Wednesday, June 01, 2005

String Spider-Web!

String Spiderweb!!

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String quilts are one of my favorite methods of scrap piecing. I pieced this quilt several years ago, and have had requests for the pattern, I just haven't gotten around to making up the tutorial! So here you go.

The following directions will show you how I draft my template for the spiderweb block, and then complete the piecing on scrap paper. This pattern makes a 10 3/4" block!

I keep a box by my printer where all misprints and throw-aways land. These used pages get a second life when I use them for foundations for string piecing! To start the process, take a sheet of 8.5" X 11" paper and square it off to 8.5".

Cut the 8.5" square on the diagonal from corner to corner. From one of these triangles we will cut our kite template for the spiderweb background fabric.

Take the triangle and fold it in half along the long side. Draw a line 1/4" from the edge on the long side of the triangle. This is included seam allowance. Also draw a little line 1/4" from the fold, so that the line crosses the long seam allowance line you drew. You can see a tiny hash mark on the fold, I needed to be able to SEE the fold with my ruler on it.

Measure with your ruler 2 3/4" from the fold and make a mark along one short side of the triangle. Connect the dots between where the two lines cross and the 2 3/4" dot along the top of the triangle with your ruler and a pen or pencil.

Fold the triangle in half again along the fold and cut on the cutting line. Open up your template. This is the shape you will use to cut your background kites! The seam allowance has already been added.

This ugly little piece of plastic is what I traced my paper template on to! You can see the square I drew with the diagonal line, to show me what size to cut the papers for the foundations of the spider web blocks. 

The next photo...oy! I tried to use a marker that would show, but it is pretty faint. I fold my fabric so there are 4 thicknesses. I draw around the template with a Pigma pen fitting as many as I can along the width of the fabric by juxta-positioning the template back and forth.

Cut the kites out with a rotary cutter being careful not to shift fabric as you cut. You will need 4 kites for every spiderweb block that you make. You will also need (2) 8.5" paper squares cut once on the diagonal. This gives you 4 paper base triangles for the block quarters,

I put a bit of glue stick on the center of the triangle..just one swipe will do! The glue stick helps hold the kite in place and doesn't distort like pins can when pinning through paper.

Place your first scrap wrong side up on top of the kite piece and begin to feed it under the machine. I use a small stitch, about 1.5 on a digital machine, or 14 to 16 stitches per inch on a vintage machine like a Featherweight.

I also use a denim needle when piecing through paper foundations. This leaves a bigger perforation through the paper and it tears off very easy! After you have sewn your first strip on the first triangle, align your second triangle and feed it through the machine without breaking the threads between the triangles. Reach behind the presser foot with a small pair of thread snips and cut off the back triangle. Press the first strip open. I like to piece with two foundations at once because they both act as "leaders/enders" for the other. It saves from having to deal with a lot of long thread waste!

Continue to add strips in this way to fill the triangles completely! The great thing about spiderweb blocks is you can use your smaller crumbs towards the points of the triangles! Here are 4 foundations covered. They look messy! 

But just use your rotary cutter and ruler to trim them up even with the paper foundations. I like to sew four block quarters in every "sitting" because it gets me up and out of my chair to stretch a bit while I trim. 

When trimmed, remove the paper carefully from the block quarters.

Join quarters into block halves.  Press.  Join halves to complete one block.

This is one completed block! 

The circles will appear when you place the blocks side by side. Make as many blocks as you want to make the quilt the size you want it to be.

My first spiderweb had a dirty pink background that is very hard to photograph. It just looks BLAH in photos, but it looks so much better in real life! 

Here are some pics I took of the construction process:

This is 2 rows of 7 across! See the circles appearing? My son called this "The Pizza Quilt!"

5 rows of 7....that pinky color is still not photographing right!

This pic was taken outside on a cloudy day...now it looks VERY pink, and it's not this pink in reality either! But this gives you a close up of the border fabric, and the fun strippy inset border that finished it off.

Jan 2009: A couple months back I got a phone call from an editor at Country Magazine asking if I could supply her with a picture of a string quilt to go with an article that someone had written. Could I EVER!!

What came of this was a very fun email exchange, some phone calls, and me doing a photo shoot to get things "just right". I did shots in the yard, on the porch swing, and of course in the guest room. I even sent her a pic of my overflowing wicker laundry basket of scrap strings.

I am so tickled with the story that goes with the pic. It's perfect. And there in the middle of the pic for all the world to see is my Emmy Lou (also called Louisa, and LuLu Bee)like she owns the bed AND the quilt. (which she does)

Emmy Lou left us in 2020 at the age of 20 years old.  She is missed every day.


  1. Well, it took me twice to get the lines drawn properly but I have my kite on paper and now I need to start saving my scratch sheets for blocks!
    Thanks, Bonnie, for the great tutorial and the wonderful inspiration.
    Anna in IL

  2. thank you for this free pattern. Carrie from Delaware sent me the template and I collected lots of selvages, so a spiderweb is on my agenda

  3. I'm planning on doing a miniature one of these.

  4. I just had to tell you that I enjoy your tutorials. It was quite a suprise to see that the article about the string quilt was written by a sweet little lady I go to church with. Such a small world.
    Loree Ellis

  5. Anonymous4:39 PM EDT

    THANKS for sharing this neat Tute! I'd just about given up on this Block,until I found your Inst. THANK YOU, msstitcher1214@gmail.com

  6. Again-I don't need another project but Bonnie to the rescue! I have long been wanting to make a spider web quilt but didn't like the tutorials I found on line using a full square of foundation fabric or the paper pieced tutorials I found had you start at the tiny triangle and all the wedges were uniform. I was beginning to think I would have to figure out how to do exactly what Bonnie already had a tutorial for when I found this-Hallelujah! So since I have my strings out making the courthouse steps I'll be making this as well. and yes I do have enough strings...thanks Bonnie

  7. thank you for giving away this pattern... my Grandmother tried to teach me to piece this quilt on newspaper triangles when I was about five (very far from that now) and I've had her finished quilt for many years... brings a lot of memories. so again... thank you


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