Tuesday, May 14, 2013

String-A-Hex Block Tutorial

Rachel over at Stitched in Color is having a String Fever sew-a-long and she just announced some killer prizes. But don't enter and dilute my chances of winning. Seriously.

I love, love, love using up scraps. It makes me feel like I am saving the environment which brings me an endless smug satisfaction. I wanted to try a strip paper piecing using equilateral triangles and thus the string-a-hex block is born. 

Each triangle has a unifying strip of white fabric that when pieced will make a hexagon. You can vary the position and width of the white fabric to get different sized hexagons or you can choose a uniform design.

1) First make some 8.5" equilateral triangles. Take a piece of printer paper* and line up the 60 degree line of your ruler with the bottom of the paper. Cut along the long edge of the ruler.
* I used an old journal article. Scientist's houses are full of em

2) Rotate the ruler and do the same to the other side. In the end you should have a triangle that is 8.5" on each side. The width of standard printer paper is 8.5" so this is the largest triangle you can make from this particular type of paper. But feel free to make any size triangle you want.

3) Piecing the blocks is almost as straightforward as strip piecing a square. Stack 6 triangles and fold the top point down. Make sure your crease is parallel with the base. This is easy to do when you used lined paper. Then place the white strip along the crease (either side, just be consistent).

4) Place the next strip right side down and line it up with the white. When you are working from towards the center point make sure the next strip overlaps completely with the previous one so that it will cover up the paper once it is sewn. Press the seam.

5) When piecing from the inside to the outside of the triangle you have to pay a bit more attention to the fabrics you chose for the next strip. Let's entertain some options:
This red piece is too short!! If you sew it on there will be lots of visible paper.

This piece is more than long enough. Go for it!

If you forget to center your next strip right and it doesn't fit across the block - DONT PANIC.  

Fold back the paper along the stitch line and cut off the part of the strip that doesn't fit.

6) Keep adding strips until you cover the entire paper. Remember that the last 1/4" will be lost in the seam allowance when you sew the blocks together so you may want to use a fairly wide strip for the last piece.

7) Trim that triangle! Simply cut along each edge of the paper to trim it down to size.

Make lots and lots more. Try a solids only, or keep it monochromatic. The sky's the limit with these.
 Here are some of mine. Once you finish all your blocks decide on a layout and then piece each of the rows. Here is a good reference on how to piece equilateral triangles from Freshly Pieced Bloom Bloom Pow-a-long.

I hope you like this tutorial. If something is unclear please ask and I will address it in the comments. If you use this tutorial I would love to see pictures! Now I need to get my ass in gear to finish up mine before the Strip Fever deadline.


  1. These are so cute. I also really like your use of a literature article. :)

  2. Is this a full-fledged tutorial or a tutorialito? Either way, I like.

  3. This is way beyond full-fledged. This is a tutorialissimo.
    And you paper-piecing people are just great. I look at the screen and cannot figure it out at all, it makes me squinch my eyes and tilt my head.
    But love how you are using a thin line of unifying white. This is going to be gorgeous.

  4. I love these! You are making me want to start one of these quilts right now.

  5. Must make more strings, ASAP, so as to make your string quilt. So smart! The traveling white strip is fantastic. Consider it pinned.

  6. Do you sew your pieces together and then tear out the paper? Thanks

  7. Yes I do because it minimizes stretch on the bias cut edges.