Big Dipper Quilt Pattern

Big dipper quilt

Big dipper quilt

I have made the Big Dipper quilt pattern using 5″ squares so that you could use squares from a charm pack if you chose.  The thing that really delights me about this pattern is that the big dipper quilt block is a simple one forming only one pinwheel.  However when you sew them all together you end up with two different pinwheels.  They look as though they are put together using a diagonal layout (which is a bit more complicated) but in fact they are just sewn together in horizontal rows – the simplest form of quilt layout.

The quilt measures 37″ by just under 54″.  You could very easily make it bigger just by adding extra rows and columns.  I have used six big dipper quilt blocks which are 16.1/2″ finished size.  The fabrics are chosen as two pairings of dark and light colours.  I have used black and white with grey and turquoise.   You need 1/2 yard each of black, white and grey with 1 yard of turquoise because that is also used for the border.

Cutting requirements for the big dipper quilt

5″ squares:  twenty four each in grey, black, turquoise and white

For the border you will need five 2.1/2″ strips of turquoise cut across the width of fabric

Make half square triangles

Make half square triangles

Making the big dipper quilt block

The quilt is made entirely from half square triangle units.  You will need to make equal numbers of these in all the colour combinations.  That’s  black with both white and turquoise, grey with both white and turquoise.

Place two squares with right sides together and mark a line along the diagonal.  Sew a 1/4″ seam either side of the marked line.  Cut along the line to produce two half square triangle units from each pair of squares that you began with.  Press the seam allowance towards the darker fabric and trim the two corners where the triangle tips stick out.  These are now 4.5/8″ squares which will give 4.1/8″ squares finished size.  I know these are unusual looking sizes, but it’s because the starting point was 5″ squares – a nice easy measurement to cut out.

Big dipper quilt block layout

Big dipper quilt block layout

Lay the half square triangles out in four rows of four.  Notice that each triangle ends up next to another of the same colour, forming a larger triangle in that colour.  There is a diamond of grey and green in the middle forming one pinwheel, while the black and white triangles are all round the edge of the block.  These will later form the second set of pinwheels when the blocks are sewn together.

One way to check your placement is to see that the black and grey larger triangles all meet each other at the point.  The turquoise and white triangles all meet at the point as well.

Sew the squares across each row

Sew the squares across each row

Sew the squares together across each row and then sew the rows to each other to complete the big dipper quilt block.  You will need to make six of these.

Assembling the big dipper quilt

Sew the blocks together in three rows of two.  As the blocks are totally symmetrical, there is no wrong way to place them – they look the same if they are rotated.

Big dipper quilt border

Big dipper quilt border

For the border I have used 2.1/2″ strips of turquoise fabric.  You will need two lengths of 33.1/2″ for the top and bottom and two lengths of 54″ for the sides.

That completes the big dipper quilt.  It is now ready for layering, quilting and binding.  Full details of these steps can be found in the beginner quilting section.

Here’s the video:

I have had a couple of viewings on my house this week, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I may get an offer.  I keep forgetting where I put things when I tidied them up, so it seems to take me ages to find anything.

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  1. Happy Mothers Day Rose! I so love your patterns,videos and instructions. You seem to have a very warm,special way about you as I detect from your replies to your readers. I wish you every blessing in selling your home and finding the perfect new one.

  2. Janice says:

    Beautiful quilt.

  3. Beth Durham says:

    Hi Rose – thank you for the pretty quilt pattern. I have several charm packs and I am going to make it. I can’t find things and I am not even selling my house.. LOL

    • Hi Beth. Yes, I have to admit that I struggle to find things at the best of times – doesn’t it waste time looking for them!

  4. Carole says:

    Love this one. I like using charm packs – or any pre-cuts – as I’m not the most accurate of cutters, no matter how hard I try! Looking forward to trying this one.
    Good luck with your move.

    • Thanks, Carole. I’m always amazed at how many different types of pre cuts are available now – it can certainly make life a lot easier if you’re not confident at cutting accurately.

  5. Aileen Heald says:

    Hi Rose, love this pattern, but bit upset as 2 days ago decided to use up my charm pack which had been around a while, couldn’t find a pattern so just sashed the squares with white. Nice clean look but this pinwheel would have been lovely ! Will save the pattern for another time. Thanks for all your patterns, I save them all

    • Thanks, Aileen. Isn’t that always the way – you hang on to something for ages and then need it just after you’ve used it or given it away! Although I do like charm squares sashed in white – as you say it’s a nice clean look.

  6. ELIZAJANE says:

    Good luck on selling your house Rose. I sold mine in January and found the perfect new home near my grandchildren, I am looking forward to moving in 6 weeks ..Going through my home of 43 years has not been easy, deciding what to take and what I can give away to family and charity has been a challenge but at least my fabric is now organized in bins.

    • Thanks, Elizajane. Sorting out what to keep is a really difficult exercise, isn’t it? Good luck with your move. How lovely to have found the perfect new home. I daren’t look at any houses yet in case I find one that I love but can’t buy because my present house hasn’t sold.

