Modern Christmas Tree Quilt Block Tutorial

Modern Christmas Tree Quilt Blocks (2)

My pile of modern Christmas tree quilt blocks is growing. Today I’m going to share a quick tutorial for these fun and super fast blocks.

(If you would prefer a printable PDF version, there is one available to buy for $3.00 here).


Last year I made this mini quilt and shared a tutorial to make your own. These blocks finished at about 3 1/4″ x 4 1/2″. If you search the hashtag #holidaypatchworkforest on Instagram you can see some of the versions other people made with the tutorial. I was inspired by the versions that used a little more red and decided to make another one this year.

I also decided to make a bigger version with bigger trees and and quilt blocks.

Diary of a Quilter Christmas Tree Quilt

Here’s where it’s going so far. And I’m not going to like, I am LOVING where this is going! So today I’m going to share some quick instructions to make your own larger version of this fun, modern Christmas tree block!

Red Green and White Christmas fabric

Here is the pile of fabric that has been sitting in my sewing room for the past few weeks. They make me so happy. This project is a great one for busting through a lot of fabric stash. And they don’t necessarily need to be Christmas fabrics. Just pull your greens and reds together for a very Christmas-y look.

A few thoughts on choosing fabrics for your own quilt. It’s fun to see the pictures of the two versions above. They each have a different look and I really like them both. This quilt is a fun exercise in choosing a color palette, using scraps (especially the smaller version), but you can’t go wrong as you make it your own. Choose what you love. Here are a few tips that I used.

shades of green

I love scrappy and using up favorite fabrics that I’ve been hoarding collecting for the past few years. I’ve finally reached the point where it feels so good to just USE those favorites. For this quilt I raided my greens, reds, and white backgrounds with red or green prints. I personally chose to emphasize Kelly and darker greens because I wanted this to have the feel of an evergreen forest. So I didn’t use any lime greens, but I still threw in some warmer, mossy greens too, because the variety of shades gives the quilt some interest.

I went in planning to use reds in this quilt too, but ended up weeding out the really dark reds. Instead I focused on red fabrics that also have a lot of white in them, to keep the reds looking lighter. I even threw in a few reddish-pinks to again, give some depth and interest.

Tree Quilt Blocks-001

Finally, keep scale in mind too. Since I am using a wide variety of prints and I want it to have a scrappy look, I’m also trying to incorporate big scale prints where I can – especially because these are bigger blocks and they have a lot of space to show off prints. I tend to have a lot of medium and small-scale prints – which I love, but can look more jumbled if everything is the same scale. Throwing in some big prints – like the polkadots, stripes, pearl bracelets, etc – can give the quilt a lot of visual texture. Using solids as well can also provide good contrast to the prints.

You don’t need to use any of this – I thought I’d just throw it out there for the heck of it, since people often ask me about choosing fabric for a quilt. Those are some basic guidelines that can make any quilt visually interesting – especially when you’re going scrappy.

Modern Christmas Tree quilt blocks

Okay, so here’s the cutting and piecing instructions for these larger version of my Holiday Patchwork Forest – or modern Christmas tree blocks. These blocks will end up about 7″ x 9″ finished. You are going cut and piece the blocks in pairs. This eliminates fabric waste and makes the blocks come together lickety-split.

Modern Tree Quilt tutorial

The fabric requirements for each pair of blocks are:

  • Two squares 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″
  • Two strips 2″ x 8 1/2″
  • Two brown pieces 1 1/2″ x 2″

I recommend choosing two fabrics with a lot of contrast (color and scale) so that your trees will really pop.

First cut Tree Block

Stack your two 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ contrasting squares on top of each other. Place a quilting ruler at an angle and make a diagonal cut. Pull the fabric from the first cut away, and make a second diagonal cut the other direction to get your tree shape. Important: Don’t cut your triangle point right at the top of the block – leave lots of room above the point so that there’s room for squaring up and for seam-allowance.

TIP: I love cutting my trees in lots of different shapes and sizes so that they all look a little different. I think it gives the quilt more visual interest.

cut tree block

Cut your two 2″ x 8 1/2″ strips in half to make two sets of 2″ x 4 1/4″ strips.

You will now have a matching set looking like this.

sew Christmas Tree quilt block

Swap out the ‘tree’ piece and match it up with the contrasting background pieces. Sew the tree piece to the background side pieces starting with the side of the second cut. Press seam and add the side from the first cut.

(The original mini tutorial has a few more in-depth pictures about the cutting and sewing-back-together parts of this step if you need more visuals.)

crop tree block

Once your sides are pieced, square off the bottom so that the edges are straight across.

Tree quilt blocks

Sew the two sets of 2″ x 4 1/4″ strips on either sides of a brown 2″ x 1 1/2″ ‘trunk’ piece.

crop tree quilt block

Sew the trunks to the bottom of the blocks. (The trunk strips are purposely wider than the tree parts so that you have wiggle room to center the trunk under the wonky trees.)

