How to design a quilt block?

I’m planning to make a quilt, and have been looking at tons of pictures. I’m going down lots of rabbit holes…

I’d like to design my own blocks (of course, I’ve never even put one together, so I have to design my own. Cause we never ever do anything nice and easy.)

So far, i have just been looking at finished blocks, drawing them out, and then figuring out where the piecing is. That feels like I’m just stealing their design, and I’d rather make my own.
I’m just a big two year old, “I wanna do it myself!”

Are there any tutorials on this?


No idea since I don’t really know anything about quilting but I’d like to!

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Do you have graph paper or a graph paper type option in software? Decide what size quilt square you want and then draw graph on paper and color in with colored pencils. Or cut out different colors of fabric/ paper and arrange them however you want.
Editing to add take photos as you design.


There are traditional blocks that have been around and passed down for years. You make it your own with the fabric and color choices.

You can make up your own blocks, but they will still probably be based on traditional blocks in some ways because of the math. Applique and crazy quilting would make your quilt your own as well.

Take graph paper and draw triangles and rectangles/squares that fit inside a block, 12, 10, 8, or 6 inches. Basic quilting simply teaches the fundamentals of technique and gives already calculated pieces to make things easy, but once you master those, you can go in an unlimited amount of directions.


I don’t wish to stifle your creative instinct, but I’d start by making a couple of classic quilt blocks, before jumping into designing your own. First of all, if you’ve never made a quilt, you can learn a LOT by using a couple good tutorials, and piecing a few classics. You should learn to make Flying Geese and Half Square Triangles, both of which are shapes/components of a million other blocks. (While you’re at it, you can learn Quarter Square Triangles too.) Second, what you can do with a block, and various geometric shapes, has mostly been done already. Whatever you think you’re drawing new, is possibly already a block, that someone else has already figured out, and written cutting instructions for.

When you learn good techniques for making things like Flying Geese, HST, and QST, you can skip a lot of the heartache of a poor learning curve, because you’re being shown the best way to piece these things, rather than the way that looks like it makes sense, but actually pulls the fabric off grain, or wasted lots of fabric, etc.

Learning the fundamentals that have been honed by generations of quilters will set you up for success in designing your own things later on.


Such good suggestions!

Maybe we should start a “new to quilting” thread!

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Well put! I love quilting because of the tradition and because all of the “hard” work has already been done by our predecessors! :grin:


But the hard work is the fun part! Figuring out the blocks is better than jigsaw puzzles!
And I like math!

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Yes, it is fun as long as you know the fundamentals. Like @MistressJennie said, you would have more success if you learned the basics of piecing, sashing, etc.

I rarely buy patterns because I can look at a block and know how it is put together…are half triangles used? What angels are needed to form a square etc.

I am sure you can just dive in and still make a decent block. Quilting should be fun and not frustrating.

Yeah, that’s why I’m analyzing the blocks I like. What are the shapes, what order to sew them.

There don’t seem to be any tutorials on youtube, and search engine isnt turning up anything either. So it is either a deeply hidden secret, or so simple that training isnt needed. :grin:

…or you are not searching with the right words… :wink: There are literally thousands of beginner quilting tips, instructions, patterns, etc.

As a matter of fact, some have even been posted here!


Show an example so we know what you’re trying to do?

Basically,I want to figure out how to plan a block to make some of those amazing shapes. Cats, snail trails that are used as cat tails. Blocks that combine with others to create an unexpected design.

I may never actually put them together, I just want to learn how they work.

In the lab, this would be called “pure science”, where you are not trying for a particular result, just learning how things work.

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Ok then, I agree with others saying to try the techniques that are already figured out. Once I did that, I could see how most other blocks went together without instruction but just learning the first little steps unlocked the door for me to take myself through.
After that, using tangram blocks, real or virtual, is a great way to make up the plans for any shape.

And there are so many videos, so many, for any & everything. You may just be stuck on lingo.


Jordan Fabrics does great tutorials on making quilts start to finish. Remember, a quilt is a LOT more than just the block design. There’s piecing the blocks (sometimes several different blocks) together, laying out rows, sashing, borders, actually quilting the layers, and binding. Donna does a mix of free patterns she designed herself, and commercially available patterns, where she makes it start to finish, but without giving you every measurement. I’d recommend either trying out some classic block patterns or making a smaller, simpler quilt before jumping into designing new blocks. Make all your learning mistakes on something your heart isn’t as tied up in. Like making a muslin, before making a dress. Learning a few basics will get you to the point where you can better analyze and break down things you see.


Here are all of Donna’s fully free patterns. Each one has a corresponding video on YouTube showing the entire process, step by step.


Thanks, Jennie! Nice refresher course as well! Now I feel like making some blocks!

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Great link, thanks! I watched the drunkards path video, curves seem hard but she made it look easy enough. I think I’ll make my own templates though.


This is a wonderful thread. Lots of good suggestions.
I agree with making some traditional practice blocks with clear instructions on cutting and piecing. I have learned a lot from these. Then use YouTube to find tips, better ways to make HST, QST, flying geese (I still hate these). Then try making your own patterns. It’s fun to make a bunch of HST and then arrange them in different ways. You’ll find that many blocks are just those useful HST!
I also make my own patterns…or copy others. If they are mostly made from the basic building blocks, then they are hardly proprietary. People have been making them for years! But for the unusual ones I may buy a pattern or find a free tutorial.
There are pitfalls to making your own patterns for blocks. Figuring out how to put them together, how do they fit in repeat patterns, and so on.
So start with some basics, learn them well, then kaboom! Branch out.