How to work with Quilt Patterns

When looking for a quilt design, there are a myriad of quilt pattern options to choose from. That can be a little overwhelming. Here are a few basics that might help.  Most quilting patterns have some things in common: A list of fabric requirements and directions for cutting the fabric, assembling the pieces, and laying out the quilt. 
Some tips to consider when working with most quilt patterns:
  • It’s a good idea to read the pattern all the way through before you start cutting into your fabric or sewing – helps to get ‘the big picture’ of the project.
  • Some patterns give experience levels such as Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Start with something simple for your first projects and save the more advanced designs after you’ve gained some confidence. Saves some possible frustration.
  • Patterns can be found individually packaged, in books, magazines or online. among others are great resources for free quilt patterns and tutorials.
One of the fun aspects of quilting is coming up with your own design. Some things to consider:
  • Graph paper and a ruler are helpful tools.
  • Keep in mind the basic rule of quilting: always sew with a ¼” seam allowance. (This might seem really small if you are used to sewing clothes.)  Therefore, you need to add that seam allowance on to all four sides of your shape.
For example, if you want to make a quilt out of 4” squares, you need to allow ¼” of fabric on all sides of the square for the seam allowance. This means you need to cut a 4 ½” square.  If you want to create a 4” block out of four different squares you want four 2”finished squares, which means you will need four 2 ½” squares. This will create an unfinished block at 4 ½” and a finished block at 4”.
Yes, quilting does require math. (See? Your elementary school teacher was right!) I look at it as a way to keep my brain from total atrophy and an effort to stave-off Alzheimers.
For this project, as we continue on our Quilt Along, we are going to make a baby quilt measuring 42″ x 42″ using 81 4″ squares with 3″ wide borders on all sides. Therefore we are going to cut 81 4½”squares. The quilt will be laid out 9 x 9 squares.
Fabric requirements are:
  • nine 1/8th yard pieces for blocks
Most stores will cut 1/8th yard pieces, but not all. Might be a good idea to ask first. I am using 10 different fabrics because I want two prints in each color, so I’m getting ten 1/8th yard pieces. Because I’m nerdy like that. If it’s easier, you can use 5 ¼ yard pieces. Just depends how many different fabrics you want in your quilt.
  • ½ yard for border
  • 3/8 yard for binding (this is the outside edge that finishes the quilt)
  • 1 ¼ yards for back
[If you choose to use Charm Packs instead of cutting your own fabric squares: these squares come pre-cut at 5″. You will need 2 Charm Packs. You can either cut them down to 4 ½” squares and use 81 squares like the quilt above, or you can leave them at 5″ and will only need 64 squares for a quilt layout of 8 x 8 squares. Either option works. Everything else will be the same: sewing, borders, quilting, etc.]
Up next Tuesday in our Quilt Along Series: Cutting Fabric
In other random thoughts:  
I’m quite pleased with the result.  But now I need an autumnish quilt.  I have scraps left over (and more fabric) and I think I’d like to make one like Denyse Schmidt’s string quilts. A new project to add to the bottomless list! A couple of weeks ago I taught a Table Runner class based on the infamous Table Runner tutorial. (I love quilt/sewing classes. It’s so fun to visit with other women and sew at the same time.) I decided it would be a good time to make a new autumnish table runner. I also like that it still looks good with my vintage turquoise pot-thingy.


  1. says

    Hi Amy…<br />I love your fall table runner, your 1970&#39;s sewing book and your turqoise pot-thingy…LOL<br />I thinkk the string quilt would be so fabulous!<br />xx<br />lori

  2. says

    I love the fabrics and colors too. To me, it feels like fall without screaming fall – does that make sense?<br /><br />Tara<br />

  3. says

    I LOVE the fall colors. I&#39;ve been wanting to make one of these for SO long. I think I will start with a fall one. Thanks for sharing. (I&#39;ll post when I do and link back here.)

  4. says

    very nice. i used to quilt ALL the time, now not so much~I&#39;m in a crochet mode now. I used to make tons of table runners~the easy way (stitch, flip, and iron) ;) my own method~or so i thought lol. lovely!

  5. says

    I need a new table runner now that our house furniture shuffle is done. I would like to somehow make black, brown, yellow(like your yellow on the end) and some deep purple look good together. And then it sounds like Halloween and I go do something else :)<br /><br />Yours is lovely.

  6. says

    What a cute fall table runner! I have been wanting to make one but I haven&#39;t sat down to do it. Possibly this weekend!<br /><br />Kelli<br />xoxo<br />

  7. says

    Love the colors in your table runner! Fall is my favorite time of year – I should get cracking on one for my table too! Great idea and an easy way to change the look in the kitchen!

  8. Denise says

    I am inspired! Only one dilemma for me. I have a round table and would like to make a round one. Do you have any hints or tricks for binding a round quilt?

  9. Laure says

    I&#39;ve been lurking around your blog for a couple of months now and loving it. My mother is an obsessed quilter. I, on the other hand, don&#39;t really know how to sew. I&#39;ve recently decided to dust off the machine I got as a gift (from my mom) a few years ago, and I&#39;m determined to complete your beginning quilting tutorial! Thanks for posting it, wish me luck :)

  10. says

    I love all your table runners! Thanks for a great easy tutorial. So easy to make up new ones as the seasons change. I have never quilted as you go, looking forward to doing this today, thanks again!

  11. says

    I love how easy you make it to quilt. I have a question, though: I found this awesome pattern for a crib quilt, but I want to make a quilt using a super queen batting. How do I convert it?

    • says

      Would you like to make the same squares quilt only in a queen-size version? Since this is a very basic patchwork design I would just pull out some graph-paper and a calculator and expand the quit to the size you want. First subtract the border widths you&#39;d like to use from the finished measurements and then divide the remaining number by 4.5&quot; (the size of the finished squares). That will

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