Quilting represents the process of sewing two or multiple layers of fabric together in order to create a thicker padded material, often to make a quilt or a quilted garment. Usually, quilting is made with three layers. The first layer is the top fabric or quilt top, insulating material or batting, and backing material.
However, different styles have been adopted over the years. Today, I will talk about block quilt and how to make it. If you’re interested in learning how to make a block quilt, keep on reading and enjoy the ride.
What Is a Block Quilt?
Contemporary quilters take for granted the old-fashioned step-by-step processes of making quilt blocks from small fabrics, then putting them together into the completed quilt top. Those processes seem good and intuitive to old quilters because from their point of view, that is how quilts have always been made.
However, they have not always been constructed that way. Old-fashioned processes evolved over time as people found ways of getting the best out of their materials, space and time. For instance, the earliest American quilters usually made their quilts by putting small fabrics or strips to an ever-growing top. This was too difficult to work with as the top fabric approached its entire size.
Therefore, people found a way to simplify their work. They began breaking their projects into easily manageable blocks in many shapes.
Piece by Piece
Every name given to a quilt block pattern had something to do with quilters’ religion, environment, and different events in the history of America. I realized this after doing my research on the topic. The names granted to famous quilt blocks are deeply rooted in the history of the United States. Some of the earliest quilt blocks contained blocks created of 4 squares or 9 squares of fabric put together in different ways.
Those with 4 square blocks were called 4-patch while those with 9 squares were known as 9-patch. It is known that one of the earliest 9-patch blocks was the Roman Stripe known as the Roman Stripe Zig Zag and Roman Square. Another manner people used their scraps of fabrics in their patterns was to combine various fabrics of the same color, both prints, and solids, as being the same color, providing in quilt tops with more textured visual effects. Those folks laid the foundations of blocks on which we rely on today.
What Is the Average Size of a Quilt Block?
The only thing you need to know when making a block is that all of the squares should be the same size. No matter if they are 3.75’’ x 3.75’’ or 12’’ x 12’’, as long as they have the same dimensions, everything is okay. These days, most quilt shops sell a wide selection of precut squares in packs in various standard sizes including 10’’ x 10’’, 5’’ x 5’’ or 2.5’’ x 2.5’’ you can pick from. These are the average sizes of blocks.
How to Make a Quilt Block – Step by Step
Making a quilt for the first time can seem difficult and overwhelming. You have no idea where to start, what tools you need, and how to get a quilt sewn together rightly. I am here to help. Just follow these simple steps on how to make a quilt block and you will make your first quilting masterpiece in no time.
Step 1: Choose Your Pattern
If this is your first quilt, I recommend starting with something smaller in order to learn the basic ways and techniques as you go. Baby quilts are ideal for beginners. Choose a basic block such as half-square triangles or patchwork squares to begin. If you want to make a very basic quilt block and make enough to construct a small quilt, choose triangles, half-square triangles or the popular Log Cabin quilt block.
Step 2: Gather Materials and Tools
You will need some basic sewing and quilting tools before you start working on your quilt. When buying fabric for your first project, keep an eye to the demands in the guide or pattern that you are following. A pattern will state how much of each type of fabric to get, plus binding fabric, backing fabric, and batting.
If you want to make a simple block and you’re not sure how much fabric you will need, try to determine the size of each block. After, decide how many blocks you need to make the size quilt you imagined. Yes, it seems difficult if you’ve never done it before. But you can always ask for help from a friend, check the online quilt fabric calculator, or talk to the staff at your local shop for some indicators that can help you.
Step 3: Cut the Patchwork
Sewing together accurate patchwork begins with precise cutting. If this is your first quilt, you probably don’t know much about cutting. Please, check out this tutorial on how to cut the patchwork accurately.
Step 4: Stitch the Patchwork
Creating the ideal straight stitch seam can help your final project come together without unmatched or wavy seams. This Quarter-Inch Seams helpful guide will teach you how to sew your patchwork precisely.
Step 5: Baste the Quilt
Getting together the quilt sandwich and basting your layers together is a very important step. If you do it right, the quilt sandwich will not pucker, bunch-up or turn distorted during the quilting process. To do it right, you will need a quilt backing fabric that is at least 5 inches wider on the sides than your quilt top, quilt batting that is a few inches wider on the sides than your quilt top, and a big, flat space to perform.
