and 4 should make their string block paper-pieces just like Christina does in her tutorial: 12 1/2" X 12 1/2".
Walmart, Staples, and other stores with office supplies have paper on a roll that you can use for your paper-piecing. They come in a variety of widths. Just make sure that the weight of the paper is a small number. The larger the number the heavier the paper.
Heavy paper = harder for your needle to punch through when sewing = harder to tear the paper away from your fabric when you are done :)
My prototype above uses 2 1/2” strips for the string block. But you could use various widths of fabric if you like to give it more variety. The longest strip you will need to go across the diagonal of the block is 18 1/2” long for the 13" X 13" block and 17 3/4" for the 12 1/2" X 12 1/2" block.
If you would like to make your strings with 2 1/2” strips you will need the following sizes for each block:
(1) 18 1/2” X 2 1/2”
(2) 16 1/2” X 2 1/2”
(2) 12 1/2” X 2 1/2”
(2) 8 1/2” X 2 1/2”
(2) 4 1/2” X 3”
Those last two strips are bit wider to make sure that you do not have a seam right at the corner. I wanted to eliminate bulk here to make it easier to sew later on.
Happy Sewing! And as always, post any questions you may have to this thread.