Mod Squares {free pattern}

This is the second pattern I am releasing here as a free pattern, as it is no longer available on Sew Mama Sew (published 2014). Mod Squares is basically using a traditional 9 patch block, where I played with both size and color placement of the pieces.

This was an early quilt I had made (so not perfect), I think it was the first time I tried free motion quilting. It is, however, one of the most loved lap-quilts and lives in my son’s room. I hope you enjoy the pattern too, as it would make a great baby gift.

How it started…

The original color palette (Design Seeds) was very vibrant and strong, but highlighted different ways color can be used to make a block very different.

For this quilt though, I wanted a softer look. After playing with the fabric selection and introducing the use prints, low volume prints and several neutral solids, the look of the design completely changes. 

Quilt Details

Size: 54” x 54”


WOF – Width of Fabric
RST – Right Sides Together
Seam Allowance: 1/4” seam allowance

Fabric Requirements

Fabric A (Variety of Low Volume Fabrics): 1 yard (largest 2 pieces must be 24″ square)
Fabric B (Variety of Neutral Fabrics): 1 yard (eg. Kona Cotton inBone, Parchment, Silver, Stone, White PDF, largest piece must be 24″ square)
Fabric C (Kona Oyster): 2 yards
Fabric D (Doiland Gloss in Plum, Indelible, Katarina Roccella): 1 yard
Fabric E (Floret Stains in Tealberry, Indelible, Katarina Roccella): 1/2 yard (18″ x WOF)
Backing fabric and Batting: 60” Square 
Binding: 226” (of your desired binding width, I use 2 1/4″) 1/2 yard

Cutting Instructions

FabricCutting Instructions
Fabric ATwenty-four (24) 5” squares
Five (5) 2 1/2″ squares
Fifteen (15) 2 1/2” x 5” strip
Two (2) 24” square (for the Back)
Fabric BNine (9) 5” squares
Three (3) 2 1/2” squares
Eight (8) 2 1/2” x 5” strip
One (1) 11 1/2” x 24” strip (for the Back)
One (1) 24” square (for the Back)
Fabric CTwenty-four (24) 5” squares
Five (5) 2 1/2″ squares
Twenty-seven (27) 2 1/2” x 5” strip
Two (2) 2 1/2” x 54” strip (for sashing)
Five (5)  2 1/2” x 50” strip (for sashing)
Twelve (12) 2 1/2” x 11 1/2” strip (for sashing)
One (1) 11 1/2” x 24” strip (for the Back)
One (1) 24” square (for the Back)
Fabric DTwo (2) 5” squares
Two (2) 2 1/2” squares
Thirteen (13) 2 1/2” x 5” strip
One (1) 24” square (for the Back)
One (1) 11 1/2 ” x 23 1/2” strip (for the Back)
Fabric E Five (5) 5” squares
One (1) 2 1/2″ squares
One (1) 2 1/2” x 5” strip
One (1) 11 1/2” x 24” strip (for the Back)
Table 1: Fabric Cutting Instructions


It is important to plan your layout for your blocks. You can also available for download your own planning map here. Once you have your placement as you want it, take a picture.

Fabric Layout Map (by assigned letter)
Fabric Map Placement showing Print placement

TIP: Once you cut your blocks and decide on placement, pin and label all block pieces until you are ready to sew them together.

Block Assembly

  1. Each block consists of four (4) 5” squares, four (4) 2 1/2” x 5” strips and one (1) 2 1/2” square. The layout for all the pieces is represented below.
  2. Sew the pieces of each row  together. Press your seams. NOTE: My preference is to press my seams open.
  1. Sew the rows together (Row 1 to 2, Rows 1,2 to 3). Align the seams and pin in place to hold the alignment. Press seams. NOTE: To hold seam alignment in place, an alternative pinning method is glue.
  1. Repeat steps 1-3 for the other 15 blocks, keeping in mind placement of fabrics for each block.

Quilt Top Assembly

  1. Add the 2 1/2” x 11 1/2” sashing strips to the 11 1/2” blocks as depicted below. Press the seams.
  1. Add the 2 1/2” x 50” sashing strips to each of the block rows. Press the seams.
  1. Final step is to add the top and bottom 2 1/2” x 54” sashing strips to finish the top.

