Queen For A Day

It's October and that means it's my turn to be queen for our Compass Quilters Bee. I've been looking forward to this day for weeks! It was challenging trying to decide on just one block for everyone to make. I struggle with really scrappy quilts, but in order to accommodate everyone's varying stash and access to fabrics, scrappier is definitely the way to go. That's why I gravitated to a string block. There are so many fun string block variations but what I like about this style of block is that you can add in a solid color stripe to give it some uniformity. So my fellow worker bees, your task is to make 2 blocks like this:

This block is 11.5" square and is made up of 4 smaller blocks, each 6 inches square. So for 2 finished 11.5"blocks you'll be making a total of 8 strip blocks. Fabric requests include the center strip to be white, whatever white you have access to is fine (white on white print is also okay if that is all you have). For the other strips, I love polka dots and geometric prints so those are always safe bets. As for colors, it's up to you but I noticed that I kept gravitating toward pinks, greens, and blues.

Now that you know what you'll be making, let's focus on the how-to. Because I want the center to be a specific width, the easiest way I found to accomplish this is to use a foundation paper piece. You can either create your own or use the downloadable PDF.

Supplies Needed:
  • paper, cut into a 6" x 6" square (or use this pattern template, available here)
  • 1 strip of white fabric cut to 1.5" wide and about 9" long
  • various strips of colored/print fabric, varying widths and lengths (I used 6 strips for each block)
1. If you're using the download, please be sure to print it at 100%, not scale to fit. I couldn't figure out how to add one of those scale squares so just measure the square to make sure it is 6"x6" and that the diagonal line is 1" away from the corners.

If you opt to make your own, you need to mark your diagonal lines on your 6"x6" paper. Do this by measuring out 1-inch from the right of one corner. Do the same to the opposite corner and draw a line like so:

You will line the edges of your fabrics up with this line. It is not your actual sewing line.

2. Now place your white strip down on the paper, lining it up with the line and covering the diagonal points. Place a colored strip on top of the white, with right sides together. Pin in place. Adjust your stitch length on your machine so that it is smaller since you'll need to rip off the paper later. Mine was set to 1.4.  Sew a quarter-inch seam along the edge of the strips.

3. Press away from the center, toward the colored strip.
4. You will continue to add strips until this side of the square is covered by fabric. You can sew right over the paper if you choose, just like paper-piecing, but I preferred to fold the paper back out of the way before I sewed my next strip, like so:

Keep adding fabric strips, remember to trim any excess from your quarter-inch seam allowance before pressing.

5. Once one side is completely covering the paper, you need to add colored strips to the other side of your white strip, using the same method from steps 2-4.

6. Once the paper square is completely covered, it's time to trim down your block. Flip it over so that the paper is on top. Using it as a guide, trim your block down to 6" x 6" square.

7. Tear away your paper, and voilĂ  - a cute finished block!

8. Make 3 more blocks, using the steps above.

Assemble Your Finished 11.5" Square Block
Once you have 4 of the string blocks arrange them so that the white strips form a square and sew together. I found that pressing these seams open helped to reduce bulk.

And that's it! Despite all of the pictures, and the lengthy instructions these really do come together quickly, especially if you have your strips already cut out and ready to go. If this technique is new to you, a great video resource is Craftsy's 2012 Block of the Month class (it's free!). It's taught by Amy Gibson and she does a fantastic job of showing you this technique in lesson 5. Just note that for the first block in this lesson, she uses a fabric foundation piece, making it 2 layers, whereas I'm having you use paper that will be torn away. Have fun and if you have any questions let me know. I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Here is my 2nd block.


  1. A great block and will have a go at this I like the strips being assorted widths rather than all the same

  2. SO love the string blocks! I did one quilt, without foundation and honestly did not like the process at.all. :) BUT I love the look and your blocks are wonderful! Can't wait to see the resulting quilt! I really like the idea of adding a uniform solid in each block! Brilliant way to pull it all together!

  3. I love these blocks and look forward to seeing what you receive and what you make with them.

  4. Ohhh boy, I can't wait to get started on these. I've been wanting to do one of these for me, and I was going to do the same thing with the center strip, but I was thinking of putting black as mine. :)

  5. I have a box do strings at home ready to go. I think I understand the main points: white strip in the middle with a finished width of 1 inch (cut size 1.5 inches). Scrappy strings around. I can do that!

  6. Really like this block, have seen different versions and it always looks great. Thanks for the detailed instructions, I like that.


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