Posted in Patterns, Tutorials

Free Beginner Quilt Pattern, ‘Playtime’

Learn to make this ‘Playtime’ Quilt with a Free Tutorial

I’m excited to share this free ‘Playtime’ Beginner Quilt Pattern + Tutorial.  The ‘Playtime’ quilt is a beautiful and simple modern quilt that you’ll love.

Free beginner quilt tutorial for Playtime Quilt

Needed Fabric to make Playtime Quilt

The overall finished quilt size is 37″ x 53″.  Here are the fabrics you’ll need to make your own beginner Quilt:

  1. (1) Jelly Roll, or (30) 2 ½” x 42″ strips of fabric.  I used a jelly roll because it is already cut and ready to go.  Talk about convenient!
  2. (29) 1 ¾” x 42″ strips of fabric in various colors.  These will make the colorful strips you see in the quilt.
  3. Backing – (1) 60″ x 42″ piece of fabric for the backing.
  4. Batting – at least 60″ x 42″ batting.  I used Dream Puff Batting, because I like how puffy and soft it makes the finished quilt.  But you can use whatever kind you prefer.
  5. Binding – (5) 2 ½” x 42″ strips of fabric for binding.

How to Make Your Free Beginner Quilt

This free beginner quilt pattern is SUPER fun and easy to put together.  If there’s one area you can save time, it’s in making your colorful strips of fabric.  You can find some pre-made strips and save a LOT of time HERE.

Making Colorful Strips

  • Take (1) 1 ¾” x 42″ strip.  Lay it out on a flat surface and starting at one end, fold in half.  As you fold in half, place your iron on your strip to set your crease.

Making Quilt Binding for Playtime Quilt

Fabrics used for a pre-made binding kit

The fabrics Bessie Pearl is using for pre-made strips to make your ‘Playtime’ Quilt

Sewing Strips Together

Now that you have your binding strips, you are ready to sew your fabrics together.

  • Take (1) jelly roll piece, or 2 ½” x 42″ strip of fabric.  Lay it out on a flat surface.  Iron it to make sure its totally flat.
  • Place one of your binding strips, raw edge to raw edge, along that top of your jelly roll strip.
  • Place a second jelly roll strip on top, to make a sandwich.  Be sure that all raw edges line up.  I place pins as layer the top jelly roll strip.  Note in the photo below how I place my pins.  This placement makes it easy to take the pins out as I sew.

Free Modern Quilt Pattern and Tutorial

  • Double check both front and back of your pieced sandwich.  Make sure all the edges are evenly lined and pinned together.
  • Sew your fabric strips together, pulling out pins as you go.
  • Keep adding one binding strip at a time following the steps above.
  • You can press seams as you go, or wait until the end and press them all at once.

Your quilt will look like this from the back as you add rows and press your seams: (You can see where I sprayed water in this photo if you look closely.  I found that spraying water helped the seams lay flat).

Free Modern Quilt Tutorial Strip Assembly

Quilting Your Playtime Quilt

Ideas for quilting:

  • Hand quilt a straight line on each of the jelly rolls, either with one color of thread or changing up the colors of thread.
  • Quilt right along the seam of the color strips of fabric and the jelly roll to hide the quilting. (What I did).
  • Do a fun wave or design on the jelly roll with a machine.

I’ll share with you how I quilted my quilt top, but there are so many fun ways you could quilt this.

How I Quilted my Playtime Quilt

I wanted all the seams on one side of my quilt to go one direction, and the seams on the opposite side of my quilt to go the other direction.  I love that this quilt is a 3D quilt, and I wanted to strips of fabric to really pop.

I also wanted the place where the seams change direction to be in a certain place, to give the affect of a ripple or wave.

A free modern quilt pattern for Playtime Quilt

To make sure that the seam direction stayed in the place where I wanted it, I placed a pin on each strip of binding / color fabric where the seam changed direction.

How to prepare your quilt for quilting

I sewed along the seam in a straight line.

