Easy Diagonal Squares Baby Quilt

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Using strip piecing and easy machine quilting, I constructed this entire quilt in about 5 hours. My brother-in-law and his wife are due to have a baby in a couple of months. I have some time before the baby’s birth, but the baby shower is next weekend — I am under a time-constraint to get a baby shower gift sent off! Even if I’d had a little more time to make this quilt, I don’t think I’d have done it any differently. It turned out to be very easy, very fast and very cute!

  • (16) 6-1/2″ by at least 40″ strips (2 each of 8 fabrics)
  • 54″ x 54″ backing fabric
  • 54″ x 54″ cotton batting
  • (6) 2″ by 45″ strips of fabric for binding
  • Coordinating thread

1. Choose Layout. Using 1 of each of the 8 different fabric strips (6-1/2″ by 40″), decide on your preferred layout. Pay attention to contrast of lights and darks. You will also want to consider how the first fabric will look next to the last fabric, since they will be next to each other in some of the rows.

2. Sew Strips Together. Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew the 8 strips together in the order you determined. Sew the other 8 strips together in the same order. Press all seam allowances in the same direction. You may also serge-piece the strips together. Use a 4-thread overlock seam, being sure to check for proper needle and looper tensions on scrap materials before piecing. In addition, engage the knife, just to trim off a very scant amount of fabric.

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8 strips sewn together. Do this twice.

3. Create Rows. By cutting across the strips at 6-1/2″ intervals, create 8 rows. You will have extra fabric which this project will not need.

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Cut across the strips at 6-1/2″ intervals to create 8 rows.

4. Stagger Rows. As the picture shows, pull the 2nd row over to the right by 1 square. Pull the 3rd row over by 2 squares. Pull the 4th row over by 3 squares. By now you should see the pattern and can continue until all 8 rows are staggered, each row 1 square further to the right than the previous row.

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Stagger the rows by pulling each row one square further to the right than the previous row.

5. Deconstruct Rows. On the 2nd row, detach the last square (which is “hanging off” the edge of the quilt) from the row by seam ripping. Physically move it over to fill in the space left when you pulled the row to the right. On the 3rd row, detach the last 2 squares (also “hanging off”) from the rest of the row (keeping the last 2 squares attached to each other) and move them over to fill in the space left when you pulled that row to the right. On the 4th row, detach the last 3 squares from the rest of the row (keeping the last 3 squares attached to each other) and move them over to fill in the space left when you pulled that row over to the right. You should be seeing the pattern by now. Continue detaching the squares that are “hanging off” and moving them to fill in the spaces at the beginning of their respective rows.

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Detach the last square off the 2nd row…

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…and move it into place at the beginning of the 2nd row.

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Detach the last 2 squares off the 3rd row (but keep them together)…

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…and move them into place at the beginning of the 3rd row.

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Repeat until all 8 rows are reordered.

6. Reconstruct Rows. Now it is time to sew the rows back together. Using the same 1/4″ seam allowance, sew the squares that you moved from the end of their rows to the beginning of their rows. Press seam allowances in the same direction as the other seam allowances.

7. Sew Rows Together. Using 1/4″ seam allowance, sew the 1st row to the 2nd row, the 3rd row to the 2nd row, the 4th row to the 3rd row, and so on, until all rows are sewn together. Press seam allowances in the same direction. Now you have finished the quilt top.

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The 8 rows of the quilt top sewn together.

8. Assemble Layers. Lay the backing fabric right side down on a clear work surface, such as a floor or large table. Center the backing on top of this. Center the quilt top, right side up, on top of both the backing and the batting. Trim the backing and batting, if necessary, to within 2″ of the Quilt Top. Pin at frequent intervals.

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Center the quilt top on the batting and backing.

9. Quilt Layers Together. Using your preferred method, either hand or machine quilting or tying, quilt all 3 layers together. I chose to machine quilt using a wave stitch with a long stitch length (about 4 on my sewing machine) along all seams.

Smoothing as I quilted, I started stitching along a middle seam and added parallel lines of wave stitching until I reached the right edge of the quilt top. Then I turned the quilt around 180 degrees and added parallel lines of wave stitching until I reach the edge of the quilt top again. Then I turned the quilt 90 degrees. Starting in the middle again, I added parallel lines of stitching out to the right edge of the quilt top. Now I only had to turn it around 180 degrees for the last time and work my way from the middle to the other edge.

