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Design and Make Your Own Contemporary Sampler Quilt

Design and Make Your Own Contemporary Sampler Quilt

by Katie Pasquini

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How to combine traditional patterns into pre-planned layout to create handsome, one-of-a-kind quilts. 100 block plans.


How to combine traditional patterns into pre-planned layout to create handsome, one-of-a-kind quilts. 100 block plans.

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Dover Publications
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Dover Quilting
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Barnes & Noble
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By Katie Pasquini

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1985 Katie Pasquini.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-15805-1




#2 lead pencil for marking sewing lines on the light fabrics

White pencil for marking sewing lines on the dark fabrics

Water soluble pen for marking quilting lines on the light fabrics

White charcoal pencil or a soapstone pencil for marking quilting lines on the dark fabrics


A See-Thru[R] ruler with a grid marked on it

An L square or right triangle

SHARPENER—for accuracy, it is important to keep all your marking tools sharp

TRACING PAPER—for tracing the basic format; 81/2" × 11" is a good size

TEMPLATE MATERIAL—transparent plastic is the easiest to use. It is available at craft stores with a rough side that you can write on easily with a pencil.


Paper scissors, old funky scissors for cutting paper and template material Fabric scissors, a good sharp scissor for cutting fabric. These should never be used for anything but fabric.

ROUGH SURFACE—Sandpaper or any other rough surface for laying the fabric on to keep it from slipping while marking around the templates. My tabletop is an unfinished piece of plywood, which works well.

PINS—Good quality quilter's pins; the glass-head long pins.

SEWING MACHINE—For machine piecing any machine that makes a good straight stitch is all that is needed.

IRON—It is important to have an iron nearby to press your seams as you go along.


Sewing thread—any good quality sewing thread the color of your fabric or a neutral color. Basting thread—any thread will do (preferably contrasting in color).

Quilting thread—this is a stronger thread used especially for hand quilting.


Machine needles—a good needle for cotton weight

Basting needle—a long, strong needle

Quilting needles—small "betweens" made especially for quilting; these are shorter than regular needles

THIMBLES—they must fit comfortably but snug.

BATTING—Any bonded batting will do. I use a 3 oz. polyester bonded batt.

QUILTING FRAME—There are many different kinds available; I recommend the 23" quilting hoop.


There are three different sizes of sampler quilts.

To design your quilt, begin by deciding which size you wish to use. (For the beginner, I suggest either wall quilt.)

Lay tracing paper over the format you've chosen and trace it.

Then look through the patterns available in the back of the book. They are broken down into three levels of difficulty. It is better to start out with the simpler blocks for the center and as you gain confidence move on to the more difficult blocks. Lay the tracing paper over the blocks you have chosen and trace them into the blank squares of the format.

You may wish to use the same block pattern for the center four blocks to create an overall pattern that develops by the repeat, or four different block patterns for a different effect.

Similarly, with the outer four blocks you may wish to use the same pattern or four different patterns, or two and two.

The triangle blocks lend themselves to applique work as well as pieced work. There are patterns for these in the back also.

Once you have your sampler designed, you are ready to begin. Don't feel locked into your drawing. As you work out the first few blocks you may decide to change the next set. Let your quilt grow and change as you work.


Small Wall Quilt—41? square

1. Strips 1/4 yd

2. Triangle blocks 3/8 yd

3. Pieced blocks 3/8 yd each of 6 fabrics

4. Backing 1-1/4 yd

Wall Quilt—58? square

1. Borders & strips 1 yd

2. Triangle blocks 1 yd

3. Pieced blocks 3/4 yd each of 6 fabrics

4. Backing 3-1/2 yd

Bed Quilt — 89? square

1. Borders & strips 1-1/8 yd

2. Triangle blocks 2-1/2 yd

3. Pieced blocks 1 yd each of 6 fabrics

4. Contrasting triangles & borders 1-1/8 yd

5. Backing 6 yd

(Check bed for measurements if your quilt is over 91".)

6. Additional borders ........1 1 yd for first border 1-1/2 yd for additional borders.

These yardage requirements are based on 45? fabric.


Choosing fabrics can be exciting as well as frustrating; it all depends on your attitude. Choose a day to go shopping when you don't have a lot of other commitments, and give yourself plenty of time so you won't feel rushed. Take a friend along and leave the kids and dog at home.

Have some idea of the colors you want to use, such as your favorite color or a specific color to match your bedroom or living room decor, but be flexible, you may find something else and change your whole plan. Wander around the fabric store until something grabs you, grab it and add to it.

Here are some ideas to keep in mind.

TEXTURE—There are two types of texture, physical and visual.

