Quilting 101: Following a Pattern

variety of quilt patterns

Following a quilt pattern is a lot like following a recipe.  You can follow it to an exact tee, or you can tweak it a bit to make it your own! 

Quilt Blocks

There are a lot of different traditional quilt blocks from a sawtooth star block to a bear claw block to a flying geese block (just a few of my favorites!).

Most quilt blocks are designed by simply combining squares, rectangles, and triangles or a combination of all three.  By varying the sizes and placement of these shapes, the block becomes unique. 

It’s really fun to look at different quilt blocks, they’re all out there on Pinterest for you to search for. I’m sure you’ll discover the ones that resonate with you too!! 

bear claw table topper quilt

You can choose a quilt block (or a combination of blocks) that you like and pull them together into your own unique quilt pattern. I designed the table topper quilt above using various bear tooth blocks.

Choosing a Pattern

When you first start out quilting, you will probably want to follow a pattern that someone else had designed. Pre-designed quilt patterns are available in books and magazines, or in quilt shops and online. 

When you first start quilting, choose a simple pattern to gain confidence and achieve success!!  And maybe start small.  You can start with a table topper, or even a pot-holder, to practice your skills.  Once you’re ready, you can advance to make a bigger lap quilt or bed quilt. 

Patterns will normally list all the materials you’ll need to make the quilt, the quantities of fabric you’ll need, a step-by-step set of directions to make each block and assemble the quilt top, lots of times tips and tricks for making a certain block, and maybe even ideas for how to finish and care for your quilt. 

Be sure to read through the entire pattern several times before you start, and gather or make a list of everything you’ll need!

Seam Allowance 

When you start sewing, if it doesn’t state it know that most quilt patterns are based off of using a ¼’ seam allowance. 

sewing a quarter inch seam

Find where the placement is on your machine to get a ¼” seam (this is usually along the right edge of the presser foot, or close to it).  I have already even carefully marked this placement line right on my sewing machine with a very fine permanent marker so it’s easy to sew a straight ¼” seam.

Pattern Designers

My goal this year is to begin designing and making available my own quilt patterns, including the bear tooth block table topper pictured earlier in this post! More to come in the near future on this new, exciting venture!!

A couple of my favorite designers in the quilt pattern world are Kim Diehl, Edyta Sitar, and Melanie Traylor.  Check them out!! I so appreciate their talent for putting shapes and colors together to = beautiful quilts! 

As you explore quilting books, magazines, and websites there will be quilt pattern designers you’ll get to know and love too!!

Have fun choosing and following your quilt pattern! Or have fun putting together blocks to make up one of your own unique quilts!!


As a former 4th grade teacher, I’d always tell my students there is more than one way to do something. The way to solve a problem that makes sense to you might not make sense to someone else.

It’s true with quiltmaking too!! 

There are many ways to arrive at the end result of making a quilt!  As you hone your skills and continue to explore the art of quilting, you’ll find variations of ways to perform various skills and techniques and choose your “go-to” favorites.   

You might even discover a whole new way of doing something!!   


Recommended Articles