Beyond Patchwork: String Piecing Tutorial

Posing on Point Block Tutorial

I am so excited to be sharing this tutorial with you today! When I was approached by Stash Builder Box to be their February Ambassador, I was beyond excited. I knew that I wanted to come up with a quilt that would not only highlight the 3 yards of fabric that I would be receiving, but also showcase each fabric. I was limited in that I could only use the three fabrics that I was sent, but I was also allowed to use a solid. I typically use a minimum of 10 prints in a quilt, so you can imagine how this was a challenge for me! As I was spent time brainstorming designs, I grew more and more excited about the project. I just loved how the fabrics were playing off one another, and I felt that using three fabrics was not limiting, but rather forced my out of my comfort zone and helped me create something that I wouldn’t have otherwise!

Posing on Point Tutorial

As I began working on the first block to test, I realized how much potential it has. The Posing on Point block is just big enough to be used as a mini. It could be given boarders to be used as a placemat. It is the perfect size for a little pillow, and of course many blocks can be made to create an entire quilt.

Posing on Point Tutorial

I hope that you enjoy the tutorial below, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Posing on Point

Supplies

  1. Fabric Pencil and acrylic marking ruler
  2. Fabric Scissors
  3. Rotary cutter and mat
  4. Acrylic ruler for cutting strips and squaring up
  5. Sewing Machine
  6. Iron and board

Fabric Requirements/Cutting

  1. Approximately 20-25 strips of fabric. Please read through the entire tutorial before cutting your prints in order to make sure that your strips are long enough to cover your background fabric.
    • Strips should be cut in a variety of widths ranging from 3/4″ to 2.5″ wide.
    • At least (4) strips need to be 12″ in length. The remaining strips can be shorter, down to at least 3.5″ in length.
  2. (4) 2.5″ squares in a variety of prints. The example uses 3 different prints.
  3. (4) 6.5″ squares for background. The example uses Kona Snow.
  4. Please note:  In my example block, I have (3) prints that I am working with as strips and 2.5″ squares in the corners. I also added some strips of Kona Snow (my background fabric) to the (3) prints, giving me (4) fabrics to use for string piecing all together.

Posing on Point TutorialInstructions

Block is comprised of (4) string pieced 6.5″ unfinished squares that will measure at approximately 12.5″ square unfinished when pieced. Use a 1/4″ seam throughout, and press string blocks as directed. Press seams open when piecing together Posing on Point.

Counter Clockwise from Top: Fig. 1, Fig. 2, Fig. 3, Fig. 4)

Counter Clockwise from Top: Fig. 1, Fig. 2, Fig. 3, Fig. 4)

  1. Using a fabric pencil, draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the wrong side of your a 2.5″ square (Figure 1). Be sure to note any directional prints that this time when choosing which diagonal to mark.
  2. Place (1) 2.5″ square, right sides together, onto (1) 6.5″ background square.
    • Sew the two pieces together, stitching directly on top of the diagonal line that you drew (Figure 2). If you are using a thicker thread, you may need to sew just to the right side of the marking in order to stay consistent with this seam throughout your remaining blocks.
  3. Using your acrylic ruler, use the 1/4″ marking on the seam you just sewed and cut away the corner of the fabric towards the outside of the square to reduce bulk (Figure 3).
  4. Use a hot iron and steam to set your seam. With your background square facing right side up, use high heat and no steam to gently open up and press the fabric. Be gentle here to avoid stretching on the bias. Once your corner is open, use steam to press the seam so that it is flat and crisp (Figure 4).Posing on Point Tutorial
  5. Prepare for String Piecing
    • Using your fabric pencil and marking ruler, mark 3/8″ in from the right on the bottom edge of your 6.5″ background square. Repeat this step marking 3/8″ down from the top on the left edge.
    • OPTIONAL: Draw a 1/4″ line on your first strip. This step is great if you do not have a 1/4″ foot on your machine or if you are unable to use the edge of the foot you are using to guide your 1/4″ seam.Top: Figure 1 Bottom: Figure 2Top: Figure 5
      Bottom: Figure 6
  6. Place your first strip, right sides together, on to your background square (Figure 5). You are going to be lining up the bottom edge of this strip with the two marks that you made earlier (Figure 6). Your 1/4″ line should lay right on top of the top left and bottom right corners of your background square. I like to think of this as your anchor strip because it is the first strip that is creating and maintaining that nice diagonal line that all of your other strips will be based off of!Posing on Point Tutorial
  7. Sew using the 1/4″ line that you marked, or by lining up your 1/4″ foot with the bottom edge of your strip.Posing on Point Tutorial
  8. Use a hot iron and steam to set your seam. With high heat and no steam, gently open up the fabric strip and press it towards the bottom corner of your background square. Once your strip is open, use steam to press the seam so that it is flat and crisp.