Modern Christmas Tree quilt blocks

Square up the sides and top edge of the blocks to all the same size. Mine were roughly 7 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ unfinished (7″ x 9″ finished). But it honestly doesn’t matter exactly what size they end up, as long as they are all the same. (This is roughly improv piecing. Let go of the perfection and enjoy the freedom. 😉 )

Tree Quilt Blocks-001

For a throw-size quilt (about 56″ x 72″ + a border) I figure I need 64 blocks. But maybe I’ll get carried away and my quilt will be bigger. 🙂

Amy Smart Christmas sewing room

Here’s how it’s looking on my design wall so far. I am totally smitten! I know this quilt is not going to get finished this year (I still have quilty gifts to bind!) but maybe I can get all my blocks pieced this year and then all I have to do is assemble the blocks quickly and get it quilted in time to use next year.

Modern Tree Quilt Block

Enjoy! And if you make anything with this tutorial, tag it #holidaypatchworkforest on Instagram, or send me a link or a picture. I love seeing all the variations.  And if you’re like me with lots of other Christmas gift sewing still to do, feel free to Pin this post for next year!

Reminder, if you’d prefer a printable version of this pattern you can find it there is one available to buy for $3.00 here).


Post edit: See the finished quilt here!

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  • Reply
    Patricia Cash
    December 12, 2015 at 6:04 am

    Cute quilt, thanks for the tutorial

  • Reply
    Karin H.
    December 12, 2015 at 6:37 am

    LOVE this quilt block!! There is something so refreshing about scrappy and wonky – time to start collecting red and green fabrics! 🙂

  • Reply
    Corrie tollett
    December 12, 2015 at 9:03 am

    These trees are my favorite both sizes. I started the mini year and will finish it someday! Thank you for great tutorial!

  • Reply
    Mary ann
    December 12, 2015 at 9:46 am

    I so do not need another project right now! But this is so cute Amy it might find its way into my schedule. Thank you for taking the time to do a tutorial in this busy season.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth McDonald
    December 12, 2015 at 10:53 am

    This is wonderful! Thank you for taking the time in this busy season!

  • Reply
    December 12, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    You are the most generous soul, Amy. Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial. I am definitely making one or three of these as gifts, maybe mug rugs. 🙂 Thanks bunches.

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      December 13, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      Aw, thanks for your kind words. xo

  • Reply
    December 12, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    I’m definitely pinning this for next year! Thanks your sharing your talent with us! This is a very cute idea!

  • Reply
    Christine sherman
    December 12, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    LOVE this, thank you!!

  • Reply
    GeminiJen NZ
    December 13, 2015 at 1:17 am

    Wonderful tutorial – this is totally on my to-do list, and thank you for the tips re fabric/colour selections.

  • Reply
    lisa m
    December 13, 2015 at 3:55 am

    I would love to add some icy blues. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      December 13, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      I was thinking about blues too. I think it would look great!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2015 at 5:14 am

    I spotted this in the background of the photo in the last post and was smitten and then when you posted this I realized I had loved it last year and wanted to make one then! Thanks for the reminder about it! I will try again! It is gorgeous!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2015 at 7:21 am

    I totally 100% love this idea and quilt! I hope it is as easy as it looks ’cause I just put it on my to-do list.

  • Reply
    December 13, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    I don’t remember if I used your tutorial or someone else’s but I made a wallhanging size of the trees last year and it’s hanging in my foyer this year. I don’t have a lot of people coming over but did have the ladies from church over last week for game day. They LOVED it and I do too. Thanks for the new bigger tutorial..just may jump in again!

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      December 13, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      Oh that’s so great! I love that the ladies from church loved it too!

  • Reply
    Nancy poorbaugh
    December 13, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    So fun! I hope to get my “have to do” sewing done so I can make this. Thank you for sharing. I pinned it in case I don’t get to it soon. Happy Christmas!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2015 at 5:37 am

    wow-I keep coming back to this because its so out of my wheelhouse that its completely intriguing! I’m a cut and measure girl, but this slice here and there looks like fun. Thanks for the tutorial.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2015 at 6:57 am

    For those who celebrate Hanukkah instead of Christmas – turn these upside down & you’ve got some mighty fine dreidels!

  • Reply
    Nicole @ Mama Love Quilts
    December 14, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Very cute Amy! Thanks for sharing the tutorial. I love all the different fabrics you used. It looks like a great scrap buster!

  • Reply
    Lara B.
    December 15, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    These blocks are so charming and I adore the quilt you’ve made with them Amy!

  • Reply
    Rebecca Grace
    December 15, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Your Christmas tree blocks are ADORABLE!! I must have missed it last year! Merry Christmas to you and to the whole Smart family!

