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How to Design Quilts

With simple sewing skills and a little imagination you can design a quilt that is both beautiful and functional.


  • Step 1: Choose a size Choose a size for your quilt project. A wall hanging can be any size, but bed quilts should measure close to standard sizes.
  • Step 2: Choose a pattern Choose a pattern for your quilt. Most projects are built of blocks, a patchwork pattern which is repeated in rows and columns.
  • TIP: Beginners should stick with simple blocks that involve squares and rectangles.
  • Step 3: Calculate number of blocks and add borders or sashing Calculate how many rows and columns of blocks you need for your size quilt. Add sashing – strips of fabric between blocks, or borders – strips of fabric on the edges of the joined blocks.
  • TIP: Use a software program to experiment with different block sizes and layouts.
  • Step 4: Choose your colors and fabrics Choose the colors and fabrics you want in your quilt.
  • Step 5: Lay out the quilt blocks Lay out your quilt blocks in rows after piecing them together. Move blocks around to see which fit together best.
  • Step 6: Choose your quilting pattern Choose a pattern for quilting once you have the top assembled and basted with batting and backing. Stitch "in the ditch" of your seams, or stitch different shapes, to make your quilt unique.
  • FACT: Faith Ringgold has a "story quilt" on permanent exhibition at New York's Guggenheim Museum and her painted quilts have won several awards for illustration.

You Will Need

  • A quilt block pattern or graph paper
  • Fabrics
  • An eye for color
  • Quilt design software (optional)

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