This same type of quilt is exactly what brought me to quilting 12 years ago. Simple, modern looking patchwork like this will always be my first love.
I wrote a tutorial for these type of “Stack and Whack” blocks way back when…so this is an update to that tutorial with some variations for you to try. There are pros and cons to this type of block construction, but overall this is a great method for beginners, or if you want to make an easy quilt without having to think too much. Which is me…always. It’s also a perfect way to dip your toes into improv piecing.
To start: Figure out what size of blocks you want to make. My starting squares in my quilt are 8 1/2″. That’s my favorite size because you can cut 4 squares out of a fat quarter or 1/4 yard. Your finished blocks will be 1 1/2″ smaller than your starting squares. Here’s a simple chart if it gets confusing:
- Layout 2 of the squares to make two blocks. I used a white and a print square, but you can use two prints or any combination. Place them on top of each other right sides up, matching up all of the edges.
- Cut a horizontal straight line along the top, in my example I cut 2″ down from the top edge. Repeat on the bottom edge, again my example I cut 2″ up from the bottom edge.
- Cut a vertical line on the center portion, in from the right edge, and repeat with the left. I cut 2″ in from the right edge, and 2″ in from the left edge. This will create a square, or rectangle in the center depending on how wide or narrow you cut your edge strips.
- Layout the pieces from the two cut squares as shown.
- Sew the side pieces to the new center square, right sides together, press seams out.
- Sew the top and bottom pieces to the center units, right sides together, press seams out. Don’t worry about the overhang, or matching up the edges, you’ll trim that next.
- Align the block on the cutting mat, and trim off the excess top/bottom strips to straighten the sides.
- The two blocks will measure 1″ smaller than your starting squares (mine are 7 1/2″).
My favorite part about making blocks using this method, is that they are easily changed and customizable without doing any tricky math.
Below are some examples of different blocks made with the same 8 1/2″ squares by cutting the strips different sizes. You can use these as a guide and make up your own…you don’t need any specific measurements, just eyeball how wide or narrow you want your strips and cut. You can’t mess these up…so have fun playing with them!
- Top, bottom, and sides strips are all cut 1 1/4″ in from the edges.
- Top strip is 1 1/4″, bottom strip is 3 1/2″. The right edge strip is 1 1/4″, and the left side is 3 1/2″.
- Top, bottom, and sides strips are all cut 3″ in from the edges.
- Top is 2″, bottom is 1 1/2″. Right side is 4″, left side is 1 1/2″.
If you are making a lot of blocks, you can stack and cut four squares at a time, and make four blocks at a time to speed things up. I kept a stack of my 8 1/2″ square on my cutting mat, and when I had a free 10 minutes or so I’d go cut 4 more squares and quickly sew up 4 blocks.
Layout the squares and rotate blocks to avoid adjacent seams if there are any, then sew the blocks into rows, and sew the rows together to make the quilt top.
Here is a handy chart if you want to make a different quilt size using the 8 1/2″ squares like I did:
Keep in mind that for my quilt, I used half white squares and half print squares. So for example the Crib size requires 48 squares, so I cut 24 print 8 1/2″ squares, and 24 white 8 1/2″ squares. You don’t have to use white…you can do this with all prints or any background fabric as long as you start with the required number of squares.
Remember that you can get 4 – 8 1/2″ squares from each fat quarter or 1/4 yard (maybe even 5 squares if your yardage is wide enough). You can get 16 squares out of a yard of fabric, maybe even 20 squares if your yardage is wider than 42 1/2″.
If you’ve never made a quilt this way I highly recommend doing it at least once, and if you know someone who wants to learn how to quilt, this is a great method to start them off with.
Happy stacking, cutting, and sewing!