American Flag Quilt Tutorial

July 1 means it’s time for a heavy does of patriotism here in the US as we get ready to celebrate Independence Day this weekend (aka the 4th of July). I’ve always been a sucker for Americana – lots of stars and stripes, red, white, and blue,  not to mention hot dogs on the grill and a side of watermelon.  

The words of Erma Bombeck pretty much sum it up best for me:

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” 

Every summer I pull out a flag quilt that I made about 10 years ago. I shared it on my blog AGES (like 7 years ago?) but I still get questions and comments on it – even asking for a pattern. It’s such a simple quilt to make – just patchwork squares – that I decided I should finally share the dimensions and layout in a quick tutorial

American Flag Quilt Tutorial

This quilt measures 39″ x 51″ and is made of 4″ x 4″ finished  (4 1/2″ unfinished) squares and a little bit of yardage for borders and binding. I personally think the scrappier the better when it comes to this quilt.

Fabric requirements:

  • 25 blue 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ squares (at least 3 different 1/8 yard cuts)
  • 45 red 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ squares (at least 5 different 1/8 yard cuts)
  • 38 white 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ squares (at least 5 different 1/8 yard cuts)
  • 5 strips 2″ x 42″ (width of fabric) for borders (3/8 yard)
  • 5 strips 2 1/2″ x 42″ (width of fabric) for binding (3/8 yard)
  •  1 1/2 yard backing

Once your squares are cut out you are going to lay out your quilt in rows. You can either have the flag go in the traditional horizontal layout or, like mine, in the vertical layout. Either way, you want to have your blue/star field in the top left corner. Click here for the printable the Flag Quilt layout diagram.

Then it’s just simple patchwork-squares quilt assembly, sewing the squares into rows and then sewing the rows together. If you’d like more details, click here for a simple squares patchwork quilt tutorial.

When adding the borders, sew the border to the two short sides of the quilt first – this way you won’t have to piece them. Then sew the remaining border strips together end to end to add side borders. There is an additional tutorial for adding borders here.

If you are using unwashed fabric, your backing yardage should be just wide enough for this quilt. (If your backing yardage is pre-shrunk you may need additional yardage.) Quilting and binding tutorials here.

American Flag Quilt

And that’s it! A really simple, American Flag quilt. Of course, if you’d like to make a bigger size, just increase the size of the patchwork squares. You might need a calculator and some graph paper, but the basic dimensions are 9 squares x 12 squares – just multiply those numbers by the size of your finished squares to change the size of the quilt. (Remember to cut squares 1/2” bigger than the desired finished square size to leave room for the seam allowance.) You could also add wider and/or more borders to make the quilt size bigger.

I’m such a sucker for Red, White, and Blue quilts in any design. I’ve started a pin board for my own (and your!) inspiration if you want to see more:

Follow Amy Smart’s board Red White and Blue quilts on Pinterest.

And here are links to other fun 4th of July projects and tutorials and party ideas for your patriotic needs:

Follow Amy Smart’s board Patriotic on Pinterest

And now, I plan to pig-out as patriotically as possible this week. 😉

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Quilting with a Purpose – Preserving Memories

I just got home from giving a Trunk Show and lecture last night. At the end of the lecture/talk I shared a couple of quilts that have the most personal meaning to me – like my Union Jack Quilt and my Gratitude Quilt. And it got me thinking, I really need to make more quilts that have meaning to record some of our family story. I have other quilts with meaning that I’ve given away – like my Irish flags quilt and other flag quilts for friends – but I need to do more for my own family.

For Keeps Quilt Book Amy Gibson

Amy Gibson has recently written a book called For Keeps: Meaningful Patchwork for Everyday Living with this very purpose in mind: creating quilts that have meaning. But that doesn’t mean they all need to be put away in a ‘safe place’ where no on touches them. She encourages us to make quilts that are used – that in Amy’s words, “soak up meaning through our times together, that become heirlooms… because of the stories they tell and the stories they inspire.” I love that!

quilting for keeps - making memory quilts

The book is full of beautiful photos and projects to inspire you to think about as well as create quilts with meaning.

photo memory quilt

There’s even a quilt made from scanned favorite photos called Filmstrip with instructions for multiple ways to put your favorite photos onto fabric for this project. I’ve had people ask me in the past about photograph quilts and haven’t really known how to help because I’ve never made one myself. So great to have a resource to share now!

For Keeps - Quilting Basics

For Keeps also has an extensive 25-page section with lots of quilt-making basics. Everything from tools, to choosing a sewing machine, cutting and piecing, sashing and borders, quilting and finishing a quilt.  So if you’re looking for a book to give to a beginner, this one is a great resource.

2015-06-26There is also a gorgeous and informative section about fabric selection, sorting and storage.


Finally, this book is just inspiring. Not only the gorgeous photographs and projects through out, but Amy (pictured above in the book with her cute twins) also has a way with words. I met Amy a few years ago at the Sewing Summit and was struck then by what a happy and genuine person she is. That personality comes through throughout the book – reading Amy’s voice as she talks about choosing fabric or what inspires her own quilts makes you feel like you’re with an encouraging friend.

