bod DIY Design Your Own Quilt

DIY Design Your Own Quilt

Posted by Debra Carmona on 17 June 2015 | Add a Comment

Design Your Own Patchwork Quilt

Even if you have never made a quilt before you can learn how and even design your very own. I have tried to include everything you need to know in planning, designing, shopping for supplies, and sewing your quilt no matter what size you choose to make. You will find lists of the amount of fabrics and other supplies needed for all quilt sizes. I created the lists and quantities for you and also for myself as a ready tool so I don't have to refigure the quantities each time I decide to sew a quilt. I will go through the entire process from design to peicing together the patchwork, quilting, and finishing off with the binding.


Quilt Planning
Planning a Quilt


Why Sew a Quilt?




In this video I talk about the history of quilts and share some stories of how a quilt can be a personal and special gift. Hope you find it inspirational.

Here are a couple of the quilts that I mentioned in the above video. I have five sons. Each one had an assigned color so their quilt had their color as the dominating color of their quilt. The quilts were made of the corduroy pants that they had worn out the knees. I saved the pants for years to collect up enough fabric to make each of them a quilt. I thought corduroy was good for a boy's quilt rather than flowery calico prints plus I expected them to be more durable and warm for cold climates. Some of the quilts backing fell apart because I did not selected the right sturdy fabric.  The best fabric that held up well to trim the corduroy quilts was gaberine. Gabardine is a tough, tightly woven fabric used to make suits, overcoats, trousers, uniforms, windbreakers, and other garments. The baby corduroy did not hold up as well and were the first parts to wear thin.

Amish Diamond Quilts

Made from the corduroy pants my boys wore after they wore out the knees.

Black Corduroy Boy's Quilt Navy, Burgundy Corduroy Boy's Quilt
Black Corduroy Quilt
Navy & Burgundy Corduroy Boy's Quilt



Getting Started Creating Your Own Quilt

Start by deciding what size your quilt will be. If this is your first quilt I would reccommend making a baby quilt to learn the process then next time you can choose something larger. A baby quilt could easily by done in two or three days or even a single day if that is all you had to do for the day. Work on the design the day before you plan to begin peicing together your top. Sewing a Quilt

Quilt Sizes   

  • Crib Baby Quilt 36" x 48"
  • Throw Quilt 48" x 72"
  • Twin Quilt 60" x 85"
  • Full Quilt 72" x 90"
  • Queen Quilt 90" x 100"
  • King Quilt 110" x 110"


Once you have decided the size of your quilt it is time to shop for fabrics. Look in the cotton section for calico prints. They come in a variety of colors and prints.


Calculate the amount of fabric needed for your quilt.  (See quantities below) You also need to buy the cotton batting of the appropriate size for your quilt and the backing fabric as well. Don't forget to buy spools of thread for the patchwork and quilt assembly. Plus you will need quilting thread for the actual quilting.

Sewing a Quilt
 I set up my sewing station in our guest bedroom

Fabric Needed for Quilt Sizes

Batting Note: The batting sizes listed below are the standard sizes the batting comes in. You will have to cut them down to the actual size of the quilt. Save the left over scraps. They could be used for stuffing toys or pillows you might sew later. Binding Note: Binding is 2 1/2" wide strips that close up the quilt and finish off the edges. Backing Note: Backing should be 100% cotton. You may have to peice together a few peices to make it larger enough for the larger sized quilts as fabric is usually sold in only 45" or 60" widths. Quilt Top Note: The quantities below should give you a suffient supply of fabric for piecing together your quilt. Adjustments may be made if you want more of one color and less of others. Consider the total amount and divide accordingly.

