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Sunny Tied Quilt

This quilt is the perfect project for early spring because it introduces a welcome burst of color into your home and it's light enough to use through the warmest months.  --Molly

Materials

These materials make a 91-inch by 81-inch quilt.

I picked an assortment of eleven fabrics in greens, yellows, oranges and white and divided them into darks, mediums and lights. I started with 1-yard each of the lights, 1/2-yard each of the mediums, and 1/4-yard each of the darks. If you want to design your own color palette you can do so with any fabric you like. Just make sure that you have at least 6 3/4-yards fabric total.

If you'd like to use the fabrics I used they are listed below (clockwise from the top left in the picture above).

For the Top:

Back, Batting, and Tying Materials:

Prepare + Cut Fabric

Wash, dry and press fabric.

This quilt is pieced in strips that are cut from selvage to selvage.

Arrange your fabric into 3 categories: darks, mediums, and lights and cut them as follows:

  • Cut all of the darks into strips, selvage to selvage in a range of widths from 2 1/2-inches to 4 1/2-inches.
  • Cut all of the mediums into strips, selvage to selvage, in a range of widths from 4 1/2-inches to 7 1/2-inches.
  • Cut all of the lights into strips, selvage to selvage, in a range of widths from 6 1/2-inches to 12 1/2-inches.

Pinless Piecing

Pick any two strips to start with (part of the beauty of this quilt is the random placing of the strips). To begin piecing place the two strips right sides together and line up the top selvages. Let the bottom strip peek out about 1/16-inch (or less) to the right as shown above.

Since none of these strips have to fit together in an precise way (except of course that they must lay flat) you don't need to use pins for this part... it's one of the reasons this this such a quick project!

To sew, lightly pinch the fabric together before it goes under the needle as shown above. Keep the bottom fabric peeking out from behind the top fabric to ensure that you are sewing through both layers. Sew with a 1/4-inch seam allowance (from the top fabric). The strips should stay together without much coaxing, but go slowly at first until you get the hang of it.

At the bottom of the strips you will probably find that they aren't the same length. The original fabrics the strips were cut from are all slightly different widths so this is not surprise. Don't worry about it now- you will take care of this uneven edge in the next step.

Pick out another strip and sew it to the previous strip as above (line its top selvage up with the top selvages of the two you pieced together in the last step, so that when you're done you will have one even side and one uneven side).

Continue piecing strips together in this manner until your piece measures at least 91-inches wide (if it's slightly longer don't worry about it, you can cut it down later). This is the first half of the top.

Piece the second half of the top the same as the first.

Cut + Piece Top, Part Two

Trim the uneven side of each half of the top using a rotary cutter and a long ruler.  Using your seam lines as a guide, cut the selvages off at a right angle to the seams, at least 1/2-inch from the shortest selvage edge.  If you need guidance using a rotary cutter, please visit our Rotary Cutting Tutorial here.

Repeat for the even selvage edge.

Repeat both steps for the second half of the top.

Trim the width of both halves to 91-inches.

Iron each half of the top, pressing seams towards the darker fabric.

Now it's time to break out the pins. Pin the two halves right sides together along one of the 91-inch sides. Sew together with a 5/8-inch seam allowance.

Finish Quilt

Make the Quilt Sandwich

Cut wide muslin into a 99-inch by 89-inch piece and place it on a clean patch of floor.

Tape muslin down to the floor using 2-inch masking tape as follows:

  • Pull the muslin taught as you tape it down. First tape the opposite centers of the sides and then tape along the sides from the center out. Always tape one side and then it's opposite as you go. You don't have to iron the muslin before this step, the slight stretching and taping should take care of any wrinkles.

Place batting in the center of the taped down muslin. Unfold the batting on top of the muslin and smooth it down gently from the center out. Trim it so that it's about 2-inches from the edge of the muslin backing all the way around.

Fold quilt top into fourths, right sides together. Place folded corner in the center of the batting and then unfold the top, right side up, onto the batting. Smooth it out gently from the center, it should be 2-inches from the edge of the batting and 4-inches from the edge of the backing as pictured above.

Mark for Ties

Starting from the middle of the quilt mark the top with the Water Soluble Pen every 6 1/2-inches in a grid as shown above.

Make Ties

Thread one of the Ribbon Embroidery Needles with the yarn. Use the smallest, sharpest needle you can thread. There is no need to tie a knot or cut the yarn. Sew a 1/4-inch stitch through the first marked point on the edge. then pull the yarn through and take another stitch at the next marked point. Sew across an entire row of marked points in this manner, leaving slack in between each stitch as shown above. At the end of the row cut the yarn, leaving a long tail at each end. Sew every row of marked points in the manner.

It's very important that you sew through all three layers (the back, the batting, and the top) during this step.

