Category Archives: beginners patchwork

Free Pattern Friday

Another free pattern today from our Payhip Shop where nearly all the patterns have been drastically reduced in price down to £1, 50p or free. Edit Рand the price on this has now been changed to Free (sorry for the fumble-fingered 50p earlier)

This is another one that appeared many years ago in Patchwork and Quilting magazine as a Junior Project and that we had made a year or two earlier at Staffordshire Young Quilters.

puss in corner

The block used is Puss in the Corner and our young stitchers decided it would be fun to put ‘puss’ in the middle (and maybe a mouse in the corner). We used the pattern to practice different methods of applique and in later years it also proved quite popular with adult education classes for the same purpose.

The pattern includes the template to make the applique cat and an outline of the different methods you could use to stitch your cat in place as well as instructions to make the blocks and the small wall-hanging illustrated.

Back in the ’90s computers were still quite new but some ten years later we used the same pattern to print the cats onto fabric – sadly I don’t have any photos of those nor of the times we used fabric paints, transfer crayons and even coloured paper bags to make our cats.

Download the pattern from here and have fun exploring the many different ways and colours you can make your cat appliques. Download a quilt to colour here.


Free Pattern Friday 9

Welcome to another Friday and another free pattern while we are isolating / locked-down / socially-distanced or otherwise unable to meet up and go to classes.

This week’s is a simple to make design but at first glance looks quite complicated. It is one of a number that you can currently download for free from the Meadowside Designs Payhip shop. Called Which Way is Up? it seemed rather appropriate for things as they are at the moment. This is the link to go straight to the pattern in the shop to download it.

which way

Have a play with the colouring – download a colouring sheet here – to design your own. I had a quick play with Electric Quilt’s magic wand to change the colours randomly starting with my original black and white with red.

which way a

I saved a few to show you – notice that a very pale pastel colour for the arrows and one other colour doesn’t really show up the arrows likewise the purple and green one I felt I could see lots green arrows instead of the few greyish ones.

which way 5which way 1

A strong contrast colour for the few arrows makes them stand out more – like the original red – even though the other two colours are quite contrasting as well. But if you use similar tones for the many arrows and a strong contrast in tone and/or colour then those few arrows really pop out.

which way 4which way 3which way 2

What effect are you after? How many contrast arrows do you want to add in? Your quilt – your choices!

As for the border – feel free to change it, use a single fabric rather than the half-square triangles I used (they were left-over from something else and just happened to fit) or design your own border to suit. Flying Geese might be an idea?

which way a border

Although maybe not as many? Separate them out a bit with some random plain squares or rectangles?

which way b border

I quite like this version – I might just have to make it. Sometime.

Friendship Star

This seemed like a good star block to start our stellar exploration – it is a nice simple design to make but has a lot of possibilities – and the name is good too!

The basic block just requires two colours and here I have used blues.

fship star a


But you can add a different colour to the centre

fship star b

Or to the background.

fship star c

fship star d

You can download some brief instructions to make a 9 inch block here.

But what about the block in a quilt? The plain block alone is ok but might look better with a bit more colour added although the darker centre helps.

Fship Star quilt a

Fship Star quilt b

And adding another colour into the background can also make a difference

Fship Star quilt c



Fship Star quilt d


and if you turn alternate blocks around

Fship Star quilt d1

But all these blues can get a bit so-so. What happens if we jazz things up a bit? The magic wand in EQ can show us. Notice how changing the emphasis of light, medium and dark can change the design – sometimes the stars disappear altogether, sometimes the centre squares are stand out and sometimes the swirl between the stars.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If we go back to the original star without the different colour centre – what happens then?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Included in the pattern download is a blank quilt for you to colour in. How many different ways can you find?

Free Pattern!

I’m not sure I dare mention that its getting on for December – the Autumnal equinox has been and gone and although we still have Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night to get through some thoughts are turning more towards the end of the year. . .

Many years ago we made mug rugs (aka coasters) with Young Quilters and I recently found the instructions on my computer. I’ve updated it and made a new mug rug, taking photos as I went. Its now on the Free Patterns page for you to download. Or you can download it directly here.

This is the original rug mug made last century!


