Hi! My name is Natalie and I am the blogger behind Threaded Mess.


Fat Quarterly has graciously allowed me to post on their blog today because I’ve got a simple but fun mini quilt tutorial to share with you AND! one lucky winner not only gets to name this quilt but gets to choose one of the demonstration quilts I made to keep! Exciting right?!


This tutorial assumes that you already have a good grasp on rotary cutting, sewing 1/4″ seams, free motion or straight line quilting, basting, and binding your quilt. There are some awesome tutorials out on the web for all of those skills so Google away if you need instructions or a refresher and then come back here to try out this quilt!

Supplies You’ll Need:

Thread – for piecing and quilting
Rotary cutter, ruler, and mat to cut your strips
A piece of batting at least 36″x36″
Safety Pins (or whatever you use to baste your quilts)
Clips or pins to tack down your binding
Sewing machine

Fabric: The following cuts assume you are working with fabrics at least 44″ to 45″ wide. If you are working with smaller pieces you will need to adjust to compensate.

3/4 Yard for your background fabric
1/3 Yard for your border strips (the fabric bordering and connecting your squares)
9 5″x5″ squares (I pulled from a Kona Solid Brights charm pack)
1/2 Yard for your binding
1 Yard for your backing

Getting Ready:

The first time I made this quilt I was flying by the seat of my pants, a method I often challenge myself to take to keep my mind sharp, myself interested, and my blog original. I started out with this vague idea drawn on some graph paper:


And ended up with this mini quilt some of you may have seen around Flickr:

NOVA MQG Preemie Quilt

The basic concept is colorful squares bordered and joined with a light fabric over a darker background. This pattern is perfect for playing with saturation levels, color combinations, or featuring your favorites.

Fabric Selection:


I knew from the beginning that I wanted to use Kona Medium Gray, Kona White, and squares from my Kona Solid bright charm pack. Feel free to switch solids for patterned fabric, play with the colors and saturation levels, and really make this quilt your own. But if you want to make something close to what I did, here’s how I selected my fabrics:

First, I sorted all my fabrics by color

Bright Charm Pack

Oops…I think I left the 3 purples in this charm pack out but you get the idea and they will show up in the next photo!

Next, I decided on my 9 squares. The first time I made this quilt I selected 3 pinks, 3 oranges, and 3 yellows which definitely had a girly feel. My goal with this quilt was to go for something more boyish so I immediately pulled out the pinks. Sorry, pinks! This still left me plenty of room to play…


This palette was very cool and calming but I wanted something a little more festive so I kept looking…


This palette was much more festive but somehow a pink snuck back in (sheesh pink, get a grip! I’ll use you later). With no more reds in the charm pack I kept looking…


I replaced the red stack with blue and knew I was finally on the right track!

Laying Out Your Quilt:


As mentioned before, I flew by the seat of my pants the first time I made this quilt but I wanted to make sure I did things right the second time around so I could share the instructions with you. I’m a visual person and it helps me to draw things out so I used colored pencils and graph paper to draw my strips and squares:


Then I laid them out and taped them down the way I planned to sew them.


I’ll be giving you my exact cuts later but if you want to play with the position of your blocks just make sure that all your cuts (four for each column) add up to 14 1/2″.

Cutting Your Top:


Cut your border fabric (the fabric bordering and connecting your squares – for both of mine I used Kona White) into 1 1/2″ by width of fabric strips. I needed 7 strips but you may find you need more or less depending on the width of your fabric. Cut your background fabric into 2 strips 3 1/4″ wide by width of fabric, 2 strips 5″ wide by width of fabric, and 2 strips 2 1/2″ by width of fabric (you should have a total of 6 strips – for both of mine I used Kona Medium Gray)

That’s it! I told you this was going to be easy!

Piecing Your Top:

The first step in piecing your quilt is bordering all of your squares using a 1/4″ seam. You can piece, press, and trim with your rotary cutter:


flip and snip:


or chain piece


This is really a matter of personal preference! I tried it all three ways and decided I prefer to flip and snip but I won’t be offended if you don’t like that method.