Quilt Back Assembly

  1. The quilt back is a larger version of the smaller blocks that are used in the quilt top. The back consists of four (4) 24” squares, four (4) 11 1/2” x 24” strips and one (1) 11 1/2” square. 
  2. To construct this block follow steps 1-3 above in section Block Assembly.
Back of quilt

Final Quilt Assembly

When the top and back are completed, baste and quilt your sandwich as desired. Square your quilt and bind it to finish your quilt.

This is a great quick quilt top to put together, perfect quilt for your sofa or for a kids blanket. Also, you can have fun with the fabric choices, color and placement. I would love to see the final quilts on Instagram, so feel free to share with #modsquaresquilt. Have fun!!

Home {a finish}

What do you do when some of your favorite clothes are no longer useable due to wear? This quilt started as my favorite New Zealand t-shirt (red with map of NZ and the word “Home” on it), two striped t-shirts that I associated with my mum, and my favorite work trousers (a pair of woolen plaid trousers) had holes and had worn thin in places that could not be mended.

I really did not want to part with these four items, in particular. I don’t know why but I had an emotional attachment to these pieces of clothing but I did. I had been following Sherri Lynn Wood and her artist in residence program at Recology in San Fransisco, where she focused on reusing fabric that had been thrown out. Watching her work develop, made me realize I could reuse these clothes in a quilt, and hang onto them forever.

Close-up of fabric selections + my Home t-shirt

I added corduroy’s and a rugby shirt as well into the mix. As I was cutting my clothes up and looking at placement, I really wanted to have the a balanced composition. I found as I placed and auditioned fabric on my design wall, I needed to include more negative space. I really enjoyed the final placement and happy with the mix of solid fabrics (or ones that read as solid), stripes, prints and text fabrics and then the light, medium and dark tones of the fabric. I think the word home is placed well too, towards the bottom and really happy its offset than in the middle. It helps you move from top to bottom and then back up again as you look at the details.

Note: most of the t-shirt’s I used Pellon 911F interfacing to stabilize the shirts before cutting and piecing, making that process much easier.

Once I felt the top complete, I was so excited about the quilting (which is not normal for me as this is my least favorite part of quilting). I decided to do some of my usual straight line work but also experiment with some of Jacquie Gering’s Walk & Walk 2.0 designs.

Example of straight line and grid quilting work.
Experimenting with Crosshatch mash-up (pg. 46 Walk)
Experimenting with Four Corner Radiating (pg. 52 Walk)

Finally to finish up the quilt, I auditioned several bindings and this Cotton + Steel dot print landed up being the best red and framed the quilt well.



Name : Home
 Original Design
Fabric: Variety of up-cycled clothing and scraps of Kona Cotton
Binding: Cotton + Steel, Kicks, Cleats Red
 Moda, Zen Chic, Modern Backgrounds Paper
Dimensions: 30″ x 35″
Quilted: With 50wt Aurifil #2021, using domestic machine walking foot, straight lines.

Succulent Star {Free Pattern}

A few years ago, I first started writing patterns for Sew Mama Sew, and did 5 patterns based on Quilt Design a Day designs. Sew Mama Sew blog is no longer available but I still get asked about some of the patterns.

I’ve decided to republish those free patterns here. First one, is Succulent (renamed as Succulent Star for this post).


Succulent Star, is inspired by the design seeds color palette and image for 30 July 2014. This is one of my favorite designs as it is simplistic in nature, but it took me out of my comfort zone. The color palette is not my typical chose of palettes – Brown, Greens and Coral. 