Note: If you stitch each line starting at just off the quilt top and end just off the quilt top, there is no need to back-stitch. When you add the binding, you will cross each of these seams, securing them.

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I machine-quilted by using my sewing machine’s wave stitch along all seam lines on the quilt top.

10. Assemble Double-Fold Binding. Take two of the 2″ x 45″ strips. Right sides together, place the end of one strip perpendicular to the end of the other strip, with each strip set in 1/4″ from the end of the other strip. Sew a diagonal seam to join the two strips so that they are now one long continuous straight strip. Repeat to add the third 2″ x 45″ strip.

Note: The following pictures reveal the process of assembling double-fold binding, although the fabrics shown are from another project.

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Trim the excess, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance.

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Press seams open. Fold and press the long strip in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together.

11. Attach Binding to Quilt Front. Start attaching the binding about 5 inches from a corner, not at a corner. Align the binding strip right sides together with the edge of the quilt top, raw edges even. Fold over the beginning raw edge of the binding approximately 1 inch. Begin sewing 1/2″ from the fold.

Note: The following pictures reveal the process of attaching the binding to the quilt front, although the fabrics shown are from another project.

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Sew the binding to the first side of the quilt, through all layers, 1/4″ from the raw edge.

Stop sewing 1/4″ before the corner. Backstitch and remove the quilt from the sewing machine.

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Clip threads. Fold the binding strip up away from the quilt and make a diagonal fold. Hold the diagonal fold in place with your finger, while bringing the binding down so the raw edges of the binding are aligned with the next side of the quilt. Stitch this side.

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Repeat this technique around all sides, until you approach the beginning of the binding.

Cut the binding end so that it will overlap the beginning binding by 1/2″ to 3/4″. Sew in place.

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Backstitch and remove the quilt from the sewing machine. Clip threads. Trim the backing and backing even with the raw edges of the binding and quilt top. Press the binding open.

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Trim the backing and batting even with the raw edges of the quilt top and binding.

12. Attach Binding to Quilt Back. You can either hand-stitch the binding in place on the back, or use your sewing machine to sew it in place. I chose to use the same wave stitch with a long stitch length. I pulled the binding tight to the back of the quilt, finger pinning as I slowly machine-stitched the binding in place on the back side of the quilt, all the way around. Using a wave stitch freed me from the constraints of having to get the machine stitching “just right”, either on the back or front side. Pull threads to the back side. Knot and trim.

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(Back View) I also used the wave stitch to anchor the binding to the back side of the quilt.

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(Top View) Using the wave stitch means that the stitching doesn’t have to line up on the top of the quilt. It waves all around and looks good that way.

Now this cute and easy baby quilt is all done! If you have any questions or comments, let me know!

© Copyright 2007 by Wardee Harmon. Used with permission from the author.

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6 Responses to Easy Diagonal Squares Baby Quilt

  1. Letitia Mattu says:

    I forgot to add that when you are cutting out the original 5″ strips, you need to cut from selvage edge to selvage edge.

  2. Letitia Mattu says:

    I make a similar quilt, using 10 (5″) strips. Sew all of the strips together like you did. When you are ironing, the seams, alternate. Every other strip is ironed toward the inside. Now to make your life a little easier, sew the first and last strip together to make a loop. Iron that last seam to match the others. Now cut the whole loop into 5″ strips. Lay it out on your dining room table and start taking out seams. On the first row take out the seam between the 1st and last strips. On the next row take out the seam between #1 strip and #2, next row between #2 and #3. Keep going like that. This way you only have to take out a seam, but you don’t have to re-sew. And . . . if you are alternating the seam allowances, then they all snuggle together nicely. Hope this helps!

  3. Carol says:

    Hi,
    I would like to find a “beginner” quilting religious patterns. I am interesting in making making small pillows with a cross, angel etc on them to give away to the ill and elderly. Could you direct me to a site where i might be able to find an easy pattern?Thank you.
    Blessings.

    Again I am just a Beginner.

  4. sherry moss says:

    Hello and thanks so much for presenting this in an easy to understand fashion:) I am, however, confused as to how to do the binding. I have tried on a sample, following your instructions and it did not work…..ha. I have been sewing for 50+ years, but new to quilting and am starting out with basic, simple blocks.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Sherry Moss
    Kentucky

  5. Virginia Johnson says:

    Can I make Easy Diag Squares a block smaller? Will the pattern still work? I am making quilts to donate and might prefer a smaller baby quilt.
    Thamk you.