My History With String Quilts

As I’m getting close to starting another string quilt, I looked back in my photos at all the string quilts I’ve made in the past.

The second full size quilt I ever made and first quilt I ever made with Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics was this string quilt.


It was my introduction to string quilts and my introduction to KFC fabrics. I made it entirely from scraps that a friend of mine gave me. It started my obsession with string quilts and with KFC fabrics.

I’m a big fan of scrappy quilts especially when they’re made from bright and vibrant colors and patterns. And this green Kaffe Roman Glass is one of my favorites. For me, it had to be on the back of my first KFC quilt.


Every block has the black and white strip. This black and white fabric is not a KFC fabric. You may have noticed that I love a graphic black and white fabric with Kaffe fabrics! It’s kind of my thing.


I had this completed quilt in my closet for a couple of years when I gave it to a friend last fall. She had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and was getting ready to undergo surgery and follow up treatment. She absolutely loves it and uses it constantly — the biggest compliment you can give me when I gift you a quilt!

My next string quilt was very similar, but made from bright batik scraps. The black and white center strip was whiter than the one on the KFC string quilt and I cut the center strips 2 inches wide rather than 1.5 inches. The combo of those two things really lightened up this quilt in my eye.

string15I sew almost exclusively with either batiks or Kaffe fabrics. I make a lot of zipper pouch sets out of batiks and they generate a lot of wonderful scraps. I just love the bright colors and free form designs.

The green backing on this quilt is a batik that I bought for almost nothing a few years ago. I bought a bunch of it thinking I’d make a bath robe and lounge pants out of it. I lost enthusiasm for that project and thought it was perfect for this quilt.

I gave this quilt to a friend of mine who was going through a rough patch and needed something cheerful and bright in the midst of a dark and dreary NW Oregon winter. She has embraced it as a part of her everyday life.

The next string quilt was actually two. My nephew and his wife were expecting twin daughters three years ago, so I made these adorable pink and purple string quilts out of mostly Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics. There are one or two batiks in each one.

string6The quilts are made from basically the same KFC fabrics in different colorways. There are a few fabrics that appear in both quilts. I had so much fun making these and was incredibly happy with how they turned out. And they are so soft and comfy.


I had so much fun picking out the quilting design for these. It’s gentle swirls with little hearts. So perfect!


The last string quilt that I made was made at the same time as these baby quilts. It was for my great nephew who would be the big brother to these twin girls. I wasn’t quilting when he was born, so this was a good opportunity to make one for him. He is a huge fan of super heroes so that was the theme for this quilt.


I was really stumped on how to make a quilt out of super heroes and the owner of a local quilt store suggested that I buy solid colors that appear in the super hero print and use those for the sting quilt top, and then use the super hero fabric on the back. This was an approach that felt much more natural to me.

I found a really fun star fabric that I used as the center strips and borders for the front of the quilt, and I pieced it with the super hero fabric on the back.


The quilting pattern has stars in it! How perfect!


This fabric was really out of the ordinary for me. But I was pretty happy with how this turned out.

I’m really getting itching to start on my Aboriginal string quilt, but I’m not allowing myself to do it until I finish the scrappy hexagon top, and make some good headway on assembling my crumb quilt.

Let’s see if I can pull that off, or if I go rogue and go right to the string quilt!

20 Replies to “My History With String Quilts”

  1. Love your string quilts. Would love to make one sometime but would have to gather quite a few scraps since I have just found Kaffee fabrics and love them. Is there a particular tutorial that you follow to always have a center strip that ends up like a sashing. Love how you combine black/white with the colors?


  2. Go rogue – and go right to the new string quilt! Strike while the idea is hot. Your string quilts are just wonderful and I love the photos with the dog in the corner of the picture. I, too, work primarily with Kaffe’s AND batiks, but there are absolutely no solids in this house! Funny how we gravitate to certain fabrics to the exclusion of others. I’m thinking Kaffe Fassett must be a billionaire by now. Wear your mask and stay safe!


    1. BJ; so funny. I’ve never thought about it but I also have very few solids. I have a few charm packs of off white and have no recollection of when or why I bought it. I have a few pieces of white on white that I bought several years ago and never used. I’m using some now for mask linings. But I don’t think I’ve ever bought a solid color piece of fabric! Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m a firm believer in “let the fabric do the work). I’ve been fondling fabric all day and the projects are lining up in their clear plastic boxes. Do you have any ideas for a project using hand dyed fabric? I have a big stash from when I lived in Florida. Nothing is immediately coming to mind.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think I may try combining hand dyed with Kaffe in Dresden Plates. I just love making Dresdens! I’ve just cut pieces of low volume neutrals to make a background for a collection of Dresdens that I made a few months ago. I also decided to invest in an electric cutting machine (if you know what I mean). These old arthritic hands just can’t take the pressure of rotary cutter and ruler anymore. Whatever works! I don’t want to ever have to stop quilting. It’s in my genetic makeup.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmm. I’ve never calculated it. So… let’s say you are making 10 inch squares, and plan a quilt that is 7 blockx by 8 blocks. For a total of 56 blocks. That means you need 56 16-inch long strips that are 2 inches wide. Assuming Kaffe fabric is 42 inches wide, you can get 21 strips out of each 16 inches of fabric. So three 16-inch widths should be enough… or 1.5 yards for a quilt this size. I’d go with two yards just to be safe, and then you’ll have some fun scraps to play with.


    2. … and… if you plan on using the black and white for a border like I did in my batik version, you’ll need more fabric. I always buy more than I know I’ll need. Fabric can vary pretty significantly from bolt to bolt. I want all of it to come from the same bolt.


  3. Love all of these string quilts too! Do you use a foundation for the strings? Jenny Doan talks about using a paper foundation to get the center string straight and so I was wondering. Did you ever make an aboriginal string quilt?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually used the Missouri Star paper foundations. Someone suggested to me that in the future I might want to use the paper foundations, but only stitch the first three pieces to the paper (sew the two seams on either edge of the center strip only). For the rest of the strips, use teh paper as a guide to make sure your strip is long enough, but fold the paper back out of the way when you sew the seam… that way you can use the paper to keep your block square and to do the final trimming, but you don’t have to remove all that paper! I will try this approach when I do it again.


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