Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Frequency Quilt Tutorial

Here it is folks - the tutorial for my Frequency Quilt (a wonky zig-zag/chevron quilt), also known as the Fat Really Off Kilter quilt!  It's the first quilt I've made just for me and I'm going to love snuggling up under it this winter (at the rate I'm going I hope it will be quilted in time for winter.) Most of my quilts are tucked away or given away so I can't wait to enjoy this one. I've even been dragging my husband around the house showing him how great it looks on different couches and our bed (to his credit he ooohs and ahhhs appropriately.)

I fell in love with Saffron Craig's Banksia Bloom fabrics as soon as I saw them, and (how lucky am I?) Saffron generously sent me a lovely bundle of the complete range! Kookaburras are my favourite bird, and so I was particularly thrilled when I saw how beautiful the fabrics looked (and felt) up close. I must admit, I was nervous cutting them up as many of them are bigger prints and I wanted her designs to shine, but I think they look fabulous against the Kona Ash background. I've kept back some of the large kookaburra fabric to make a couple of matching throw cushions for the couch.

So I've pushed myself to get this tutorial out before easter as a little present to you. I even made up a short video explaining a quick way of putting the blocks together. At the bottom of this post is instructions on how to modify the pattern for a baby sized Frequency quilt.

This throw size quilt its actually bigger than intended. I meant to make 10 patterned zig zags, but accidentally made 11. For the tutorial I'll use my original size of 10 zigzags (size: 60" x 77",  153cm x 195cm).

What you need:
  • 10 fat quarters of patterned fabric (if using american fat quarters - 18" x 22" - you will need to cut carefully as you will only just have enough). Alternatively you could use 13" (35cm) each of 10 patterned fabrics - you will have quite a bit of fabric left over for the back.
  •  75" (1.9m) of plain background fabric
  • neutral thread for piecing, rotary cutter, ruler and mat, sewing machine with 1/4" foot
  • from each of the 10 patterned fabrics cut eight 6" x 6.5" rectangles (if cutting from an american fat quarter cut three 6" x 22" strips and then cross-cut these into eight 6.5" x 6" rectangles.)
  • from the plain background fabric cut 12, 6" strips, selvedge to selvedge, and then cross-cut these strips into 80, 6.5" x 6" rectangles.
Note: It is important to use a 1/4" seam to end up with a square block.

Putting the blocks together:

Take a patterned and a plain rectangle (they should be exactly the same size)...
Put the patterned fabric on top, right side facing up (if the background fabric has a right side make sure that is facing up too.) The rectangles should be positioned so that the longer edge is lying horizontally. Make sure all of the edges are lined up so you can't see the background fabric underneath. Using your rotary cutter and ruler make a diagonal cut, slanting to the right, through both layers from bottom to top (pictured below). You can vary the position and angle of the cut, but have this first cut slanting to the right.
Then take the top patterned fabric from the pile on the right and put it under the plain fabric (still facing up, keeping the same orientation.)
Sew the top two peices together along the diagonal edge, right sides facing. As you do this make sure the top and bottom edges cross over where the 1/4" seam will go, so you will have little triangular 'ears' at the top and bottom of the block, as shown.
Then sew the bottom layer of fabrics together in the same manner. Iron the seams towards the patterned fabric. We will call these "R" blocks (to the right.) They should measure 6" x 6" raw edge to raw edge. If not you may need to adjust your seam a little. It is important to make sure your completed blocks are square so you don't have to trim them before sewing them all together.
In the same manner, layer another patterned and plain rectangle and make a diagonal cut, but this time slant it to the left. I like to make my blocks random by varying the angle and position of the cut.
Continue to put the blocks together as described above.
We will call these "L" blocks (to the left.) They should also measure 6" square raw edge to raw edge.
So, now you have two R blocks and two L blocks. Continue in this manner until you have 8 R blocks and 8 L blocks (16 blocks using the same patterned fabric.)
I like to cut multiple blocks at a time by stacking and cutting through two pairs of fabric to speed up the process.