Physical texture is the actual feel of the cloth: polished cotton is smooth while corduroy is rough.

Visual texture is the look of the cloth, solids appear smooth while prints appear rough. Use different textures in your quilts to add variety. A common "rule" in quilt making is to use only 100% cotton fabrics. Although this is a good rule, (cottons are easier to work with,) I feel it is too restricting. For a bed quilt, since it will be used and laundered, I recommend using cottons, some cotton blends, and possibly some corduroy for a little texture. For wall quilts, since they will not be laundered often, anything goes; cottons and blends, corduroys and satins, and lame' for accent.

When choosing fabrics make sure to have good visual texture; small prints give the energy of the quilt, and larger prints the variety and accents, while solids give the eye a rest.


Once you have your fabrics all stacked up, take a good look at them. Do you have a good color range from light to dark, or are they all medium? Be sure to have some light, medium and dark shades for contrast. These liven up your quilt and bring out specific parts of the design.

Did you choose an analogous color scheme or a monochromatic color scheme?

An analogous color scheme is one in which colors that are next to each other on the color wheel are used. Yellow, yellow-orange and orange are analogous colors. They make a very safe color scheme. When referring to temperature, these colors are known as warm colors. A good accent to use in this case would be a small amount of one of the above colors' complement; a cool color. A complementary color is the color directly opposite on the color wheel. Complementary colors for yellow, yellow orange and orange are violet, blue violet and blue.

If you have chosen a monochromatic scheme (all one color), you may wish to add an accent if it appears too dull. As above, the complementary color provides a good accent, adding life to the combination. Another good accent is that color to either side of your monocromatic color on the color wheel. For example, if you have chosen a purple color scheme, you may wish to jazz it up with its complement of yellow, or its neighbor, red or blue.

There are many possibilities, but rather than list them all and get caught up in all the technical color terms, I prefer to work with my own feelings. I call this emotional color; colors that feel good to each individual. (The personal color sense we all have.) Put out the fabrics, then study them; if you are pleased go ahead. If not, check to see if you have a good range from light to dark, good size difference (small and larger prints) and an accent or two. The most common mistake is to have all the same intensity in color and no accent.


Check the yardage requirements for the size quilt you have chosen. Yardage is given for each of the different units, as well as an amount for the pieced blocks. Six fabrics should be the minimum number of fabrics used. If you want to use more than six fabrics feel free to do so, just reduce the amount of each piece in proportion to how many more than six are added. For example: If you want to use 8 different fabrics, instead of buying 3/8 yd of 6 different fabrics which equals about 2 yards total, you would only need 1/4 yd of 8 fabrics, which equals 2 yards also. If you want to use more than 8 fabrics do so, but 1/4 yd is the smallest amount of yardage you should buy. Anything smaller is too hard to work with.

When cutting the yardage, get separate pieces for each item. Cut one piece for borders and strips and cut one piece from the same fabric for the pieced blocks. Label them as such.

Preshrinking the yardage is advisable, especially for bed quilts, which will need to be laundered. Wash lights and darks separately.

When making the bed quilt be aware that you may need extra fabric to border it out to the right size. The bed quilt measures 89? across. Add strips to the outside edge until the quilt is large enough to fit your particular bed.

For the first-time quilters who think that picking the colors that "feel good" is somewhat obscure, if not intimidating, here is Chris' basic guideline for picking a color scheme that looks good and is harmonious.

One sure way to have a harmonious quilt is to pick a similar (analogous) color scheme as mentioned before, such as red with its analogous colors, red-orange and red-violet. This gives you three of your six fabrics.

For an accent, you could pick one of your basic color combination's complements. In this case it would be blue-green, green or yellow-green. To really be effective as an accent you need to use just a small amount. One way to assure this is to only use the compliment in the pieced blocks. You now have four of your six fabric colors.

By now, you have your design in outline form on your tracing paper. Where you put your darks, lights and medium colors affects how your design will come out as shown above. You may find it helpful to pencil in your contrasts on a second piece of tracing paper over your design. Use solid for dark colors, lined for medium and leave the light colors blank. This will show you the contrast of your block and possibly help you pick contrasting fabrics.

So far, you have worked with individual blocks, making choices on contrast and putting accent color in them. Now these blocks will be shown off in the overall quilt by how you choose color contrasts for the triangle blocks and the strips. Using one light solid material for the triangle blocks will help tie the quilt together and provide a background for the pieced blocks and strips. It also will allow intricate quilting to show up. If dark colors are used for the strips, they will pull the pieced blocks together into a total design on top of the light background.

