Sunday, May 5, 2019

Two tutorials - Quilts from Shirts

The original post for these quilts was just over two years ago. This set of mini-quilts was made for a family of five siblings to remember their father. I've received several questions about reproducing the design for the first and third quilts so thought I'd share that information here so that you can make one, too.

One frequent question is about how to size the finished quilt to be bigger or smaller. Both of these designs are based on an eight block by eight block grid. In other words, there are eight rows of eight blocks. To determine your finished quilt size, decide how big the finished block size will be and multiply by eight. Here are some examples:

  • 2-inch finished block = 16-inch square finished quilt top
  • 3-inch finished block = 24-inch square finished quilt top
  • 4-inch finished block = 32-inch square finished quilt top
  • 5-inch finished block = 40-inch square finished quilt top
  • 6-inch finished block = 48-inch square finished quilt top
  • 7-inch finished block = 56-inch square finished quilt top
  • 8-inch finished block = 64-inch square finished quilt top
  • 9-inch finished block = 72-inch square finished quilt top
  • 10-inch finished block = 80-inch square finished quilt top
  • 11-inch finished block = 88-inch square finished quilt top
  • 12-inch finished block = 96-inch square finished quilt top
  • 13-inch finished block = 108-inch square finished quilt top
  • 14-inch finished block = 116-inch square finished quilt top
That should cover every size from a mini-quilt up to a king sized quilt. The quilts hanging on the line are 24-inch quilts which means they have 3-inch blocks.

Here is the simple grid for both quilts. Forgive the low tech drawings. You would think that since my day job is all about technology, I would up my game but I really love the simple process of graph paper, ruler, and pencil.

Let's figure out the design breakdown for the first quilt. It is based on the traditional jewel box pattern which is made up of four-patch blocks and half square triangles.

It is a two value quilt, using dark and light fabrics. In my version, the dark is scrappy from the shirts and the light is a Bella solid (ivory maybe). If you look closer, the dark value is really both dark and medium values. I could get away with a wider range of values since my light was very light and also consistent within the quilt.

Each quadrant of this quilt is exactly the same so make one and repeat three more times. The upper left quadrant is drawn out for you. Each quadrant consists of eight half-square triangles and eight four-patch blocks. For three-inch finished blocks, each square in the four-patch blocks should be cut to two-inch squares. Here's the math for that:

    Finished block size divided by 2, then add half an inch = cut size of squares for the four-patch unit.

And a couple of examples:

    Finished block size = 4 inches
    Divided by 2 (or take half if that's easier for you to think about) = 2 inches
    Add half an inch = 2 1/2" cut squares for the four-patch block

    Finished block size = 7 inches
    Divided by 2 = 3 1/2 inches
    Add half an inch = 4 inch cut squares for the four-patch block

There are many great tutorials out there for half-square triangles, so go to your favorite or check out this one for help making those.

That's all there is to it. 

Now let's take a look at the third quilt hanging on the line. In one way this quilt is easier and in another it is more complicated.

It's easier because it has simpler units. It is solid squares and half square triangles. It's more complicated because it uses three values: light, medium, and dark. The layout is a little trickier too only because it's easy to turn one of those triangle units the wrong way while sewing the blocks together. 

Here's the grid for this one:

For the grid, L means light value, M means medium value, and D means dark value. Because I was working with shirts and had a limited colors/values available, this design was a bit tricky, but it worked out just fine. I had to be careful of placement for those fabrics that could pass for more than one value. The stronger the value, the stronger the design stands out for this quilt.

It's a busy drawing so here is the break down of the blocks you need:

    Light squares = 20
    Medium squares = 12
    Half square triangle blocks with half light, half dark = 20
    Half square triangle blocks with half medium, half dark = 12

We covered how the block size determines the quilt size way up at the beginning of this post and I've also shared a link to my tutorial for making half square triangles. Here it is again just in case you skipped over the instructions for the first design and came straight to this one.

With these details, you should be ready to jump in and make your own version of this quilt, too.

I love how simple squares and triangles can be put together to make thousands of designs. Have fun creating your own quilts and please let me know if you have any additional questions or need more details for either of these quilts.

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