Over the years, I’ve made lots of buffalo check quilts. The one thing they had in common was that they were all made with Rifle Paper Co fabrics. I recently had the opportunity to make a gingham Les Fleurs quilt, and I’d like to tell you alllllll about it!
Where did I get the original idea for these quilts? From a magazine! Here’s the *actual* magazine article that I ripped out of an issue of Love Patchwork and Quilting years ago. It featured a simple yet gorgeous buffalo plaid design in Les Fleurs, and I was SMITTEN!
In the years following, I made similar quilts in Menagerie, Amalfi, and two in Wildwood (by accident). But I always wished I had been able to get my hands on those original, gorgeous Les Fleurs fabrics (the small scale floral print is called Rosa).
Online shopping FTW!
One night as I was scrolling IG in bed (we all do that, yeah?) I saw that my “localest” modern quilt shop Thread Count Fabrics had received a shipment of the Rosa re-print. What a delightful surprise! I still have no idea how or why these old prints were brought back, but I knew that I didn’t want to miss my chance to get my hands on some of these pretty Rosas!
I was worried that if I waited until morning to place my order, they might somehow be sold out. So I clicked “purchase” as quick as a bunny, and went to sleep safe in the knowledge that I had secured my dream fabric. That was the first (and only) time I’ve ever bought fabric while in my PJs in bed!
In case you’re wondering, it was not sold out in the morning, but it was the next time I checked the website. No regrets on this purchase!
Making this gingham Les Fleurs quilt special
Since this was special fabric, I wanted to make this quilt special as well. I loved the simplicity of buffalo check, but thought it might be a nice twist (literally) to set it on point. I’m calling this pattern gingham, simply to distinguish it from all my other buffalo check quilts. I know it makes no sense whatsoever, because gingham is actually just a smaller version of buffalo check and has nothing to do with being set on point, but this is my silly story, so I’ll name things as I choose! Plus, “gingham Les Fleurs quilt” is much faster to type than “buffalo check on point Les Fleurs quilt”.
Figuring out how to do it
After I had the great idea to make a gingham Les Fleurs quilt, I had to figure out how to make it. I didn’t have a pattern to work from, but it couldn’t be that hard to figure out, right? Right?
First, I drew a sketch in my notebook, trying to guesstimate how many blocks I wanted in my quilt top. I landed on a 5 x 6 layout.
Here’s a (somewhat) better rendition of the gingham Les Fleurs quilt that I whipped up in Canva which might help you understand the layout better. Hooray for free online software!
Do you see how there are 5 full diamonds (3 dark and 2 white) across the width of the quilt, and 6 full diamonds (3 dark and 3 white) down the length? That’s what I mean by 5 x 6. I really like the ratio of a 5 x 6 quilt. That’s why so many of my lap quilts are 60″ x 72″ (it’s the same ratio). What can I say – I like what I like!
Here comes some math
Are you going to freak out if I tell you that I used the Pythagorean Theorem to figure out how big to cut my blocks? Yes? Well don’t! There’s no need to shake in your boots just because you have traumatic memories of your algebra teacher yelling at you, or because your “tutoring sessions” with your older brother inevitably, eventually, ALWAYS resulted in tears. Wait… was that just my experience?
In any case, I’ve put my frustrations with math in the past, and am now able to harness the power of math (and Google) for quilty goodness.
Let’s start with the overall dimensions
When I bought the fabric for this baby quilt, I bought my usual 1.5 yds of backing fabric. Given that I’m
lazy efficient and prefer to avoid piecing backings whenever possible, I knew that my quilt top would be limited to a width of 44″ (the width of a bolt of fabric). And since I was planning to load it on the longarm machine, I knew that I would need some extra width on the side. I decided that my gingham Les Fleurs quilt could be a maximum width of 40″. This would leave me with an extra 2″ on each side in order to load it on the longarm (it’s not a lot, but I could make it work).
If you remember, the quilt top I had designed was going to have 5 full diamonds across the width of the quilt top. If you divide 40 inches wide by 5 diamonds, you get 8 inches. So I knew that my diamonds could be a maximum of 8 inches wide FINISHED. It would be fine if the blocks ended up a bit smaller, but they could NOT be bigger than 8″. If they were bigger, my quilt top would be too big for my backing.
That was a start, but it didn’t tell me how big I should actually be cutting my fabric in order to make this fabulous gingham Les Fleurs quilt! For that, I needed ol’ Mr Pythagorus.
