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  • Writer's pictureElise

Three in one Quilt Square idea (part one)

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

Hello everyone,


I know quilting isn't really what anyone thinks of when they go to a library blog, but as we received a grant before the COVID shutdown for a new community quilt for the new library, I thought I'd give everyone a few tips, tricks, and ideas to work with. By the way, quilt block kits with some basic fabric are available at the Brown Deer library.


Over the next few posts, I am going to take you through two traditional patterns/starting blocks and use them to create a third. After that, I will show you a few variations. The variations really open up the possibilities.


Basic Requirements for Finished Blocks:

  • 10x10" (including a 1/4" seam allowance on all sides, which brings the finished viewable section to 9.5x9.5") - if your pattern finishes too small, a thin border can be added to bring it up to the 10" finished size

  • All Cotton fabric used

  • Any added materials should be washable at the very least.


Basic Materials:

  • 2 or more squares 100% Cotton Fabric at least 10x10" each (I used 5 pieces, each in a different color)

  • Thread (I used Machine Quilting Cotton Thread)

  • Rotary Cutter (much easier than scissors)

  • Cutting mat (a must if you use the rotary cutter)

  • 1-2 Rulers (clear or quilting are nice, but thicker = less likely to cut yourself with a rotary)

  • Sewing Machine (faster than hand sewing, but in a pinch a sewing needle works as well)

  • Pins (semi-optional)


First Quilt Block: Rail Pattern

This block can actually produce more than one block, at least the way I'm going to show you.


  1. Since you need the finished square to be 10x10 and the larger squares of fabric I have provided are just that size, you will need more strips than one square produces to account for internal seams. For the version I am showing you, you will need strips that are 2" wide and 10" tall. As this means each square can make five strips and you will need at least six to seven strips to complete, even if you wanted to do them all the same color (and what fun would that be), you would still need more than one square. My solution is to layer all of the colors I will be using as neatly and precisely as possible on the cutting mat to cut through at once.

  2. Next, place one ruler so that it is measuring two inches in from one side of the fabric. Place the other ruler so that it is pressed up against the first at a perpendicular angle. The two should make a "T." Take away the first ruler and make sure that the other is perfectly parallel to the top and bottom. The one that remains is just to the far side of where you want to cut. Place the rotary cutter directly against the ruler on the 2" side and, making sure your fingers are clear while you hold down the ruler securely, cut through all layers of fabric, being careful not to move or to move the blade away from the ruler. Continue doing this until you have cut as many strips from the square as you can.

  3. What is nice with this is you already have access to any color you might want for a given area of the square. All you have to do is find the color you want in the stack you want to the top. If there are minute fluctuations in size, keeping the stripes you use in the order you will use them means that it won't affect the pattern. In fact, that is the next step. Figure out what colors you want in what order. If you keep them in the stack order, they work just that much better. Remember, the width has to end up 10" an each piece will lose about 1/2", so you'll need at least 6 strips, seven if you are trying to do a symmetrical pattern. If you want to vary the width or make a line curved, going across the stacks and pulling the correct color from each will make it easier for you.

  4. Now we have to combine them. Figure out what colors you want when and pull them from the appropriate stack. take two neighboring colors from one end and place them right sides together. Remember which sides are supposed to be the inner edge. Now is the time if you are using pins (the easier method if you have no or little experience) to pin that inner edge together.

  5. Sew these two together along that inner edge 1/4" from the edge. Open it and, if you are doing it the right way, not how I did it, iron the seam flat (which should be on the wrong side of the fabric).

  6. Repeat steps 4&5 by going on down the line, attaching the next strip and the next, until you have a square at least 10" wide. You can easily use any extra strips to make more squares until you run out, easily make two squares out of three sheets, three out of four, etc. It only costs more every five or six sheets.

Don't worry if at some point you sew two pieces together the wrong way. First of all, you'll know because the seam will be sticking up into your pattern instead of hiding below. Dead giveaway. Unfortunately, there is no fix except to take out the seam and resew. You'll get good at ripping seams the more you sew. The important thing is now you have your first square and, if you want, you can stop there. If not, keep reading the next post.




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