Now, armed with a color scheme and contrast drawings, it is time to go to the store to pick your fabric. The chart at the bottom of this page may help you in your selection. The numbers after the fabrics in the chart refer to the placement of the fabric in the bed quilt design below. If you are doing one of the wall quilts just ignore parts not applicable to your design.

In the color scheme chart below, any three adjoining colors on the color wheel can be substituted for either of the analogous color schemes. Then pick one of their three complementary colors and you will have a harmonious color scheme.

If you do use this chart, the yardage you need for each fabric is calculated for you in the accompanying amount chart.


To make an accurate quilt, you must begin with accurate templates. The more you make, the more accurate you will become. Begin by being very careful when making the templates, then everything else will fall into place.

There are two ways to make templates. There are templates without a seam allowance, and those with a seam allowance. I find it more accurate for machine piecing to use templates without the seam allowance added.

To make the template, place the frosted plastic over the patterns in the back of the book, frosted side up. Using a sharp pencil and a ruler, trace the pattern onto the plastic.

Lay the template upside down on the back of the fabric and trace around it. This line is now the sewing line.

A lot of the templates will be interchangable between blocks within each grouping, so label each template with its grouping (2 patch, 3 patch, 6 patch, etc.) and its name.

When laying the template on the fabric, you need to be aware of the grain lines. These are the lines or threads that run in two directions making up the fabric, the warp (which is parallel to the selvage), and the weft. Be sure to line the template up square with these lines. For triangles, place the long side on the grain (warp or weft).

If you find your fabric slipping as you mark around the templates, you may need a rougher surface on which to work. A large sheet of fine grain sandpaper will do or a piece of unfinished plywood.

You will need to add a seam allowance. 1/4" is the allowance used in quilt making. This seam allowance may be added by measuring and drawing 1/4" larger than the seam line. A see-through ruler with lines 1/4" apart is perfect for this.

Or you may wish to eyeball (cutting 1/4" out from the sewing line). Once you are familiar with the 1/4", it will become easy to eyeball.


Strips, borders, and triangle blocks need to be cut from the designated pieces. Using a ruler and triangle or L square, draw the sewing lines onto the fabric in the manner illustrated below.

Place the L square or triangle on the selvage edge of the fabric. This will assure you that your sections are square. Leave space between pieces in order to add the 1/4" seam allowance. This can be done by measuring 1/4" larger or by eyeballing when cutting. Any leftover fabric can be used in the pieced blocks.


After choosing the block, making the templates, and cutting out the fabrics, you will need to put them together to form the block.

The easiest way to see the sewing order for each block is to break it down into units (2 patch, 3 patch, etc.) Find out what is needed to complete each unit, then sew the smaller units together to form larger units. Begin by laying the fabric pieces in the proper order near the sewing machine. Sew the units together, being careful to follow your designated pattern.

For example: This block is from the 2 patch; there are two units on a side. Each unit is made up of two smaller units, triangles. Sew the two triangles together to form the squares, then sew two squares together to form two rows. Sew the two rows together to complete the block.

This block is from the 3 patch; there are three units on a side. Each pattern is made up of smaller units, in this case two different sets are used. One consists of four small squares, and the other of three triangular units. Sew each unit together first to form the squares, then sew the squares together in rows, and lastly sew the rows together to complete the block.

The finished block should measure 12½? (this includes two seam allowances). Make a master template out of cardboard that measures 12½? square. Lay this over the block and trim away any excess.


For machine piecing, a good straight stitch is all that is needed. Accurate pinning is an important part of good machine piecing.

Straight Seams—For straight seams, line both pieces up so the sewing lines match. Place a pin in the corners. Be sure the pin is on the line on both pieces. Pin perpendicular to the line with the head of the pin to the outside. Depending on the length of the seam, pin between the two corner pins to assure there will be no slipping.

Sew on the marked line from one edge to the other. Because these seams will be crossed by another seam there is no need to back stitch on the straight seams. (Note: this rule changes for corner seams.)

Press seams open as you go for wall pieces and to one side for bed quilts. (The reasoning behind this is that for bed quilts pressing to one side makes the seams stronger and for wall quilts pressing them open makes a crisper, more accurate line, although slightly weaker.)

When sewing units or rows together, be sure seams match. Do this by pinning the lines and seams together. Sew right on the line crossing the pin where it goes into the line.

Corner Seams—Corner seams should be treated as two straight seams. Line one side up, pinning corners and between.

Sew from outside edge to inside corner, stopping right at the pin with one backstitch to hold. Do not go further than the end of the seam line. If you do, the fabric will not lie flat when turned.


Excerpted from DESIGN AND MAKE YOUR OWN CONTEMPORARY SAMPLER QUILT by Katie Pasquini. Copyright © 1985 Katie Pasquini.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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