Training Tuesday: Strip Piecing, pt 1

What is Training Tuesday? For as long as I can keep up with it, I want to do some research on a topic and pull out my old magazines to learn more about that topic. I was scanning through some of my magazines for this Friday’s Backwards Block and found a tutorial on Strip Piecing. I wanted to share what it said so I came up with the idea of “Training Tuesday.” I’ll carry this out for as long as I can and we’ll see what happens.

I am all self-taught as far as quilting. I am a hands-on learner and I haven’t taken a class on quilting. I read, I look and I use my analytical mind to figure out how things are done. My quilts are far from perfect and I have a million points per quilt that do not line up. To me, that doesn’t matter as much as enjoying what I make when I figure out something new. Everything I have done in my life was through interactive learning, not schooling or book learning. It is who I am, how God made me.

Because my quilts are not perfect, do I have the right to teach you how to do something? I believe that knowledge should be shared and, even if I can’t quite make things perfect on my end, it doesn’t mean I can’t teach you something new that enables you to make something perfect on your end. I hope you enjoy me sharing what I find along the way. Most of the following will be quotes directly from the source.

Strip Piecing, Part One

Quilter’s Newsletter, March 1982

“What are the similarities and differences between “string” piecing, “strip” piecing, and “Seminole” piecing?


“The term “string” originally referred to the long, narrow strips of fabric left over from cutting a garment, strips that would ordinarily be too narrow to be of any useful purpose. Frugal quilt-makers have long made quilts from these strings, usually sewing them onto a paper or muslin base so they could be joined into a quilt top. In most string quilts no effort was made to trim the strings symmetrically, since they were already so narrow. Instead they often  joined in a random, crazy-quilt effect. In the ’20s and ’30s several quilt designs evolved from the random string quilt, among them Stylized Flower, Mountain Star, and Spider Web. For these designs the strings were sewn onto a base (paper or cloth) which had been pre-cut to a specific shape, such as a flower, petal, or triangle. The finished string shapes were then joined to create pieced blocks or units of the quilt top.


“”Seminole” patchwork, developed by the Seminole Indians in Florida during the early 20th century, consists of sewing long strips of fabric together, cutting the result crosswise into short narrow strips, and sewing them back together in various arrangements and positions to form a new pattern. Seminole patchwork has a distinctive look; it was used by the Seminoles to decorate clothing, and contemporary patchworkers have been adapting it widely for that same purpose.


“”Strip” piecing is like both string and Seminole in that it utilizes strips of fabric sewn together, but the width and color of the strips are planned (unlike string), and it is not always cut apart and resewn (unlike Seminole). Strip piecing embraces both string and Seminole techniques and is more veratile than either of them would be singly. New “yardage” can be made from strips from which template shapes can be cut, the yardage can be cut apart and rearranged, the strips may be sewn on a foundation pre cut to shape, or any combination thereof. The quilts shown on these pages use all of these variations, separately or in combination with each other.


“Quilt designs traditionally made form squares in a specific color sequence, such as Boston Commons, Trip Around the World, Nine-Patch, etc., may be made much more quickly by utilizing the stip method. Contemporary quiltmakers are creating exciting new designs from “squares” which start out as strips. Examples are Pinwheel and Abacus, shown here.

“Yvonne Pocella and Jan Myers, two expert strip piecers whose quilts have won wide acclaim, give some piecing tips and share their “secrets” on the following pages. . . .Bonnie Leman.”

So, strip piecing is what I do when I sew a bunch of pieces together and then cut them into the shapes I want. Example, when I sew three strips of a jelly roll together and then cut them up to make 9-Patches.

I have seen many people making “string” quilts but only using the leftover selvage from the fabric. The definition above says that any strips of fabric can be “string” quilted. An intriguing idea, although I think those would be too small for me. I don’t like doing tiny pieces – I have enough trouble keeping the “average” sized ones lined up properly.

pacific quilt

Seminole patchwork sounds really fun and I haven’t done much of that. Perhaps I should try it – sew some jelly roll strips together and then cut them up to make shapes and decorative quilts. Could be interesting! Or, have I already done that when I made my “Pacific” quilt? Could Seminole also be somewhat like Bargello? That’s an idea for discussion.

Next week, I will type up what Yvonne Porcella says about “Strip Piecing Hints.” Leave me a note or send me a message if you have any questions or comments about this new idea I’ve come up with, would ya?

crayon box one

P.S., I did finish The Crayon Box quilt. Here’s a picture of it. I did offset each row as I said I would so I didn’t have to worry about lining up the sashing perfectly between all the blocks.


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