Reading For Keeps has motivated me to make more quilts with meaning to my family. So many of my projects recently have been for deadlines or patterns. I want to just slow down and interject more projects that mean something to all of us.

London Fabric collectionFor example, I’ve been hoarding collecting London/British-themed prints for years now, waiting for just the right time to do something with them. I’ve decided that time is now. My family is all reminiscing a lot more about our English adventure last summer now that we’re approaching the 1-yr anniversary of the experience. I know I need to stop waiting and just start cutting into these prints to make something we can all love and use to remind us of that experience together.

Column 1 Took the Pledge Button

Amy has issued a call out to quilters to take the pledge to make more quilts with meaning. I am taking that pledge!

You can read more about what it means to make quilts for keeps on the Quilt For Keeps website where Amy is also sharing a free pattern download for those who take the pledge. Quilters can also send in blocks using this pattern to be used for charity quilts for trauma victims. Another great way to Quilt For Keeps!

What’s going on around here…

piecing a quilt back

I keep thinking I’m doing a good job of relaxing and letting summer just ‘happen’ but then at the same time I stop and wish I were doing a better job of it. Lots going on around here – but nothing finished to share. Basically, just a lot of chaos. But good chaos, right?

I did finally piece the back to the Alison Glass/Denyse Schmidt quilt top I put together 3 months ago. I was determined to only use my stash. I try to stock up on yardage for backs when I find it on a great deal, but none of the stuff on had was the right fit for this quilt. I did have a 3 yard piece, so I pieced a color spectrum strip to make the back big enough. It always feels good to use up stash, doesn’t it? It’s off at the quilter’s right now.

cross blocks

I’ve made a few of these fun Cross blocks recently. These two are for a friend who is moving away (*sniff*). Since she’s a quilter as well I pulled out my Maker fabric from Art Gallery Fabrics for the backgrounds. You can find the dimensions for this block here. It’s a great one for using up scraps.

design wall quilt projects

I’m knee deep in a few UFO’s (Un-Finished-Objects) at the moment, and coincidentally, they all have a dark background. My design wall has never looked so dark!

My Swoon blocks are starting to return from my Bee members. (With each returning block, I get more excited for this quilt!) My Gardenvale dresdens are coming slow, but steady. But I’m not as far as I’d like to be on my Pie Making Day project. Sewing time (and blogging time) is just unpredictable in the summer…

IMG_8756  Mainly because we’re spending time here…


… and here (hiking Battlecreek Falls at the bast of Mt Timpanogos). And honestly, that’s how it should be. I’m trying to do a better job of living in the moment and embracing the essentials for now. If some sewing time pops up, I run with it, and if not, it’ll return when school starts in a few months.

quiltcon registration

One quick reminder: QUILTCON class registration opens tomorrow, June 25, at 10 am Eastern/7 am Pacific to all registered Modern Quilt Guild members! (Registration opens to the public on July 1.)

This is the third year of QUILTCON and the first time it will be held in Pasadena, California. The dates run February 18-21, 2016. I am SO excited to be going to QuiltCon this year and to be teaching at it too! I’m teaching two courses: Strip-Piecing techniques – a wide variety of tips and looks all made using strip-piecing AND Intermediate piecing – think y-seams, machine-pieced hexagons and diamond, inset seams, etc. I’m also really looking forward to taking classes – including Cristy Fincher’s Paperless Paper-piecing. Anyone planning to come?

Liberty of London gift certificate giveaway

Duckadilly liberty of london fabric shop

images from DuckaDilly

There’s something about summer that makes me crave sewing with tana lawns from Liberty of London. They’re also making me nostalgic for my visit to Liberty last summer. (sigh…) I pulled out my Liberty stars that I started making on our trip last year and have loved working on it again.

Duckadilly logo

One of the best US online selections of Liberty of London prints, is DuckaDilly. You must stop by their shop just to get your fill of eye-candy. Honestly. SO much pretty in one place! Rainbow Stash PackDuckadilly, owned by Lesley, is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Lesley has been a long time connoisseur of all things Liberty – having lived in London and studied around the corner from the Liberty flagship store. The DuckaDilly site is not only beautiful, but SO well organized and easy to navigate. They also have a new feature – a personal Swatches gallery where you can login and store and sort the prints you’re most in love with.

Rainbow Scrap Pack

In addition to yardage, DuckDilly also has multiple bundles and clubs available including the I Love Liberty monthly club where you will receive 12 different Liberty prints each month.

Rainbow Jelly Roll (1)

DuckaDilly also cuts their own precuts including Jelly Rolls, Charm Packs and Triangles.

Color Stash Packs

And Duckadilly carries a large selection of bundles and stash packs – sorted by collection, color, and size. Other items in stock include prints from the 2015 Alice In Wonderland collection and Liberty trims.

