When I say 10-inch square – that means that’s the FINISHED quilt block size. After you sew it all together, then the block is ten inches square.
To get those finished 10-inch squares, I like to cut my blocks 11 inches square. That way I have a little wiggle room – and I LIKE wiggle room. I quilt my block, then applique it, and then trim it down to 10 1/2 inches square so that when I sew the blocks together using a quarter inch seam allowance, my finished blocks are ten inches.
Easy peasy. Cut all blocks 11 inches square.
But what about half blocks? And double blocks?
Varying quilt block sizes is a great way to break up that straightforward grid.
This is the second lesson in the Let’s Make a Quilt series teaching my Quilt As You Go and Applique with Fusible Adhesive method. You can work your way through all the lessons using any of my patterns.
That means you’ll need to choose a pattern. 🙂
Here’s a quick rundown of a bunch my patterns, arranged by difficulty.
There are several free patterns for individual blocks in the mix. Those don’t include instructions for making a full quilt, but you’ll get that instruction here in this class.
You do not HAVE to start with one of the easiest patterns!
I’m a big believer in choosing a pattern that really excites you and then just taking it slow enough to learn as you go. But that’s my learning style and you know your own style best. How comfortable are you with fiddly bits? Does making a mistake ruin all the fun for you? Do you like to sew really fast and going slow makes you want to stab things?
Think about what makes sewing fun for you and choose your pattern based on that.
The Very Easiest
These patterns have very few parts, all on the biggish side, and are easy to cut, arrange, and stitch.
This is where most of my patterns fall. They tend to have a few more pieces than The Very Easiest patterns, which means there’s a bit more arranging and stitching. But they are not in any way HARD. You can absolutely start with any of these.
These blocks are just as easy to applique as all the Easy blocks – it’s the assembly into quilts that makes them a smidge more difficult. These quilts break out of the basic square grid by including half blocks or double blocks, or adding sashing. Again – these aren’t hard – you just can’t assemble them on autopilot. 🙂 You can make any of these quilts into a basic Easy quilt by leaving out the rectangle blocks or sashing and assembling them on a basic grid.
These quilts have a few more pieces for many of the blocks, and usually a few smaller pieces than the Easy quilts. It also includes a couple of Mix & Match patterns which will push/encourage your creativity a bit more than a regular pattern. Paper Dolls is the most challenging pattern in my collection, with lots of small, fussy pieces and mix & match possibilities – but holy cow is it fun! If you’re up for the challenge, you can even start with that one. 🙂
This isn’t anywhere near all of my quilt patterns – but it gives you an idea of what kinds of things make one pattern more or less difficult than another. Your first assignment is to choose your quilt pattern and download it!
Want to add a baby to any block in my quilt patterns?
You just need to print the baby at a reduced size!
There’s a post here with more info. (scroll down to the section called “Print at 100% Size – No Scaling”)
In a nutshell – tell your printer you DON’T want to print at 100%.
Here’s an example of my print screen. The exact layout and terminology will be different for every printer and operating system, but they all have the same basic info.
In order to print patterns at the “correct” size you make sure the scale is set at 100% – but really you can set it at anything you like!
How do you know what size to use? Well, that takes a little trial and error and I recommend doing some test printouts on inexpensive paper before you print on your fusible adhesive. Here are some samples I tried for my cats. In all the samples below, the mama is printed at 100% size – I just changed the size of the baby.
Here’s a mama at 100% and a baby at 90%. Too close. It looks more like a mama and papa – which would also be fun!
Here’s the mama at 100% with the baby at 80%. Maybe the baby is a teenager?
Here the mama cat is 100% and the baby is at 70%. This is getting closer to what I was imagining.
Here the baby is printed at 60% size. This might be perfect! But I’m going to go down one more step just to see. The eyes might be too small to work with if I go smaller.
This is it! The baby is printed at 50% to make a tiny little kitten. The eyes are JUST big enough that I can still applique them, and I love the look.
And here’s the link to the Cuddly Cats quilt pattern where this cutie is just one of the fourteen cats included. But you can do this with any blocks from any of my applique patterns. Just play around with the sizes until you’re happy with the look you get!