Step 6: Choose Your Stitch
You can choose from different ways to quilt the layers of your quilt sandwich together including straight line quilting, following the patchwork patterns with quilting, quilting with an overall pattern, or finding a way that suits you best. Which type of quilting you pick depends on your personal preferences or needs.
Free-motion quilting represents a technique that includes moving the fabric under the needle in order to make designs. You can practice on scraps of fabric and batting before trying free-motion quilting on your first project. You can also watch YouTube tutorials and read step-by-step guides on how to do it.
Step 7: Bind the Quilt
Adding binding completes the edges of your project nicely after quilting. You can select from different methods of binding. Quilters usually choose one method and stick to it. If you do not want to hand-sewn the completed binding, try another method that includes machine sewing and make your work simpler.
Tips to Create a Perfect Quilt Block
Now that you know how to create a simple quilt block, it is time to learn how to make the perfect quilt block. It is not that difficult. You just need to apply a couple of simple tips to create a perfect quilt block.
Tip 1: Starch Before Cutting Into Your Fabric
No matter if you pre-washed your fabric or not, press it and use starch in order to add more control and stability. This helps in many ways including matching seams, rotary cutting, and other aspects of quilting.
Tip 2: Make Sure Your 1/4’’ Seam Allowance Is Precise
This is usually the most difficult thing to get correctly. If your blocks are turning out too big or too small, it is probably because your seam allowance is not right. Learn how to get your seam allowance pinpoint.
Tip 3: Use Pins in Order to Keep Your Sewing Pieces Aligned
I recommend using pins for the pieces that you’re going to patch together, especially at the beginning and end of your seam. If you don’t have a built-in dual feed foot, it is possible that the top piece will get pushed by the presser foot in front of the bottom piece. This will cause both the bottom and top of the seam to not match up. However, having a pin on the spot will assist you in keeping everything in order.
Tip 4: Use Strip Piecing Techniques Whenever You Can
This will not only provide better but also more accurate results. Most of the time, I analyze my patterns to determine if I can make it more cost-effective by cutting strips of fabric instead of individual squares.
Tip 5: Align Seam Intersections and Pin Them Well
I usually pin most intersections with a single pin put at an angle. This way, the pin catches both sides of the seam allowance. Also, the pin can stay longer before you have to take it off. For intersections where diagonal seams need to match, I put a setting pin on both sides of the seam allowance. Another popular method is the glue basting seam allowance. Anyway, the method you pick depends on your preferences.
Tip 6: Use Your Seam Ripper When Necessary
Do not be lazy or scared to use your seam ripper when you need to. Using it always pays off, trust me.
Tip 7: Press Your Seams Carefully
Press your seams flat. Leaving a small tuck at the seam will make your project inaccurate. Also, I always press my finished quilt blocks too. Sometimes, you can grow or shrink a quilt block simply by pressing it.
How Do You Sew Your Blocks/ Rows Together?
I have done my research on the topic and found out that when sewing strips together people sew their first one way than another way on the next rows so they do not go wonky. However, when sewing rows of squares together, that is necessary because you are nesting the seams which keep things more true.
Other people patch the rows and blocks together. They patch the rows together left to right and then right to left. You can also sew blocks into sets of two going across the rows. Take the top two blocks and sew them to the next row in order to create sets of four blocks. You continue sewing in that manner and end up only having to sew one long row together. This technique will make your life simpler and easier.
If you are making sashing, it is easy to get it going wonky from some stretching. If you are sewing a long strip of sashing, treat it like a border by measuring your column/row. Then divide it into at least fourths, make your sashing the exact length, divide it into fourths and match those points. Sew the other side of the sashing in the opposite direction. It is super difficult to avoid all stretching with a long piece of fabric.
Free Quilt Block Patterns/ Quilt Block Free Patterns
If you’re a beginner, you will find this list of free quilt block patterns very useful. Below each pattern, I will upload a video on how it is made, so you can learn from it. Let’s find your favorite pattern together.