How to quilt on your domestic machine

When the seam changed direction, I stopped sewing, then started sewing on the other side of the color strip / binding piece.

Free Modern Quilt Pattern and Tutorial

Finishing Your Quilt

When the quilting was done, it was easy to trim the backing and batting and add binding as normal.  I wondered how thick the quilt would be with so many layers of fabric.  I wondered if sewing the binding on might be difficult, but my needle had NO problem going through the layers of fabric and adding my binding as normal.

The End Product

Here is a look at the quilt all finished.  I will admit that the cool affect of the wave was lost a little after washing the quilt.  But the colorful fabric binding pieces looked beautiful and like ruffly ribbon after washing and drying the quilt.  I am a MAJOR fan of this quilt design, and fully plan to make a larger size for myself.

Free modern quilt pattern and tutorial

Playtime Quilt, a free modern quilt pattern and tutorialHere is the Quilt Top after washing and drying it.  You can see how the fabric becomes more ribbon / lace-like.

Other Tutorials

If you enjoyed this Free Beginner Quilt Pattern, you will love these others that I share:





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Posted in Tutorials

3 Ways to Finish a Quilt by Hand

Amanda from Broadcloth Studio shares 3 Ways To Finish Your Quilt by Hand (besides a running stitch)

Hi, folks, Amanda of @broadclothstudio here. Before we go any further, I’ve got a confession to make: I don’t like machine quilting.  *GASP* I know.

Now, before you turn your back on me, let me be clear: I like when other people machine quilt things, but I just don’t enjoy it.  To be fair, this may be because I grew up hand sewing and only got a machine a couple years ago. Or maybe it’s because my mother instilled the fear of [insert your personal direst of consequences here] if I ever played around with her favorite sewing machine. But, I think it’s because when you hand quilt and finish a project you have a very different tactile experience: as you work your way around the quilt, it’s like giving hundreds of little hugs to the quilt. The batting gets softer and squishier as you go. And because it takes so long to do (let’s call a spade a spade here), there is a lot of quality time spent with the quilt, making for a memorable experience.

But to be honest, sometimes I don’t have the time (or the energy or the patience or the interest) to hand quilt an entire quilt.  And since I really don’t like machine quilting, I’m always looking for other options. Enter my current top three “alternative” quilting methods.

#1 Hand Tying

Finish a Quilt By Hand, Hand Tying

Hand tying is such a fun way to add texture to a quilt. I especially love it when used with a fluffy batting (like wool) because of the tufting effect. You can use floss, perle cotton, yarn, ribbon, or whatever floats your boat (though I’d suggest something on the heavier end of the thread spectrum to play up that textural element).

Thread your needle and make a regular running stitch through all the quilt layers where you want the knot to be, leaving a three inch tail. Make a backstitch through the original hole and back up through the layers of the quilt ending through the second hole. Tim the thread with a three inch tail and repeat the ties across the quilt as desired. Square knot all the stitches and trim the tails to your desired length.

Note: if you’re a little impatient like me, you can square knot each stitch as you go and then cut your thread (just leave a long enough tail so you can trim all your knot tails to a uniform size at the end) before moving onto the next stitch. It might not be the “correct” way to do it, but 1) who cares and 2) who will ever know?

#2 Cross Stich-ish

How to finish a quilt by hand

Hand Quilting, Bury a knot, 3 Ways to Finish a Quilt by Hand

I love the look of cross-stitch, but ugh, I hate the fact the back doesn’t mirror the front. Fortunately for us, thanks to the layers of a quilt, making the front and back mirror each other is easy.

Grab your needle and thread (I like to use a heavier floss). Make your knot and bury your thread as you normally would for hand quilting, coming up with the needle at one of the ends of the X (mark an X on your fabric with your favorite fabric marker/pen/pencil if that helps!). Make your first stitch along one of the lines of the X.  On the back, enter directly below the original hole, but instead of coming straight up to the front, “travel” through the batting and bring the needle to the front at the tip of the second line of the X.  Make your stitch along the second line of the X. On the back, complete the X and bury your knot (or travel through the batting to get to the next X). And voila! X marks the spot.