Download new wallpaper for your computers, phones, or tablets below. You can get it both with and without the November 2021 calendar, in case you want to keep that critter on your screens during other months of the year. 🙂
Fusible applique is my favorite applique method. It’s fast and easy and it really lets me play with my designs.
I’ve been using this method for some time now, and I’ve refined the method I use. The most recent big change was adding SVG files to my patterns for use with electric cutting machines like Cricut and Silhouette – and that meant a change in how I design some of my template pieces.
Time for a new tutorial! This video shows all the steps for how I do fusible applique. It’s on the long side, and I mention several other tutorials, so scroll past the video for a list of topics at each timestamp, and all the links I mention in the video.
Layering and Positioning the Fusible Applique Pieces (14:43)
I show how I layer all the pieces together – with extra info about how to mark your fusible adhesive to help you get a directional pattern to run in different directions to help create contrast between overlapping pieces. (Look at the legs on the chameleon block at the top of this post to see what I’m talking about here.)
In 2020 I finished the 100 Day Project for the first time. I broke the project up into ten mini-projects – each with its own theme. One of the last themes I did was Birds, and as I was drawing my second bird (this goldfinch) I started to wonder about the possibility of creating a set of templates that could be used to create almost any songbird. I played with the idea for ten days and decided it WAS possible! This year I finally made that happen, testing out a new pattern by creating over 100 different birds from one set of mix & match templates. That was my 100 Day Project for 2021!
Download your wallpaper for computers, phones, or tablets below. You can get it both with and without the June calendar, in case you want to keep that pretty goldfinch on your screens during other months of the year. 🙂
All of my quilt patterns include supply lists and details cutting instructions for three quilt sizes – crib, nap and twin.
You can always make a quilt larger or smaller by adding or removing blocks. I make the math super easy for that by having all my quilt blocks finish at 10 inches square.
But there’s no reason for every individual to have to calculate all the math for all the different quilt sizes. I can do that once and then share it for everyone!
I do have a couple of caveats, though. . .
This math (and cutting information) only works if you’re making quilts with all square blocks and no sashing or borders. If your pattern includes half blocks or double blocks, the results will be a tiny bit different. The amount of fabric needed will probably be the same, but the cutting instructions will change a bit. If you’re adding sashing to your quilt, you want this post instead – How to Add Sashing to a QAYG Quilt.
All the fabric calculations assume you’re using fabric that’s 40 inches wide. If you’re using a different width (cuddle fleece, minky, special wide fabric for quilt backs) that will change the amount needed.
So let’s jump in to the most popular quilt sizes I get requests for.
Itty Bitty Baby Size
My patterns include instructions for crib size, but it’s a pretty generous crib size and sometimes people want one that’s a lot smaller – better for tucking around an infant in a car seat. For that the Itty Bitty Baby size works well.
Dimensions 30 inches x 30 inches (3 blocks x 3 blocks)
Binding cutting instructions Cut 6 strips 2 1/4 inches wide, the full width of the fabric.
Backing 2 1/2 yards
Backing cutting instructions Cut one piece 56 inches long. Cut the remaining piece in half the long way so you have two rectangles, each roughly 20 inches wide x 34 inches long. (The exact width will depend on the actual width of your fabric.)
Backing assembly diagram (not to scale) – join the two smaller pieces along the short edge, then join that piece to the longer piece. The pieced section will be longer than it needs to be – this sketch is just a guide.
Appliques 1 1/2 yards, any combination of scraps and fat quarters
Fusible adhesive 3 packs of 10 printable sheets (or three 17 x 45 inch sheets) is enough for most patterns (This is the brand I use.)
Nap Size Quilts
This is the size I use on the couch. It’s included in all my patterns – but I’m including it here as well for those who want to assemble their own design using individual block patterns.
Dimensions 50 inches wide x 60 inches tall (5 blocks x 6 blocks)
Total blocks needed 30
Background blocks 3 1/3 yards total (buy in 1/3 yard increments for minimal waste)
Please understand that this is by no means a definitive list! It really depends on what birds YOU want to make. I’m making sample blocks (and including instructions for) 100 birds, but there are THOUSANDS of bird species out there – and when you consider the fact that male and females of the same species often look very different. . . well, that’s a lot of variation.
