This Lap Quilt Tutorial was specifically designed:

1. To be used in the classroom along with teacher instruction

2. To be used as a reference guide after reading and discussing the tutorial

3. To be used if the students wish to create a Lap Quilt on their own (i.e., at home)

4. To create a "paper-less" classroom

5. To integrate technology in the classroom

As you work through this tutorial you will learn:

The Supplies needed to Create a Lap Quilt

How to "Rip" the 6-inch Squares (Method 1)

How to Straighten the Crosswise Grain on the Fabric

How to Use a 6-inch Square Pattern (Method 2)

How to Pin Pattern to Fabric

How to Cut the Fabric

How to Pin Squares Together

How to Sew Squares Together

How to Properly Press Seams

How to Sew Pairs Together

How to Pin the Quilt Together

How to Create the Borders

How to Hand Sew Slipstitched Borders

How to Hand Quilt 

How to Evaluate Your Quilt

Illustration 1

Supplies Needed

½ yard each of 45-inch wide fabric color A, color B & color C

1 1/8 yard of 45-inch wide fabric color A or B or C or a coordinating color 
      (for backing/borders)

1 yard of 45-inch wide white felt or similar thickness of fabric for the quilt batting 
      (inside fabric).  You can use quilt batting, but its a little more difficult to use and 
       the felt works just as well.

White All Purpose Sewing Thread

Small spool All Purpose Sewing Thread that matches backing/border fabric OR 
      clear nylon thread (recommended)

1 Package of Quilting Pins


Straight Pins and Pincushion

Seam gauge

Hand Sewing Needles

Seam ripper


Fabric for the Quilt Top and backing must be a WOVEN fabric made of 100% cotton or a cotton/polyester blend.

The finished quilt will measure approximately:  30 x 30 inches.

There are 36 squares.

Fabric 1/4 yard long x 45 inch wide makes 7 squares.

There are two ways to cut out the squares, this first way is the easiest and most accurate for beginning sews, at least in my years of teaching sewing to new sewers:

"Ripping" the 6-in Square Method

Straightening the Crosswise Grain

Woven fabric is created by a series of lengthwise threads called "filling yarns" and crosswise threads called "warp yarns."  These are the lengthwise and crosswise grains of the fabric.

We will be working from the raw edge.  Remember that the raw edge of the fabric is the end of the fabric that was cut off the bolt of cloth.

1. Snip fabric at one of the selvages (finished edge of the fabric that will not unravel) about 1/2 inch from the raw edge (use your seam gauge to measure).

2. Grab above the snip with one hand and below the snip with the other hand.  Gently tear across until you get to the other selvage. 

3. If the fabric does not tear all the way across repeat # 1 above on the SAME selvage you snipped the first time.

4. Repeat until you can gently tear across from one selvage to the other in one strip.

 Ripping off 6 inch wide x 45 inch long strips:

1. We will be working from the raw edge that you snipped to straighten out your crosswise grain.  We need to make two strips that are 6 inches wide x 45 inches long for each one of your A, B and C fabrics.

2. Use a seam gauge to measure 6 inches down from the straightened "raw" edge to the selvage.  Double check to make sure you measured accurately!

3. Snip fabric on the selvage 6 inches down from the straightened "raw" edge as shown in the illustration below:

4. Grab above the snip with one hand and below the snip with the other hand.  Gently tear across until you get to the other selvage.  You should now have a strip of fabric that 45 inches long and 6 inches wide.

5. Repeat 2, 3, and 4 above to create the second strip from your first fabric.

6.  Repeat these steps for fabrics B & C.

 Once you have cut out all of your strips, it's time to cut the strips into 6 inch squares.

Take one of your strips, using a pencil and a seam gauge, mark 6 inch "tick" marks all the way across the fabric.  Double check to make sure you measured accurately!

Snip each "tick" mark and "rip" off the 6 inch square.  You should have at least seven 6-inch squares.  Repeat for the rest of your strips.

Click here to skip over the "Using a 6-inch Square Method" and to move to the next step!

"Using" a 6-in Square Method

     Step 1: Six-inch Square Pattern

Using white or notebook paper, mark a 6-inch square using a 12-inch ruler and a pencil.  Cut out paper square using scissors (not shears).  You may want to make more than one paper 6-inch square.  Write your # and name on the patterns. 

