How to make a woven tumbling blocks pattern

Written by autumn birt
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How to make a woven tumbling blocks pattern
The tradition of quilting is given a new edge with the optical illusion of this woven pattern. (Blue and coral quilt block background image by Bluebird from

The tumbling blocks pattern has been used in quilts for years. This unique twist weaves fabric tubes together to create the same pattern without the need to quilt. The technique also makes this table runner reversible.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 3 colours of 1.5 m (1 1/2 yards) of fabric each
  • 50 cm (1/2 a yard) of a complimentary colour fabric
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Pins
  • Large towel or flannel

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  1. 1

    Cut the first colour of 1.5 m (1 1/2 yards) of fabric into 10 strips that are 7.5 cm (3 inches) wide and 114 cm (45 inches) long. Cut the second colour into 17 strips that are 7.5 cm (3 inches) wide and 114 cm (45 inches) long. Cut the last colour of fabric into 18 strips that are 7.5 cm (3 inches) wide and 114 cm (45 inches) long.

  2. 2

    Fold each strip of fabric in half so that the good side is inside. Sew up the strip to make a tub that is 4 cm (1 1/2 inches) wide and 114 cm (45 inches) long.

  3. 3

    Iron the seam flat. Pull the tubes right side out. Re-iron to keep them flat.

  4. 4

    Lay the 10 strips of the same colour side by side on a towel or similar work surface. Pin them at the top. This will be the vertical pieces of the weave.

  5. 5

    Weave the 17 pieces of the same colour into the vertical pieces at a 45 degree angle to them. The pattern should be under one vertical then over two, under one, etc. Move over one vertical strip for the second piece, and over again for the third so that the first three vertical strips will be over, over, under on the first row, over under over on the second row and under, over, over on the third. The pattern begins to repeat on the fourth row.

  6. 6

    Pin the diagonals into place to keep the project from unravelling.

  7. 7

    Weave the remaining 18 tubes of one colour into the pattern at a 45 degree angle opposite to the second colour. This weave is under two, over one. The strip should emerge from under a vertical, overlap two of the other colour diagonals while crossing one vertical, then go under two verticals. This pattern will also move over every vertical and begin to repeat itself on the fourth strip. Pin in place as you go.

  8. 8

    Baste the edges of the weave together before cutting off excess trim.

  9. 9

    Cut strips of the remaining complimentary coloured cloth: two strips of 114 cm (45 inches) long and 15 cm (6 inches) wide and two strips 48 cm (19 inches) long by 15 cm (6 inches) wide. Fold them in half and iron flat. Turn under raw edges on the long side and iron flat.

  10. 10

    Sew the 114 cm (45 inches) lengths to the woven pattern on each long side through the turned down in edges and the woven pattern. Sew the 48 cm (19 inches) strip across both the woven pattern and the decorative edge just attached. Tuck in the raw edges on the sides and sew closed. The table runner is now complete.

Tips and warnings

  • There is a tube turner than can be purchased to help in reversing the tubes.
  • Keeling the pattern tight is key in creating the tumbling blocks pattern. A loose weave will have poor visual results.
  • Always be careful near the needle of a sewing machine and do not sew over pins.

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