Quilt with Squares – Make a Simple Patchwork Quilt

Learn how to make a simple quilt with squares! The free ombre squares quilt pattern is the perfect beginner project!

Today I’m going to show you how to make a simple quilt with squares. We’ll make an ombre version, but I’ll show you how versatile the basic design is, so you can create a different effect using the same techniques.

A squares quilt pattern or a patchwork quilt is an evergreen classic quilt design among quilt patterns. It’s also probably the easiest type of quilt top you can make, making it the perfect project if you’re a beginner.

But don’t let the simplicity fool you, the right fabric choices can make this quilt a real modern stunner. So even if you’re an experienced quilter, you might want to give this one a go (or save it for one day when you need a last-minute handmade gift!).

The Basics of Making a Quilt

Before we dive into the squares quilt top tutorial, let’s take a look at some of the basics. If you’re new to quilting, I definitely recommend you first read the Beginner’s Tutorial on How to Make a Quilt. This is where we cover the entire process of making a quilt, from choosing fabrics, making a quilt top, to basting, quilting, and binding.

In this article, we’ll only cover the quilt top part, so we assume you know the basics of making a quilt (again, if you don’t, refer to the beginner’s tutorial).

Tools and Materials for a Squares Quilt

You’ll need all your basic quilting supplies to make a quilt with squares. We have a list of quilting supplies for beginners, so if you’re new to the craft, start there.

As for materials, the squares quilt top really only requires two things – fabric and thread. Use quality all-purpose thread, if you’re a beginner. If not, you know what you like, so go with that!

Now when it comes to fabrics, there is more than one option. You can use scraps and cut those up into the required squares. Or start with fresh yardage and cut that. The process of cutting squares for your quilt will depend on the fabric you start with (and we’ll get to that in a minute).  

Of course, you can also use precut fabric, which is the easiest and fastest option, because it lets you skip the cutting part altogether. A cute charm pack (pack of 5’’ squares) or mini charm pack (pack of 2.5’’ squares) can make a great quilt with squares. With the fabrics in the precut packs carefully curated, you know they’ll work together, and create a cohesive overall effect.

How to Make Quilting Squares

The quilt math behind making quilting squares will depend on the size of squares you want to use and the size of fabric you are starting with.

For this tutorial, we’ll be making a baby-size quilt from 5’’ unfinished squares (=4,5’’ finished squares). This is also the size of charm squares, making this a charm pack friendly pattern.

*Unfinished refers to the size of fabric squares you are starting with. If you’re starting with 5’’ unfinished squares, they’ll end up 4,5’’ finished squares (after you’ve sewn them to the other squares with a ¼’’ seam allowance on all sides).

We’ll make a quilt with 9 rows, with each row containing 7 squares (63 squares total), which means the finished quilt top will measure 31,5’’ x 40,5’’.

How to Calculate Quilting Squares

If you want to make a different size quilt and/or use different size squares, you will have to adjust the quilt math (but as you see, it’s pretty straightforward). We even have a super handy fabric yardage calculator to help you with it!

Just remember to use the unfinished square size as your starting point, and use the finished square size (which is always 0,5’’ smaller) when calculating the quilt top size.

To make this tutorial a layer-cake friendly pattern, a fat-quarter friendly pattern AND yardage friendly, I’ll show you how to make 5’’ quilting squares using:

  • Layer cakes (10’’ precut squares)
  • Fat Quarters (18 x 21-22’’ precut rectangles)
  • Yardage (assuming it’s 42’’ wide)

If you’re confident in your cutting skills, you can cut multiple layers at once to speed up the process.

Quilting Squares from Layer Cakes

  1. Cut the layer cake in half vertically.
  2. Cut the layer cake in half horizontally.

Note! There is no room for error in this case, so make sure your cuts are accurate.