     Step 2:  Press Fabrics, if necessary

     Step 3: Pinning Pattern to Fabric & Cutting Fabric

A. You will cut out your quilt squares one at a time.  Cutting more than one at a time can create uneven squares. 

Carefully pin the paper pattern to one of the fabrics using your regular pins.  You will need at least 4 pins (see Illustration 2).  Don't pin it to the very top edge of the fabric, give yourself enough room to cut around the paper pattern.

You will need 12 squares from each piece of fabric, so pin and cut out each square carefully (see Illustration 2A). 

Illustration 2

Illustration 2A

B. As you carefully cut out each square, remember to leave the fabric on the table, place your hand squarely on the fabric.  Keep the bottom edge of the shears on the table as you cut out each square - this will enable you cut out perfect squares.

o Cut out 12 squares of Fabric A
o Cut out 12 squares of Fabric B
o Cut out 12 squares of Fabric C

     Step 4: Pinning Squares Together

Using regular pins, pin squares in pairs with right sides together (wrong sides will be on the outside) as follows: (See Illustration 3 for pin positions)

a) 6 A squares to 6 B squares 

b) 6 B squares to 6 C squares 

c) 6 C squares to 6 A squares

Illustration 3

     Step 5: Sewing Squares Together & Pressing Seams Open

Let's review the "Guidelines for Sewing on the Sewing Machine".

A. Wind bobbin using white thread and thread the machine.

B. Using a straight stitch, set Uni-Dial on "A" and Stitch Length Dial on 3 or 4.

C. Use a scrap piece of fabric to test the machine - you should do this every time 
     you thread the machine.

D. Sew a 1/2 (4/8) inch seam line on one of your square pairs using the 1/2 (4/8) 
     inch mark on the throat plate of the sewing machine (see illustration 4). 

FYI:  Traditionally, quilt squares are sewn with a 1/4 (2/8) inch seam line -- but since we are "neophytes"  we will sew 1/2 (4/8) inch seam lines.

Illustration 4

E. Remember to backstitch when you first begin and to backstitch when you come to the end of the pair of squares.  Backstitching at the beginning and end "locks" your stitches so that they will not unravel.  If you don't backstitch at the beginning and end, you will have to hand tie the threads.

To backstitch, start about a half-inch down from the edge of the fabric.  Press the Reverse Stitch Button (RSB) until you come to the very beginning of the fabric, then let go of the RSB.  Stitch forward until you come to the end of the fabric, press the RSB then let go when you've gone about half an inch.

F. Remove the PINS as you sew and place them into your pincushion.

There are three reasons why we DO NOT sew over pins:

1) Sewing over pins is dangerous since they can break and become flying 

2) You can dull the sewing machine needle.

3) You can break the sewing machine needle, which can also become a 
     dangerous flying projectile.

G. After sewing one pair of squares together clip the threads.

H.  There are two steps to pressing the squares.

The first step is to press the seam flat.  This distributes the stitches evenly (see illustration 5).

Illustration 5

The second step is to press OPEN the seam (see illustration 5A).  This will allow you to match your seams when you are sewing pairs together. 

Illustration 5A

FYI:  Usually quilt square seams are pressed flat like our "first step" above, then pressed to one side (usually toward the darker fabric).  See illustration 5B.  I find this method more difficult to match the seams when you are sewing pairs together.

Illustration 5B

I. Your sewing partner can sew one pair of his/her squares together as you press 
     OPEN your seam. 

J. Continue sewing the rest of the pairs together; remember to SHARE the sewing

K. You will have 18 pairs of squares when you are finished. 

L. Six pairs make up each column.  Look at Illustration 1, 5C and 5D for the pattern in sewing the 18 pairs together. Follow the pattern exactly.

Illustration 5C
Illustration 5D

M. Make sure to MATCH the seam lines when you pin your squares together.  Sew your pairs and properly press your seams.  Let your sewing partner have equal time at the sewing machine. 

N. Carefully press entire Quilt Top on the wrong side and then on the right side.

     Step 6: Pinning Back Fabric, Felt and Quilt Top Together

A. Press the felt and backing/border fabric if needed.  If you are using quilt batting, DO NOT press it.

B. Lay the felt on a table, place the Quilt Top face up on the felt.  Using Quilting Pins, pin the Quilt Top to the felt (at least one pin per square).  Carefully trim felt to fit Quilt Top.  Place to one side.

