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How to Quilt a Quilt with a Broken Grid Layout – video tutorial

Some of my quilts have what I call a “broken grid” layout. You’ll also see it called an “alternate grid.”

Both of these terms refer to quilt layouts that aren’t the standard checkerboard-style grid, with all the seams running in straight, uninterrupted lines from edge to edge.

I’ve got a video here that shows how to assemble those quilts – how to group the blocks into chunks that eventually do connect with straight, edge to edge seams.

But I get a lot of questions about how, exactly, I quilt these quilts. Do I quilt around each square individually? Do I turn the corner to go around a block that’s interrupting my straight line?

Nope and nope. 🙂

At this point in the process I have my entire quilt sewn together and I want to do everything possible to avoid turning any corners while I’m quilting, because that means turning the entire mass of the quilt, and that is not fun.

So what do I do?

I hop over the block that’s blocking my way.

This video shows what I mean by that.


Just hop right over those pesky blocks. 🙂

Do be sure to backstitch or knot – whatever technique you use to secure your threads – any time you have to stop or start quilting.

Get the Fish quilt pattern here.

Get the Sea Creatures quilt pattern here.

Find links to all the posts about pattern size and layouts here.

Quilt Sizes and Supplies Needed

Play with Your Layouts – Multiple Possibilities for One Quilt Pattern


How to Make Applique Bust Out of Its Frame

Alternate or Broken Grid layouts (adding half and double blocks)

How to Make an Applique Rag Quilt

How to Make a Polaroid Quilt

How to Make a Wonky Churn Dash Frame for Any Block

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about choosing your fabric.

Happy quilting!


  1. Theresa Darby SAYS...

    This will be my first quilt and I will be using this technique. What do you do with the thread when you cut it? Do you just use a hand needle and thread it into quilt and cut?
    I love all of your tutorials. It makes quilting look so much easier!
    Thank you!

    • It depends on how you’ve secured your thread. My machine ties a knot for me, so I can just snip close to the surface and be done with it. You can also backstitch a couple of stitches, or shorten your stitch length and stitch in place a couple of stitches and then snip close. Those methods all show the knot (or backstitching) just a bit, but I find that it disappears in the crinkle once the quilt is washed and it’s just fine (for me) for everyday quilts. The method you suggest is the “fanciest” and most time-consuming – but it’s completely invisible. I only bother with it for a show quilt or a wall hanging. 🙂

  2. Brenda Meshak SAYS...

    Do you stitch in the ditch, or stitch seams on both sides of where the blocks join? I would like to stitch in the ditch but am afraid that will weaken the seam.

    • I’ve done both and like the look of both – it just depends on the project. Sometimes I stitch over the ditch (across the ditch?) using a wide stitch (like a zigzag or decorative stitch). I’ve got a post about that here. I’ve spoken to VERY experienced quilters who swear that stitch in the ditch works just fine with pressed-open seams, but (like you) I’m always a little nervous about it. I haven’t had one come apart yet, though!

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