Simple strip-quilting designs: 4 techniques

Plaid Obsession quilt from Strips and StringsAsk a quilt designer how to make a strip quilt, and you’ll likely get a different answer from each person you ask. Because when you start with strips, you can take a design in endless directions. Of course, you can keep things simple by stitching quilt strips into rows, which makes for a beautiful design in itself. But you can also stack, whack, slice, slash, stagger, shuffle, and then sew strips back together. Just imagine the variations!

Below are examples of how four designers have taken strip-quilting designs to new and innovative heights. If you know how to make basic strip quilts, you’ve already built the foundation for creating any of these fun projects. Ready to take your next strip-pieced quilt to a whole new level?

Strips and Strings1. How to make a strip quilt: foundation-free string piecing

From Strips and Strings by Evelyn Sloppy

What do you think of when you hear the term “string piecing”? For many quilters, sewing skinny strips to a fabric foundation comes to mind. But in Strips and Strings, designer Evelyn Sloppy sidesteps foundations and reveals a quicker, easier way to create strippy (and wonderfully scrappy!) quilts.

Evelyn starts with straightforward string piecing:

Basic string piecing
Use a basic string-piecing technique to make “Country Manor Charm.”

Once you get the hang of the basics, Evelyn adds piecing twists and turns to create strippy triangles and half-square triangles.

Feature string-pieced triangles in “Stars of Freedom.”

Strip-pieced half-square triangles
Learn a strippy variation on half-square triangles when you make “Autumn Splendor.”

Sew strips, cut strips—see how the designs become even more interesting, while remaining just as easy to create? Evelyn also includes tips on how to get a cohesive look—even when you’re trying to use every last scrappy strip you’ve been saving.

More quilts from Strips and Strings
More projects from
Strips and Strings

Save 40% on the Strips and Strings eBook this week only.

Quilts on the Double2. How to make a strip quilt: two-at-a-time designs

From Quilts on the Double: Dozens of Easy Strip-Pieced Designs by Judy Hooworth and Margaret Rolfe

Australian quilters are known for their adventurous spirit. In Quilts on the Double, two famed Aussie quilters show how to make strip quilts with what they call “tops, tails, and sides”—triangles cut from strip-pieced units.

The steps for making these lively quilts are simple:

  • Choose two groups of contrasting fabrics.
  • Choose an accent fabric.
  • Cut the contrasting fabrics into wide strips.
  • Cut the accent fabric into narrow strips.
  • Sew strips of the accent fabric to strips from the two contrasting groups.
  • Cut the strip sets into triangles.

Strip-quilt technique from Quilts on the Double

When you make one set of strip-pieced units as directed, you’ll have enough to make a second quilt that’s completely different from the first. Some examples:

Strip quilts from Quilts on the Double
“Crimson Cranes” uses a great border fabric as the starting point. The contrast between the two groups of fat eighths in these quilts is made with red prints and black prints. The accent color is light beige.

Strip quilts from Quilts on the Double
The contrast between the two groups of fat quarters in “Beach Brollies” (“brollies” is an Australian term for umbrellas) is created with stripes and hand-dyed-style prints. The accent color is red.

Strip quilts from Quilts on the Double
In “Bunting,” the contrast between the two groups of fat quarters is made with red prints and blue prints. Because all the blue prints have white backgrounds, they read as lighter than the red prints. The accent color is bright blue.

Make more than 20 different quilts and get over 50 setting ideas that use different combinations of the tops, tails, and sides units in Quilts on the Double. Save 40% on the book this week.

Accent on Angles3. How to make a strip quilt: stack, slash, and shuffle (with a twist)

From Accent on Angles: Easy Strip-Set Quilts by Susan Purney Mark

Create bold, unusual quilts that begin with simple strip piecing, and then incorporate one clever twist. Susan’s twist, which she calls Shattered Angles, uses accent strips to give her quilts a complex look.

In Susan’s words: “My basic technique for a Shattered Angles quilt is what I call ‘stacks of fun.’ It’s easy to work through the steps: cut fabric is stacked and slashed or cut at intervals, the stacks are shuffled so that the fabric order in each stack is changed, and then the fabrics are sewn back together with narrow strips added for contrast.”

Strip-quilt technique from Accent on Angles

Once you grasp Susan’s technique, you can use it in borders, quilt centers, repeat-block quilts, and more.

Possibly Posies from Accent on Angles
“Possibly Posies”

Making Waves from Accent on Angles
“Making Waves”

Asian Elegance from Accent on Angles
“Asian Elegance”

Learn more about Accent on Angles in this recent post; save 40% on the book this week only.