  7. veronica says:

    Hi Rose, i recently joined your web site and i am really enjoying it,i am in the process of making a tumbling block quilt and it is working our fairly well.

  8. Hi Rose,
    Love it, love it, love it. In fact, I love them all.

    I read all your posts and was surprised when I came across the post from Mary asking if anyone knew how to color set clothes? Well, this is what worked for me. Pour 1 or 2 quarts of water In a large bowl add 1/2 cup white vinegar + a tablespoon of Epsom Salt and mix. It worked on a fat quarter for me but she’ll probably have to increase the amounts for a quilt. Good luck, Mary. Hope you let Rose know if it worked.

    Happy Mother’s Day, Rose and a Happy Birthday on the 12th. Great birthday present if someone comes in with an offer.

    • Hi Claire. Thank you so much – your memory is much better than mine! I knew that you’d had a colour problem but couldn’t remember how you’d solved it. Thanks for sharing your advice – and thanks for the birthday wishes. You’re right – it would be a great present to get an offer on the house.

  9. Sandra Barnett says:

    Oh Rose,
    Another great quilt. This one looks really easy. I covered the porch chairs this week came out rather well. Now I can start another quilt. Our weather has been rather hot. Today we got up to 91. Too hot for me.
    Good luck with your house selling. We will have the closing on our house June 26, if all the tests come back OK.
    Thank you for your great tutorials.

    • Hi Sandra. Good luck with moving house. I’ve kept one of my father’s chairs to recover, but I think it’ll have to wait till after I move. I love the sound of your weather – it’s still grey and rainy here.

  10. Margaret says:

    Lovely quilt Rose, I think I might try this one.

  11. Eileen says:

    Hello Rose

    As usual a beautiful pattern and what a bonus to be able to use charm squares! Thank you Rose and good luck with your house.


    • Thanks, Eileen. It’s ages since I did a charm pack quilt, so I thought that it was about time.

  12. Mary woolley says:

    Well done Rose another success I love this and will try it
    Welsh mary in Yorks x

    • Thanks, Mary. I was up in Bradford earlier this week at the Fabric Freedom warehouse – lovely views on the way up.

  13. Thank you Rose for the tutorial, I like this block and the colors

  14. Rose, another really lovely pattern. Thank you.
    Hope you get the house sold soon.

    Rose have told me it’s alright to ask this in the comments.
    I washed a quilt in a cold wash used colour catchers but the dye ran/bled
    and I’ve tried to get it out but to no avail. I contacted the manufacturer
    but haven’t heard from them.
    If anyone reads this I hope the can offer some solutions.

    • Hi Mary. Can anyone out there help Mary? Have you had the colour bleed in a quilt, and if so how did you fix the problem? Claire, I know you told me about a colour bleed once, but I can’t remember what you said worked for you.

  15. Carol Smith says:

    Love this one Rose, how do you do it all with your busy life and selling your home, you have my admiration . Love your designs and super instructions. It’s hotting up here in Spain so making quilts not too bad but hand quilting is too hot!

    • Hi Carol. The busy part was getting the house tidy ready to put it on the market. My brother, who lives in Spain, said that summer had arrived rather suddenly. I wish the British weather would follow suit!

  16. Love the pattern. Dying to try it out. You always have some nice and easy patterns. You also explain everything so that it is easy to understand. Keep up the good work.
    Good luck on selling your house. Where are you moving to?

    • Thanks, Kay. I try and keep the patterns simple so that everyone can have a go. I’m hoping to move to Birmingham.

  17. Sharon says:

    Thank you Rose,for the lovely block, nice chance to use batiks, love how they look.
    By the way have a very Happy Mother’s day!
    Regards, Sharon

    • Thanks, Sharon. We celebrate Mothering Sunday in March, so I’d completely forgotten that Mother’s Day was coming up. Have a lovely day.

  18. GREAT GRAND MA Sheila !!!!!! says:

    Hi Rose, wow a quilt without 7/8ths, like Janny I find some measurements difficult –the problem of having Dyscalcular is that how you spell it This is going in my save folder ,good luck with the house
    love and hugs Great Grand Ma Sheila xxx

    • Hi Sheila. I thought you’d appreciate a square with an easy measurement like that. Just makes calculating the finished size of the quilt more difficult, but you don’t need to worry about that anyway. Congrats on being a Great Grand Ma.

  19. Carole says:

    Another lovely pattern Rose,I am picturing it in shades of purple,pink, blue and white.[The great granddaughters favourite colors] ,Good Luck with selling your house.Regards Carole

  20. Patricia Cash says:

    Thank you for the tutorial, love the block.

  21. Dear Rose – thank you for this. Love the idea of have large pieces to play with. Hope this is suitable for me to have a go at. You know my thoughts on triangles.

    Finger crossed on offers for your house. I sympathise with your problems on tidying up. When you move will you still call yourself Ludlow or will you change the name? Just curious.

    all best Janny

    • Hi Janny. I thought that it would be useful to have a quilt for which you could use charm pack squares. Yes, I’ll keep the name Ludlow even after I’ve moved – it’s the business name and that’s how everyone knows me.