DuckDilly Liberty of London pre-cut jelly rolls

Today DuckaDilly is generously giving away a $50 Gift Certificate (!) to one of you. To enter take a quick trip to DuckaDilly and have a peek at what they have in stock. Leave a comment here telling me something you love. For a second chance, sign-up for their newsletter and leave another comment. Giveaway open until Wednesday, June 24 at midnight MST.  Best of luck! GIVEAWAY CLOSED.


Kristi says 

I would love to play with a jelly roll of tana lawn. Such beautiful prints and colors. Thanks for the giveaway!

Pie Making Day Fabric Collection

pie making day fabric

A few months ago, Brenda Ratliff owner of Pink Castle Fabrics and brand new fabric designer for RJR fabrics contacted me and asked me if I’d like to make something with her debut fabric collection, Pie Making Day.

retro fabric pie making day

When I saw the prints and colors I jumped at the chance. I think they’re so fun! This collection is definitely vintage-inspired but with some colors and geometric prints that would work well into modern quilts as well.

pie making day prints and colors-001

Here’s a view of the range of prints in each color. I’m especially smitten with that dark pink and the dark teal. Nice saturated tones in colors I’m low on. Lots of great blenders in this collection as well.

new project with Pie Making Day

I have a new quilt design/pattern all sketched out for this bundle. I’m pairing the Pie Making Day fabric with the RJR Cotton Supreme solid Gale Force gray. I’ve been anxious to get started but had a some deadlines to wrap up first, not to mention a stack of quilt tops that just need backs pieced so I can get them off to the quilters…

stack of half-square triangles

With a big deadline crossed off my list yesterday, last night I couldn’t wait any longer and started cutting into that stack. I pulled out my AccuQuilt GO cutter (I used the 4″ finished HST square die)  and made quick work of a stack of half-square triangle blocks (same size I used for my Spectrum quilt). I got the whole thing cut out last night while watching So You Think You Can Dance with my girls.

half-square-triangles orange
Now I just need time to sew it all together. I got a few HST’s chained through last night and already LOVE how it’s coming together.

Pie Making Day is available for pre-order from Pink Castle Fabrics and will be widely available in stores this summer.

*this post contains affiliate links

Irish Chain Book + Giveaway

One of the first “real” quilts I ever made was when I got married almost 18 years ago was a traditional Irish Chain quilt. (I’m embarrassed to say it’s still not finished.*insert cringe here* sigh. I am publicly shaming myself so that I will get it done. One day…) There’s just something so classic about an Irish Chain Quilt! There still some of my favorites.


Which is why I think it’s so fun that Melissa Corry has written a book of new quilt designs all inspired my the Irish Chain motif. She has taken that basic diagonal “chain” design and run with it in new and creative ways! (This post includes pictures from the book itself taken by Brent Kane [courtesy of Martingale publishing] as well as affiliate links.)

Melissa’s book is called Irish Chain Quilts and there is a great variety of patterns and designs to inspire you too.


Here are pictures of a few of them from the book. This one is called Two Paths Crossed. Love the classic spin on a traditional design and colors. Such a pretty quilt!

01-80_B1297_Finals.inddThis quilt is called Breaking Up. It is another take on a traditional Irish Chain motif, but gives it a little asymmetry and a modern spin on the design. There are more quilts that take the diagonal motif in an even more abstract direction.


One of my favorite quilts from the book is this cute little neighborhood quilt called The Village Square. Such a fun design and really fun to get together.

neighborhood quilt block

I put together my own version of this quilt to contribute to a quilt Melissa is making for charity with a combination of all the block designs from her book. Can’t wait to see how it turns out. This block was so quick and FUN to make – especially playing with the fabrics for those houses.


To see more blocks and designs from Irish Chain Quilts, check out these other stops on this blog tour:

June 8th –   Happy Quilting – Blog Hop Intro
June 9th –   Moda Lissa – Lissa Alexander + Fat Quarter Shop – Jocelyn Ueng
June 10th –  Piece N Quilt – Natalia Bonner + In Color Order – Jeni Baker
June 11th –  Amy’s Creative Side – Amy Ellis + Sew Kind of Wonderful – Jenny Pedigo
June 12th –  Quilt Story – Megan Jimenez + Diary of a Quilter – Amy Smart
June 15th –  Freshly Pieced – Lee Heinrich + Christa Quilts – Christa Watson
June 16th –  Moda Cutting Table – Carrie Nelson + Little Miss Shabby – Corey Yoder
June 17th –  Fresh Lemons – Faith Jones + V and Co.  – Vanessa Christenson
June 18th –  A Quilting Life – Sherri McConnell + Stitch This! – Jenny Wilding Cardon
June 19th –  Happy Quilting – Wrap Up & Grand Prizes
Irish Chain Quilts Blog Hop - Grand Prises
And be sure to stop by Melissa’s blog to enter to win a copy for yourself as well as a whole bundle of other goodies! Irish Chain Quilts is available now at your favorite local quilt shop, Amazon, or from publisher Martingale (hard copy includes a free Ebook.)