Quilt Big: Bigger Blocks for Faster Finishes

Quilt Big: Bigger Blocks for Faster Finishes

by Jemima Flendt


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Big, bold, impressive designs that sew together quickly and easily!

Approaching quilting in a big way, Quilt Big takes the inherent beauty found in single block patterns and creates big, bold quilts, quickly and easily. Whether you're simply short on time or intimidated by complex quilts, Quilt Big will show you how super-sizing your blocks make for faster finishes and so much more. In this block book and design resource, you'll find:

  •22 BIG blocks to show off your favorite fabrics in fantastic ways.
  •Step-by-step guide to scaling traditional blocks to oversized designs.
  •17 quilt designs featuring bold, super-sized blocks. Plus, these 15", 18", and 24" blocks are interchangeable for one-of-a-kind finished projects!
  •No CD required! Block patterns have been designed in a way that no specially sized templates are needed.
If you're new to quilting, there's no better way to learn than on a grand scale. And, for the experienced quilter, large block pieces are a fabric-friendly way to feature your favorite designer collections. Super-size your love of quilting with Quilt Big!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440248542
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/04/2018
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 792,005
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.40(d)

Read an Excerpt




When it comes to quilting, bigger can certainly be better! Not only on trend, scaling up pattern designs can make for faster finishes. This book takes the inherent beauty found in single-block patterns and creates big, bold quilts, quickly and easily. What better way to learn the basics of piecing blocks or showcasing your favorite prints than by learning on a grand scale? The bonus: A complete quilt can be made in a matter of days rather than committing months to a single project.

Quilt blocks form the basis of most designs in this book. They take us back to the very heart of quilting with block designs that date back generations and can help you develop your skills and learn new techniques. In this book, we are looking at close to two dozen blocks and how we can use them to create supersized quilt patterns. While most of these blocks date back to the origins of quilting, you will see why they hold just as much relevance in quilting today.

Basic Tools & Supplies

• Sewing machine with ¼" (6 mm) foot

• Additional machine feet, such as a zipper foot, will also be helpful

• Machine sewing needles

• Hand sewing needles for handquilting and binding

• Curved safety pins

• Rotary cutter and self-healing cutting mat

• Masking tape

• Clear acrylic rulers: 12." (31.5 cm) square, 12."

(31.5 cm) Half-Square Triangle Square Up Ruler, 6" × 12" (15 cm × 30.5 cm) Flying Geese Square Up Ruler, and 6." × 24" (16.5 cm × 61 cm) ruler (I like Bloc Loc rulers)

• Scissors

• Erasable fabric marking pens

• Seam ripper

• Pencil

• Iron and ironing board


For general quilting and sewing projects, I use a Universal size 80 needle. Change your needle every 8 hours of sewing time or for every new quilt top. Having a nice sharp needle will ensure it moves smoothly through your fabrics so that you do not get any snagging, skipping, or pulling.


I like to cut fabrics with a rotary cutter and self-healing cutting mat. These mats are gentle on blades so your blade stays sharper longer. Change your rotary cutter blades often to ensure ease of cutting.

Using large 24" (61 cm) rulers will help you cut the longest lengths possible from your fabric. I have specified Bloc Loc rulers for several projects in this book; investing in them will help you cut more accurately when trimming blocks to size.


I love to use a variety of fabrics, including 100-percent cotton, linen, lawn, denim, chambray, and flannel. Often there may be several different fabric types within a single project. If you are starting out, I recommend sticking with 100-percent cotton patchwork fabric. As your skills grow, you can incorporate other fabrics to add texture and interest to your projects.

Note: All fabric yardage in Quilt Big is based on 42" (106.5 cm) wide fabric. It is important to always check the width of your fabric before you begin cutting. Different companies use different widths for their fabrics so measure first to be sure. If the width of your fabric is not 42" (106.5 cm) you may need to make adjustments to the amount of fabric required.


When creating large blocks, there are considerations that need to be made for scale of prints, including large-scale versus small-scale patterns and where each of these works best.

Animal Prints

When you are using prints with patterns such as animals or large flowers, you may need to pay a bit more attention when it comes to cutting. For example, you may cut animal prints in half and then realize that once cut, they may not work as desired. It may require more time to cut your fabrics carefully, but looking at where to cut and envisioning how the cut fabric will look once put together will result in a better finish as you re-piece the cut blocks.


