How to make that lap quilt

The lap quilt was so fun to make, I thought I’d share how I did it in case you wanted to do one for yourself.

The finished top measures 113 x 148 cm (just shy of 45″ x 60″).

lap quilt


9 fat quarters* of cotton fabric in colours of your choice.

.4 m ( about 1/2 yard) fabric for border

.4 m (about 1/2 yard) fabric for binding

In the quilt I made, I actually bought 8 fat quarters and had .75 metres of the fabric I used for the binding. I had some leftovers but it was in a sale bin. You could do the same for the border fabric.

You’ll also need backing fabric and batting. I buy these afterwards, taking my top into the shop so I can get advice from the staff and make sure I really have the right amount for the size I actually have.

* any shop that caters to quilters will sell fabric in fat quarters. Basically they cut a half-hard of fabric and then cut it in half the other way so you have a squarer piece than you would cutting a 1/4 across the whole width

Cutting instructions

The middle part of the quilt is made from 13 cm (5″) squares. You need 12 of each of your 9 colours.

From the border fabric, cut 5 x 7 cm wide strips (about 3″) across the width (you might be able to do 8 cm wide strips, I mismeasured a couple of mine which is how they ended up 7 cm).

From the binding fabric, cut 6 x 6.5 cm wide strips (about 2 1/2″) across the width.


I used this tutorial (HT Andrea for linking to it once) to make the squares. Warning, there is music on that site so you might want to hit the mute button before you click the link.

When putting the 9-patch squares together use 1 of each of your 9 fabrics. Organize them differently for each square you make.

Remember, the middle square will become the 4 little squares in each block. And the corner squares will become the 4 big squares.

When I was laying things out, I thought about the diagonals. And as more squares were made, I paid more attention to combinations I’d already used so that none of my blocks were exactly alike.

Try to be as precise as possible in your seams and pressing because any wobbliness will get exaggerated when you cut those 9-patch blocks in half. Not that you can’t fudge it enough to fix it when you put it all together but it is really annoying when you resew the cut block together and all 4 pieces aren’t exactly the same size. (Ask me how I know this :-))

You’ll end up with 12 Disappearing 9-patch blocks.


I did this part on my bed but you can also do it on a clear piece of floor. It can help to lay a sheet down first. You then have a white background to do your arranging on and you can roll up your arranged-but-not-yet-sewn-together blocks  and unroll them again later or in a different room or whatever.

Arrange your 12 blocks in 4 rows of 3 blocks. Play around with them until you are happy with it. Symmetry is probably going to be impossible so I was going for things like balance of light and dark and that sort of thing.

Stand back from time to time. Take breaks if you are frustrated. And get someone else’s opionion. There is no perfect layout here so at some point you just decide to quit rearranging and sew them together.

Sew the blocks into rows, and then sew the rows together.


First, sew 3 of your border strips together into one long strip using diagonal seams. (instructions here, steps 1 -5, if you need them).

Sew one of your single strips to the top of the quilt with the end even with the side of the patchwork. Cut of excess even with the other side.

Sew the other single strip to the bottom of the quilt. Trim.

Press seams toward border.

Now use the long strip to sew border to long edges. Start with the edge even with the outside edge of the border and trim even with the outer edge of the border at the other end. Then use what remains to do the 4th side. Trim even. You won’t have much left at all.

Press seams toward border.

Ta da! You have a quilt top.


Now you need to get yourself some batting and a backing fabric. Lay them out on the floor to make your sandwich. Baste together. Quilt.*

And then use those binding strips you cut at the beginning to finish up the edges. Detailed instructions on binding can be found here.

*You can quilt by machine or by hand, as you prefer. If you really hate this part, you can pay someone to do it for you. I know that one of my local quilt shops has a sign from a local church group that quilts for a fee and donates the money to charity.

Some quirks of my quilt top

You’ll notice that there are a couple of odd blue bits in my top. I miscut 2 of my 13 cm squares. You can only get 12 x 13 cm squares out of a fat quarter so I didn’t have any leftovers to replace the miscut squares with. I looked in the stash and cut 2 squares of the blue. I made sure that the 2 squares with blue in them didn’t have it as a big square.

The lesson is, if something goes wrong, don’t panic. You have a random arrangement of 9 coordinating colours here. If you throw in a little bit of a 10th colour (or an 11th) because you miscut something, don’t worry.

You could also use more than 9 colours. Basically, you want 108 x 13 cm (5″) squares. You could buy a bunch of charm packs. You could use a more limited range of colours. You could cut squares from stuff you have in your stash. You could arrange a swap with friends. Have fun. Experiment. As Andrea says, if you don’t like it, you can give it away!

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