  • Baby Quilt: Quilt Top: 6 colors, 1/2 yard of each color, Backing: 1 1/2 yard, Batting Size: 45" x 60"
  • Twin Quilt: Quilt Top:  6 yards divided by the number of colors you want in the quilt, (Example: 6 colors, 1 yard each, 12 colors 1/2 yard each) Backing: 5  1/4 yards,  Batting Size: 72" x 90", Binding: 3/4 yard
  • Full Quilt: Quilt Top: 6 yards divided by the number of colors you want in the quilt, Backing: 5  1/4 yards, Batting Size: 81" x 96" Binding: 3/4 yard
  • Queen Quilt: Quilt Top: 8 yards divided by the number of colors you want in the quilt, Backing: 7 1/3 yards,   Batting Size: 90" x 108" Binding: 7/8 yard
  • King Quilt: Quilt Top: 9 yards divided by the number of colors you want in the quilt, Backing: 8 yards,   Batting Size: 120" x 120" Binding: 1 yard

Fabric Selections Fabric Selections
 Fabric Selections
 Calico Prints

Choosing Fabric for Quilting

Choose cotton calico prints. They come in a variety of colors and prints. Consider first of all the main colors of your project which could be two or three main colors. Select a fabric of your main colors. Choose a second color near to your main color but a shade lighter or a shade darker for each main color. Then select a fabric print that combines your main colors. My two main colors for this quilt was teal and yellow. I chose a solid teal and an almost solid yellow. Then I selected a print with teal in it, the floral print which has some white in it, makes it a lighter shade. I also choose a second teal color containing even more white. That gave me three values of the teal color. I could not find other values of yellow that I liked so instead I chose a yellow that had some teal in it; the yellow calico print with blue, green and orange dots on it combines the two main colors. The yellow dotted fabric joins the two main colors together.  It is a good idea to find some fabrics that have your main colors in it. That helps to pull together the colors for your quilt. Since I could not find another yellow that I liked I went with white.


White, off white, or cream is always a great addition to most any quilt. The white being nuetral in color could be interchanged for teal or yellow in my pattern design.  Any time you need an extra color and not sure what color to select choose a nuetral color such as white, gray, brown, or black.  When choosing fabric for quilts I also like to have a mix of dark colors and light colors. The solid teal is the darkest color. Most of the fabric selections in this quilt are on the lighter side but that works well for a baby quilt.


Quilt Grid Chevron Baby Quilt Design
Print out the above grid to start working on your quilt design


My Chevron Baby Quilt Design. You can see how I used the bold lines to create the quilt blocks. Each block consisits of two triangles (a square cut diagonal from corner to corner).


When using this grid for a larger quilt such as a queen quilt use the smaller squares to work out your design.

Designing the Quilt Pattern

Download the grid work sheet above and make several copies. You may want to try several design ideas before settling on the design you like best for your quilt. Watch the following video on how I used the grid to plan my quilt design. You will need a ruler, a drawing pencil, and set of colored pencils to plan your quilt design. I am a visual person so I like to see how the quilt is going to look before I begin. So I like to make a full color plan to give me a better idea how my quilt will look when it is done. This way I can make changes even before I begin. As you can see from my colored design (above right) I notated two triangles with a "W" for white because as I looked at my design again I realized that I had more yellow and green and less white. My goal was to have an even amount of each color.




In this video I show you how to use the grid to work out the design of your quilt.


There are endless possibilities of what you can do with this grid. Save all of your designs because you never know when you might reuse the same pattern but just change the colors. You might even find more inspiration from the designs you don't use for your next quilt.

Here are some Sample Quilt Designs to help inspire your own

With the above graph print out you can make most any design with various combinations of squares, triangles, strips. You can divide the marked squares half using a ruler to make smaller squares of triangles. Use color pencils to play with your colors and designs until you find one you like. From the samples below you see that you can compose a quilt block of any number squares. When you find a block design that you like try doing a whole sheet of that design to see how the whole quilt will look like. Sometimes you may want an additional boarder separating each block.

