Simple Stripes Quilt Tutorial

The Simple Stripes Beginner Quilt Tutorial


This is an easy-peasy beginner quilt.  I made only 16 blocks for a baby quilt. It would be super easy to just make more blocks and make it into a throw or bed-size quilt.  I made this quilt with cute, big-print fabrics in mind.  In the past 5 or so years really big, graphic prints have become so popular and readily available.  Using those kind of prints, you can make a simple quilt and really let the fabric do all the design work.

Fabric Selection

So let’s start by talking about fabric selection.  For this quilt I knew there would be 16 blocks so I chose 16 different fabrics (because I’m kind of a fabric obsessed person.) But you could use as few as 6 or 7 different fabrics and have the design just as scrappy.  Most of the fabrics I used are from the collection Nest by Valori Wells for Free Spirit.

I chose 5 different colors for my quilt: Orange, pink, gray, green and white.  Make sure you get a balanced number of fabrics per color.  Notice that all my oranges aren’t the same shade, nor my greens. Having different shades of the same color will give your quilt a lot of depth. Fabrics colors that are too matchy-matchy (i.e. all the greens are the same shade) will make your quilt feel flat. [This isn’t necessarily bad – just depends on the look you are going for.]

Now let’s talk about pattern.  I mentioned earlier about all the wonderful big, graphic prints that are available right now. They are so fun to work with and make a really interesting quilt. But (and here’s the big but) if every print you use is all the same scale (size), your quilt will look out of control. There will be no place for your eye to rest and the beautiful big prints will just get lost.  What we need is contrast. Not only in color, but in scale.  So again, I divide my fabrics into groups by scale: Large, medium, and small. Above are my large scale prints.  Even though that scalloped stripe isn’t a large design motif on its own, the width between the stripes makes it a large scale print.

These are my ‘medium’ size prints. They are still busy and colorful like the large graphic prints, but the design repeats are closer together.

Here are my small prints.  These prints almost read solid.  They aren’t solid, but if you step back and squint your eyes they look like a solid color.  These prints provide the contrast of the busier large and medium size prints to really show them off.  They provide a place for your eye to rest.  You can use actual solids – which I sometimes like – but again, the design becomes more flat. With a small print ‘solid’ you get more ‘texture’ or interest to the quilt.

Making the Quilt
Okay, now that we’ve discussed fabric, let’s make the quilt top!

For this quilt top you will need:
  • Sixteen 11+” x 13″ rectangles 
    • (you can get 2 of these pieces from one fat quarter or three from 1/3 of a yard)
  • 1 ¼ yard for backing
  • Four 2½” strips (x width of fabric) for binding

(I say 11+” – like 11 ¼” – because if you cut your fabric slightly wider than 11″ you will have more room to ‘square-up’ at the end. But if you can still get by with 11″ if you’re careful.) Now, cut each block in the same way. Starting at the left, cut off a 3″ strip, a 1½” strip, a 2 ¼ ” strip and then leave the fat strip at the end.

You can easily stack and cut at least four blocks at a time and you’ll be done cutting everything for this quilt in no time.

Now, lay out all of your blocks, mixing and matching the 1 ½” and 2 ¼” strips. Stack each group together and  take them to your sewing machine.

Begin with your 3″ strip and put the 1½” strip on top, right-sides together. Sew the strips together using a consistent ¼” seam – usually the right side of the presser foot will work.  Here is one of the keys to quilting: Always use a consistent seam allowance. Makes everything match-up nicely.  You may have to go slow at first – and that’s okay. The more you do it, the faster and more naturally it will come.

Now sew the 2¼” strip and then the remaining large strip that is the same fabric as the first. Repeat for all 16 blocks.

Take all your blocks to the ironing board and press the seams all to one side. Then press from the top to make sure all seams are flat and clean.  (This is the second tip for neat looking quilts – don’t skip the pressing!)

Now take your nicely pressed blocks back to the cutting mat and trim the edges to create 11″ square blocks.

Lay out your blocks, rotating the stripe, until you get a design that is pleasing.
Pick up each row and sew the blocks together 4 across for each of the 4 rows.

When the rows are sewn together, you are going to press the new seams to one side, with the seams going in opposite directions for alternating rows. (This is going to make it easier to sew those rows together and those corners to match-up nicely.)

When you get ready to sew the rows together, pin the seams at the intersecting corners. Make sure the pressed-seams going in opposite directions but up against each other. This will help the corner to match perfectly and not be too bulky.  Sew rows together (again using that consistent ¼” seam allowance).  Press the finished quilt top from the top.

