String Quilts Love, Tia Pat Style

I keep rolls of fabric strips, ranging from one to two inches wide, in a box in my sewing room. In another box, I keep 12 inch squares cut from newspapers.

Every day, or every two or three days, I sew a few strips onto the paper squares, diagonally, starting in the middle. Light colors on one side, dark colors on the other side. I wait until I have a pile of 10 before I trim them all to the same size and tear off the newspaper. Sewing one block takes about 10 minutes.

My only expense is thread. I use old shirts, dresses, tablecloths, bedspreads, prom dresses o lo que sea (whatever).

I sew with a no-frills Bernina, and sometimes, an old Singer treadle machine. The Singer is an exact carbon copy of the sewing machine my mother used when she taught me to sew.

A straight line. That's all it takes to make a string quilt.

A block a day keeps the doctor away.

In another era (my teacher days), I taught young men and ladies how to make these simple quilts. They made a few blocks every week. For some, it became a semester project. For others, two.

The harder their class load, the more they'd sew. I never had to tell them that the cognition center of the brain is next to motor section and that any activity in the motor section fires up the cognition section. They found out that sewing really helped them think.

"Stop!" I'd say, when I'd catch them trying to rip out a seam from the front of misaligned blocks, "There's an easier way to undo." (Undo, they understood undo.) They learned to undo from the back using the simple pick and tug process my mother taught me. No scissors or clips needed.

They all learned how to use hair clips to hold the binding in place while they stitched it by hand. "Everything has two or more uses." That was my class motto.

This was the only time I ever used new fabric for a string quilt, courtesy of an anonymous donor's $200 gift card. "For the quilts." That's all the card said.

And people donated their leftover fabric stashes, too.

A few students insisted on being exact. Every square had to have the same fabric in the same place. While others just followed the half-light, half-dark pattern

I used four blocks to demonstrate the entire quilt process.

So, yes, I like to make simple string quilts. They're really easy. And I have found that easy and simple is what gets people started, on anything.

Created By
PatrĂ­cia Martinez-Lopez
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Credits:

"String Quilts" by Pat Martinez-Lopez.

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