#3 Satin Stitch

Finish a Quilt By Hand, Satin Stitch


3 Ways to Finish a Quilt by Hand

Another borrowed-from-embroidery stitch (#quiltbroidery)! The satin stitch is super easy, and best of all, it looks the pretty much the same on the front and the back without any fancy traveling-through-the-batting stitch work. I like to use 12wt thread for this, but it’s also fun to play around with different thread weights for different texture.

Satin stitches are incredibly versatile as you’re basically coloring in a shape with thread. For demonstration’s sake, let’s start with a little circle.  Grab your fabric marker/pen/pencil of choice and draw a circle on your fabric. Grab your needle and thread, make your knot, and bury your thread as you normally would while hand quilting, coming up with your needle somewhere along the circumference of the circle.

Make a stitch directly across from where your needle came up, going perpendicularly through all the quilt layers. From the back, bring your needle back to the front side with a stitch that comes up right next to the original needle hole. Make a stitch parallel to your first stitch, entering right next to the first stitch but staying on the circumference. Continue stitching until half of the circle is complete then take your needle and weave it through the batting to come up on the other side of the original stitch. Repeat until the entire circle is filled in. Knot and bury your knot as usual.

Pretty easy-peasy. And just think of the options: you could satin stitch little squares, teardrops, leaves, or get fancy with negative space and leave a hole in the middle of a square.


So here’s my challenge to you: when you’re short on time or if you’re looking to add a little extra special twist of texture, try one of the above. Or riff on these ideas: the sky’s the limit with what shapes you can make!

Looking for some project ideas? How about:

  • A whole cloth pillow hand tied with five different shades of yarn to make an ombré effect
  • A baby blanket covered in tiny hand stitched hearts (or mix your cross-stitch and satin stitch to make an X’s + O’s blanket)
  • A wall hanging with a constellation or connect-the-dots pattern (maybe add in some hand quilting to connect the dots)

P.S. a note on supplies

Quilting Supplies, Hand Quilting Supplies

There are so many different ways to tackle any of the above stitches.  But in case it is helpful, here’s what’s in my hand-sewing kit these days (which is really just an old cookie tin):

  • Needles: When it comes to needles, I’m currently loving an assorted set of Sashiko needles I picked up years ago.
  • Thread: I love working with 12 wt cotton thread (pictured are Aurifil Cotton 12wt #2245, #2140 (this one is serious magic: it goes with everything), #5007) or floss (Aurifloss 1125 and 5015 are pictured above, but I’m also currently obsessed with #1104).
  • Scissors: Gingher Stork Embroidery Scissors always and forever
  • Marking Tools: I like Clover’s Chacopen Soluble Eraser Pen for light colored fabrics and General’s Pastel Chalk in White for my darks.
  • Thread Gloss: I highly recommend using thread gloss as it just makes life so much more easier (my go-to is Sew Fine Thread Gloss in Lemon Peel).
  • Hoop: When I’m hand quilting, I generally like to use a quilting hoop: for the cross-stitch-ish and satin stitch, I particularly like to use my smaller 12” one. Both of mine are probably considered “vintage” at this point and I can’t find them online, but just look for a sturdy wood hoop and you’ll be good to go!


If you’re looking for more “quiltbroidery” stitches, I’m collecting different ones over on as part of an ongoing project, so make sure to check them out (and if you’ve got any ideas of stitches to tackle next, questions on the above, or just want to say hi, send me an email at

If you like this tutorial, you’ll love the tutorial I have on Quilt Binding.  CLICK HERE to read that.

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Posted in Tutorials

The Best Beginner Quilt: ‘Better Together’

The Best Beginner Quilt Pattern

Better Together Quilt on Ladder


I have been working on a totally new kind of quilt pattern for some time now.  I wanted a pattern that assumed NO prior quilt knowledge, that would be the best beginner quilt pattern.  Some of the wording in quilt patterns can feel like a foreign language to new quilters, and can really turn people away from a hobby that I want more people to enjoy.  I wanted to create a pattern that makes it easy and do-able for a brand new quilter to make their first quilt.