Using the Pythagorean Theorem – For real!
Remember this? Maybe not? It’s the theory that explains the relationship between the sides of a shape (a and b in the photo above) to the hypotenuse (c in the photo above). In my quilt example, a and b would be the dimensions of the blocks I wanted to cut.
I didn’t know what size to make them, but I DID know that my hypotenuse could be a maximum of 8″. My plan was to use the Pythagoraean Theorem and the 8″ maximum to help me figure out what size I should cut my fabric.
Was I going to break out the scientific calculator I was forced to buy in Grade 11? No way – that’s what the Internet is for! I simply Googled “hypotenuse calculator” and opened the first link that showed up. For me, it was this website.
Use the Internet!
Here’s the deal with this magical website… It asks you to enter two values and then figures out the remaining one for you. You just pop in two numbers, hit the green “calculate” button, and scroll down to see what the answer is.
I decided that I would try a random number for a and b and see what it would calculate for the hypotenuse. If I ended up with a hypotenuse that was bigger than 8, I would have to try again.
I took a stab in the dark and entered 6 as the value for both a and b, and the calculator told me that the hypotenuse would be 8.49. No good – too big! If I made a quilt that had the “width” (aka hypotenuse) of the finished diamonds of 8.49″, the overall quilt would be 42.45″ wide (5 diamonds wide x 8.49″ per diamond). That wouldn’t leave me enough room to load the quilt on the longarm frame.
Then I tried again with 5.5, and the hypotenuse was calculated to be 7.78. That’s great! At that size, the finished quilt top would be 38.9″, which would leave enough backing fabric for me to use the longarm. The length of the quilt would be 46.68″ (6 diamonds x 7.78″) which would leave me leftovers from my 1.5 yds cut of fabric. Phew!
So this meant that my blocks needed to be 5.5″ x 5.5″ FINISHED. In order to determine the size to actually cut my fabric, I simply had to add total of 0.5″ to the size of my finished blocks (0.25″ to each side) in order to account for the seam allowance.
Finished size is NOT what you cut!
And that’s how I knew I had to cut my blocks at 6″ square (5.5″ + 0.5″).
TA-DA! Did that seem like magic? It’s not! It’s just quilty math!
But wait: didn’t I care that the hypotenuse was a weird number? Nope! I only cared about the size of the sides. Every block you’ve ever cut had a weird hypotenuse. I only care about the actual part I have to CUT. For instance, did you know that if I wanted my blocks to have a perfect 8″ FINISHED hypotenuse / width, I’d have to cut the sides at 6.07″. Ummmm…. Where exactly is that measurement on my Stripology ruler?? It doesn’t exist, which is why I only cared about the length of the sides.
How many blocks to cut?
In order to figure out how many squares to cut for this gingham Les Fleurs quilt, I literally looked at my sketch and counted all the blocks as I pointed at each one – not too sophisticated! By pointing and counting, I discovered that I needed to cut the following number of squares at 6.0″:
- Dark fabric: 15 squares
- Medium fabric: 20 squares
- White fabric: 15 squares
But what about all those triangles at the sides??
First, I should mention that this quilt is assembled in rows. I’m really on a roll with these Canva graphics, so please enjoy this visual of the first few rows.
Do you see all those triangles at the edges of the rows? I used my super scientific method of pointing and counting again and discovered that I needed 22 triangles at the edges of the quilt. But how big should they be?
Well, triangles are just squares cut in half diagonally, right? True! So could you cut some extra 6″ squares, chop them in half and sew them to the ends of the rows? NOPE! They’d be too small. Trust me. The tips of the triangles would be cut off when you sewed them to the squares, and you’d be really sad. Maybe this picture can explain it? Check it out…
You also need to account for the seam allowances where each row is sewn together. In order to make sure you have the correct size triangle, you need to cut a slightly larger square and THEN cut it in half diagonally. Like this!
You need bigger triangles than you think
You’ll see that I cut my squares at 6.5″ and then cut them on the diagonal. It’s a good rule of thumb to add 0.5″ to the height of the other blocks in your row when you’re making triangles to sew onto the edges of your rows.
The one disadvantage with this method of creating triangles is that they have a biased edge (the edge that was just cut). This biased edge will also be on the outside of your quilt. A biased edge will be more prone to stretching and warping. If you treat it with a little care (ie no tugging on it or playing around with it unnecessarily) you’ll be fine!