C. Lay the backing fabric flat on a table with wrong side up.

D. Lay the pinned quilt top/felt on top of the backing fabric.  The quilt top will be facing up with the felt/batting between the quilt top and the backing fabric.  Now you have a quilt "sandwich".

Make sure that you have at least 3 inches of backing fabric around every edge (see Illustration 6).

Illustration 6

E. Repin the quilt top/felt to the backing fabric.  Start in the middle and work your way outward.  You don't want your quilt to shift while you are finishing the borders and doing the hand quilting.

     Step 7: Quilt Borders

A. Using a seam gauge and a pencil, mark 3 inches around entire quilt border.  Trim off any extra fabric.

Creating Mitered Corners:

B. At each corner, fold the edge of the border fabric down between the border fabric and the felt (or batting) so that it is even with the quilt top corner. 
See illustration 7 & 8.

Illustration 7

Illustration 8

C. Fold the border fabric (wrong sides together) in half, the raw edge of the border should now be laying even with the raw edge of the quilt top (see Illustration 9). 

Illustration 9

D. Pin the border down starting in the center and working your way to the corners; carefully press the borders.

E. Unpin the borders, but don't unfold them.   Fold the borders again, this time having the ironed fold edge laying approximately 1/2 inch from the raw edge of the quilt top (see illustration 10). 

Illustration 10

The border should now be approximately 1 inch wide.  Pin the border down starting in the center and working your way to the corners  (see illustration 11). 

Illustration 11

F.  Press the borders.

     Step 8: Slipstitch Borders 

A. You can hand sew the border down using a slipstitch (see illustration 12).

Illustration 12

When you actually slipstitch on your quilt, you will use thread that matches the border fabric or clear nylon thread which will make your stitches almost invisible.  Keep your stitches small and uniform.

B. Cut a piece of thread approximately 24 inches long and thread your needle.  Make sure to knot the thread.  (We learned how to thread a needle and knot the thread on our first sewing project.)

C. The slipstitch is used to attach a folded edge to another piece of fabric.  It is strong and almost invisible.  (We learned how to do a slipstitch on the hem of our first sewing project.)

D. Practice the slipstitch on a piece of scrap fabric.  Fold a tiny edge down (approximately 1/4 inch) then turn it down again about 1 inch.  Show the teacher your "practice piece." 

E. Thread your needle with thread that matches your border fabric or use clear nylon thread to make your stitches almost invisible.  Make sure to knot the thread.  Starting at the top of one of the corners, anchor the thread on the wrong side of the fabric by slipping the knot under the layer.

F. The stitches are spaced about 1/4 -inches apart.  They slant and barely show.

     Step 9: Hand Quilting 

or see Ms. Black about machine quilting your squares.

A. We are going to hand quilt our quilt using a quilting stitch.  It's basically a basting stitch but the length of the stitch is smaller, approximately 1/4 of an inch.

B. Look at illustration 13.  Imagine that we are looking at the three layers of our quilt "sandwich" as we sew the quilt stitch, it would look like this:

Illustration 13

The stitches show on the quilt top as well as the quilt back.

C. In order to sew perfectly straight quilt stitches, we need a guide.  Our guide for the quilt stitches will be the seam lines around our "C" fabric (see illustration 14). 

Illustration 14

D. We are going to sew our quilt stitches using a method called "stitch in the ditch".  When you "stitch in the ditch" you are literally stitching in the "ditch" created by a seam (see illustration 15).

Illustration 15

E. Thread your needle with thread that matches your border fabric or with white thread.  Make sure to knot the thread.  Starting at one of the 3 sets of "C" squares (see illustration 16), slip the needle from the back to the front.  If you tug slightly on the thread, you can get the knot to disappear into the felt (or batting). 

Illustration 16

F.  You will "stitch in the ditch" completely around each square (see illustration 17).  Remember to keep your stitches about 1/4 inch long.

Illustration 17

G. Clip any loose threads. 

H. Carefully press entire Quilt on the wrong side and then on the right side.

     Step 10: Evaluating Your Quilt

Congratulations!!  You have created your first quilt.

Your next step is to evaluate your quilt using the "Quilt Self Evaluation" worksheet.  Click on the link below to get the worksheet:

Link to worksheet


"Neophytes" is a very cool word that means beginners!
Click here to go back to Sewing Squares Together.

Created by Jo Black 08.06.04 revised 06.02.18
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