Floral prints are fantastic for large-scale blocks as you get to really appreciate the work in the design and the artistry of the fabric. Many beautiful large-scale floral prints are now available and will work fabulously for these designs. Just consider the size of the print for the specific project before cutting. If the scale of the print is large and the pattern calls for lots of cut pieces, the florals may look distorted when you cut and re-sew the fabrics. Also, once some of the prints are cut up, the colors may look different than how they appeared as a singular piece of fabric.

Note: You can use an erasable fabric marker on the back of your fabric to mark where to cut pieces if you want to highlight certain focal prints. This will give you a better idea of what you are cutting and how it may look.

Busy Prints

Busy prints are excellent for supersized blocks as you can appreciate the patterns in larger areas. Another good idea is to use busier prints as your background fabric as they can provide great contrast to designs that use fewer prints and will give greater impact to your finished quilt.


Using solid fabrics is a great way to give quilts a big bold look.


Fat quarter bundles or 10" (25.5 cm) squares will provide lots of contrast to quilts with coordinating fabrics and are a good starting point if you are not confident at choosing fabrics.


Use good quality, 100-percent cotton thread whenever possible. It's frustrating to spend a lot of time making a project only to have the thread let you down by breaking, snapping, or shredding. I prefer to use Aurifil 50wt thread for piecing and machine quilting. For handquilting, I like to use an Aurifil 12wt thread. The colors are amazing, and I can coordinate them for every project.

Tips and Techniques


Always sew with a ¼" (6 mm) seam allowance. The best way to achieve this is by using a ¼" (6 mm) foot on your sewing machine. Match raw edges together and line up the edge of the fabric with the edge of the machine foot. When all of your seams are the correct size, your pieces should fit together easily and the seams should match up neatly.


Washing fabric causes much debate among quilters. I don't prewash fabric before I start quilting unless it is a color that may bleed, such as black, red, or navy. If you don't prewash your fabric, adding a color-absorbing laundry sheet when washing your quilt can help take care of any excess dye in the water.


A lot of patterns assume you know how to press and in which direction. Pressing fabric correctly will make for a better-finished quilt top. I have included instructions in this book. Press all fabric before you start. This helps ensure that any shrinkage happens before you cut out your pieces rather than after you have them cut to size. Always try to press fabric on the wrong side.

When setting seams, always press the sewn seam first (before you open the fabrics), then press the fabric in the correct direction. This will allow the stitches to "meld together" and will hold the fabric better. It also helps to alleviate distortion or stretching as you press the seams in one direction or another.

Generally, when you press seams to one side, press them toward the darker fabric. If you are using fabrics that have a white or light background against dark fabrics, it is often best to press seams open to avoid dark shadows.

Putting It All Together

Once you have assembled the top of your quilt or project, it is time to put all the layers together and finish it off. Due to the supersized nature of many of the quilts and projects in this book, the quilting is going to play an important role in the look of your finished project. With larger areas of negative space or background fabrics comes the need to quilt to these spaces to add more interest and detail.


To make a "Quilt Sandwich," lay the backing fabric on the floor right-side down. Smooth out any wrinkles, then hold the fabric in place with masking tape. Lay the batting on top and make sure it is wrinkle free. After pressing the quilt top, lay it over the batting with the right-side up and baste the three layers together with safety pins.

Starting from the center of the quilt sandwich, place the pins about 3" (7.5 cm) apart for hand quilting or 4" (10 cm) apart for machine quilting. Work equally on all sides until you get to the edges (Figure 1).

You can also "thread baste" the layers if you prefer. Use long, hand-basting stitches to secure the layers together. Spray basting is another way to baste the layers together.


Machine Quilting

I have used a variety of quilting options for the projects in this book. Some I machine quilted using the designs in the quilt/project tops to inspire the quilting designs. I like straight-line machine quilting and free-motion machine quilting, which I can do on my domestic machine.


This is a real love of mine. I adore the "perfectly imperfect" stitches and the texture it creates in projects, which is quite different from machine quilting. I often handquilt projects that I have handsewn.

Longarm Quilting

I had a number of the larger quilts in this book longarm quilted due to their size. If you choose to have your quilts longarm quilted, you do not need to baste them. Choose designs that reflect your project, and keep in mind that longarm quilting can change the texture of a quilt. Heavier and denser quilting patterns, for example, will stiffen your quilt, while loose patterns allow for a softer drape. I like to choose patterns based on the type of fabric I used or ones that echo the design. You can use a floral pattern with floral fabrics, for example. Geometric patterns are great when these patterns are echoed in the quilt design. If you are unsure what will best suit your quilt, ask your longarm quilter for suggestions.