Voila! You have a simple quilt top finished that fast and easy.  You are free to quilt however you choose.  For some good machine quilting tutorials check Crazy Mom Quilts or A Quilt is Nice. I love how the quilting finishes a quilt – making it softer and giving it way more personality. AND I love how the quilting hides a lot of the flaws – of which I usually have many!

When you are ready to bind your quilt (the fabric folded over the end of the quilt to cover your raw edges), I can help you with this Quilt Binding Tutorial. Once again, it’s SO much easier than it looks. Your friends will be so impressed.

Here is another example of a quilt made with a very similar technique.  This quilt was made mostly from Heather Bailey’s Nicey Jane collection.  Notice the variation of print sizes: small, medium, and large as well as the color variation – i.e. not all the pinks are the same shade. This quilt comes from this Off-set Square Pattern tutorial.  Here is a picture of a quilt this style for boys.

I hope that some of this helps and gives you the courage to try making a quilt if it’s something that’s been too scary before. And don’t be afraid to finish with something less than perfect. That’s what gives quilts personality. 🙂

Since writing this tutorial I’ve had people ask me about fabric and size requirements to make a twin-size version.  This pattern would make a really quick and simple twin size quilt. Here are the specs:

For your pieced blocks at least (16) 1/3 yards of fabric
  you can get (3) 11.5″ x 13″ pieces out of 1/3 yard of fabric (which is roughly a 12″ x 42″)
5/8 yard binding fabric
5 yards backing fabric

Assemble 48 blocks.

Layout your blocks 6 across by 8 blocks down.  These 48 blocks will give you a quilt top that is 63″ x 84″.  

If you want to make it any bigger I would suggest a 5″ border all the way around – that would give you a 73″ x 94″ twin.  (If you do this buy 1.5 yards of border fabric and increase your backing to 5.5 yards)

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  • Reply
    June 28, 2011 at 6:20 am

    I love this quilt! It gives me a little bit of a nautical feel, like preppy plaid shorts and Sperrys.<br />Bookmarking!

  • Reply
    Stray Stitches
    June 28, 2011 at 6:25 am

    Your quilts are beautiful! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial 🙂

  • Reply
    Judy Bagwell
    June 28, 2011 at 6:42 am

    I love this quilt. The colors are great.

  • Reply
    Victoria Paige @ Boutique Uniquely
    June 28, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Great tutorial! Such a pretty yet simple quilt. My favorite kind! I love the little birdie fabric, too.

  • Reply
    June 28, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Very pretty! I like it a lot!

  • Reply
    June 28, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Thanks for the tutorial! I&#39;ll add it to my &quot;to make&quot; list!

  • Reply
    June 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    This would be a great quilt for new quilters. In fact, I sent this link to a friend who just asked me for leads to easy and fast quilts to make.<br />Thanks!

  • Reply
    Pamela Nees
    June 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Great quilt! I&#39;m going to make one b/f the summer is over!! thanks for the great instructions!

  • Reply
    June 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Great project…. Doesn&#39;t look like a &quot;newbie&quot; quilt. I always say when you share your talents with others it always seems to come back ten fold….. If we don&#39;t teach others quilting… it becomes a dying artform…. what a shame…. Thanks for giving to others…

  • Reply
    June 28, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Love the birds! I can see doing a quilt for my 4 year old grandson with a few sharks or dinosaurs maybe?? Could be fun. Thanks for the great tutorial.I think I can make this quilt!<br />Have a great day.

  • Reply
    Deborah in Atlanta
    June 28, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Awesome quilt. I have some Jetsons fabrics I bought for a quilt for my granddaughter (she adores the Jetsons). I wish I had some other fabrics I could put with those Jetsons fabrics that were &quot;outer space&quot; because this would be just what I need to make her something quick. I love the fabrics you chose – you really have an eye for what looks great together.

    • Reply
      Sharon Harris
      December 12, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      I know this is a very old post… But wouldn&#39;t it be neat to be able to find several other space shows in fabric…just a bit here and there. A fat quarter of Lost In Space, or maybe of other cartoons of that era…Flintstones…Yogi Bear… Sounds like Jetsons is a great place to start!

  • Reply
    June 28, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    What a charming quilt… I think I&#39;m going to have to try this one.

  • Reply
    June 29, 2011 at 2:59 am

    This looks great, and easy too…I may tackle my first ever quilt today 🙂

  • Reply
    June 29, 2011 at 6:28 am

    i love this!! thanks for sharing i hope i get to try it out sometime

  • Reply
    The Cotton Floozy
    June 29, 2011 at 7:15 am

    It was awesome meeting you last night and finding our &#39;Sheffield&#39; connection!<br /><br />Your quilts are *mind-blowingly* GORgeouS! I love your site, and I&#39;m going to show my mom so that she can make me and my family some more quilts because I am a pathetic mooch like that.