Introducing the ‘Better Together’ Quilt Pattern

That’s why I created the ‘Better Together’ quilt pattern.  This pattern is unlike any other quilt pattern I’ve seen.  I walk through quilting terms, as well as giving in-depth explanations each step of the way.  I also created a video tutorial so people can see me do the things I write about.  I tried to think of all the possible ways to help a new quilter be successful in making this quilt.  It really is the best beginner quilt pattern.

Making the Perfect Half Square Triangle

Helping you make these Half Square Triangles


Half Square Triangle Tutorial for 'Better Together' Quilt

Showing you how I sew, helping you along the way

Why Half Square Triangles

  1. When thinking of a pattern for new quilters, I wanted a timeless design.  Half square Triangles (HSTs) are the most classic, timeless quilt block I could think of.  You can modernize them with different fabrics, but the look of the quilt top made of JUST Half Square Triangles is stunning, yet simple.
  2. Once a HST is conquered, a quilter is ready to move on to other quilt patterns.
  3. HSTs are the perfect place for a new quilter to learn Quilting.

Making This Quilt Your Own

I reached out to different beginning quilters to test this pattern.  I love seeing how each person took this beginner quilt pattern and made it unique, just by switching the fabrics they used.  Here are the different ‘Better Together’ quilt tops my pattern testers made.

From Megan of @megsaenz

Beginner Better Together Quilt by Megan

Better Together Quilt for Beginning Quilters

Half Square Triangle Quilt

From Karen of @bessiepearl

Better Together Half Square Triangle Beginner Quilt

Beginner Quilt Better Together

Notice how Karen added a border to her quilt to make it unique for her?

Half Square Triangle Quilt Better Together

From Elisabeth of @quilt_with_e She made TWO!

Better Together Beginner QUilt

Beginner Quilt Pattern Half Square Triangles

Better Together Half Square Triangle Quilt for Beginners

Half Square Triangle Quilt Better Together

Better Together Quilt Top

From Rachel Bradley of @ohsewprettyquilts

Better Together Quilt

From Amanda Chance of @modernly_mom

Better Together Beginner Quilt

Better Together Half Square Triangle Quilt

Better Together Quilt Variations by Quilters Candy

Better Together Half Square Triangle Quilt

Long Arm Quilted by @ThreeBirdsandStitches with minky backing that adds a bit of fluff to the quilt

Better Together Half Square Triangle Quilt

Machine Quilted on my Sewing Machine – linen backing

Better Together Half Square Triangle Quilt

You can see the straight line quilting

Better Together Beginner Quilt, Half Square Triangle Quilt

Entirely hand quilted – linen backing

The Pattern

If you are a beginning quilter, and want the perfect beginning quilt pattern, you can get this ‘Better Together’ pattern HERE.  If you are a more experienced quilter, you can use this pattern, as well.  Just know that the wording of it is geared for a brand new quilter.

Other Tutorials

If you are looking for help with quilting, I have a few other tutorials you might find helpful.

Be sure to SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel so you can be the first to know when new tutorials are released.




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Posted in Tutorials

How To Use Bias Binding: A Full Tutorial + Video

How to Use Bias Binding + Video Tutorial

Why am I sharing a Bias Binding Tutorial with you?

I have only used straight cut, single fold binding for my quilts.  That’s all I knew!  Then I met Liz of The Small Circle and saw her lovely Bias Bindings.  I asked if she could share a tutorial on how to use these Bias Bindings for quilts.  Liz was happy to prepare a tutorial for y’all.  And now I’m a Bias Binding fan!

Biad Binding on a Curved corner quilt

From Liz of The Small Circle

Bias binding is one of the most versatile and useful notions in the sewing room. In addition to being used to finish quilts, bias binding is excellent in apparel sewing as a facing for necklines and armholes, and in bias bound and Hong Kong seams. It can be used for appliqué and bag-making. Its applications are nearly endless! I love this sewing room workhorse, so I created a short video tutorial for you on how to finish your quilt using double fold bias binding.

