Tips for better blocks and tops


We receive blocks and tops from many people who participate in HeartStrings and chose not to finish the entire quilt themselves. Most are well pieced and assembled but we do get in blocks and tops that have some issues. Below are some tips to make sure that your blocks are the best they can be.

While string quilts are meant to be kind of wonky and don’t require the precise matching that other quilts do, they still need to be well constructed so they’ll last.

While you can use whatever foundation you choose for blocks and quilts you are finishing yourself, those that are sent in should be from 100% cotton fabric.

The foundations should be cut 10 inches and then the blocks squared to 9.5 inches after piecing the strings. We sometimes find that all the blocks in the top are not trimmed to 9.5 inches making for a quilt that does not lie flat.

When adding strings, it is important to press. Besides making a neater finished block, it offers an opportunity to ensure that the seam you just sewed is intact without any gaps. A big issue we encounter are blocks that have open seams. Because strings by their nature are uneven, it’s easy to miss catching the edges of both when piecing. Take time to check your blocks as you are pressing and while you’re doing that — pull out any of those little strings between the seams. The volunteer quilter will appreciate not having to do it for you.

Once the blocks are neatly pressed and trimmed, you’re ready to assemble. My two best hints are to use a walking foot and to press the seams open. I use a slighter larger than 1/4 inch seam for assembling these since I’m going to press them open. The walking foot will help you handle the extra layers from the foundation and pressing the seams open will decrease bulk at the block intersections. Yes, it takes a little more time but the resulting top will be easier for volunteers to finish.

One thought on “Tips for better blocks and tops”

  1. a very clear and concise set of helpful tips! thanks for taking the time to remind everyone, including myself! I so appreciate your time and thoughtfulness.


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