It’s really simple and may not even involve any sewing at all – just glue could be enough, although I have stitched the final bit to be sure of holding it all together. We made our rug mugs in Christmas fabrics but you can of course use any colours you fancy. They are quick and easy to make and just involve folding the fabric. Little stitchers may require some supervision with the iron and ensuring that vast quantities of glue are not spread everywhere!

If mug rugs don’t do it for you – add a loop of ribbon to one corner and hang it from the tree or a garland as a decoration.

Simple Blocks – Aunt Dinah

Aunt Dinah is a variation of the Ohio Star – it has our featured ‘Mary’s Triangles units in the four corners. You can download the instructions for making the block here.

When I first coloured in this block I came up with this

Aunt Dinah block 2

Bu I felt poor Aunty looked a bit dull, so (as it is November and therefore nearly December) I decided to jazz her up a bit with some red and a few snowflakes and stars.

Aunt Dinah block

Like Ohio Star this block can be bit ho-hum just straight set on its own and you can lose the stars – they become a pieced sashing.

Aunt Dinah quilt

But add plain sashing between the blocks or alternate the colours of the stars and things look a better.

Aunt Dinah quilt 1

Or you could turn the corners of the block around and then alternate these with the original, changing the colours of the block as well

Aunt Dinah quilt 2

Even ‘dull’ Aunt Dinah doesn’t look too dull when given this makeover

Aunt Dinah quilt 4

Of course, given the time of year, you could always make something a lot smaller –

Aunt Dinah quilt runner

– give it a border, and maybe ‘pointy’ ends¬† . . . ?

Or you could head over to our Payhip shop and buy a pattern to make a runner – we featured it way back in 2014.

Simple Blocks – Spinning Tops

This is a very similar block to last month’s Grandmother’s Choice – the only difference is that the centre rectangles have been split into two squares. You can download the instructions for the Spinning Tops block here.

Spinning Tops block

Try different ways of colouring the block – it can look quite different in pastel shades for example –

Spinning Tops block a

Because we have coloured the corners differently and because alternate units are turned the blocks are not symmetrical which means you can have a lot of fun turning them around – alternate blocks, or alternate rows or . . . mixing them with alternate Grandmother’s Choice blocks.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Or you set them on point, with or without sashing. This is what the pastel ones look like –

Spinning Tops quilt d

Spinning Tops quilt c

Have fun playing with these blocks. You can download a blank quilt to colour here – you can print lots of copies, cut them up and design your own unique quilt.

Summer mystery revealed

Several people have asked what the finished Summer Mystery looked like when completed. Up until now I have replied that they need to look at the instructions – especially the penultimate week to find out why I couldn’t tell them.

However . . . having found the photos of my quilt in the construction phase while I decided just how to finish it . . . I thought I would show you why I couldn’t tell you.

The mystery instructions had you make 16 blocks in total – 8 of one, 8 of another – and the final instruction (before quilting and binding) was to arrange the blocks in a way that you yourself felt most pleasing. It took me a long time to settle on one.

So first I set the blocks alternately and then started turning them around (they are directional blocks).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then I put one set of blocks in the centre and corners and turned them around a few times

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Finally I put the other set of blocks in the centre and corners and turned them around

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you are still struggling with the layout of yours I hope these photos have given you a few ideas, rather than muddled you even further.

For those who have yet to make the quilt, perhaps you can now see why a final photo of the finished quilt was not possible at the time.

This is one of the joys of patchwork – the endless possibilities from two simple blocks put together.

PS. Mine was finished and gifted to charity – probably Siblings Together, as that is where my larger quilts go; the smaller ones go to Linus.

Simple Blocks – Grandmother’s Choice

Quite a number of the blocks using the Mary’s Triangles units are 5-patch (sometimes known as uneven 9-patch) blocks. For this reason they are best made at sizes that are multiples of 5 – and 10 inches is usual. This month’s block is Grandmother’s Choice and is a typical (and simple) 5-patch block. You can download the instructions to make this block here.

Grandmother's Choice block

The block on its own just set straight together is not very exciting, but if you alternate the colours in the block it starts to look a little more interesting.

Grandmother's Choice quilt b

Add in another colour perhaps, as sashing?

Grandmother's Choice quilt a

Or go pastel?

Grandmother's Choice quilt c

Or on point with sashing and cornerstones? It is starting to look very different.

Grandmother's Choice quilt d

Enjoy playing with this quilt – change the colours around – it looks quite different done in brights and lights for instance.