Cut the midpoints of all your stitches as shown above and then tie each stitch tightly with a square knot. A square knot is a simple double knot: twist the right side over the left side and then the left side over the right side. For a more thorough explanation of this knot (with pictures) click here.

Prepare for Binding

Trim your batting to meet the quilt top by sliding a cutting mat in-between the batting and the backing.  Cut the batting with a rotary cutter, using a rotary ruler to guide you. Go all the way around the four sides of the quilt top.

Cut the backing so that it's 1 1/2 from the edge of the quilt top all the way around using using a cutting ruler as a guide as shown above.

Trim all of the ties to be 1 1/2 inches long. You can get rid of the blue marks by machine washing the quilt when you're done with the binding or by using the pen's erasable tip.

Fold Binding

The quilt is bound by folding the backing fabric to the front.

Begin at a corner, fold one edge of the backing fabric in half toward the quilt top and finger press it down as shown above.

Fold the perpendicular side in half as well and finger press it.

Fold in the point of the corner at a 45 degree angle as shown above.

To finish fold the sides in towards the quilt top once more and pin the edges in place. The sides should meet to form a neat corner. Pin all four sides down in this way, by folding them in half and then over towards the quilt top.

Press binding.

Sew Binding

Use a wide zig zag stitch and the bright yellow thread to sew along the edge where the binding meets the quilt top. 

  • Begin along the middle of one side. 
  • Backstitch at the beginning and ending of your seam.
  • Make sure your stitch is catching both the binding and the quilt top.
  • When you come to the corner sew 1/4-inch past the corner and stop, leaving your needle in the fabric. Then take a few back stitches to the corner, leave your needle in down position, pick up the foot and pivot the quilt to begin sewing the next side.  Repeat at remaining 3 corners.
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36 Responses to Sunny Tied Quilt


  1. Courtney says:

    I'm excited to make one of these for myself for the summer. It'll be my first quilt so i have a quick question, how exactly do you stich the ties through all three layers while the muslin is taped to the floor?
    Thanks for the adorable idea and inspiration.

  2. Nicole says:

    thank you for the great ideas loved your sight nicely done.

  3. katie says:

    this is wonderful! thanks for the instructions.

  4. jessica m. says:

    This is really fantastic. I’m so scared to commit to a giant quilt project, but this one looks foolproof! And very springy!

  5. Jeannette, Denmark says:

    Thank you for your instructions. So helpfull. And the quilt project is really fantastic ;-)

  6. Yael says:

    I L O V E this quilt! Looks like something I could do! a beginner…. would be my first…
    gotta go find that beautifuil wool here in Israel.

    THanks!

  7. blair says:

    truly gorgeous, you picked the perfect spring colors!!!

  8. Alyssa Autumn says:

    Thinking of making a miniature version for my as-yet-unborn cousin. It seems so simple in your instructions, but I’d find a way to mess it up!

  9. Paula says:

    I think this would make a lovely duvet cover! Love the color choices!!!

  10. Queen of Procrastination says:

    Hey, finally! “Made for Dummies” (that would be me) directions on how to make Mitered Corners! Thank You! Now I’m gonna go finish that quilt…

  11. joanne says:

    This quilt is gorgeous! I love it and can’t wait to try to make one myself.

  12. topcat says:

    Beautifully fresh colour scheme and the quilt is so simple but so very effective – thanks for posting this inspiration.

  13. Kathleen says:

    How would you modify this for a king sized bed?

  14. patricia says:

    are there any special washing instructions for tied quilts? can’t wait to make my versions of this quilt. thanks for sharing!

  15. erica says:

    I love this quick way of binding, especially the zig zag stitch to tack the binding down. I think I’ll have to use this for my next quick baby quilt.

  16. purl bee says:

    Hi Patricia,
    There is nothing different about washing a tied quilt, especially if you use 100% wool (not superwash) so that the ties felt a bit when you wash it. Just make sure your ties are no further apart than the manufacturer’s recommendations for your batting (for instance, the batting we used recommends quilting at minimum every 8 inches).

  17. M says:

    Lovely colors!… and thanks for the how-to on making mitered corners :)

  18. Stephanie says:

    I love this quilt, any suggestions on making a king size version? I always seem to mess it up with the measurements.

  19. purl bee says:

    Hi Stephanie,
    A standard king size quilt is usually around 106″ x 98″, so perhaps you can just cut 3 sections of strips instead of 2 that are 36 inches wide finished rather than 41.

  20. Yifaa says:

    I am starting this quilt today and I’m so excited… Thank you so much for the instructions- they are so clear and I love the variability of this pattern.

