TUMBLING BLOCKS QUILT


Tumbling blocks quilt

Tumbling blocks quilt

This free pattern for an easy tumbling blocks quilt is another example of quilts made to look three dimensional through colour placement.  At first glance the pattern looks quite complex because it seems to involve lots of inset Y seams, but in fact the blocks can be subdivided so that all the seams are straight.  It is really important to have distinct colour groupings of light, medium and dark to create the effect of tumbling blocks.  I have used the same light fabric throughout and two groups of colour – one dark and medium in red and one dark and medium in blue.  The quilt measures roughly 38″ by 54″ and I have used 3/4 yards each of light fabric and border fabric, together with 1/4 yard each of four different fabrics – two medium and two dark.  There are eight columns with seven diamonds in each column.  It is important to keep your dark fabric to the same side of each tumbling block and likewise the medium and light fabrics.  That way you can achieve the three dimensional effect.

Cutting requirements for the tumbling blocks quilt

fourteen diamonds in each of the four coloured fabrics

fifty six triangles in light fabric

sixteen triangles in border fabric

border:  two  2.1/2″ strips, three 4.1/2″ strips

Making the diamond sides of the tumbling blocks

Cut diamonds in dark and medium

Cut diamonds in dark and medium

Use the line on your ruler

Use the line on your ruler

The diamonds are cut from 4.3/8″ strips of the medium and dark fabrics.  Line the strip up with one of the horizontal lines on your cutting mat.  Position your ruler so that the sixty degree line runs along the bottom edge of the fabric strip.  Make your first cut to give a diagonal line up the strip.  Move the ruler 5″ to the left and make another cut.  Continue across the entire strip of fabric.  You should get seven diamonds from each strip.  Cut fourteen of these in each of four medium and dark fabrics.  These will form the sides of the tumbling blocks.

 

Making the triangle tops of the tumbling blocks

Cut triangles for the tumbling block tops

Cut triangles for the tumbling block tops

Use both 60 degree lines

Use both 60 degree lines

Two lines marked 60 degrees

Two lines marked 60 degrees

The tops of the tumbling blocks are cut from 4.7/8″ strips of the light fabric.  They are cut as two triangles which are later sewn together to create a diamond for the top of the block.  Make the first cut in the same way as above for the diamonds.  You will notice that on your ruler there are two lines crossing each other which are both marked sixty degrees.  Make the second cut using the other marked line – not the one that you used for the first cut.  If you look at the two photos you will see that in one the ruler is angled right to left while in the other it is angled left to right.  These two cuts give you the triangles.  You will need fifty six of these.

 

Sewing the tumbling blocks quilt blocks

Sew one triangle to each diamond

Sew one triangle to each diamond

One tumbling block

One tumbling block

The basic unit of the tumbling blocks quilt block is one diamond plus one triangle.  Sew one triangle to the top left edge of each medium diamond and one triangle to the top right edge of each dark diamond.  On the right you can see how two of these can create one tumbling block, although they are actually sewn together in columns rather than rows.

 

 

 

Lay the tumbling blocks in columns

Lay the tumbling blocks in columns

Begin to place these blocks in columns.  First column on the left:  dark blue, pink, red, light blue, dark blue, pink, red.

Second column:  light blue, dark blue, pink, red, light blue, dark blue, pink.

Third column:  red, light blue, dark blue, pink, red, light blue, dark blue.

Fourth column:  pink, red, light blue, dark blue, pink, red, light blue.

The tumbling blocks pattern is then repeated, so make two of each of the above columns – column five is the same as one, column six same as two, column seven same as three and column eight same as four.

Sewing the tumbling blocks quilt together

Cut border triangles

Cut border triangles

Sew a border triangle to each end of each column

Sew a border triangle to each end of each column

Sew the blocks together down each column to make eight columns.  You’ll see that the ends of the columns are slanted rather than squared off, so you need to add a triangle to each end of each column.  Cut triangles from a 4.7/8″ strip of border fabric.  Make one cut at sixty degrees as for the diamonds, but make the second cut perpendicular (straight up and down) so that your triangle has one square edge.  Make sure that you cut the fabric when folded so that you get two mirror image triangles each time – for each column you will need one triangle at one end and the mirror image triangle at the other end.  This is because the slanted edge is in a different direction at the top and bottom.  If you look at the right hand photo you can see that the border triangles face different directions in each column.

Trim the sides of the columns – even if your cutting was more accurate than mine you will still need to cut the tips of the diamonds where they stick out.  Sew the columns together.