  • Reply
    Tree Quilt Blocks | Stitch It Again
    December 21, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    […] I reviewed my Christmas Pinterest page, and was suddenly inspired to start making tree blocks from this Patchwork Tree Quilt Block Tutorial by blogger Amy Smart of “Diary of a Quilter” that I had loved and pinned last year.  The blocks only have six pieces, and start with a 4 and 1/2 inch square.  (Amy also wrote another tutorial this year for bigger versions of the tree blocks which start with a 8 and 1/2 inch square, the Modern Christmas Tree Quilt Block tutorial). […]

  • Reply
    December 31, 2015 at 10:56 am

    I love this! So visually beautiful. Thanks for the inspiration. Can’t wait to start one of my own.

  • Reply
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    July 16, 2016 at 9:05 am

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  • Reply
    September 28, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Just found this from PInterest and then searched your #. I am so excited to make this. I have always wanted a tree quilt but didn’t like the traditional looks. I so love this wonky look, so very fun. Thanks, Jodie

  • Reply
    Gayle Vaughn
    October 2, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    I loved your ideas, Amy … I used 10″ Charm Packs and cut them 8″ and 2″ for the bottom … 7.5 X 9 finished … Did trees facing each other for table runner but not sure yet if I will put a stripe of plain material in the middle to separate … Want pictures?

  • Reply
    October 27, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    Stumbled across this looking for inspiration for my sister’s Christmas gift – so cute! I’ll probably switch up the colors and do purples and silvers with a few green “accent trees”. Can’t wait to get started!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Thank you Amy! Love this!

  • Reply
    from the Bellfry
    December 5, 2016 at 8:47 am

    I so love this quilt! Thanks for the tutorial on your larger tree blocks. Your explanations are always so helpful! Merry Christmas, Amy! Stay warm under that fun quilt!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Just saw your darling little tree quilt. I’m going to use up some of my stash, and make one for next year. Thank you very much.Have a warm Christmas.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Thanks for the fun project tutorial. I shall be making a few to use in Christmas mug rugs.

  • Reply
    December 17, 2016 at 3:38 am

    Super fun! Thank you! x Teje

  • Reply
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    […] block is SO SIMPLE to construct. You can find the free Modern Improv Patchwork Trees Tutorial HERE. This is the second variation I’ve made of this design. The original design was for a mini […]

  • Reply
    December 18, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Thanks for the tutorial! Looks like i’ll have an excuse to shop the year-end fabric sales 🙂

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      December 19, 2016 at 9:46 am

      Glad to provide a good excuse to shop. 😉

  • Reply
    Honey Pot Bee and potholders | Nero's post III
    December 20, 2016 at 2:36 am

    […] It was time to pick some cute scraps and make the Wild Card block for Molli Sparkles’ “The Honey Pot Bee”! Trees are made with the tutorial by ‘Diary of a Quilter’. […]

  • Reply
    The Honey Pot Bee: Wild Card Surprise! – Molli Sparkles
    December 31, 2016 at 12:42 am

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  • Reply
    December 31, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Wow! I think I see my first attempt at quilting! I am an absolute beginner and this just made me smile! I cannot wait to hit the end of the year sales. Directions look like I can understand them! Thanks for sharing! Love your quilts!

  • Reply
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  • Reply
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  • Reply
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    January 28, 2017 at 10:23 am

    […] out my Instagram page and go back a few pictures you can see some variations of Amy Smart’s Funky Christmas Trees  in […]

  • Reply
    August 14, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Love this! I have some lovely red/white/black Christmas prints I’m going to try this with.

  • Reply
    Dottie K
    September 20, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Oh my goodness! These trees are the cutest and can’t wait to make some for this year. Thank you so much.

  • Reply
    October 17, 2017 at 12:14 am

    Very nice Amy. Think about reaching out to all your blogger friends and getting someone to set up a giveaway tab like Melissa had at MissouriMel. I loved it. Found so many interesting bloggers this way.

  • Reply
    December 15, 2017 at 11:21 am

    Our quilt group did this as an exchange. The resulting quilts, wall-hangings, table runners,etc. were wonderful!

    • Reply
      December 15, 2017 at 9:14 pm

      Oh, that makes me so happy to hear! Thank you for letting me know. xo

  • Reply
    November 30, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    This is adorable, can’t wait to try my hand at it this weekend, thank you! <3

  • Reply
    Brenda @ Songbird Designs
    December 5, 2018 at 7:32 am

    HI Amy! I’m just finding this post. Quick question. Do you place the fabrics right sides together or both facing up? I’m thinking RST? but it appears yours are both right sides up. Thanks!!

    • Reply
      December 6, 2018 at 4:33 pm

      Good question. When you’re cutting, place them all right sides up so that you have identical pieces for swapping.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2019 at 9:16 am

    Wanted to let you know I’m using your quilt as inspiration for a hand painted card. Wanted to check and make sure you are okay with this.

    • Reply
      June 10, 2019 at 9:14 pm

      Sure! I’d love to see what you create!

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