    Top: Figure 7 Bottom: Figure 8

    Top: Figure 7
    Bottom: Figure 8

  9. Begin piecing off of your anchor.
    • With your background square right side up, lay your next strip right side down. Make sure that the edge of this strip is lined up exactly with the raw edge of your anchor strip, and that the edge of the strip extends beyond the edge of the background square. Figure 7 shows the direction in which the fabrics should be facing (background with anchor: right side up, new strip, right side down), but the strip is not lined up and is not extending beyond the edge. Figure 8 shows everything properly lined up and ready to sew.Posing on Point
    • Sew 1/4″ in from the raw edges of the anchor and new strip, completely securing the anchor to the background square and sewing down one side of your second strip.Posing on Point
    • Use a hot iron and steam to set your seam. With high heat and no steam, gently open up the fabric strip and press it towards the bottom corner of your background square. Once your strip is open, use steam to press the seam so that it is flat and crisp.
  10. Continue adding strips in this manner, matching up raw edges and then pressing the fabric open, until the entire side of the background square is covered.Posing on Point
    • When you are using strips that are the width of fabric off of the bolt (40″-44″ long), you can trim them down before you begin sewing to make them easier to manage and maneuver. If you are doing this, you need to make sure that you are not trimming the strips t0o short. I like to make sure that there is about 1/2″ – 1″ of overlap beyond the background square. When in doubt, sew first and trim second!
  11. Trim to square
    • Now that the bottom corner of your background square is completely covered in strips, you need to trim your block and remove all of those unsightly strip ends hanging over the edge! After giving your block one final press, bring it to your cutting mat and flip it over so that the wrong side is facing up.Posing on Point
    • Using the edges of your background square as a guide, take your rotary cutter and acrylic ruler and cut away the ends of the strips hanging beyond the edge of the background square.Posing on Point
  12. You have now completed (1) out of the (4) blocks that are needed to complete the Posing on Point block. Repeat Steps 1-11 (3) more times, yielding 4 blocks all together.Posing on Point
  13. Lay out all 4 blocks, arranging them in a way that looks aesthetically pleasing, trying to balance some of the colors and width of strips. The secondary square-on-point pattern will begin to develop if you choose to sew four or more Posing on Point blocks together, so don’t worry too much about that at this stage, or if you are only making one block. Right now we just want to make sure that our square-on-point that is floating in our background fabric is lined up nicely, and we have matching points!

Piecing Your Block

You are now going to sew your top right block to your top left block and your bottom right block to your bottom left block. When you are finished, you will sew the new top unit to the new bottom unit, completing your Posing on Point Block!

  1. Take your top right block and fold it over on top of your top left block, right sides together.
  2. Pin in place
    • In order to pin, focus your attention on where the top two edges of the center on-point square creates a point. In my example layout above, you can see that these edges would be the red/pink grid fabric and the gold strawberry fabric in the top two blocks. Fold back your top fabric to make sure that the bias lines are laying exactly on top of one another. I have seen some just look at the edge of the fabrics while they are pinched together to make sure they meet up, but I really don’t like this method. I think it is important to fold back your top fabric at least 3/8″ and look there, because that way you are checking that the fabrics are toughing closer to where you are going to be creating the seam! You aren’t sewing on the edge, you are sewing 1/4″ away from the edge, so that is where you need to check your points (see image below).IMG_2144
    • Place one more pin towards the opposite end of the edge to make sure that it doesn’t shift while you are sewing. Since you have some additional layers of fabric to sew through, it isn’t as easy to ease the fabrics straight as you sew. By placing another pin, you can make sure that your edges line up and don’t shift out of place. Posing on PointYou will be able to see your marks from Step 5 in the Instructions, and can use those as a guide for your second pin.
  3. Sew 1/4″ away from the edge, removing pins as you sew, backstitching at each end. I really really don’t recommend sewing over pins here, especially since you have some thicker layers to sew through.
    • Use a hot iron and steam to set your seam. Press your seams open to reduce bulk. Flip your unit over so that it is facing right side up, and give it a good press with steam to make sure that it is going to lay nice and flat. Allow your unit to cool on the ironing board, right side up, so that your seams won’t creep up as the steam dissipates and the fabric comes back to room temperature.
  4. Repeat Steps 1-3 with the bottom left and right blocks.
  5. Sew top unit to bottom unit
    • I once again recommend pinning here. Because there are a number of layers, diagonals, and points, if you take the time to pin, you will increase your chances of having gorgeous crisp lines on your finished block! Begin pinning in the center, and work your way out.

      Top: Fig 9 Bottom: Fig 10

      Top: Fig 9
      Bottom: Fig 10

    • Again, fold back your top fabric at least 3/8″ and line up your seams at that point (Figure 9). When you pin, put the tip of your pin in about 1/4″ down (Figure 10). This will help you secure the fabric right in the area where the seam will run. Whenever I pin seams together like this, I always pin to the right of the seam. This way, when I start sewing, once my needle hits the beginning of the open seam, I can stop with my needle down, remove the pin, and continue sewing. My needle down in the seam (or right before it) will hold the fabrics in place and keep them from shifting when I remove my pin.
    • Sew with 1/4″ seam, making sure to backstitch at each end.
  6. Use a hot iron and steam to set your seam. Press your seams open to reduce bulk. Flip your block over so that it is facing right side up, and give it a good press with steam to make sure that it is going to lay nice and flat. Allow your block to cool on the ironing board, right side up, so that your seams won’t creep up as the steam dissipates and the fabric comes back to room temperature.

Finishing

Ta-da! You have finished your Posing on Point Block! If you are interested in fabric requirements to make this block into a full quilt, stay tuned. I am going to be releasing a mini-pattern with all of the fabric requirements listed out for 5 sizes of quilt! YEA!

Posing on Point

Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments here, on Facebook, or on Instagram!

Happy Sewing!

Meg

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