Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Tumbler Quilt Top Tutorial

A tumbler quilt can be a quilt quick project that gives you a little more variety than a simple square-to-square quilt.  You can purchase a special ruler that you can use to cut your pieces, but I will also show you how you can make your own template.
Tools needed for this project:  an iron, an ironing surface,  hand-sewing needles, machine needles, thread, bobbins, scissors, rotary cutter, a rotary cutting mat, a cutting ruler, a pen/pencil, cardboard measuring 5 in. X 5 in., fabric in proportions listed for this project, binding clips (optional), and sewing gloves (optional).
Fabric needed for this project:

1.  1 (42-pieced) charm pack-prints or various prints cut to measure 5in. X 5 in. (41 blocks needed in all).

2.  1 (40 or 42-pieced) charm pack-solid or 3/4 yard of a solid or small print fabric for Main blocks.  (Note: Directions for cutting fabric yardage will be listed in project details).

3.  1/2 yard of coordinating fabric for Binding

4.  1 1/2 yards of fabric for Back

Note:  2 3/4 yards of fabric total for Main blocks, Binding, and Back fabrics if you would like to use the same fabric.

5.  3/4 yards of fabric for the Sashing; this fabric should be different than the other fabrics to show a nice contrast and frame the patterned blocks.

6.  A package of crib-sized batting or a piece of batting measuring 45 in. X 55 in.

Preparing the template:

Step 1:  Mark the pre-measured and cut piece of cardboard 1 inch from the left side inwards.
Make the same mark 1 inch from the right edge.

Step 2:  Make a line with a pen or pencil from the left bottom corner to the  mark one inch from the left top corner.  Connect the right bottom corner to the mark 1 inch from the right top corner.

Step 3:  Your template should be marked in this way, if it does not look like this picture start your template over. Cut along the marked lines to complete the making of your template for this project.
Using your template: 

Step 4:  From your charm pack or precut fabrics (cut into 5 in. X 5 in. squares) choose 1-4 squares stacked.  Placing the template on the squares, line your ruler up on the edge.  Careful not to cut the template, use the rotary cutter to cut through the fabrics.  Repeat this step on the other side.

Step 4b:  This is what your cut charm squares or mixed prints should look like.

Step 5:  To cut your pieces from the solid or small print fabric for the main print in this quilt You must first prepare the fabric.  Iron your fabric so that the salvage edges meet, then take the center fold to the salvage edges, iron it again.  This will make it easier to fit your fabric on a cutting mat and allow you to cut multiple pieces at once.  Once you have cut 5 inch wide strips from the quartered fabric, use your template and ruler alternately as pictured here to cut your pieces.  You will need 40 pieces cut from the fabric to complete this project.
Step 6:  Starting with a "mixed print" tumbler piece alternate blocks until you have 9 rows with 9 blocks each for a total of 41 "mixed prints" blocks and 40 "main print/solid" blocks.  The important step is to get the blocks down; you can then take time to rearrange to suit your liking.
Construction of Rows:

Step 7:  With right sides together you line up the sides of the blocks, making sure that they do not overlap on the ends.  Iron all seams towards the "main print/solid."  You can sew several pairs together one right after the other, snip threads between pairs and iron without having to stop and start after each pair.  It is sort of like a factory's assembly line.  This will cut some time off your project!

Step 8:  With rights sides together, aline the pairs so they can be sewn together.  Continue this until the whole row is complete.  Move onto the next row until you have 9 complete rows.

Step 9:  Now it is time to connect the rows together!  With right sides together, pin in place the two rows, if you have ironed all seams to the "main print/solid" the rows should nest into one another.  Even so, it is wise to pin them together so they do not shift in the sewing process.

Step 9b:  This is what your quilt top should look like once you have assembled all 9 rows together.

Step 10:  Folding the quilt top in half with the flat ends together, lay it on your cutting mat.  Place you ruler where each narrow part of the tumbler meets.

Step 10b:  Using your rotary cutter, cut along the ruler to form a straight edge.  Repeat this on the other side of the existing quilt top.

Step 11:  Prepare your sashing and binding fabrics as described in Step 5 of this tutorial.  For the sashing fabric you will want to cut 4 pieces of fabric measuring 5 in. X WOF (Width Of Fabric)

Step 11b:  This would be a great time to also cut your binding fabric.  I will explain the different binding cuts and techniques in "Finishing a Quilt Tutorial" that I will work on next.

Step 12:  First, trim the salvage from one end of a sashing strip. It is very important that you attach the sashing to the longer side first!  With right sides, pin the long side to a sashing strip; pinning will help the seams to stay put while attaching.

Step 12b:  There will be a little bit of excess fabric on the end.  You can use a rotary cutter or a pair of scissors to trim this off, just make sure it is straight.  Iron the seams towards the sashing.

Step 12c:  This is what your quilt top will look like after you have attached the sashing to the two longer sides.

Step 13:  Attaching the sashing to the ends of the quilt top will repeat Steps 12a & 12b.    The reason for attaching the longer sides' sashing first is so that all the measurements and pieces form a quilt with a full back (for a regular sized piece of fabric).  If you would like a bigger quilt you can play around with the sizes and perhaps cut your sashing pieces vertically instead of horizontally.  You may need to cut and add blocks to your existing number if that is the direction you would like to go.  You may also need to make the quilt backing from several pieces; next week's tutorial will explain.

Completed:  One quilt top measuring about 41 in. X 50 1/2 In.

The neutral version in green, teal, light blue and a touch of Red

The feminine version in pinks, purples, lime green & peach

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  1. very cool. you are amazing!

  2. Thank you so much for this tutorial on how to make your own tumbler templates. I personally don't want to have to buy different sizes. I would mainly use this for 9" blocks making an 8.5" tumbler...............I like to sew with fat Quarters or 1/4 yard stripes to get alot of designs in my quilts. I have yet to find a plastic 9" tumbler ruler! Thanks again for sharing!


    P.S. I have fabric give-aways each week sponsored by online fabric shops!

  3. I referenced your tutorial in my blog post:


  4. What a great idea for a charm pack.
    Thank you.

  5. Thanks for a great tutorial. I, too, do not want to purchase templates for every quilt. To cut tumblers out of layer cakes, do you just cut a 2 inch diagonal from each side of the cardboard?

  6. I love this quilt and your technique to make it. Thanks so much for posting this.

  7. Thank you....I have not felt much interest in tumblers...but now my interest is piqued...the template really helps....and your pictures showing how nicely the rows match up makes it seem not so daunting....


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