Tumbling blocks quilt border

Tumbling blocks quilt border

Tumbling blocks quilt border

The quilt has more length than width so I decided to use two different sizes of border.  For the top and bottom cut two 2.1/2″ lengths about 29″ long (but do take your own measurement).  For the sides make two 4.1/2″ lengths of about 54″ and sew these to the sides to complete the tumbling blocks quilt.  It is now ready for layering, quilting and binding.  Full details of these steps can be found towards the bottom of the beginner quilting page.

 

 

Here’s the video:

Trafalgar Square lion

Trafalgar Square lion

Quilt fabric

Quilt fabric

Last week I took a day trip to London and you can see some of the photos that I took here.  It rained all day but I still had a lovely day – a complete break from the norm.

Or you might like to see the fabrics that I bought that are now available in my shop.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Nice pictures of London. I went there a few years ago on vacation and had a great time. A lot of walking. Loved riding in the cabs. Went to see the Rolling Stones in concert. We were there there for 5 days. Seen a lot.

    • Thanks for commenting, Kay. How special to see the Rolling Stones – something I would love to do. Yes, London is a great place to visit, isn’t it?

  2. Trish Tarbuck says:

    Hi Rose,
    What an absolutely gorgeous quilt, that’s another one on my bucket list. I really like the fabrics that you now stock too. I am glad you had a nice time in London even though it looks like November from the photos, were you getting in practice for the winter? I am off to London tomorrow for the weekend. On Sunday morning we are off to see the Queen’s Coronation Robes at Buckingham Palace, I simply can’t wait I am so excited. I was 6 weeks old when she wore them. I really don’t care if it snows.
    Keep up the good work Rose, am always thrilled to receive your e-mail.
    Trish

    • Hi Trish. I certainly hope that you get better weather than I had. How lovely to see the Queen’s Coronation Robes. I want to try and see Buckingham Palace next summer – along with many other parts of London! Thanks for your kind comments.

  3. Thanks so much, always have an interest in tumbling blocks, but not sure how to make it without y seams.

  4. Hi Rose,
    LOVE the new Tumbling Blocks..what an easy way to do these! (-:
    You didn’t say how wide the bases were on the light triangles and the end triangles. You said to move the ruler 5″ between the med and dark diamonds, but not how far to move it between the the light and end triangles. Could you please email me and let me know the measurements for these two?
    Thank You.
    Denece
    deneturner@comcast.net

    • Hi Denece. I didn’t actually measure the triangles – if you have your 60 degree line along the bottom of the fabric then you really only have one place to cut in order to meet the angle at the top. Having said that, the sides of the triangle should be just over 5″ as you are using a slightly larger strip of fabric. This will allow your triangle ends to overlap the diamond fabric slightly when you sew them together. Hope that helps.

  5. I love this pattern. It is one of my favorites. However I do not make the blocks the same way. I use all diamonds, which requires some skill in piecing the middle where all three blocks meet. I have tried using the triangle technique, but do not like the look. I think it is because I quilt in the ditch most of the time so the seams of the triangles show.

    • Hi Linda. Thanks for commenting. Yes, you make the tumbling blocks in the traditional way. I used this method because it is more simple for beginner quilters.

  6. I love the way you took your design idea from Trafalgar Square Rose.
    Lovely quilt with clear instructions.
    Enjoy the food market. Brolly in one hand, across body shopping bag and a free hand for samples.
    Jillmay

  7. A great quilt Rose, I shall have a go at this

  8. Really like this Rose. Is this what you call an optical illusion? Glad to hear that you enjoyed your visit to London despite the rain. Read all the comments and one of your followers used the word brolly. I had to look it up. Should have guessed that it meant umbrella.

    • Hi Claire. Good to hear from you. Yes, it’s amazing how you can fool the eye with colour, isn’t it? We use the word brolly without thinking over here – perhaps we need umbrellas more often than many other countries do.

  9. Chris Gallagher says:

    I am really new to sewing and don’t know much and how to use seam allowance but know that I have to allow for them.What seam allowance did you use? Thank you in advance

    • Hi Chris. I always allow 1/4″ seam allowance in all my quilt patterns. The measurements that I give are the cutting size, so you don’t need to add any extra allowance. Hope that helps, Rose.

  10. Monique Brownson says:

    Thank you for the tumbling blocks quilt PDF. This is the clearest and most simple explanation of using triangles along with the diamond shapes in piecing a tumbling block quilt.

    Monique

  11. Gai Robinson says:

    Hi Rose,
    Fall is here in Canada with it’s beautiful changes of color.
    My sister, Lena, was looking for a strip-method pattern for Tumbling Blocks so I have directed her to your site.
    Thank you for your explicit directions!
    Gai

  12. Dear Rose, if I am doing a tumbling block table runner, 60 degree diamonds but only two blocks wide one row, then next is 3 blocks wide, do I have all the one darker design, or can I do any dark, left diamond, lighter on right diamond, and top diamond on sideways, all one light colour through the whole length. Am hand piecing. Your advice would be great.
    I am in Perth, Western Australia and love your videos.

