Square in a square quilt

Here is the pattern for the Square in a Square quilt for the Quilts for Comfort programme.  This quilt measures approximately 45" square and is just the right size for a lap quilt.  The fabrics used are mostly from my collection of reproduction 1930s prints.  Normally I make quilts with wadding and a fabric backing but to make this ultra light-weight but still cozy I chose a fleecy backing which will be sewn directly on to the pieced top.

The quilt is made up of sixteen blocks each measuring 9", joined together with a 1" sashing and finished with a 3" border.

You will need approximately 2 metres of mixed fabrics for the blocks, 80cm of fabric for the borders and sashing and 40cm of fabric for the binding.  I also used a piece of fleece about 1.50m long It is usually sold in widths of about 60" (180cm) so there is plenty to make the back in one piece.

To make each block you will need:

Fabric A: 
2 rectangles measuring 9½” x 3½”
2 x 3½” squares

Fabric B:
1 x 3½” square


Take a 3½” square of each Fabric A and Fabric B and sew together. Press seam towards Fabric A.

Sew the second 3½” square of Fabric A to the other side and press seam towards Fabric A.

Now sew the rectangles of Fabric A to the top and bottom of the unit.

Make sure the seams are all pressed towards the Fabric A pieces:

Make sixteen blocks in total.  You can choose lots of different fabrics or make them in just two fabrics and any combination in between!

For the Sashing and Borders and Binding (Fabric C):

From a contrasting fabric cut the following pieces:

From Fabric C cut 
12 rectangles measuring 9½” x 1½”
3 rectangles measuring 39½” x 1½”

From Fabric C cut
4 rectangles measuring 3½” x width of fabric (You will trim to fit later)
From Fabric A cut 4 x 3½” squares for the cornerstones.

5 strips of fabric measuring 1½” x width of fabric

Lay the squares out in a pleasing and balanced order.  If you have a phone camera or digital camera it is really useful to take a picture of this layout. Before this technology I used to label each square and I still got it wrong by the time I had picked up and sewn the blocks together!

The orientation of the blocks is quite an important element to make sure the quilt looks balanced.  I chose to have all the rectangles lying vertically.  You can alternate them if you wish within the rows, or have one row vertical and one row horizontal. Try doing it randomly - it probably won't look right.  Now you are ready to sew the first sashing strips (rectangles) to the blocks.

Sew a  9½” x 3½” rectangle to the right hand side of each block of the first three columns. Press all seams towards the sashing strips.  Next sew each block to its horizontal neighbour.   The picture below shows the horizontal rows joined together with sashing strips in between.  You are now ready to sew the rows together.

Take the three 39½” x 1½” rectangles (sashing strips) and sew these to the bottom edges of the first three horizontal rows:

Sew the rows together BEING VERY CAREFUL TO MATCH THE SEAMS.  I always pin these. The central medallion is now complete.  Make sure all the seams are pressed towards the sashing strips.

The quilt top should now measure 39½” square, but in order to keep the quilt flat and prevent having wavy borders you need to take all four border pieces (the 3½” x width of fabric rectangles) and press them together to temporarily adhere them to each other.  Carefully put the four layers of fabric across the centre of  the quilt and trim the excess.  You could also measure through the centre and cut the four borders to this measurement.

Sew a border strip to the each side of the quilt.  Then sew a 3½” square of Fabric A to either end of the two remaining border strips.  Lastly sew these to the top and bottom of the quilt. I know I did the top and bottom then the sides but it's a square quilt after all!

I marked a very simple pattern on to each block with an HB pencil.  I drew a line from the corner of the block to the start of the centre square. I will sew along these lines and then in the seam lines.   It's quite a loose pattern and you can put more quilting on if you wish.  I layered the quilt top on to the the fleecy backing and trimmed off the excess. I used safety pins to hold them together but you can put big tacking stitches in too. 

When you have finished quilting you need to trim the excess backing.

There are quite a few steps in the following instructions but it will probably take you less time to sew the binding on than it took to write the instructions!

Take the 1½” binding strips, trim off the selvedges and joined together to make one continuous strip.

Place strips right sides together and at right angles to each other.  Mark and sew on the diagonal.

I always check I have sewn the strips in the right direction before trimming.

Finger press the seam open

Now pin the binding strip to the quilt about eight inches in from the corner.  Start sewing about six inches from the edge of the binding (the right hand pin in the picture below.

Now machine the binding in place using a 1/4" seam.  Stop 1/4" from the corner, cut the threads  and remove from the machine.

Turn the binding strip up and finger press a 45 degree angle.  

Turn the strip back down over itself and pin.  

Replace the quilt in the machine starting the stitching a 1/4" from the edge.  Careful not to catch the pin. Sew to the next corner and repeat.

When you have turned the last corner sew a couple of inches, stop, cut the thread and remove from the machine.

You are now going to make a 45 degree seam to join the start and finish together. Fold and crease both edges as shown below

Carefully sew together exactly on the lines, check you have done this correctly before you trim!

Pull the binding flat against the quilt top and sew down.  Keep tension on with both hands to stop any creases forming as you sew.

Now turn the binding over to the other side. You should start to sew near the start/finish join about two thirds along the edge of the quilt. Finger press a 1/4" hem and start to pin in place.  Sew to the corner then turn with a 45 degree angle.  Continue pinning along the second side and sew this before you pin the third side. 

Continue right round to the start.  You're done!  Don't forget to label your quilt.

I have tried my best to make sure the pattern is right but if you have noticed any mistakes I would be really grateful if you would let me know.

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