  • Reply
    Layne Bushell
    June 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I loved this quilt the first time around and I love it the second time around! So adorable, and easy!!!!!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  • Reply
    August 1, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    We just had our fourth grandchild (first granddaughter) on Friday .. my first quilt top was a disaster because I washed the flannel and didn&#39;t know how to lay it out .. it had no interest or depth and was bland .. I&#39;m so glad you showed how to select large, medium and small prints and how to line them up .. I am thinking about trying this as you have made it so easy to follow! Thank you

  • Reply
    January 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    How many &quot;blocks&quot; do you need for a throw size?

  • Reply
    amy smart
    January 27, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Hi Jennifer – 48 blocks will make a throw size – 6 blocks across by 8 blocks down the measurements would be 63&quot; x 84&quot;. Have fun!

    • Reply
      June 18, 2015 at 8:21 am

      I just recently started quilting and came across this beautiful pattern . I am confused as to the measurements though after looking at other web sites to try and determine the size needed for a queen size quilt. Could you help me figure this out? I would love to make this quilt as a wedding gift!

  • Reply
    January 28, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I just bought bright fabrics for my 8 year old daughter to learn to sew with, and this is the perfect beginning pattern for her: straight lines, creative and simple. Thanks for the tutorial!

  • Reply
    February 29, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    I love this quilt, I would like to make a twin quilt (acutally 2), one with pinks and one with purples and this is exactly the way I wanted them to look. Thank You for such a wonderful tutorial. So far, this is the easiest blog to understand for making quilts!! <br /><br />I did not see this the first time around since I just started looking at blogs! Not sure where I have been, but I was

    • Reply
      amy smart
      March 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      Hi Barbara! Thank you so much for your sweet comment. I&#39;ve had a few other folks ask me about blocks for a Twin-size version, so I&#39;ve added the info in the post itself. I hope you enjoy creating yours!

  • Reply
    March 3, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I linked to this tutorial from my blog. I am new to all of this…I hope it&#39;s okay to do that!

    • Reply
      amy smart
      March 3, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      Sure, Suni! Thanks for sharing on your blog!

  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Hey I am sitting here trying to figure out my lay out for my fabrics since I am using fewer prints. But I am a little confused in the comment thread you said that to make a 63&quot; by 84&quot; quilt you need 48 blocks but in the edited blog post itself you say you only need 42 blocks. So math wise I think the 48 blocks makes more sense… which is right?!?!

    • Reply
      amy smart
      March 15, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      Gah! SO sorry about the mess-up! I double checked again and you&#39;re right – it&#39;s 48 blocks. (I also adjusted the fabric requirements.)SO sorry again – thanks for sorting me out! I hope I didn&#39;t mess-up a bunch of people. Eek.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 8:58 am

    This quilt is beautiful! I have NEVER quilted before, and I think this at least seams doable to me! Im making my daughter a quilt for her double/full bed. Do you have measurements for this same quilt in that siz ye? This is exactly what I want to do! Also any tips would be greatly appriciated! Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    marci sinfisi
    June 8, 2012 at 4:15 am

    if only I had seen this tutorial before!<br />I just made a baby quilt very similar in pattern… but not so nice as yours!!<br />Ill definitely try yours for my next project :)<br />thank you for sharing

  • Reply
    Becca Hartzer
    June 9, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Dear Amy,<br /><br />First off, I love your blog. I found you about a month ago, as I was preparing to take a beginning quilting class from my local quilt shop. I emailed you about buying a sewing machine and you very kindly took the time to reply. I really want to make a quilt using this pattern. My question is how should I ask my quilting shop to cut the fabric? I tried to figure it out based

  • Reply
    Becca Hartzer
    June 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    So….I bought fat quarters (as you suggested via email) and there&#39;s not enough fabric to get two blocks out of the FQ. 🙁

  • Reply
    July 16, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Hi, love your quilt and also your tutorial. I have done rag quilt but going to try these one for a twin size. How many yards in all should the fabric be? Do you mean to say 16 types of fabric ( 1/3 yard each)… sorry for the questions.<br /><br />Thank you so much and you can email me a geetsel@yahoo.com

  • Reply
    August 7, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    This is a beauty. The colors are bright and cheerful ….a wonderful blend of color….a definite Olympic champion …

  • Reply
    Linda Christianson
    August 8, 2012 at 6:35 am

    Looks so cute and easy to make. Great pictures and helpful tips.

  • Reply
    August 8, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Thanks for the tutorial. I just may be able to accomplish this!

  • Reply
    August 8, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Thanks for the tutorial. I just may be able to accomplish this!

