How to make easy patchwork quilts

Updated July 20, 2017

The easiest patchwork quilts consist entirely of only one pattern shape, allowing quilters of all levels to quickly make a quilt. Traditionally known as scrap or charm quilts, they are a great way to use up scraps left over from previous projects and are wonderful for showing off fabulous fabric patterns in non-traditional or novelty material. Tying the quilt with decorative buttons on top makes it functional while adding another layer of design and allowing you to finish the quilt quickly and easily.

Measure the bed to determine how large a patchwork quilt you would like to make. Normal drop for a quilt on each side is 8 inches below the top of the mattress but can be whatever measurement you desire.

This quilt is made of 4-inch squares. Calculate the number of squares needed for your quilt by first dividing the width of the quilt in inches by four inches and rounding up to the nearest whole number. Then divide the length of the quilt in inches by four inches, and round up to the nearest whole number for the total amount of squares needed from top to bottom of the quilt. Multiply the number of patches from the width by the number of squares required for the length for the total number of patchwork squares you need to cut.

Cut out a 4 1/2-inch fabric square using a rotary cutter and ruler. Lay the clear 4 1/2-inch rotary block ruler directly on top of the fabric so you can clearly see the pattern through it. Reposition until you find a pleasing block design, and cut with the rotary cutter, making sure to work on top of the rotary mat.

Continue cutting 4 1/2-inch squares from multiple pieces of patterned fabrics until you have the number necessary for the quilt. Variety is the spice that makes scrap quilts interesting, so include a wide assortment of fabrics in your quilt. When you reach your desired number of squares,lay out all the scrap blocks in an attractive arrangement, playing with the colours and the interplay of light and dark for additional designs they make within the quilt.

Sew each horizontal row together: Flip the second block from the left onto the first block so right sides are facing, and sew with a 1/4-inch seam to join. Flip the third block over onto the second block, right sides together, and sew as before. Repeat across the entire row. Continue to join all horizontal rows together in this manner.

Iron all seam allowances, the fabric between the stitched seam and the cut edges, in the first horizontal row toward the left side of the quilt. Iron all seam allowances in the second row toward the right side of the quilt. Continue in each subsequent row, alternating in the opposite direction each row.

Join the horizontal rows together: Flip the second horizontal row from the top up over the first horizontal row, right sides facing, and align alternating seams so they nestle into each other. Sew the rows together with a 1/4-inch seam. When finished, flip the second row down, then flip the third row up over the second row and repeat. Continue joining all rows until the top is complete.

Cut batting and backing fabric approximately 5 to 6 inches larger in each direction than the completed quilt top. Polyester batting is a good choice and is available prepackaged or off the bolt in fabric stores in a variety of thicknesses. Use a good quality cotton fabric for your backing that is either one piece or sewn together to the appropriate size.

Layer the quilt top over the batting and backing fabric. Baste, hand sewing big running stitches, all three layers in place using neutral-coloured cotton or safety pins.

Thread a hand sewing needle with yarn. Place one button in the middle of one of the 4-inch blocks. Pass the threaded needle from the top of the quilt through one of the button holes. Return the needle to the top of the quilt, from the back, through the second button hole. Remove the needle from the yarn and tie over the needle with a secure square or surgeon's knot. A surgeon's knot is similar to a square knot but is less apt to untie with use. Trim yarn ties to desired length. Repeat in the middle of each 4-inch square until all squares in the quilt top are tied.

Trim the backing and batting even with the edges of the quilt top.

Bind the quilt edges with bias binding: With a 1/4-inch seam and right sides together, sew the edge of the binding around all edges of the quilt top. Fold the binding over the edge of the quilt. Hand stitch the loose edge of the bias binding to the back of the quilt with a slip-stitch.

Remove all basting threads before using the quilt.


Be sure to always close your rotary cutter between cuts to avoid injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton fabric scraps
  • Rotary cutter
  • 4 1/2-inch square rotary ruler
  • Rotary mat
  • Matching thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Batting
  • Backing fabric
  • Basting thread
  • Safety pins (optional)
  • Yarn
  • Two-holed buttons
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Double-fold bias binding
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About the Author

Marge Burkell is a professional artist that has been writing since 1985. Specializing in home and garden, quilting and crafts, her work has appeared in "Quilting Today," "Art to Wear" and "Craft & Needlework" as well as her own line of sewing patterns. Burkell authors multiple blogs and has written for iVillage, among other Internet sites.