Quilt Block Free Patterns
These quilt block free patterns include projects for both experienced quilters and beginners. You will see quilt blocks of all dimensions, from miniatures to extensive designs. Many of them are multipurpose and include step-by-step guides on how to construct either an entire quilt or a group of blocks for beginners.
Rosebud Quilt Block Pattern
This is a traditional block that had many names over the years such as the bright star, the hummingbird, and crow’s foot. It is a delicate-looking block with barbed tips that give you the space for additional color play. You can try it with a neutral/white scene or add “flowers” on a black background. The block ends at 12 inches square.
Patchwork Scottie Dog Quilt Block Pattern
This is another traditional quilt block constructed from a mixture of bars, one-quarter-square triangle units, squares, half-square triangle units, and bars. The pieces for it are all quick pieced and rotary cut.
Round the Twist Quilt Block Pattern
If you prefer interlocking designs, I recommend that you try this block. It is a 10 inches block pattern and it is similar to some of the Celtic twist patterns. It is also perfect for beginners because it is easy to make.
Sawtooth Quilt Block Pattern
This pattern can be transformed dramatically by changing the color value of its patches. That is relevant for all patchwork quilt blocks, and an important detail to keep in mind when you select your new fabrics.
Mosaic Pinwheels Quilt Block Pattern
Bright pinwheels opposed to a blue sky make a brightly colored design suitable for both kids and adults.
Sarah’s Choice Quilt Block Pattern
This quilt can be constructed in different ways. It lets you assemble it quickly using simple flying-geese units and half-square triangle units at its center along with square corners for the pattern’s outer rows. You can see cutting instructions for 4 different sizes including 4 inches, 6 inches, 8 inches, and 12 inches.
Mock Basket Weaver Quilt Block Pattern
This pattern confirms that easy and simple quilt blocks don’t have to be monotonous or boring. Instead of assembling stripes within each patch, you will simply pick 2 striped fabrics. Then change the ways and stripes they flow when you construct the blocks. You will get a quilt that appears like a basket weave but without all of the fuss. Try patching this block in whimsical, colorful striped to make a crazy quilt for kids.
Maple Leaf Quilt Block Pattern
Next, I want to present the Maple leaf quilt block pattern. All the blocks are patched in autumn colors of yellow, orange and red with light or medium blue setting with completed block sizes of 9 inches square.
Double Pinwheel Quilt Block Pattern
You can choose any color you want for this pattern. The center pinwheel is a mixture of bright yellow or dark blue. The pinwheel additions are lighter versions of both colors to help add movement to the block.
Bento Box Quilt Blocks
If you would like to go a bit scrappy, this version of the bento box quilt block pattern is perfect for you. The block ends at 12 inches. It is also perfect for enthusiastic beginners because it is easy to construct.
Easy Bow Tie Quilt Block Pattern in 3 Sizes
This pattern is perfect for beginners because it is easy to make. It does not contain set-in seams. Every seam you will patch is a simple straight line. The block includes cutting instructions for 3 different sizes including 12 inches, 6 inches, and 3 inches.
Buckeye Beauty Quilt Block Pattern
This is another super easy quilt block pattern that beginners and intermediate users will adore. It comes with many chances for contrast variations you can play with. The finished block size is 10 inches square.
Cactus Pot Quilt Block Pattern
Another traditional pattern that you will fall in love with is the popular Cactus pot quilt block. It has just enough half-square triangle “flowers” to provide the design with a prickly, nice texture.
However, not so many that is become a struggle to stitch. You can pick a color theme or create your cactus pot scrappily.
Patchwork Cat Quilt Block Pattern
This pattern has become much traditional over the years. It is slightly different from a paper pieced cat pattern. You can experiment and dress the cat up and down as you wish. It finishes at 12 inches square. Beginners will adore this pattern because just like most of the patterns I presented, it is simple to make.
The block quilt represents a traditional sub-unit made of multiple pieces of fabric patched together. In this article, I wanted to teach you more about this technique and show you how to make a block quilt.
Hopefully, my guide will help you make your first quilt block and be proud of your creation. Feel free to ask questions in the comments below. Also, do not forget to share this valuable info with the passionate quilters in your life. I will be waiting for photos of your first block quilt in the comments. Happy quilting!