An Amateur’s Guide to a Patchwork Quilt – Part 2

^ this is a digital mockup of my quilt design!

I shared before that I am documenting the process of my ongoing quilting project. Earlier I wrote about the how I chose fabrics. Today I will share the quick and easy way I used an app to design my quilt, and how I cut out my pieces.


This will be the first quilt where I have a specific end size in mind so it requires more planning than I have done before. But if you search “what is the standard size of a twin bed quilt” you will get a variety of answers. I decided on a design that is 72×96″. To compare, I measured a twin bed quilt I currently own and it was not too far from those measurements so I know it will fit the way I want it to. I also chose 72″x96″ because both of those numbers evenly divide by 3 and 4. This is important for two reasons:

1. I am planning on sewing in 3×3 block squares. So my pattern will be symmetrical and even.

2. I want to have 4″ squares for my quilt, so again, the blocks will add up perfectly.

So I drew myself a graph. I will end up with 48 blocks of 3×3 squares – six blocks wide and eight blocks tall. Each block is is made of 9 squares – each a different one of my fabrics.

To begin I washed and dried my fabrics (a must! If you are new to sewing you always want to wash and dry your fabric first. You want any shrinking to happen BEFORE you sew it into something lovely, not after). Then I iron with a water spray bottle and use my rotary cutter and measuring square to cut them out.

I cut out each square as a 4.5″x4.5″ square, taking into account that I will have a .25″ seam on each side which will leave me with my 4″x4″ square. So I set out camp in front of the television for a few nights as I cut out 432 squares of fabric. I personally like to work on the floor, not on a table surface.

It was kismet – I bought THE PERFECT AMOUNT of fabric (3/4 yard each) to get 52 squares of each pattern. (I think will use the extras to make a matching pillow sham.)

Now that I had my pieces cut, I next needed to figure out my block lock-up – how did I want to arrange the fabrics within each square of 3×3? I quickly figured out that the only way to avoid putting any 2 pinks or 2 greens directly next to each other was to go on a diagonal. There are lots of ways you could sketch this out to try different layouts – or you could take advantage of modern technology and use the Instagram Layout app on your phone!

I took a quick pic of each fabric on my phone and then opened the Instagram Layout app. Using the grid of 9 images (turn off the borders) I was instantly able to see how each 3×3 square would look. I played around with different layouts and saved the image when I found a layout I liked.

To see how the squares would look when they were sewed together I used the Instagram Layout app again. This time I selected one of my saved images of a 3×3 lockup (the ones I just made) and put the exactly same photo side by side in a grid of 9.

I was able to play around with how simply turning every other square 180 degrees would change the whole look of the quilt. (See how such a small tweak can change the whole design? If I rotated every other square by 90 degrees this is what it would look like.)

I also played around with the idea of adding alternate fabric patterns instead of keeping it the same 9 in every block. This is what it would look like if I alternated a few:

The best part is that I only spent about 15 minutes in Instagram Layout to see all of these options. Technology for the win.

I decided to keep things consistent and simple. 9 fabrics, identical square lockups. Now that my pieces are cut and I have my design set, the next step is to start sewing. GULP.

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5 comments

  1. Gemma says:

    Eagerly awaiting your next instruction installment. I am desperate to make patchwork top covers for my sons beds and mine. I have been looking online at instructions for months for preparation but yours are the best I have come across!!! Throughly enjoyed reading your blogs and cannot wait for the part about sewing it all together (I hope you will put the next part on here). Your instructions are so clear and have given me confidence to give it all a go. This will be my first patchwork project. Thank you so much for posting your instructions : )

    • designlivelyblog@gmail.com says:

      Hi Gemma, thank so much for your comment! I’m glad you are finding them helpful! I’ve already started on the next phase and am hoping I can make enough progress to share the next step soon!

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