Quilt Sample Patterns
Quilt Sample Patterns
Quilt Block Sample Patterns
Quilt Block Sample Patterns

Martha Washington Star Block Martha Washington Star Quilt
Martha Washington Star Block
 Martha Washington Star Quilt in Greens
Perpetual Motion Quilt Block Perpetual Motion Quilt
Perpetual Motion Quilt Block Perpetual Motion Quilt
Kissing Fish Quilt Block Geometric Fish Quilt
Kissing Fish Quilt Block Geometric Shapes Quilt from Kissing Fish Blocks
Center Block Primary Color Block Center Block Primary Color Quilt
Center Block Primary Color Block Center Block Primary Colors Quilt
Basket Weave Quilt Block Basket Weave Quilt
Basket Weave Quilt Block Basket Weave Quilt
Half Square Triangle Block Half Square Triangle Quilt
Half Square Triangle Block Half Square Triangle Quilt in shades of Pink
Fish Pool Quilt Block Fish Pool Quilt
Fish Pool Quilt Block Fish Pool Quilt Quilt
Dissapearing 16 Patch Quilt Block Dissapearing 16 Patch Quilt
Dissapearing 16 Patch Quilt Block Dissapearing 16 Patch Quilt Block
Pinwheel Quilt Block Pinwheel & Perpetual Motion Quilt
Pinwheel Quilt Block Pinwheel & Perpetual Motion Quilt
Round About Square Block Round About Square Quilt
Round About Square Block Round About Square Quilt

Keep in mind the more pieces in your quilt the more time it will take. Also the smaller the peices the slower your progress will be. Sometimes you may want an extra color between each block. Blocks can be rearrange to form different patterns. You can combine different block patterns in the same quilt if the colors coordinate together.


Few of my Baby Quilts to show some of the possibilities

Easy Basic Quilt Clown Theme, Primary Colors Chevron Baby Quilt
Red, White, Blue Baby Quilt Clown Baby Quilt Chevron Baby Quilt
 Using only squares
Using triangles & strips
Using only triangles

This quilt is made from flannel fabric in pastel shades
Soft Pastel Baby Quilt

Combination of squares, and triangles

Cutting The Peices

I like to use a template when cutting my squares, triangles, or strips. You need a good pair of sharp sissors or a rotary wheel cutter. I make a template out of a piece of cardstock.  I sew 1/2 inch seam allowance on all my quilt peices. Here are a couple of formulas to use when making your templates. These formulas work for any size peice you desire.


  • Squares: Cut your raw square one inch larger than your desired finished square
  • Triangles: Cut a square 1 3/4 " + desired finished square, then cut square diagonaly from corner to corner (See photo below)
  • Strips: Cut your strip one inch longer and one inch wider than your desired finished strip 
Triangle Template
 To have a finished 6" square. Cut a 7 3/4" square, then cut diagonaly

I first cut all squares, then I cut the squares into triangles. Try to be acurate with your cutting. A rotary cutter and an acrylic quilt ruler will help you to be more acurate in cutting your quilt peices.

Cutting Quilt Squares
Cut squares first, then cut the squares into triangles



Sewing Room Bulletin Board
The quilt design is posted on my Sewing Bulletin Board so I can refer to it as I assemble the peices.

Piecing Together Your Quilt

Now that you have your plan you are ready to sew. The following video demonstrates the process of peicing together the quilt far better than I can explain it with wrtten words. You basically have to put together your squares or blocks before you can start sewing the rows of squares or blocks. Then you sew one row at a time. Watch the video for some time saving tips on the principle of continuous sewing which can also be used when sewing rows together.



This video demonstrates how to begin sewing your peices together to form squares and then rows. Watch the video all the way through first before you begin sewing so you have an overall picture of the process before you begin.


Create your squares or blocks. With this baby quilt I used two triangles to make a square so I needed to create all the squares first. I made myself another graph of the different square designs by color/fabric combinations so I would know how many of each to make.

Quilt Squares Square Count Record
Two triangles combined to make the squares.
 Graph of the squares

Sometimes when we are sewing we make mistakes. It had been a good while since I last sewed a quilt so getting back into the swing of the routine I made some mistakes. I made another video to show how to deal with those mistakes and ways to fix them.

