It's delightful to have Wanda Pinter's scrappy string quilt show you. It is a great example of a utility quilt. Her grandmother and great-grandmother made this quilt sometime between 1900 and 1930. Interestingly, it was never used and was cared for as a keepsake. Wanda inherited this family quilt in 1997.
Wanda's quilt is a great example of a scrappy string quilt using a variety of fabrics in color, size and shape. But be sure to note how the makers varied the colors along with the lights and darks. You can see they were focused on making the quilt look appealing to the eye. Quilts like this were often made out of need for bedcoverings but that didn't mean quilters didn't want to make them pretty.
String quilts were usually made on a foundation of either muslin or paper. Newspaper was commonly used, an early way of recycling though they would not have thought of it that way. The individual blocks would have been made on pre-cut paper squares. The finished blocks would be trimmed then sewn together. The paper was removed before quilting.
Notice in the above close up that all the "strings" are not the same width or evenly cut. This was typical as more of each scrap could be used. The strings were often set on the diagonal though not always. Some even have a few strings sewn in the opposite direction from the rest on the block, probably to use up a bit of shorter fabric.
Since string quilts like this one were usually made for everyday use the quilt maker wanted use up scraps and make a the quilt at little on no expense. But quilters are creative so they soon found ways vary how they made string quilts. The string bow tie quilt to the right is an example of a variation I've seen. Strings were incorporated into many other classic patterns.
On the following page you will see some variations that you can try. Then enjoy going on to invent your own.
p51* Soft Covers For Hard Times: Quiltmaking and the Great Depression
by Merikay Waldvogal
More Information on String Quilts