Diamond in a Square
finished size approx 61" x
69" A great lap size!
I am addicted to string
quilts just as much as other scrap quilts.
I love their whimsical appearance, riot of color and the freedom from
having to match match match! Do you have a bin of over flowing small
strips and strings? These little 6" blocks may be just the ticket to
set your strings free!
These directions require the use of the Wondercut Ruler. The use
of this ruler makes these string squares easy, fun and accurate with
little effort! (terrific for anything needing a bunch of 1/2 square
triangles in no time at all!)
This is my bin of strings! :c) What a mess! But so much potential!
Into this bin I toss odd shaped pieces from squaring up backings,
tapered ends from trimming up yardage when rotary cutting, anything
that I don't feel like cutting down into uniform strips, and anything
less than 1.5". This is the END of my fabric food chain! The last stop
on the road to being "useable". But strings, as humble as they
are...can be beautiful and so fun and rewarding to work with!
This is my other friend,
Kabnet Wax Paper!
See how beat up the box is?! I get this at Sam's Club or Costco. This
is the kind of deli paper that you would find lining the food baskets
at your local deli, the size is about 10X10 and is great for foundation
piecing. It tears off very easily when it is time to remove the paper.
Other paper I like to use....OLD PHONE BOOKS! The pages aren't as
large, but the paper also comes off easily when it is time to remove
it. For this project I do like to use paper foundations because my
strings are not all straight cut strips of fabric. Some have torn
edges, some have slightly curvy edges...and having a foundation means I
am going to have a square of "manufactured fabric" from my strings that
will lie flat. If you end up sewing without foundation and your strips
are curvy, you could have bumps and waves.
It is okay to piece straight strips that you have rotary cut together
the same way as this string piecing method, without foundation. That is
Starting somewhere near the center of the paper...Place two strips
right sides together and sew through all layers using a slightly
smaller stitch length. Press the top strip open, and continue to add
strips until the entire paper is covered. Smaller strips add a lot of
interest, so even if you only end up with 1/4" of fabric showing....use
it! My strings generally run from 3/4" up to 2". I don't like to use
anything bigger than that for string quilts, they aren't as interesting
and are better used for other projects using wider evenly cut strips.
Square the piece up by making your first cut across the strips
following the edge of the paper. Then square the left and right sides
along the edges of the strips, aligning a line on the ruler to the top
edge you first cut. This ensures that three sides are SQUARE to
each other. The 4th side isn't important because it will be trimmed off
in the next step!
Using the Wondercut ruler, find the 3 1/2" marking and line it up along
the edge of your string piecing as shown. Make 3 cuts across the width
of the fabric, each using the 3 1/2" marking on the Wondercut ruler.
With the Kabnet Wax paper I can get 3 cuts across the pieced section.
If you are using other paper, you might be able to get more or less.
When I have cut the strips, this is when I stop and quickly remove the
paper. After this point the paper isn't needed, so it is easier to
remove it now, a few pieced strips at a time, than to wait until all
the blocks are made and have to deal with picking it out of seam
Take all your string strips back to the machine and stitch them end to
end into one big long worm!
I like to piece them into approx 45" lengths. Then, using the same
Wondercut ruler, cut strips of whatever background fabric you want to
use for the triangles on the outside of the string square. In the quilt
shown above, I used a white/tan shirting print. Here in this demo, I'm
using a white on cream. If you are using bright fabrics or batiks,
purple works WONDERFUL! Place your string strip on top of your corner
triangle strip with right sides together. This time you are going to
sew down BOTH long sides with 1/4" seam forming a long tube. Take your
tube to your ironing board and press well. This keeps the layers from
shifting when you cut.
Align the 3 1/2" line on the corner of the Wondercut ruler along the
bottom edge of your strip, and make two cuts. Voila! you have one block
quarter! Flip the strip and make your second cut. Continue to flip the
strip and align the 3 1/2" line on the ruler to the bottom of the
tube.....cut as many as you can down the length of the tube!
Take your stack of block quarters to the ironing board. I like to press
towards the UNPIECED triangle because the piecing lays flatter, than it
would if I were to try to fold all those seams back against themselves.
See the 'dog ears' at the corners? Cut those off! Four block quarters
make a block....and I got three blocks from the one string covered
piece of Kabnet wax paper! You might want to piece several tubes first
before starting to sew the block quarters together. This way you
putting the same fabrics together in the same blocks for a much more
With triangles there will
always be a bias edge
along at least one side of the triangle
two). When the block quarters are
sewn together, and then the blocks sewn to the sashing, those
seams stabilize the bias edges, just as sewing two bias edges of
two half-square triangles together does.
No matter what your method of half-square triangle construction
is....whether you use thangles, draw a grid and sew, cut squares and
slice them on the diagonal..which ever method you use, you are still
sewing bias to bias. :c)
Just be careful. I didn't have any problem with these at all!
I don't mind bias edges, and sometimes I prefer them because they ease
and nestle right where I want them to.
If you want to
cut your background strips for the
plain block corners on the bias to begin with, your edges at least for
the solid triangles around the pieced center will end up on the
straight grain. I find this leaves me with a more 'unweildy' stretchy
strip of fabric, and then what do I do with the remaining fabric that I
cut the bias strips from? The left over fabric that I started with will
be harder for me to use too! (or want to use because the edge is a big
angle!) I would rather start with straight cut strips and end up with
block edges on the bias.
Because the string piecing strips finish on the diagonal, they will
always have the bias on the outside edges.
Our fore-quilters who have been making string quilts for centuries
never seemed to fret about this!
So let yourself go, forget about all the rules, and just give this a
For this quilt I made 42 6" blocks and set them 6 X 7. I set the
blocks with 2.5"X6.5" cut black sashings, and added 2.5" cut red
cornerstones. I added a 1.5" cut electric blue inner border and
finished off the whole thing with a different grey/black print that had
red in it and pulled the whole thing together. My objective was to make
a vintage looking quilt from around 1900 using my own scraps and what I
had on hand. I love how it turned out! Here is a close up so you can
see the sashing/cornerstones/border fabrics I used:
Food for thought! Because these blocks are made with half-square
units, you can use them to piece ANY block pattern that uses
triangles! Try pinwheels! You can set them in any layout that works for
blocks! Try barn raising! Play with them to your hearts content and
enjoy the frugal
giggles you get from using up the humblest of fabric scraps into
something so beautiful!
This baby quilt was made for my niece using the same method....only
LARGER 1/2 square triangles. Try making them with 4.5" cuts or 5.5"
cuts instead of 3.5" cuts! Bigger blocks, faster quilt!
If you make a quilt using
these ideas, I'd love to post your
pictures here to share with everyone!!
or Comments? I would love to hear from you!! Bonnie@Quiltville.com
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