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So You Wanna Make A Quilt… Part 3 – Quilt Patterns


Part 3- Quilt Patterns

You have got your tools and you have got your eye on some gorgeous fabric…now what???

Well, you have to decide what you are going to make. It might be a pillow, a table runner, a wall hanging or a big ‘ol quilt! When you are a beginner I think the most important decision will be the difficulty of the project, not what it actually is. There are lots of easy patterns out there for beginners so get excited!

Understanding Quilt Patterns

How do I read this thing?

Let’s start by talking about what information you will find in quilt patterns. What does it tell you?

Size– It will list the finished dimensions of the quilt. Some quilt patterns may even give you different size options…twin, queen, king,etc. I love when they do this:)

Skill Level- This may not be on all patterns, but will give you an idea of how difficult it may be. For beginners(not that you couldn’t do anything you put your mind too!), but the less seams the better. 25 pieces in a block or curved seams might be more frustrating than fun at first.


Fabric– How much fabric will you need to complete the quilt. For US patterns this is listed in yards, but if buying in metres you can buy the same amount and will just have a little extra for your stash. I actually tell beginners to buy a little extra anyway. It never hurts in case you make a mistake during cutting. I still do this by the way! As they say…measure twice, cut once.

-The pattern may also tell you what color fabrics or value of fabrics you will need. For example, 1 yard of yellow or 1/2 yard of a dark, medium and light blue.

-Does your pattern include fabric measurements for the backing and binding? Some don’t, but your quilt shop can help you figure those out if you need them.

Tools– It will often list any special rulers, tools or templates needed for the project.

Block Size

Block Size– You need to know what the finished size of your block is. A block may finish at 12″, but its unfinished size is 12.5″. If you trim it down to the wrong size…you are in trouble.

-There is a general rule in quilting that our seams are 1/4″.  When two seams meet…you lose 1/2″. This means the finished size is always 1/2″ smaller for the block and for the smaller pieces of fabric within the block. The pattern should tell you if something different is required.

-Another thing to note is that a beginner will probably like a larger block size! You may not be ready for 200 six inch blocks right off the bat:)

Cutting Guide– These are pictures of which direction to cut your fabric so you can the right amount of pieces. You don’t want to waste fabric by cutting in the wrong direction.

Construction– Here is where they tell you how to actually make the blocks and assemble the top. Lots of pictures here will be a life saver.


This is an old pattern book that was my grandmothers. I love seeing her handwriting in it and me and my sister actually have those quilts!

How do you know what pattern to choose?

That is up to you! It is YOUR quilt, so you can pick what you like and you can even do something different than what is in the pattern if you wanna! I almost always change something. If it is getting too complicated…turn that quilt into a pillow or a table runner(I have sooo done this!). Don’t like the colors they picked or can’t find them…pick something else.

If you are a little nervous I suggest a baby quilt…A. they are adorable:) and B. they are not that big, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.  A simple solid block design like HERE would be a great place to start!

The MOST important thing is too read the pattern all the way through before you start! Get an idea of how involved it is and how it is going to go together.

And last, but not least… Relax!!! Many of us never even finished our first quilt. We just moved on to the next one and figured it out. HERE is my first quilt. It took me 13 years to actually get that one done and it is a little scary at that. I love seeing how much I have grown and you will too!

Look at all those corners, Wonky to the max!

My first Quilt…Wonky to the max!


For earlier posts on Quilting Tools and Fabric click HERE.


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