In the days of the pioneers, the need for warm bedding made learning to quilt a necessity. Today, many people feel it’s easier to pick up a blanket at a local retail store.
Yet, learning to quilt is an art form which many women (and men) still learn and pass on to their daughters – and even their sons.
Using simple blocks made of up geometrical patterns, along with your imagination, you can create beautiful works of art that also function practically as warm blankets.
While there are hundreds of quilt pattern blocks in the world today, they are all made up using a few basic shapes.
If you're looking for a simple quilting project, you'll likely find one in this collection we've put together. In this article, we’ll go through a list of the easiest quilting patterns for beginning quilters.
Each of the following patterns can be made in blocks ranging from eight to sixteen-inch-squares.
Here are 14 quilt patterns for beginners:
1-Nine Patch Quilt Pattern: Often used as the first block for young people learning to make quilts, this is an aptly named block. Made up of nine small squares, the Nine Patch pattern often consists of five dark squares alternated with four light squares.
Although simple to make, the beauty of this block lies in the color arrangements.
2-Candy Bar Quilt Pattern: Very similar to the Nine Patch, this block is made up of three rectangles stacked on top of each other. Once stacked, the block is as high as it is wide.
Alternating colors or rotating blocks are two ways to make this pattern pop on your finished quilt.
3-Brick Wall Quilt Pattern: Playing off the Candy Bar pattern, this isn’t as much of a “block” as it is a pattern overall. These rectangles are staggered to imitate the look of a brick wall.
Varying the fabric colors and textures can change everything in the finished quilt. Adding a little lattice between blocks can be a striking contrast, too.
4-Log Cabin Quilt Pattern: Made up of small squares and rectangles that get progressively longer as they spiral out to the finished size, this block was first documented in the United States after the Civil War began.
It was possibly named in honor of President Lincoln and the end of slavery.
5-Broken Dishes Quilt Pattern: This block is made up of four squares that have each been cut diagonally to create triangles. Rumor has it this pattern represents one of life’s small catastrophes.
By turning the blocks and adding contrasting colors, any number of patterns can be created, including the Pinwheel block.
6-Four Patch Quilt Pattern: Similar to Broken Dishes, this block is made up of four large squares. Often two of those squares are then cut once again into four (or more) smaller squares.
This is another block often used to teach young quilters about variations in color and design when designing quilts.
7-Cracker Quilt Pattern: Combining triangles and rectangles, this block pattern consists of a square on point that has been cut into three bars. Adjusting the colors can even make it look like the eye of a needle.
This is a popular block for boys’ quilts.
8-Shoo Fly Quilt Pattern: A simple Nine Patch with the corners all cut diagonally, this block is named after the large blue flowers from the clover bloom plant, a relative of the nightshade family of plants.
Juices from this plant were combined with milk to create a sweet treat for flies—which killed them.
9-Churn Dash Quilt Pattern: Cutting the four corner squares diagonally, the four side squares horizontally, and leaving the middle square whole, produces the Churn Dash pattern.
Originating between 1900 and 1950, this block represents a butter churn (the outside blocks) and the center stick, or “dash.” Like many other blocks, the Churn Dash has many other variations and names.
10-Rolling Stone Quilt Pattern: Similar to the Churn Dash (four side squares cut horizontally), this block adds a twist—literally. Each of the corner squares contains a smaller square twisted on point.
If you place your colors properly, it creates a circle (or a “stone”). And, as the old saying goes, “a rolling stone gathers no moss.”
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11-Texas Star Quilt Pattern: Another Nine Patch variation, this block is named after the great state of Texas – or Ohio, depending on how many colors you use. (Texas Star traditionally uses three colors, Ohio Star traditionally uses two colors.)
The four corners and center are solid squares; the side blocks are cut into four triangles.
12-Saw Tooth Quilt Pattern: This pattern uses 16 squares instead of nine. The four-by-four block consists of one oversized square in the middle (a two-by-two square), a solid square in each corner, and side squares cut in half diagonally.
Like many quilt blocks, its name comes from common items found around the homestead.
13-Bear Claw Quilt Pattern: Another block pattern representing a fact of life (wild animals), the Bear Claw is a Nine Patch variation. Four solid dark squares at the bottom right make up the ‘palm’ of the paw.
Four squares cut in half diagonally (bottom and middle left, middle and right top) make up the ‘claws’ when half are dark and half are light. The final top left square, light in color, completes the block. Quite often, four of these blocks are joined with a bar between them to form an even larger square, with each paw facing a different direction.
14-Hanging Diamond Quilt Pattern: This block is simple to make, but when pieced properly makes a stunning quilt. Nine blocks made in the basic Nine Patch design blend together to give the illusion of a large diamond.
Four blocks (corners) are light in color except for one corner. Four blocks (sides) are dark in color except for the two top corners. The center block is light in color except for the four dark corners. Varying the intensity of the colors makes this design really pop.
As a beginner, you want to start with squares and work your way up to triangles. Once you’ve mastered piecing those two shapes, start experimenting with curves and other designs.
There are so many blocks to choose from and, as you may have noticed, they often have more than one name. As women experimented with the geometrical designs, it wasn’t uncommon to name a new pattern.
It also wasn’t uncommon for multiple people to come up with the same pattern. Thus one pattern could have two (or more) names, such as Broken Dishes and Pinwheel.
Pick out a few of the blocks from those listed above and start experimenting with color and design. You’ll soon have a work of art that keeps you warm at night.
Do you have another quilt pattern for a beginner you'd like to share?