Barn door quilt-a-long: week 1

Welcome to week 1 of the barn door quilt-a-long! (If you missed the post about fabric requirements, you’ll find it here.)

This is what we’ll be doing this week:


Week 1: the 7 center rows

I originally intended to start this week by doing all of the cutting for the quilt. But as I was working on it myself (had to double check that math!) it occurred to me that it would be way more fun to start assembling it right away. You’ll get the satisfaction of seeing it come together quickly and you’ll be able to play around a little more with your fabric selection and layout.


This will also give us the opportunity to have a periodic link up to see how the quilts are looking!

So here’s the new schedule (and I do apologize if you were terribly attached to the last one):

  • Week 1 (January 6) – center rows (9-15)
  • Week 2 (January 13) – top rows (1-8) & link up for week 1 progress
  • Week 3 (January 20) – bottom rows (16-23)
  • Week 4 (January 27) – borders & link up for weeks 1-3 progress
  • Week 5 (February 3) – quilting & finishing
  • Week 6 (February 10) – final link up celebration (with at least one giveaway, possibly more!)

Here is your Barn door assembly chart, containing all of the measurements for the entire quilt. This week we’re going to start in the center and work our way out.

Without the borders, barn door is a 63 3/4 inch square that forms the primary “X” design of the quilt.

Barn door diagram

Image credit: Anne at Thanks Anne!

This X is composed of 23 strips. To create the assembly chart I numbered the strips 1 to 23 from top to bottom. Most of the strips in the quilt are composed of one middle strip, 2 HSTs (half square triangles), and 2 side strips.

Edit: All of the strips are 3 1/4 inches wide.

You can find my HST & hourglass unit tutorial here, and my cutting tutorials here and here. For even more basics, read through my beginner’s series

When you assemble your strips, be sure you join each unit with a true 1/4 inch seam. As in most quilt patterns, the math for this design depends on an accurate 1/4 inch. Anything more or less will cause trouble when you are lining up your rows.

I like to keep a small ruler right by my sewing machine and I frequently check my seam allowances.


The 1/4 inch line of the ruler should line up with your thread

(You’ll note that my HST/hourglass tutorial encourages a scant or “less than” 1/4 inch seam for making those units. Don’t be confused by this! Just remember that you can always use a scant seam for a unit that will be trimmed, but when you are joining multiple units into a finished block or quilt, you will most often use a true 1/4 inch seam because that is the amount accounted for in the math.)

For this quilt, I think it’s helpful to be able to nest your seams when you are lining them up. I press all of my middle pieces toward the middle and all of my outer strips toward the outside.


Your triangles and hourglass don’t have any abutting seams so you can press them any way you want. I chose to press them open so my quilt top will lay flatter. If you don’t want to have to think about which way to press your seams, pressing them open is always an option. It just makes lining up the points slightly trickier (in my opinion).


The hourglass and triangles are pressed open; the center strips are pressed toward the center; the outer strips are pressed toward the outside; the seams joining the strips together are pressed open

Once you have your first 2 rows assembled, joining them immediately will help you determine whether you’ve cut and sewn accurately up to this point. If your points are not lining up, try to figure out what has gone wrong. Double-check your measurements and your seam allowances. This is another advantage of assembling a little at a time!

I advocate heavy pinning and I’ll tell you why: fabric stretches. Pinning doesn’t just ensure that your components line up, it offers some resistance to the tugging of the presser feet and feed dogs on the fabric. If you often have a small amount of fabric that sticks off the end of one side of your work, that is why. I know it’s an extra step, but it’s worth it to avoid dealing with the uneven edges later.

Focus on lining up the angles of the triangles. The lines of the triangles create the “X” design of the quilt.


Pin where the triangles meet first.


Then place one pin at each outside edge of the strips. Keep adding pins in the middle of the pins you’ve already placed until you have pins every few inches. Sew your strips together, removing the pins at the last possible second before your needle reaches them.


Continue assembling strips until you have your center 7! Or of course if you’re on a roll keep going. You now have all the information you need to complete the entire quilt top.

Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me an email if you have any questions. One of the benefits of a small quilt-a-long is the opportunity for more extensive interaction and collaboration.

Don’t forget to post your progress on our Flickr page! Let me know if you guys are Intagram users. I could dust off my account if it’s something you guys want to do. #barndoorQAL anyone?

Barn door quilt-a-long: my fabric choices

I loved Carolyn Friedlander’s line Architextures. It’s getting hard to find, but her new line Botanics is most certainly the next big thing. It started popping up here and there after Quilt Market and now it’s just hitting shelves. I got mine from Fat Quarter Shop when they were offering 25% off on black friday.

