Monday, April 16, 2012

I*Spy Quilt Tutorial

Do you love making half-square triangles?  Yes?!  Then you'll love making this quilt.  I used a variety of charms from an I*Spy swap but you can use charms from any swap or charm pack!

Here's what you'll need:
  •  96 Charm Squares - 5"x5" Square
  • 1 and 3/4 Yards Neutral Fabric
  • 1/2 Yd Border Fabric if using 1 fabric
    • If you want to use 4 colors like I did you'll need 2 - 3" strips of each
  • Backing - Approx 3 and 1/2 - 4 Yds
  • Binding - Approx 1/2 Yd
Finished Size - Approximately 54" x 70"
First things first, let's turn that neutral yardage into 5" squares.  Cut your neutral into 12 strips 5" x Width of Fabric (WOF).  Then sub cut each strip (save time by stacking a few together) into 8 - 5" squares.  Then with a pencil or marking pen mark the back/wrong side of each square with 3 lines.  The first should go diagonally across from corner to corner, this is your cut line.  The 2nd and 3rd go diagonally across and are drawn 1/4 inch from each side of the cut line, these are your sewing lines*.

Like so:

Draw Lines

*If you are confident with your 1/4 inch sewing abilities you can skip the extra two lines and just sew 1/4 inch on each side in the next step.  I choose to add the extra markings just so everything is accurate.

Once you've marked all of your squares take one neutral and pair it with one charm, right sides together with your markings face up and pin together.  Then sew on your marked lines (or just 1/4 inch on each side of center line).  Chain piecing will save you tons of time here!!

Sew Lines
Once you've sewn them all together you'll need to cut.  I give each block a quick press before I cut just to keep everything crisp - this is totally optional!  Grab your rotary cutter and cut down the center line of each block (blue line in the picture below).  This will leave you will two triangles with a 1/4" seam on each.  Press seams open.  You now have 192 blocks.
Now comes the worst part of the whole project; trimming all 192 half square triangles.  There are a few things that can help make this a little less painful:
  1. A rotating cutting mat
  2. A 4.5" ruler block (with grips stuck on the back!!!)
  3. A fresh rotary blade
Have everything together?  Now trim all of the blocks down to a nice 4.5" square.  If you use a ruler block be sure to line the diagonal line of the ruler up with the diagonal seam line on your block.
Whew!  Now we need to start turning these into pinwheels.  Since I used I*Spy fabrics I wasn't worried about what got pieced with what as long as it wasn't two of the same.  If you're using charm packs and you want certain fabrics to be in pinwheels together you'll want to lay out all your blocks now and then piece them together.  Here's what the end block will look like:

Pinwheel Block
Pair up your blocks and pin right sides together.  I laid them next to each other like in the diagram below and then flipped Block B onto Block A (Right sides together), just to make sure that it would turn out the right direction once sewn together.  Complete for all the blocks leaving you with 96 "units".

Unit 1

Now that you have all of your 2 block units we're going to piece them into blocks.  Take the units and stack them into two piles.  The first should be laid in the direction as above (Unit 1), then second stack should be laid as seen below (Unit 2), like the pinwheel block above.  Flip Unit 2 up onto Unit 1, right sides together, match your center seam, pin together and sew. 

Unit 2

Press your seams open and you have 48 pinwheel blocks!

Next, lay out your blocks in an arrangement you like, in rows 6 blocks across and 8 blocks down.  I just tried to make sure that two of the same print weren't right next to each other.  Piece across the rows, left to right, being sure to match the center seam and pressing all seams open.  Then piece each row together, from top to bottom, again pressing your seams open.

The last part needed to finish the top are the borders!  From your border fabric cut 6 strips 3" x WOF.  If you choose to use a different color/print on each border like I did you will need 8 strips total, 2 of each print.  Sew them onto your quilt top putting the sides first and top/bottom second or vice versa. 

You will need to piece some of your strips together and trim for them to fit.  I tend to sew two strips together and attach them to the sides lining them up at one end and letting the excess length hang at the other end.  After attaching I trim that excess and attach it to the remaining strips and use those for the top and bottom.  Like so:

Now take that awesome quilt top and baste, quilt and bind as desired!

I had a lot of trouble taking pictures that accurately showed what I was explaining so I hope these diagrams help!  If pictures would really help some of you out I'd be happy to make another block and try again at taking some pictures of the process.  Seeing as how this is my first tutorial I'd love some feedback, too wordy/detailed or not enough etc, and to know if anyone gives this a try.


  1. What a great tutorial! I love this quilt! Thanks so much. :o)

  2. Great tutorial Kelsey! This would be a great way to use the charms from the colorful charms swaps lately!


  3. Your quilt is lovely, "E" is one very lucky little lady! Your tutorial was very nice, your illustrations will be very helpful for someone who hasn't done this before. Thank you!

  4. Love the quilt and the tutorial!


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