When I first started quilting, I was constantly being warned about the the dangers of a biased edge, and would take great care to never end up with any in my projects. Then one day I got
lazy adventurous and decided I would try to sew with the DREADED BIASED EDGE. And y’know what? I didn’t really notice a difference. I was careful with the way I handled the fabric, but I wasn’t sure that all the warnings I had received were warranted. C’mon people! Let’s chill with the quilty fear mongering! ?
Anyways, back to the quilt construction. Let’s talk about actual cutting directions.
The instructions for the dark and the white fabric are the same (because they each require 15 squares).
When it comes to cutting the medium fabric, you’ll need to cut some squares AND some triangles.
Assembling the quilt top
With all my pieces cut out, I laid out all my pieces on my “design floor”, then assembled them into rows. When sewing the squares and triangles together, I always pressed my seams towards the medium fabric. This assured that all of my seams nested when I sewed the rows together. When assembling the quilt top, I pressed all of my “row seams” open. You can kind of see it in the picture below.
You can also see in this picture that the four corner triangles were bigger than I needed them to be. No bigs, I trimmed the corners once I had the quilt top assembled. You can ALSO see in this photo that I used my Juki TL-2010Q to make this quilt top. I love it so much for piecing – it’s unbelievably precise. I wrote a big ol’ review of this machine – if you’d like to read it, you can check out that blog post here.
I quilted this gingham Les Fleurs quilt using my longarm machine. I chose Woven Winds as the pantograph, and I think it would look great on a lot of different quilts.
Just in case I hadn’t mentioned it, I also quilt for clients. If you have a special project you’d like me to work my magic on, you can learn all about my services by clicking here. I would be absolutely delighted to help you get your quilt top transformed into a usable, cuddly quilt!
I love the way the larger-scale print (called Birch) looks as the backing fabric for this quilt. It would look lovely in someone’s nursery! ?
Binding the quilt
I bound the quilt with the dark fabric (I bought an extra half-yard for this purpose). Over years of practice, I’ve found a method of attaching the binding by machine that makes me happy. It looks so clean and precise, is very secure and reliable, and most importantly is much FASTER than doing it by hand. If you’d like to see the (again, long) tutorial for this method, you can check out my Instagram page where I have it saved under “Glue Basting” and “Machine binding”. It really is a game-changer!
Now shall we add some glamour shots??
I am truly in love with this gingham Les Fleurs quilt! I’m so glad that I finally had the chance to sew with this beautiful fabric that I’ve admired for years, and I’m so happy that I took the time to come up with a special layout for this project.
You can own this beauty!
If you’d like to purchase this quilt as a gift (or for yourself!) you’ll be happy to know that I’ve listed it for sale in my Etsy shop. All of the details can be found at this page.
This blog post certainly doesn’t qualify as a pattern, but maybe it could be used to figure out the dimensions of a future quilt? What do you think?
Would you mind doing me a favour? If you happen to use these “guidelines” to help you make a quilt and you post about it on Instagram, could you please use the hashtag #mtqginghamquilt. I would be tickled PINK if that happened!
I feel like I learn something new with every quilt I make. With this one, I learned a few things!
- I got to re-visit the joys of high-school-level algebra,
- I now feel much more confident designing quilts on point
- And writing this blog post helped me stretch my Canva skills!
Sometimes we tell ourselves that we can’t do something, which usually isn’t true. If you were ever intimidated to make a simple gingham / buffalo check quilt on point, I hope this blog post will give you the confidence to at least try!
Thanks for sticking in to the end, and happy sewing!
OMG! Didn’t understand a word you said! Anyway, I am working on another quilt with 4” squares so it will be a little while. Hope you are safe and well!
P.S. What does “on-point” mean?
“On point” just means that the blocks look more like diamonds than squares. The pieces are mostly squares, but they’ve been turned a bit so that the bottom of them is now a point. That’s all! Hope you’re well and quilting away! 🙂
I enjoyed reading every line of this post! Your personality shines through making me feel like a long lost friend.
Your “guidelines” were as informative as they were entertaining.
Thank you for sharing your quilty math. ?
Thank you so much for this comment Ruth! It’s so sweet! I’m glad you liked the post ?
I just use the magic number 1.414 to make setting triangles. 5 x 1.414 = 7.777.
That’s great! You use that when you’re trying to figure out how wide a square will be when set on point?
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