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
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
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
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.
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
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
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:
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.