The Small Circle Double Bias Binding for Quilters


Video Tutorial

Watch my video tutorial to learn:

    • The difference between bias binding and straight cut (or quilt) binding.
    • Some advantages to using binding cut on the bias.
    • How to attach strips of bias binding.
    • How to sew a curved corner.
    • How to secure your binding using hand stitching.

Finish Your Quilt with Double Folded Bias Binding


Video in Summary

Let me share in text format what I show you in the video.

How bias binding differs from other binding:

  • Bias binding differs from quilt binding in that it’s cut from your fabric at a 45 degree angle from the selvedge. When you tug on bias binding, it has some stretch to it. This creates a flexible and pliable binding that can go around curves and odd angles smoothly.


  • Flexibility and pliability.
  • Bias binding is a durable way to finish a quilt. With quilt binding, the warp and weft of the binding are running vertically and horizontally. This means that a single fiber is running along the length of the edge of your quilt and is taking the majority of the wear and tear. With bias binding, the warp and weft are running at 45 degree angles across the edge of the quilt. The wear and tear is distributed across multiple fibers, making it last longer.

Attaching to front of quilt:

  • To attach the binding to the front of your quilt, determine which half of your binding strip is narrower. The narrower half will be sewn to the front of your quilt, and the wider half will wrap around to the back and will cover the stitch line from the front. Unfold the binding and lay it right side down on your quilt front with raw edges aligned. Line your needle up with the first crease mark (the fold line that is closest to the raw edge of your quilt), and begin sewing about three inches down from the tail of your binding.

Bias Binding The Small Circle

  • To sew a curved corner, you don’t have to do anything special. The main thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to pull the binding tight as you’re sewing. Just let it lay naturally on the quilt without any stretch.

sewing curved corners with bias binding

  • When you make it all the way around your quilt and are approaching the start of your binding, pause with your needle down to hold your place. Find the tail you left when you first started sewing, and fold it down toward you and the raw edge of your quilt at a 45 degree angle. You can pin it in place or just hold it, and then lay the other end of your binding right over the top, keeping all those creases in the binding aligned. Sew right past the beginning of your binding, anchoring it down, and back stitch to secure.

Double Bias Binding for Quilt Binding

Attaching to Back of Quilt

  • To attach the binding to the back of your quilt, re-fold the binding to the way it was folded in the package. It will naturally wrap itself around the quilt in the way it should lay. The middle crease will enclose the raw edges of your quilt as the other half of the binding wraps around to the back. The final crease of the binding will stay folded so that all raw edges are enclosed. To hand-stitch the back in place, prepare several lengths of thread. I use the same thread I used for hand-quilting. Make a knot at one end, and embed the knot into your quilt just inside the stitch line you made when attaching the binding to the front. Bring your needle up through your binding, near the edge, and then simply use a straight or sashiko stitch to secure the binding all along the edges your quilt, being careful to check the front of your quilt and make sure your stitches aren’t catching the binding on the front.

Hand Quilting your Quilt Binding



Pre-Made Bias Binding and PROMO CODE

I hope you’re inspired to use bias binding in your own sewing after this tutorial. I have a fantastic variety of pre-made binding in The Small Circle shop. Enjoy 20% off all bias binding using the discount code QUILTCANDY20 through the month of June. All of the binding is handmade with organic cotton and is shipped in eco friendly packaging.


After The Rain Quilt Top with Bias Binding

Pre-made double fold bias binding on ‘After The Rain’ quilt.


Along with finishing quilts, bias binding is excellent in apparel sewing, bag-making, and for any other seam-finishing. Its applications are nearly endless!

Be sure to follow The Small Circle on Instagram for bias binding and other eco friendly notions.

Note: The fabrics used for the quilt in the video are mostly scraps from my stash of Sara Parker Textiles‘ hand-printed fabrics. The quilt itself is an improv piece inspired by the work and teaching of Sherri Lynn Wood.

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