Making Amazing Tumbling Blocks Scrap Quilt: Easy Instruction

Quilters often ask how to make a Tumbling Blocks or Baby Blocks quilt. These quilts are lovely and can be done as a planned quilt or a scrap quilt.

Years ago, quilters in my area were starting Charm quilts. A charm quilt is one where you create a quilt using only one shape in one size – a square, triangle, rectangle, diamond – and each fabric only once. This quilt is a collection of each fabric I purchase or have in my stash.

I chose a diamond for my shape, and now every time I buy new fabric (when I remember), I cut a small rectangle from a corner. When I have gathered a few, I cut diamonds from the rectangles, and then arrange them so I have one light, one medium and one dark fabric to sew together.

Generally, Tumbling Block or Baby Block quilts have a specific arrangement of values in the fabric. The key is to keep the light, medium, and dark fabrics in the same position in each of the blocks. This causes the dimensional look of the quilt.

Because I am working from a limited selection of fabric as I place my light, medium, and dark pieces, there is some variation among the light fabric. For example, a medium fabric in one set of 3 could be a light in a different set. As a result, some sections of the quilt top appear darker than others.

If I were creating the quilt from coordinated fabrics, all of the light fabric would be relatively the same.

In this Tumbling Blocks Charm Quilt, the light, medium, and dark fabrics are placed in the same relative position throughout the quilt. But because the fabrics have been added over a period of years, some of the light and medium fabrics are darker in some places than in other places in the quilt. By using coordinated fabric instead of scrap-like fabric, the design can be more consistent.

A close up of a section of the quilt

Here is how to sew a Tumbling Blocks or Baby Blocks quilt together. Use the same technique to sew the hexagons together as you do to sew the diamonds together.

Click on each of the images below to see a larger picture.

I prefer to hand stitch diamonds, and I began with the seam attaching the light and dark fabrics. The order you attach the blocks in doesn’t really matter.

I use 1/4 inch masking tape to mark my sewing line and keep the fabric pieces together with a couple of pins.

Tumbling Blocks are made from 3 diamonds – 1 light, 1 medium, and 1 dark fabric. To create a 3-dimensional design, keep each value in the same relative position in all of the “blocks.”With your diamonds positioned as you will sew them, it is easier to see which seams to sew. I began by sewing the light fabric (the one in the upper left) to the dark fabric (in the bottom center). I placed them right sides together and matched the raw edges.

This is a picture of the seam once it has been stitched. End the stitching 1/4 inch away from the raw edges on both ends of the diamond. Be sure to knot your thread. A simple knot with a 1/4 inch tail should keep the stitching in place.

Open the seam you just sewed, then line up the medium fabric with the dark fabric. Pin the diamond in place and mark where you will sew. Stitch the side, making sure to knot your thread at the beginning and end, and begin and end your stitching 1/4 inch away from the raw edges.

Match the final edge of the medium diamond with the light diamond, and stitch in place.

The back of your Tumbling Blocks hexagon will lay flat after all of the seams have been sewn. I will fold the seam allowances toward the dark fabric.

As you can see, there are several different ways to handle your different size blocks. If your blocks are the same design, but different sizes, you can disguise the differences even further by using several of the techniques to extend the sides of your block in the same quilt.

In the picture below, you can see that I have used all of the methods discussed above.

A finished “block” for a Tumbling Blocks or Baby Blocks quilt.

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