  21. rebekah says:

    i cannot find this fabric. do you have a suggestion?
    1-yard Kaufman, Kona Cotton Honey Dew

  22. purl bee says:

    Hi Rebekah,
    We do have more coming soon, but if you can’t wait, we suggest you replace it with P & B Textiles, Color Spectrum, Lime (CSPE 01 YG). You can find it at this link:
    http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/fabricdetail/1707

  23. Sasha says:

    Hi! I really want to make this my first quilt project (it’s gorgeous!), but I noticed alot of the things needed are out of stock. Is there anyway that you could (or do) make project bundles so a person could buy everything in one fell swoop? Also, how would you size this to fit a queen bed? Thanks so much!

  24. Becca says:

    Wow, I’m so glad I found this! I’ve been thinking about doing a tied quilt and was looking for some instructions, and so far these are the best I’ve found. This sounds really easy, and I love the idea of folding the backing over to the front for the binding.

  25. Shannah says:

    I used what I learned in this tutorial to make a little lap quilt last night: http://ashantasticlife.blogspot.com/2009/05/one-day-lap-quilt.html

    Thank you so much!

  26. fanny says:

    My Sunny Quilt is on my bed !
    Thank you for this great tutorial , it is a fun and easy project !
    The fabrics I bought were 56 to 60 wide , then I had leftovers
    From them , I made a multicolored strip that I inserted on the back , and a narrow one as a binding .
    , Finally , I quilted everything ( a very “free” maze pattern ) ……
    And I discoverd that my quilt was reversible !

  27. alex says:

    I want to make this quilt for my dorm! I’m nervous though about trying to make it for an extra long twin bed. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  28. batt girl says:

    I LOVE this pattern. I have finally finished my own version. Thanks, Purl Bee and Purl Soho – I love you both xoxo

    http://battgirlproject.blogspot.com/2009/08/mossy-tied-quilt.html

  29. peanut says:

    I made my own version of this quilt this winter and finally got around to posting about it. http://www.inapeanutshell.com/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=The-Quilt-on-Our-Bed.html&Itemid=73

    Thanks for such an awesome idea and tutorial :)

  30. candice says:

    thank you so much for this tutorial!
    i wanted to make something special for my friends’ first baby and was so inspired when i saw this!
    it was very easy & quickly achievable, something very important as i have my hands full with a 4 year old & a 2 year old ;)
    i’ve posted a photo on flickr here if you’d like to have a look: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31613244@N08/4655024718/
    thanks again!
    candice
    melbourne, australia

  31. Lisa says:

    Could you have made it look any easier?!!
    thanks!

  32. Sabah says:

    One weekend! and I've always wanted to try tied… outstanding! I can't sleep under this polyester thing another day, er week.

    bookmarked, subscribed, Thanks!

  33. Kate says:

    Hello – I love this tied quilt idea. I am making my own, but have a question about using a technique from another one of your projects for the edges/binding. I am making the quilt for my daughters twin bed. I would love to do a rick rack border on the quilt like you use in the “Cozy Quick Blankie” pattern here: http://purlbee.squarespace.com/cozy-quick-blankie/2008/6/23/cozy-quick-blankie-the-pattern.html#comments. Do you think that will work with this tied quilt and if so, what suggestions do you have that may be helpful as I attempt it? This is my first quilt so I don't want to mess it up or try it if it won't work with the batting and style of this quilt. I would really appreciate any advice you may have.

    Thanks! Kate

  34. purl bee says:

    HI Kate-

    I think this might be tricky because you are dealing with 3 layers, the back, the batting, and the front, instead of the 2 layers in the quick baby blanket. Additionally, these two types of blankets are finished in totally different ways. With the blankie you are sewing it inside out and then turning it and with this quilt you quilt it right sides together and then finish the edges. I wouldn't recommend trying something like that for your first quilt and if you do want to attempt it I would do it on a much smaller scale.
    Thanks for the question! – Molly

  35. Kate says:

    Hi Molly,

    Thank you so much for your feedback. I tend to try to over-do things… so this was good to hear. The other challenge I forgot to mention is that I am using a minky fabric for the back of the quilt and I'm finding the stretchy nature of the fabric a little tough to work with. So thank you again for your advice – I appreciate it!

    Kate

  36. Mary says:

    After making the "sandwich" of the back, the batting, and the top, and pinning them together and marking them, I've found that using a 6' or 8' folding table with a hard plastic or formica-type top to tie it on much easier than the floor. I use carpenter's clamps (available in any hardware store–they are coated with soft plastic, grip well and have strong steel springs) to stabilize and stretch the quilt, and the table really doesn't get scratched that I've noticed. You can easily tell when your needle is through all the layers. I just have to move the quilt a time or two and reclamp each time until it's all tied. Works really well. Our church's sewing circle ties comforters this way with two tables put together for a queen size.

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