To see an alternatively (even quicker) way to cut and put these blocks together check out this little video I put together. A couple of things I forgot to mention in the video:
  • Arrange the rectangles so that the longest edge is horizontal.
  • If your background fabric has a right side, make sure the first piece you lay down is facing down and the second one is facing up.
  • It doesn't matter which way you cut the fabric (slanting to the right or left)

Using this method you will end up with two R blocks and two L blocks.
Once you have sewn 16, 6" square blocks with each of your 10 fabrics (160 blocks in total), you will be ready to put the quilt together.

You can organise the blocks in a number of ways to make your quilt but I have shown two here. For a more subdued look you may like this way - alternate R and L blocks (you can see how it looks in the baby size here.)
For a slightly more random look you may like it this way (this is the way I arranged my quilt - ordered randomness!)
Or you could go completely random. Which ever way you choose to arrange your blocks, lay out your 16 blocks in a row (I have only shown 10 blocks across.) Then lay out another row of 16 blocks to make the next zig zag.
Keep going...
until you have laid out 10 patterned zig zags (the photo below shows 11 zig zags).
Starting in one corner sew the blocks together into diagonal rows.
And then sew the rows together being careful to match the seams, especially where the patterned fabric meets up. Iron well.
You may like to pin the rows together to increase accuracy.
Once you have sewn all of the rows together it should look something like this:
Trim the triangular edges off and your quilt top is complete!
If you're tempted to make your own "Frequency" quilt using Saffron Craig's gorgeous fabrics you can pick up your own bundle here.

It's really easy to adjust the pattern to whatever size you like. You can change the size of the blocks (just make sure one side is 1/2" longer than the other) and/or change the number of blocks.
If you would like to make a baby sized quilt like the one pictured above (37.5" x 43", 95cm x 109cm) you will need:
  • 5" (13cm) each of eight different patterned fabrics
  • 33" (85cm) of plain background fabric.
Just cut
  • seven 4.5" x 5" rectangles from each of the eight different patterned fabrics and 
  • 56, 4.5" x 5" rectangles of plain fabric (cut seven 4.5" strips, selvedge to selvedge, and cross cut into 5" x 4.5" rectangles.)
Follow the instructions above, using the photo as a guide to put this little cutie together. I arranged this one pretty randomly.

I hope it all makes sense. Happy Easter everybody!


  1. Love this so much Kate! Happy Easter, thanks for the brilliant tutorial, you make it sound so easy!

  2. Thank you so much Kate! I love the look of this quilt ... so fun and funky. Can't wait to make one :)

  3. Ooo aaahhhh great colour choices for a throw quilt.

  4. What a totally, amazingly fantastic idea. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. THANKS for the tutorial Kate. its a great quilt!

  6. I love YOUR quilt. Safron's fabrics look fabulous! I haven't done any quilting in awhile, I think I might try a baby one :)

  7. Thank you so much for this tutorial, I love it! I've enjoyed making the wonkey donkey recently, this quilt enters my thing-to-sew-list in the top 5 :)
    Happy Easter for you too!

  8. Oh, Kate, I love it when you do the math for me to make a smaller quilt!! Love this pattern!!

  9. Its lovely and it has motivated to cut a collection of 7 Wonders up, I love it. Thank you for the Easter Present.

  10. Love this! Thank you for posting a great tutorial!

  11. I really love this, I wish it was in PDF , I would pay for it too..

  12. thanks a lot for the tutorial! I like the look and will sure make something out of it. Maybe not a quilt but I can imagine using this block for other fun items.

  13. Świetny blog. Piękne prace. Bardzo pomocne tutoriale. Serdecznie pozdrawiam. Jola

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  16. Love the pattern. Could be used with so many terrific fabrics. Thank you.

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Thanks so much for leaving a comment! I try to respond but life sometimes gets in the way. If you have any questions please email me at kateeconklin(at)gmail(dot)com