Instant Bargello4. How to make a strip quilt: bargello + novelty prints

From Instant Bargello by Susan Kisro

Got a stash of novelty fabrics collecting dust? Feature them in a bargello quilt! Susan’s instant-bargello technique makes it a cinch to show off pictorial prints. Simply sew novelty-fabric strips together, crosscut them at varying widths, and then sew them back together, staggering the layers.

Bargello technique for strip quilting

Remember why you bought that novelty fabric in the first place? Use Susan’s technique to share the story or scene that came to mind.

Lake Superior bargello quilt
“Lake Superior.” Fabrics featuring pebbles, leaves, sky, and sea combine in a tribute to Susan’s home state of Minnesota.

Harvest Hill bargello quilt
“Harvest Hill” spotlights a picturesque town with overflowing vegetable gardens and pumpkin patches.

Ghosts in the Graveyard bargello quilt
Bat, cat, and jack-o’-lantern motifs create a spooky story in Susan’s “Ghosts in the Graveyard” quilt.

Save 40% on the Instant Bargello eBook, this week only.

Who knew strips could be so versatile? Thanks to all of these authors for sharing their strip-piecing ideas. Remember, this week you can save 40% on all of the books featured above.

What kinds of quilts have you made with strip-piecing techniques? Share your strippy story in the comments!

13 Comments (leave a comment)

  • Three steps forward is at the top of my to do list…what a great idea for a stash buster!
    Julie NM

    —JuileNM on April 30, 2013
  • I really think this is a great idea…I live in Arizona,so have lots of desert fabrics, will try this strip quilt out of the scraps..thanks for sharing it…

    —Enee on April 30, 2013
  • Years ago I took a class and made a bargello design on a sweatshirt. It was a quick and easy way to learn a technique that can be applied to a larger project.

    —Rosemary on April 30, 2013
  • I’ve made speed jelly roll quilts using strips. Thanks for the great book reviews!

    Sallie on April 30, 2013
  • I have made two string quilts that used the snowball effect only with two triangles-that means two corners. I do string my ends in hopes to make more, only it is a very slow and takes lots of thread. For I will not cut small strings less than 1 1/2″. It would just has to happen. Not enough room to save the mess. I started Bonnie Hunter Mystery string quilt a few years back only to find out I only had 1% of the colors needed. It really became UFO.
    Did get some ideas for some of my strings.

    —Linda Christianson on April 30, 2013
  • Wow! I can’t wait to have enough (Yes!) scraps to start to do a string quilt like Evelyn’s. I was impressed with the Instant Bargello designs also.

    —Janet Sabol on April 30, 2013
  • I love making "crumb" quilts. I use the strips left from bindings and it really is scrappy!

    —Kathy on April 30, 2013
  • I’ve made several string quilts, and usually I put a particular color on the diagaonal in the center of each square, and work both sides from the center. My center color, then becomes a pattern for a geometric quilt. I designed a string quilt, which everybody loved, but never marketed it. String quilts are fun,easy to do, and takes up a lot of your left over fabric from previously made quilts. My foundation backing has been muslin, telephone book pages, and used dryer sheets. I used a paper towel once, but that has a lot of fuzz to it.

    From my strips: I’ve made Bargello quilts, circle in a square in a square (my own design), Log Cabins, Courthouse Steps, Japanese Lanterns, and using a pie draw a circle and add "Strings" like on a square. Trim off excess fabrics, fold circle into 4 quarters and press, cut on pressed line, blanket stitch quarter circle into the corner of a a bigger square and make a scrappy Drunkard’s Path. The list is countless as to what you can do with strips.

    Keep smiling,

    Lynnita Shipman on April 30, 2013
  • Love the idea of strip quilts, i haven’t tried any YET, but especially like the novelty prints idea.

    —ELIZABETH CROSS on April 30, 2013
  • I would love to try any of these as my first quilt! They all seem like a great way to start my new avenue of quilting and I can’t wait to start! Cindy B.

    —Cindy B. on May 3, 2013
  • I love the Halloween Bargello quilt. I can not wait to pull out my Halloween fabric. Great quilt! Thank you for a great idea.

    —Sonia Webers on May 4, 2013
  • I have made a strip piece and don’t. Know what to do with it.
    It is a jelly is about 14-18 inches and probably need one more cut.So then what
    I was hoping to have a quilt for my queen bed. Do you think I could. Add around it with 5″ squares in the same. Colors? Any one have an idea?

    Lynda on January 19, 2017
  • Love the quilt work, I will use this for my quilt work as well.

    Janet Wallacce on February 19, 2018

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