  • Reply
    November 11, 2012 at 7:54 am

    I&#39;ve always been so scared of using large patterns but now I&#39;m going to have to get some to make this quilt!! You are sure bringing me out of my comfort zone! I love it!

  • Reply
    Jenny B.
    February 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    This is so beautiful. I am so inspired to do this as my first quilt for my daughter. Have just finished picking out all my fabrics and going to do calculations. I am making a double/full size spread. Am using your twin bed calculations and don&#39;t understand how you got &quot;Layout your blocks 6 across by 7 blocks down. These 48 blocks will give you a quilt top that is 63&quot; x 84&quot;.&

    • Reply
      amy smart
      February 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      Hi Jenny,<br /><br />Thanks for your question (and for reminding me that I had not fixed the 6×8 blocks part of the tutorial. gah. Fixed.)<br /><br />The blocks square up to 11&quot; unfinished which will make them 10.5&quot; finished when they are sewn together. So 6 x 10.5=63, yada yada. I think your idea of doing 9 x 11 will work great for the bigger quilt. It should be 94.5 x 115.5 finished.

  • Reply
    March 11, 2013 at 9:13 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    • Reply
      March 11, 2013 at 9:14 am

      Hello, I am trying to figure out the number of squares and the rest of the measurements for a full size quilt. Any thoughts? Thank you for sharing this, I am excited to make it!

  • Reply
    July 9, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Thanks for the great pattern. I am trying to adjust for an Ikea toddler mattress that measures 28×63. Any suggestions?

    • Reply
      amy smart
      July 15, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      I would make the quilt 4 blocks across by 6 blocks down – which would be a 42&quot; x 63&quot; quilt. Therefore you would start with 24 11&quot; x 13&quot; rectangles. These could come from 12 Fat Quarters or 8 1/3 yards (or more, if you want more prints).

  • Reply
    Counting Coconuts
    July 30, 2013 at 6:30 am

    Hi Amy! Thanks SO much for this wonderful tutorial. I have everything I need to quilt – a brand new sewing machine, a huge stash of beautiful fabric, and all the bits and bobs. I just need time and courage and thanks to you I now have the latter! 🙂

  • Reply
    Marina Cerra
    October 15, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Thank you Amy for sharing this! I made a wonderful striped quilt for my little following your tutorials. It&#39;s not perfect, but she loves it 🙂

  • Reply
    Tom Spalding
    March 6, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Easy, beautiful and not time consuming…a warm feeling. I am going to my machine now. Thanks. Just what a quilt should be. <br />

  • Reply
    June 5, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    This quilt is adorable! Thanks for the tutorial.

  • Reply
    Five Fast Quilting Projects, Patterns & Techniques
    March 18, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    […] Simple Stripes Quilt by Amy of Diary of a Quilter is an fast quilt pattern to whip up in a weekend. This pattern is easy […]

    • Reply
      April 2, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      I guess my problem is with my particular fat quarters – after removing the selvedge I don’t even have 10″ to work with. They all seem to be cut very poorly. I’ll just have to do the best I can. The pattern is very cute!

  • Reply
    April 2, 2015 at 10:06 am

    you cannot get two 11″x13″ rectangles out of a fat quarter which measures 18″x22″

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      April 2, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      Try cutting two 11″ x 18″ pieces. Then trim them down to 11″ x 13″. I know sometimes not all FQ’s are cut accurately. It’s really okay on this pattern if the pieces are slightly smaller. As long as they all square up to the same size in the end that’s all that matters.

  • Reply
    10 Free Fat Quarter Quilt Patterns & Projects
    May 22, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    […] Simple Stripes Beginner Quilt Tutorial […]

  • Reply
    Finished quilt – Simple Stripe | fuzzy cat quilts
    August 30, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    […] working some evenings and the occasionally weekday. I loosely followed this excellent tutorial here – but chose only three colours (pink, blue and white) instead of five. I wish now that […]

  • Reply
    Laurie Tuttle
    September 8, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Hi Amy ~ I love your blog! You are so kind & giving! I bought such fun fabric to make this baby quilt, but didn’t see any mention of batting. Did I miss it? Thanks so much ~ Laurie from CA.

  • Reply
    November 1, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    what is the size of the finished baby quilt? What size are your finished blocks?

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      November 2, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      The finished blocks are 10 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ making the quilt 42″ x 42″. But you can square them up to any size you want – as long as they’re all the same size – if you want a smaller quilt.

  • Reply
    bevely dewitt
    April 23, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    I am new to quilting and I am so excited about learning more .I love all the information from all the tutorials .They are so helpful. I am so inspired ,cant wait to make this quilt . Thank you

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