Quilting Squares from Fat Quarters

  1. Cut (3) 5’’ x 21’’ strips.
  2. Subcut each strip to (4) 5’’ squares.

Quilting Squares from ½ yard

  1. Cut (3) WOF* x 5’’ strips.
  2. Subcut each strip to (8) 5’’ squares.

*WOF = width of fabric, usually 42’’

Squares Quilt Layout Ideas

Although we’re only working with the simplest geometric shapes – squares, different layouts can create many different variations to this quilt. As I’ve mentioned, we made an ombre version, but the options are practically limitless. Here are some basic principles to get your ideas flowing.

Classic Checkerboard

For a timeless and traditional look, consider arranging your fabric squares in a classic patchwork layout. Alternate between different two colors or prints, creating a classic checkerboard effect. This layout is perfect for showcasing the individual fabrics while maintaining a cohesive overall design.

Gingham

Add some additional colors or print and arrange the squares to form a fun gingham style pattern. Make it in a monochromatic three-color palette for a more classic look, or add some fun prints and/or bold colors for a modern colorful quilt. We love this picnic quilt by RSS!

Gradient Ombre

Create a modern quilt by arranging your fabric squares in a gradient or ombre layout. Start with one color or print at the top corner and gradually transition to a different color or print as you move across the quilt. This layout works particularly well with fabrics that have varying shades within the same color family. And it creates a very modern finished design!

Diagonal Squares

Create a visually striking quilt by arranging your fabric squares in a diagonal layout. Start by placing a square at one corner of the quilt, and then extend a diagonal line across the quilt, alternating between different colors or prints as you go. This layout adds movement to the quilt, drawing the eye along the diagonal lines. It works well with fabrics that have strong contrasting colors or patterns, allowing each to stand out.

Note for more advanced quilters: the process of creating this layout can be significantly sped up by using the strip piecing method.

Random Improvisation

For a more free-spirited and scrappy look, embrace the beauty of improvisation and arrange your squares in a random layout. This approach allows for creativity and spontaneity, as you mix and match different colors, patterns, and textures without following a specific pattern or order. This layout is perfect for showcasing a variety of fabric scraps.

Remember, these layout ideas are meant to inspire you, but feel free to adapt and modify them as you like. Experiment with different color schemes and explore different combinations with your fabrics. And most importantly, have fun with it!

How to Make a Quilt with Squares

Now that we’ve made our plan and have our squares ready to go, we can finally make a quilt with squares! This tutorial will take you through making the quilt top.

Note for more advanced quilters: the process of sewing the quilt top together can be significantly sped up by using the chain piecing method.

Required Tools:

– Sewing Machine
– Pins

Materials:

– Thread
– Fabric Squares (bought precut, or cut from larger pieces of fabric – see instructions above)

Steps to make a quilt with squares:

Step 1

Lay out your squares in the desired layout (see layout tips above).

Step 2

Begin sewing the squares into rows. I recommend pressing the seams in the first row to the left, then the second row to the right, the third to the left again, etc. This will ensure your seams nest when you sew the rows together.

Step 3

Sew the rows together. Press the seams open or to the side (I prefer to the side). And you are done!

That was easy, right? Now that you have the quilt top finished you can follow our step-by-step tutorials for each of the following steps to finish your quilt:

Further Reading

Finish a Quilt in 3 steps

If you’re new to quilting and you’re overwhelmed with how to finish a quilt, here are the 3 basic steps with links to useful tutorials:

STEP 1: BASTE
How to Baste a Quilt >

STEP 2: QUILT
Machine Quilting for Beginners >
Inspiring Straight Line Quilting Designs >

STEP 3: BIND
The Ultimate Quilt Binding Tutorial >


If you prefer, you can follow our beginner-friendly tutorial on How to make a quilt from start to finish.

We looove how this simple ombre quilt from squares turned out. We love the modern feel and the minimalist design. It just goes to show that quilts don’t always need to be complicated to be cute!

If you’re ready for your next project after this one, try our free herringbone quilt pattern. It uses half-square triangles, but after you make those the process is very similar to this patchwork quilt!

And if you make your own squares quilt, we’d love to hear all about it. Make sure you tag us on Instagram if you decide to make one!

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