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Play with Your Layouts – Easy Applique Quilt Variations

Play with Your Layouts - easy applique quilt variations you can do with any pattern

Want to learn how to make a quilt with an easy online workshop – totally free?

Sign up for Let’s Make a Quilt here. You’ll learn how to get started, the tools and supplies you’ll need, and how to make a quilt from start to finish using Quilt As You Go and applique with fusible adhesive.

It’s the easiest, most fun way to make an applique quilt. You can do it!

In all of my quilt patterns I include diagrams for layouts in crib, napping, and twin sizes. But you don’t have to stick with the layouts I include in the pattern! There are so many possibilities to play with!

A Simple Grid

This is the most basic (and easiest) way to lay out your quilts – a simple grid. I make my crib size quilts 5 blocks x 5 blocks, like this cat quilt. . .

crib sized cat quilt - pattern from Shiny Happy World

Napping sized quilts are 5 blocks wide and 6 blocks tall. Twin sized quilts are 7 blocks wide and 9 blocks tall.


Maybe you don’t want to applique all those blocks? You can stick with a simple grid layout, but make every other block a solid – no applique. Here’s an example with lots of different color solid blocks. . .

Cute puppies quilt in a checkerboard grif - pattern from Shiny Happy World

And here are some farm animals checkerboarded with solid brown squares.

Fun farm animals quilt in a checkerboard grid - pattern from Shiny Happy World


But checkerboards aren’t your only option for appliqueing just some of your blocks. How about stripes?

Woodland Critters quilt arranged in stripes - pattern from Shiny Happy World

Owl quilt arranged in stripes - pattern from Shiny Happy World

Of course, you can also make your stripes go horizontally instead. 🙂

Play Around!

Grab some blocks and play around. See what you come up with!

Safari Animals quilt arranged in steps - pattern from Shiny Happy World

Staggered Layouts

All of those possibilities above are based on a simple grid, but you can shake things up a bit by adding half blocks to any quilt. You can then substitute two half blocks for any square and have the same size quilt as a grid layout.

This post has more info about working with alternate grid layouts.

Cut half blocks 11″ x 6″ then trim to 10 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ after quilting and applique, so that when sewn up with 1/4 inch seam allowance the finished half block is 10″ x 5″ – exactly half the size of a 10 inch square.

It makes the layout look a lot more complex and some people get stumped at first trying to figure out how to sew it together now that your straight lines are broken up. You just need to break it up into chunks!

Here I’ve added some red lines showing the chunks you’ll break things up into.

Crib sample

Woodland Critters crib sized quilt with sewing guidelines added - pattern from Shiny Happy World

Sew each chunk together as an individual unit. Then sew the units together as follows:

  • Sew #3 to #4
  • Sew #5 to #3/4
  • Sew #6 to #3/4/5
  • Sew #1 to #3/4/5/6
  • Sew #2 to #1/3/4/5/6

Napping sample


Woodland Critters napping sized quilt with sewing guidelines added - pattern from Shiny Happy World

Sew the chunks together as follows:

  • Sew #6 to #7
  • Sew #5 to #6/7
  • Sew #8 to #5/6/7
  • Sew #4 to #3
  • Sew #8/5/6/7 to #4/3
  • Sew #1 to #2
  • Sew #1/2 to #9
  • Sew #8/5/6/7/4/3 to #1/2/9

You can use these sample staggered layouts and this free applique alphabet with any quilt pattern – add lots of meow blocks to a cat quilt, add the names of your children to a monster quilt. Have fun and play around with your layouts!

Happy quilting!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World


  1. Sandy Gonsowski SAYS...

    I have a question about your layouts. I was once told that whenever you use any picture with a face, it should be facing INTO the project not out of it because it directs the viewers eye out of the project. Your quilts look great but they don’t follow that rule. Your feelings?

    • Actually I DO follow that rule – but only around the outside edges of my quilts. Basically – someone looking at your quilt is going to follow the gaze of any face in that quilt. So I never make animals look off the edge of a quilt. As long as any animal in profile is looking at another animal, I’m happy. 🙂

      • Does it matter if you cross a seam to to change the layout? I only just figured out how I would like the layout after cutting my 12″ blocks, I now see I want a rectangle. Do you think that will be a problem?
        Thank. I love your work.

        • That’s fine. Just make sure you calculate the seam allowance correctly. You need to think about the FINISHED size of the block – that’s the size after everything is sewn together. So most of my quilts finish at 10″ square. That means I trim them to 10 1/2″ square before sewing them together. If you want to throw a rectangle into the layout and make it the size of two squares – that’s a finished size of 10 x 20. That means you need to trim it to 10 1/2″ x 20 1/2″. A common error is to double the trimmed size, but that makes your rectangle too big and throws off the whole layout.