Fixing Mistakes While Peicing Together a Quilt





Mistakes happen. Do not fret over them. Learn how to correct them. I show you my mistakes and how I fixed them in this video




Example of a Queen Size Quilt

In my early days of marriage my husband who was serving in the USAF was sent on a one year remote tour which meant I and the baby could not go with him. So while he was gone I busied myself with the task of redecorating our bedroom to surprise him when he came home at the half way point of his tour. I sewed a new quilt for our bed with matching curtains and purchased some preowned dressers for a great price.

Around the World Quilt
 The pattern is called "Around the World"

My idea for the that quilt was to mix blues and pinks to create an overall purplish quilt for a romantic bedroom. Here is how I planned that quilt. I created and colored a graph of the quilt before I had purchased any fabric so the colors ended up being a bit different than the sketched design so I numbered the fabric and worked out another graph using the numbers. Not a good visual I know but it helped me keep things straight. You can see how I "X ed" off each square as a way of keeping track of my progress.

Map of Quilt Design Map of Quilt Design
My colored plan
Graph by number

I made a record of the hours invested sewing the peices together on the graph. One hour to sew three rows of squares which adds up to eight hours to peice together the entire top for a queen size quilt. That was before I knew about continuous sewing to save time which I demonstrate in the above video. I was a young mother of one child at that time so when ever he was napping or gone to bed for the evening I spent my time at the sewing machine.  I also sewed curtains to match the quilt chosing a couple of dominate colors from the quilt that I wanted to be my overall main color. My husband loves burgundy so I chose that as my accent color to add a ruffle on three sides of the quilt and also used the burgundy color for the trims of the curtains. Burgundy afterall is related to the purple color.

Around the World Quilt Matching Curtains
View from above
Curtain Detail


Machine QuiltingThis was one of the first projects for my new Singer sewing machine. That machine gave me excellent service for about twent-five years before it quit. I could probably fill a small store with the number of items I have sewn with that machine. I sewed quilts, all sorts of clothes, placemats, pillows, curtains and all sorts of mending jobs over the years.


Most of the interior mechanical parts were metal. Wouldn't you know it was a plastic part that wore out so the machine became unrepairable. I dislike the newer lightweight modern machines with plastic parts. Plastic does not hold up over time. I much prefer the heavy all metal sewing machines because they will give you more service for many years if you keep them well oiled and frequent dusting.


The Process of Quilting

Quilting is the process of stitching all three layers together; the top, the batting, and the backing.  Quilting can be simple straight lines, lines that follow the patchwork design, or complicated intricate designs sewn into the layers. There are two methods of quilting: machine quilting or hand quilting. Small projects can be done in a hoop frame or simple lap quilting. Larger projects are easier with a large quilting frame, sometimes on a quilting table. It is possible to machine quilt if you are doing straight line quilting as I did with this queen quilt. You have to roll up the bulk of the quilt to be able to slide it through the machine which is a bit challenging to do. Quilting frames keep the layers even with no uneccessary bulking of the layers and allow for even stitching.

Hand Quilting with Hoop
Machine Quilting
Hand Quilting with a Hoop
Machine Quilting

Hand Quilting with a Quilting Frame

Finishing or Binding Your Quilt

  • Binding is usually 2 1/2 inch wide straight strips of fabric that is folded in half, lengthwise around the edges of the quilt; raw edges folded under and hand stitched with a blind stitch to close up and finish off the edge of the quilt.
  • Sometimes the backing is cut larger than the top and is pulled up and around to the front, raw edges folded under and stitched with a blind stitch to seal up the quilt.This can be done if the edges of the quilt are straight lines (not scalloped)
  • Or, both front and back edges can be folded in, pinned and stitched together without additional fabric to close up the quilt. I often use this method to finish off a baby quilt.

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