Category Archives: Tutorials

String Quilt Tutorial

*Clearing off the cobwebs*

Here’s a string quilt tutorial for my Twilter peeps. This block is inspired by a quilt I saw on Emily Cier’s Instagram feed and a tutorial I saw ages ago on Missouri Star Quilting Company.

In news that would surprise no one, this will be a rainbow quilt. Each block will be half monochromatic colour and half white/off white. This is a great block for using up strings and small scraps, so pick a colour and go mad.

Start with a 6 ¾” paper square. If all you have is regular printer paper, use that, but if you have some thinner paper, this will make removing the paper easier. It so happens that the Yellow Pages were distributed in Munich a couple of weeks ago and I happened to pick up a couple because I need to make about a squillion blocks for this quilt. They’ve made removing the paper a total breeze. Reduce your stitch length to 1.5-1.8.

Place a white or off-white strip diagonally across the square, right side up, overlapping the centre of the square by about ¼”.

Step 1

Place a coloured strip right side down, lining up the edges. Sew the two strips down with a ¼” seam.

Step 2

Press open towards the coloured side (it’s not really possible to press to the other side ;)).

Step 3

Use strips of varying widths, but no wider than 2 ½”, and try to use no more than one 2 ½“ strip in the block. Work one side of the square and add more strips, pressing open after each strip, until you’ve covered the entire side.

Step 4 Tackle the other side of the square in the same way, until the entire square is covered.

Step 5

Turn the block over and trim along the edges of the square.

Step 6

Step 7

Lastly, remove the paper.

Step 8

In terms of colour, on the white/off-white side, creams and whites are ok, as is one low-volume strip with a matching colour to the coloured side (if you have it, not mandatory). Here are examples of inserting a low-volume strip on the white/off-white side.

Rainbow blocks

On the coloured side, go nuts! I hit my orange scrap box at a sewing retreat recently.

Orange blocks

How to make a mini design board

You may have noticed that I recently started displaying blocks in this nifty blue frame.

Framed checker block

Framed checker block

My sewing studio has pretty appalling lighting and my large design wall, which is just a big piece of flannel, is tacked onto a wall that has no useful light on it. I wanted to be able to show what I’m working on in better lighting, and the only spot in the room that has any kind of natural light (also somewhat limited by our neighbour’s house) is right by the glass door to the garden.

I bought this frame at TK Maxx right after I moved to England in 2010. I planned to use it to hang jewelry, which as it turns out, I never wear, so I never quite got around to it. The frame followed me from England to Germany and I’ve spent most of the past three years trying to keep it out of my way.

The other day I was at the art store picking up some pens (I’ve been doodling a lot the last couple of years, more on that in another post) and the end display had gorgeous pastel spray-paint cans. A light bulb went off in my head and I picked up a lovely light blue.

A quick spray

A quick spray

This was a fast-drying paint, so I painted a couple of layers within the span of an hour and was good to go! Next, I cut a piece of old batting to size and clipped it into place, and trimmed the excess. A couple of nails in the wall, and now I’ve got a changing and useful piece of art.

Kiwi gives her paw of approval

Kiwi gives her paw of approval

What kind of challenges does your sewing room present to you? Tell me about it!

My Queen Block for Stash Bee

Hi, all!

This post was also posted over at the stash bee blog, but I’m posting it here in case any of you (hi, mom and Kate!) are reading and feel like sending me a block too!


Hey there, Hive 4!

I know I promised a no-measurement block in one of my Stash Bee posts, but then I saw this gorgeous block on Instagram and fell HARD.

Checker Block

Checker Block

The good part is that it’s super easy and not at all fussy, so should take you no time at all. I’ve broken down the cutting and piecing instructions into the diagrams below, which can also be downloaded as a one-page PDF.  You can also find a tutorial for this block on the Blossom Hearts blog.


I’ve been coveting a yellow-grey quilt for a while, and these gorgeous fat-eighth bundles that I treated myself to for my birthday this year were the perfect starting point.



For the HSTs, please use a dark yellow and light yellow; the difference in shade should be noticeable. The large and small HSTs don’t have to be made of the same fabrics, so if you want to raid your scrap bins, by all means do (Who doesn’t love a good scrap*? I know I do!), but try to keep the colours of the large HST and the small HST similar. If you can avoid using yellows that feature colours other than white, yellow, grey, or black, that would make me an extra-happy bunny, but don’t go buying fabric just to satisfy my whims—I’ll be a happy bunny either way.

For the sashing, please use a medium to dark grey, using the same fabric for all three pieces. If your grey is more of a medium, try to ensure that there is a discernible difference between it and the larger grey blocks.

For the larger grey blocks, please use a light grey. The two pieces can be of different fabrics, but try to keep them similar so they don’t draw the eye away from the centre of the block.

My only hard and fast request is no solids.


Cut one of each piece shown below.

Cutting instructions


For the HSTs, place the squares right sides together and draw a diagonal line from corner to corner. Sew a 1/4″ on either side of the line and then cut along the drawn line. Press the seams open and trim the HSTs to 4.5″ and 7″, respectively.


This will give you two sets of HSTs for each size – please just send the extras along with your finished block so I can make more blocks with them, or if you feel inclined to make a second block—they’re so fast and easy—I’m not going to say no ;).

Follow the diagram below to put the block together, paying attention to the direction of the HSTs. The dark/light sides should be on opposite sides of the block diagonal, in the order shown (that is, for the large HST, the darker value will be on top, and for the small HST, the darker value will be on the bottom–does that make sense?). Press seams open.


There are lots of ways to lay out these blocks for a quilt, but the order of the dark/light yellow is important because in all layouts, they keep the quilt balanced, either in terms of a potential pinwheel or even in the case of the third layout below.

Possible layout 1

Possible layout 1

Possible layout 2

Possible layout 2

Possible layout 3

Possible layout 3


I know that shipping to Europe is expensive, so feel free to fold up this sucker to fit in a standard envelope. I’ll press (yeah right. I’ll iron) it into submission on my end. Please don’t include any extras*–save your money to buy more fabric!

I can’t wait to see what you come up with—feel free to tag me on Instagram (@quiltingrainbows) with your progress shots or finished block, or drop me an email if you have any questions!

* Except, in case you’re looking to get rid of some small scraps, I’m planning an EPIC quilt for QuiltCon made up of about eleventy squillion 2.5″ squares. If you feel like throwing a scrap or two my way, I’d be incredibly grateful.