Press your seams as you go …


… and keep plugging until all 9 of your squares are bordered on all 4 sides.


Those of you into precision should trim down your squares so that they are all exactly the same size at this point.

Sew a 3 1/4″ strip on both sides of 1 1/2″ white strip and press.


I was able to cut all my pieces from 1 finished strip but if you are working with smaller widths of fabrics you may have to make a couple of these.

If you decided to play around with the placement of your squares, follow your own notes. If you want to use the exact measurements I did you’ll need to cut the following pieces:

2″ – cut 2
2 1/2″ – cut 2
3″ – cut 2
3 1/2″ – cut 1
4″ – cut 1
4 1/2″ – cut 2
5″ – cut 1
7″ – cut 1

By column my measurements were (from top to bottom piece):

Column A (left): 3″, 3″, 4″, 4 1/2″ = 14.5″
Column B (middle): 4 1/2″, 2 1/2″, 5″, 2 1/2″ = 14.5″
Column C (right): 3 1/2″, 2″, 2″, 7″ = 14.5″

Piece the sections you just cut to your squares in the order you wish them to be laid out on your quilt.


Once you finish sewing and pressing all 3 columns you are almost done with your top! Precision quilters out there should trim down their columns at this point.

The final step is to sew your remaining strips and columns together. I pieced mine alternating the 2 1/2″ strips and the 5″ strips to give my quilt an asymmetrical look.


You will end up with a bit of a tail at the end but you can just trim it off  with your scissors as you go(giving yourself some wiggle room) because you will be trimming your top later.


Trim down all four sides of your quilt so that you have nice, straight edges to work with.


You should now have a quilt top that looks more or less like this (except maybe not the messy sewing room to go with it):


Getting Ready for Quilting:

Now that you have your fabulous quilt top it’s time to select a backing fabric. I went with a fun print from Lizzy House’s Red Letter Day line because it had oranges, greens, and blues. As stated in the Fabric section you will need 1 yard for the back. If you don’t happen to have a yard, just piece something fun together (at least 36″x36″).


Next, layout your pressed backing, batting, and top and baste them together.


Quilt as desired!


My wonderful husband was kind enough to watch hockey downstairs while I worked on this quilt so that we could hang out and kept me entertained by practicing his stick handling skills.

I chose to straight line quilt this little guy using a light gray thread on the front and back just to see how it would look (by the way, I like it a lot). My stitches went vertically and were spaced 3/4″ apart.


For the girly version I free motion quilted various square mazes following the shapes of my top using a gray thread on the gray parts, white thread on the white parts, and matching  pink, orange, or yellow thread on the squares. I used the same gray thread on the back for the entire quilt.


I really like the way the mazes showed up on the back!


Trim down your finished quilt to give yourself straight edges to work with in the next step.


The final step is to bind your quilt.


I narrowed the choices down to two then let my husband help me pick the final one. He decided on the orange and gray one which is another Lizzy House print from her Red Letter Day line called Pearl Bracelet. Can you tell this line is a favorite of mine!?


I’m still working on sewing down the binding to the back but you can see above that it’s almost done!

Here’s my finished girly version rolled up for a binding shot (because who can resist a binding shot?):


If you’re not already thinking about it, I’ll remind you now that this is not only a tutorial but it’s also a giveaway! When it came time to name this quilt my mind drew a blank so I’m leaving it up to you! The person who comes up with the most creative name (my choice) for this quilt will get to pick between the girly version or the boyish version to keep for themselves. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post with your idea for a name. A winner will be selected May 6th and announced on my blog. I can’t wait to hear your ideas!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I would like to give a big thanks to the team at Fat Quarterly for allowing me to share my creation with you. Check out their Issues for sale and other free tutorials on their website.

Show your support for this tutorial by leaving a comment here or on my blog (hopefully with something sweet to say and an idea for a name too), becoming a follower of Threaded Mess, and sharing your creations based on this tutorial on flickr in the Threaded Mess Tutorials group page.

Happy Quilting!


Big thanks to Natalie for such a wonderful post!!  Want to feature one of your tutorials in a future post?  Contact us at submissions@fatquarterly.com.

- the FQ team