Design your own quilt blocks – using paper and fun!

There is amazing quilt designing software available, but for those of us who are a bit more tactile, or just want to play once in a while, here is a fun way to design your own quilt blocks.  All you need is some scrapbooking paper, a ruler and a pair of scissors.  Oh, and don’t forget your sense of discovery and play – we’re here to have some fun!

I ruled 3 inch squares on the back of one sheet of scrapbooking paper.  Then I layered up four sheets and cut out the squares.  Don’t be too worried about accuracy – no perfect seam matching required!  My little helper had great fun doing this, so consider this a child-friendly activity too.


Cut some of the squares into half-square triangles and use the leftover bits of paper to cut 3 inch x 1 1/2 inch rectangles.  You can also cut some quarter square triangles too.  That’s it!  Now you get to play!


I started by building a basic nine patch block.  Then I decided to grow it by adding another round.  What was most fun about this series was to see how small alterations could change the whole look of the quilt block.  I tired three different variations of the same block – just a small change each time.  Can you pick out the changes ?





I designed some not-so-great quilt blocks too, but no harm done because no fabric was being cut and no seams were being sewn (no unpicking required!).  I just pushed all the paper shapes into a pile and started again.

Here is another arrangement that I quite liked, also with some small changes that significantly alter the overall look of the quilt block.




And why yes, that IS a nerf bullet next to my paper quilt block!  Here might be a good time for some quilter truth.  You see, we work when we can, how we can.  We are flexible, creative, multi-taskers!  Here is a photograph of the ‘whole picture’ just to give you an insight into my quilting world.  I’m working on the dining room table, mess everywhere, and my helper has given up and moved onto making teddy clothes with fabric scraps.


This was my last quilt block that I designed.  I put all the shapes into a plastic bag so I could have a play another day if I felt like it.  I had all my ‘blocks’ on record with my digital camera so if I want to make any of them in fabric I can.  But I kinda feel like I’ve already made them all just because I saw them laid out on my table.  How very satisfying indeed!


So, have you got any pretty paper lying around?  Have a go at designing your own quilt blocks, no fabric required!




Charlotte has been quilting for more than 10 years, making both traditional quilts and art quilts and loving both processes. She teaches and writes about quilting to help introduce more people to this awesome craft. She lives in Northland on a boat with her husband, two children, a dog, a cat and two sewing machines – fabric and stitch are her escape! You can also find Charlotte's writings on her blog The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady

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