Binding is the last step in making quilts and projects. It is the finishing touch that can add just the right detail. prefer to use smaller scale prints for binding as long as the print shows in a narrow width. (I am a big fan of stripe bindings at the moment.) Avoid using prints such as large dots or spots. If you miss the dot print when folding the binding, the dots may appear to drift off the edge or look uneven. Always choose colors or prints that complement your design.

1. To calculate how much binding you will need, measure the length of each side of the quilt. Add the numbers together, then add 10" (25.5 cm) to the total.

2. Join the binding strips by placing 2 strips at right angles. Mark a diagonal line from the top left corner to the bottom right and stitch along this line (Figure 1). Trim the corner (Figure 2). Press the seams open, then press the entire strip in half lengthwise with wrong sides together (Figure 3).

3. Starting about halfway along one side of the quilt and leaving a 6" (15 cm) tail, sew the binding strip to the right side of the quilt, mitering the corners as you go. To miter the corners, stop ¼" (6 mm) before you reach the corner of your quilt. Put the needle down into the quilt at this point and rotate the quilt 90 degrees. Reverse stitch back to the raw edge of the binding, then place the needle down into the quilt at this raw edge of the binding. Lift up the presser foot. Fold the binding at a 90-degree angle away from the quilt top and back again, covering the angle you created. Line up the raw edges and sew along the next side of your quilt (Figure 4). Continue to sew around your quilt.

4. Stop about 6" (15 cm) from where you started. Open both ends of the binding and place the right sides together. Join each binding strip with a diagonal line as you did in step 2. Trim the seam allowance, then continue sewing the binding to the quilt top.

5. Trim the backing and batting, then fold over the binding and slip stitch into place, mitering the corners in the opposite direction from the front corners, along the back seam line (Figure 5).



As someone who never liked math much in school and wasn't that great at it, I find it ironic just how much math I use for quilting. Whether it is converting inches into centimeters or meters into yards, calculating dimensions, sizing blocks, or working out binding requirements, there is a lot of math involved in designing and creating quilts.

Becoming confident in working out quilting calculations will open up a range of new block patterns and ways to design your own quilts to make them any size you choose. It will also mean you can easily work out fabric requirements for what you need to purchase.


• Ruler or tape measure

• Lead pencil

• Colored pencils

• Grid paper

• Calculator


First, it is important to know the mattress dimensions of different sized beds. This will allow you to work out the size quilt you may need to make.

Upsizing Quilt Blocks


Deciding to upsize a quilt pattern can be as easy as adding or making additional blocks or borders. This is an easy option for achieving a larger size quilt and is great if you are not as confident working out the quilt math. But what if you want to upsize the scale of the blocks in a pattern? Once you get the hang of it, it is fairly easy. Here is how you do it.

Frequently, blocks are made up from a grid formation. When you take a block and divide it into a grid, you will more easily see how to work out resizing blocks.


Let's use the Simplex Star block in chapter 3 as an example. You can see by dividing up this block that it is made up of a 3 × 3 grid of units. So you need to calculate using the finished block size you want.

To do so, divide the required finished block size by the number of units in the grid layout. For example, if you want to make a 24" (61 cm) square finished block, dividing by 3 (for a 3 × 3 grid) will give you units that are each an 8" (20.5 cm) finished square.

24 / 3 = 8 (The finished block size divided by the grid number = finished square size in each grid)


In this next example, the Indian Star block is a 4 × 4 grid. If you want to make a 24" (61 cm) finished block size, divide the finished size by 4 (for the 4 × 4 grid). You will see that the units you need are each 6" (15 cm) finished squares. To add seam allowances, increase the dimensions as follows:

Squares: Add ½" (1.3 cm) to the finished size of each square.

Half-Square Triangles: Add 7/8" (2.2 cm) to the finished size of both squares.

Quarter-Square Triangles: Add 1¼" (3.2 cm) to the finished size of each square you plan to cut into 4 pieces.


Here are some common quilt grid dimensions for your convenience.


Excerpted from "Quilt Big"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Jemima Flendt.
Excerpted by permission of F+W Media, 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.

Table of Contents

Introduction, 5,
Chapter 1: Quilting Basics, 6,
Chapter 2: Upsizing Quilts and Quilt Blocks, 12,
Chapter 3: Quilt Blocks, 16,
Chapter 4: Quilts and Home Décor Projects, 54,
Chapter 5: Quilt Backings, 132,
Acknowledgments, 142,
About the Author, 142,
Resources, 143,
Index, 143,

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