I’ve designed the templates to be mix and matchable – so you can use them to go way beyond the 100 samples I made. That means you’ll probably also go way beyond the fabrics I used. BUT! I can give you some guidelines to create a really useful stash to start with. Just be aware that you may need to go searching for just the right fabric for some of the birds in your quilt.
Before I go into specific colors and patterns, I want to include just a couple of the “rules” I used for my sample blocks. I often decide on rules for a quilt before I choose fabrics. It helps me keep a cohesive look to a jumble of different blocks. For my bird samples, the only solid I used was solid black for the eyes. ALL the other fabrics are prints or batiks. I did this because even the smoothest-looking birds have some variation/texture in their feathers. So I used batiks for the very smooth, uniform-looking birds (less common) and other prints for the rest (more common).
I recommend choosing one color palette for your background blocks, but I’ll have more info about that (and lots of sample photos) at the end of this post.
Not surprisingly, you’re going to need a lot of neutral fabrics. A LOT of backyard birds are colored to blend in with their backgrounds. I used the Warm Neutrals bundle as a starting point, but I definitely needed to go beyond that. That bundle gives you five shades of grey (ranging from almost white to black), five shades of brown (again ranging from very light to very dark), a rusty brown and a golden color. You’ll definitely want more variety in the browns and greys – I often liked to use different prints of the same shade to get some contrast between different parts, like you see in this yellowthroat.
The wings, tail, and back of the bird are the same brown – but I used different prints to help create definition.
When you shop for browns, make sure you’re also getting some reddish browns (cinnamon) and some greyish browns (taupe).
You’ll also want at least one white-on-white print, and one very dark grey-on-black.
All of these that I’m talking about here are the tone-on-tone prints that read as solids.
Now we’re talking stripes and spots. You actually don’t need many of these fabrics – but what you need is pretty specific. Here’s a list of the most common prints I used.
streaky brown – cream or tan with darker brown streaks or stripes
cream or tan with darker brown spots
brown with cream speckles
a darker brown and a lighter brown dappled print (all-over florals can work here)
brown stripes – medium brown with darker brown or black stripes
grey with black stripes
Of course, this is not comprehensive – but it’s a good start.
Black and White
You’re going to want some black and white prints.
wide black and white stripe – very useful for birds with black and white heads
white with black spots
white with black speckles
narrower black and white stripes (mainly for woodpeckers)
black and white check (also mainly for woodpeckers)
You’ll definitely want some yellows. I was surprised by how many birds have yellow! Get a couple of bright egg-yolk yellow, and also some more dull mustardy shades.
Blue. Lots of birds have some very bright blue. Get a couple of prints in the same rich shade for the definition I talked about in the neutrals section.
Red. Most red birds tend to be orangey red rather than blue-ish reds, so keep that in mind as you shop.
Pink. We have a lot of pink and pinkish-purple birds here on the east coast. You’ll find a pink with grey undertones (or even grey streaks) pretty useful, and also a bright mulberry shade for several finches.
Greens. Surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of green birds here in the US. You’d think that would be good camouflage. You might want to decide on your birds before you shop for greens, because you could need anything from emerald to olive.
Orange and dark purple. Again – these don’t come up as often, so maybe shop as needed.
The fabrics you choose for your background blocks can affect the whole mood of your quilt.
For my quilt I chose realistic colors for all the birds, and I played around with several different background palettes using my fabric bundles. I recommend choosing either solids or batiks for your background blocks – but don’t mix them. Besides thinking about the overall look you like, think about the quilting here. Quilting will really show on solids, and will be almost invisible on batiks.
Here are the background palettes I’ve already experimented with.
The Batik Rainbow bundle will give you very vivid background blocks with nearly invisible quilting. The background fabrics are as vivid as some of the most colorful backyard birds!
The Warm Neutral Batiks bundle will give you a more subtle, forest-floor background. The colorful backyard birds really pop against these neutral fabrics, but when you’re putting a brown bird on a brown block (or a grey bird on a grey block) you’ll need to be sure to get good light/dark contrast.