I gotta tell ya, I was sorely tempted by the beautiful stack of fat quarters. It’s just so pretty! But I’ve been quilting long enough to know that, for me, fat quarters are never enough. It makes more economical sense to force myself to choose my favorites and buy half yards.

All that to say, Botanics is my starting point for my next barn door quilt. I ordered most of the whites, grays, blues, and greens and a little orange. From there, I decided to incorporate what’s left of my Architextures stash (leftover from the fat quarter stack I purchased to make these airplane pillows). Then I went nuts and grabbed any similar shades from my stash, and landed here:


Botanics + stash coordinates

Low volumes

Low volumes


Light blues

Dark blues

Dark blues





My initial plan is to not have a plan. Ha! Seriously though. I am going to start the first few rows and then see how it develops. When I made my first version I definitely planned each fabric selection very specifically before I started sewing.

They alternate with quite mathematical precision!


This time it’s a bit more complex because I’m planning to use quite a few more fabrics, so I’m just going to take it one row at a time. Eventually a more specific plan will form, I promise.

The pattern works outward from the middle. The first row we sew will be the hourglass row at the center. From there we’ll sew both the adjoining rows and work out until we have completed the central X of the design. From there we add the top and bottom borders and we’re done! It really does come together quite quickly. The trickiest part is lining up the triangles but we’ll worry about that next year.

I’m so excited to see what you guys are thinking about using for your fabrics! Please do not hesitate to ask questions. I love talking about this stuff. If you’re on Flickr please upload your fabric stacks here! If you’re not on Flickr you should consider joining, especially if you don’t have a blog. We’re all going to want to see your quilt!

Linking up with Lee for WIP Wednesday. It’s an official WIP once you’ve got fabric and a pattern… right?

Oh, and if you’re new around here, you can always catch up on everything Barn door quilt-a-long related by clicking its tab at the top of the screen!

Barn door quilt-a-long!

So, um, do you guys maybe want to make a quilt with me next year?

Maybe this one? (More pictures here.)


Ok, let’s do this!

I plan to keep the pace pretty slow because I know there are plenty of other great projects you may have in mind for the new year. But I’ll give you the information you need to work ahead too, in case you’re like me and you get all excited and like to focus on one thing at a time.

Barn door quilt-a-long schedule:

  • November /December – fabric requirements & selection
  • January 6 – cutting
  • January 13 – assembling the HSTs and hourglass unit
  • January 20 – assembling the strips
  • January 27 – piecing the X
  • February 3 – adding the top and bottom borders
  • February 10 – quilting & finishing
  • February 24 – final link party celebration (with at least one giveaway, possibly more!)

I wanted to post the fabric requirements early so that you can plan ahead a bit. (Maybe allocate a Christmas present or 2 in this direction!)

This quilt is a little bit different because it is primarily long strips rather than small components. I used a set of 6 half yards of the Japenese text prints (available here) and a couple yards of the polka dots from my stash.

For simplicity, in calculating the fabric requirements below I assumed you would use just two different fabrics – one light and one dark. I also assumed you’d be using a non-directional print or a print that runs the length of the yardage rather than selvedge to selvedge. If you are using a print that runs selvedge to selvedge (as the text print I used did) you will have to piece a couple of the longest strips. This didn’t bother me a bit. This is patchwork, let it be patchy! 

Ok, fabric requirements. In short, you’ll need 5 yards for this quilt top – 2 1/2 light and 2 1/2 dark. But here are some more details: 

  • Light fabric: a 2 yard cut will provide enough 3 1/4 inch strips for the main X and the top and bottom striped borders; you’ll need an additional 1/2 yard for the 44 HST (you’ll have some left over, but 1/4 yard is not enough)
  • Dark fabric: same as light fabric above
  • Finished size of the quilt: 63 3/4 by 79 3/4

It might be helpful to know that the 2 longest light strips are 58 1/4 inches and the 2 longest dark strips are 52 3/4 inches. If you don’t want to have to piece your strips at all, you’ll need at least that length.

I haven’t 100% committed to my fabric choices for my 2nd version of this quilt yet. I haven’t made a quilt for my 2 year old yet so I’m thinking this one will be for him! My initial thought is to combine my men’s shirt collection with Carolyn Friendlander’s new line Botanics, but I reserve the right to change my mind.

Here’s a little inspiration to get you thinking. These are the types of images I originally had in my head when I designed this quilt.

barn door

Barn door 2

barn door 3

For more great inspiration and ideas, I’m so excited that my genius friend Anne of Play Crafts generously agreed to do a post about some color choices for us today! She also drew it up in Illustrator for us, which is way beyond my technological abilities. Be sure to check it out. Thanks Anne!

I also created a Flickr group so please feel free to start talking about ideas and posting potential fabric pulls.

This is going to be fun!