Fabric Requirements (40″ square quilt)

Fabric A (Kona Mint): Fat Eighth (21″ x 9″) yard
Fabric B (Kona Candy Green) : Fat Eighth (21″ x 9″) yard
Fabric C (Kona Leaf) : Fat Eighth (21″ x 9″) yard
Fabric D (Kona Peach) : Fat Quarter (21″ x 18″) yard
Fabric E (Kona Chocolate) : 2 yards
Backing fabric and Batting: 48” Square
Binding: 190” (of your desired binding width, I use 2 1/4″)

Cutting Instructions

FabricCutting Instructions
ASix (6) 4.5” squares
BSix (6) 4.5” squares
CEight (8) 4.5” squares
DTen (10) 4.5” squares
EThirty (30) 4.5” squares
One (1) 3.5” square (Center)
Four (4) 3 1/2” x 3 3/4” (E7)
Four (4) 3 1/2” x 6 3/4” (E6)
Four (4) 3 1/2” x 9 3/4” (E5)
Four (4) 3 1/2” x 12 3/4” (E4)
Four (4) 3 1/2” x 15 3/4” (E3)
Four (4) 3 1/2” x 18 3/4” (E2)
Two (2) 40” x 3 1/2”  (E1)
Table 1: Fabric Cutting instructions


HST – Half Square Triangles
WOF – Width of Fabric
RST – Right Sides Together
Seam Allowance: 1/4” seam allowance

Creating the HST

First step, is to make the HSTs. There are many ways to do this. I like to make mine two at a time. Each HST will measure 3.5″ unfinished (3″ finished).

  1. Take all the 4.5” square pieces. Match each of Fabric A, B, C, D  squares RST with a square from Fabric E. Right sides together. Make sure you line up all the corners of the two squares.
  2. On the lightest fabric, draw a line with washable fabric marker across one of the diagonals. 
  3. Sew a ¼ inch seam on either side of the diagonal line.

  4. Cut on the diagonal drawn line (marked line, solid in the image above, goes from corner to corner). Press open. Repeat with all squares, until you have a total of 60 HSTs.

  5. Using a square ruler with a 45 degree line on it, trim the HST to 3.5”, by lining up your seams with the 45 degree line on the ruler.

NOTE: I like to trim my blocks down for accuracy, so I do make them slightly larger. The equation I used to get the final HST is:

Final block size + 1” = 3.5+1 = 4.5 (others may use 3.5 + 7/8)

Assembly of the quilt top

Quilt Top Assembly Map
  1. Assemble the quilt row by row. I start with E1 from the bottom and work my way up. Press seams as you finish each row.
    NOTE: Pieces marked with A, B, C and D refer to the HST combination. Make sure you notice in which half the letter donation is (top or bottom) as this helps orient the block correctly. The center is a single 3.5″ square of E.
  2. Once all individual rows are sewn, as depicted in the diagram above, sew each row together. Put each row RST and line up the HST starting from the center of the row, moving out each direction. Use pins to hold them in place. Stitch and press each row.
  3. When all rows are joined and all seams are pressed, baste and quilt your sandwich using the technique of your choice. Square your quilt and bind it to finish your quilt.

Larger Option (76″ square)

I have also used this pattern in a larger lap-sized quilt of 76″ x 76″. I had an Alison Glass Charm pack and the HST were 5″ charm pack friendly. Below are some of the differences to consider when adapting the pattern for this 76″ squared quilt.

  • The starting square size for the triangles were 5″, this meant the HST’s when trimmed measured 4.5″ and 4″ finished.
  • This quilt used a different color in each spiral. From outside to inside: Green, Pink/Purple, Yellow, Blue/Teal, Orange/Red, Low Volume, Black/Gray.
  • There are extra 3 spiral rows around center, making the widest row 19 squares wide instead of 13 as above in the wall hanging version of the quilt. This means the you will need 12 (yellow) , 14 (pink/purple), 16 (green) square of each color (2 extra squares for 4 extra HST per spiral).
  • Measurements for the outer strips can be seen in this diagram below (which are finished sizes so add 1/2″ for seam allowance). You will need 4 of each of these measurements (except the 4″ square as the others represent a quarter). You will also need 2 pieces of 76″ finished (76.5″ strips) for the top and bottom which are not on this diagram.
Diagram for outer strip measurements for 76 x 76″ Succulent quilt.

Once you have the layout worked out for this larger quilt, you stitch rows together, quilt and bind as you wish.

I hope you enjoy the pattern. I would love to see the final quilts on Instagram, so feel free to share with #succulentstarquilt.