    • Hi Mary. My apologies for not replying more quickly. Your table runner sounds gorgeous. In order to get the tumbling blocks effect, you need to keep the dark, medium and light fabric on the same place within each block. They can all be different fabrics, but it’s whether they are dark, light or medium that matters. Try to imagine a light shining from one side of your design – the side of the block facing the imaginary light will always be the lightest. I hope that helps. Best wishes, Rose.

  13. Just found this wonderful tutorial! My brother has requested a 3D quilt but they mostly seem too advanced for me. The straight seams on this will be much easier!
    How would you quilt this? Stich in the ditch around each cube? Or channel quilting (I think that’s what it’s called) with repeated straight lines? Or would you pick a meander?
    Thanks from snowy cold Canada!

    • Hi Janelle. Good luck with the quilt. I think that I would choose stitch in the ditch. I have seen some tumbling blocks quilt with an echo quilting line (1/4″ in) around each block, and that looks quite effective. (We’re also very cold at the moment in the UK – just without the snow so far).

  14. Betty Greider says:

    Rose, Thank you so much for sharing your tumbling block quilt pattern. I’m anxious to start.
    Question. If I cut the light at 4 7/8 and the dark & medium at 4 3/8, then the light pieces are bigger. Am I missing something in the instructions?

    • Hi Betty. My apologies for the delay in replying. Yes, the light pieces are bigger. This is because you will cut triangles from the light fabric and two of them will be joined to make a diamond. It’s because of this extra seam that you need to begin with a larger piece to start with. The dark fabric is cut into diamonds which don’t need the extra seam. I hope that makes sense.

  15. Hello Rose. I am having a problem with the PDF for this pattern. It is fine till it reaches the “how to sew together” which includes the cutting instructions for the borders and such. The pictures are there but the wording is gone. Am I the only one having this problem?

    • Hi Stevan. I’m afraid I have no idea what might be causing that problem. No one else has mentioned it. An alternative might be to highlight and copy the pattern and then paste it on to a word document. That way you can be sure you have the entire pattern.

  16. Hi, Rose. Have you ever made the blocks in another size? Would jelly roll strips (2 1/2″) work? I know you’d have to have a 3″ strip for the triangles.

  17. Thanks, Rose. I just found a Marci Baker you-tube using 2 1/2″ strips with your method.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWpSETMbws4
    I appreciate your quick response. Just got your newsletter for the first time. Love the Sisters Choice pattern. So glad I finally found your site!

  18. Carol Atkins says:

    Hi Rose, I am following your instructions on the tumbling blocks quilt. I have all blocks lined up in rows. I sewed the first row to the second row but I have the “V” you spoke about still un-sewn. Could you tell me what step I am missing?

  19. Thank you for such clear directions, both written and on Youtube. I can’t wait to make this quilt!

  20. some missing instructions: which way to press seams, which side of the diamond is oriented towards the triangle side: the 5″ or the 4 7/8″ side? Why does it help to have the triangle bigger so that it overlaps the diamond? I would love if you could show the sewing process and explain how it is that the measurements work. I would like to make this with smaller blocks- with a 2.5″ equilateral triangle, and I’m having trouble figuring the size diamond I need. I don’t know why a rhombus wouldn’t work just as well as your parallelogram with different lengths of sides. Thanks.

    • Hi. Thanks for your very constructive comments. To be honest, it’s such a long time since I made that pattern that I’d be hard pushed to answer you without remaking the quilt. I think that I will make another tumbling blocks quilt and this time include a lot more explanation. If you need some help before that happens, there are loads of tumbling block quilt patterns on the internet.

      • Thanks! You may consider hooking your wagon to the Accuquilt gang! They have no videos at all on how to make tumbling blocks, and your pattern would help them sell dies. They cannot answer my question as to measurements. This would be helpful to your fabric selling business as well, as you would be featured on their website doing your video. just a thought. Ok, you have had two months, so…. where’s the next tumbling block video?! Cheers.

  21. Hi, thank you for your info and video. How big is the finished block? I need to make this 60 inches by 72 inches and am trying to figure out how.many blocks to make. I appreciate your help.

    • Hi Clydene. I don’t actually have a block measurement because the quilt is put together in rows. The measurement that you want to make is about one third again bigger than the one shown, so I’m guessing you’d need about a third more of all the measurements shown.

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