Sunday, November 20, 2011

Puzzle Piece Quilting Design

The interlocking design of a jigsaw puzzle can be used as an all-over quilting design. To make a template, lay a white piece of paper over a constructed puzzle and rub a crayon over the paper to transfer the design onto the paper.

The steps that follow serve as a mental exercise in seeing how this design will be quilted. If your quilt top is a grid of squares sewn together, all you will need to do is stitch-in-the-ditch between the seam lines and free-form quilt the interlocking piece shape--hills and valleys. But drawing it out first on paper will definitely help coordinate your hands and head when quilting this design.

The lines between the puzzle pieces will appear white and need to be darkened. Using a black permanent pen, start at the top left corner and trace the horizontal lines across to the right side, travel down to the next row and trace from right to left, repeating the process until you reach the bottom of the design.

Next trace the vertical lines with a red pen.

The manner in which the design is traced is the same path that will be taken for quilting. This is a basic grid that will vary in size depending on the size of the original puzzle pieces. The example here is a 1.5" grid. Begin with the horizontal black lines and continue with the vertical red lines.

To transfer the design to a quilt top, lay the marked design on a light table and trace onto the quilt top with a blue washable marker. When transferring a design to a heavier fabric such as flannel, try tracing the individual puzzle pieces onto the quilt top. This works best with jumbo sized puzzle pieces where the grid will be larger. Remember, you can "eyeball" it, but if you like following the blue line, mark it!

Puzzle piece quilting designs would look great on a kid's quilt top. I can't wait to try it out soon!

Copyright©2011, Sharon Baggs


  1. When I cut puzzles on a scroll saw, if I'm using traditional style puzzle pieces, I essentially mark a square grid, and then eyeball the interlocks. (I actually make parallel lines with masking tape in one direction, then use a pen and ruler to make tick-marks in the other direction, on the masking tape.)

    I bet you could eyeball most of the curvy stuff for quilting this one.

  2. It's very easy to eyeball this. Drawing it on paper "trains the brain" and helps coordinate hand movements when quilting . Even tracing the design with your finger will teach you the flow of the curves so it's easier to freehand it under the needle. No marking necessary, especially if your quilt is set as a grid (e.g. Trip Around the World)

  3. What a great idea! I would never have thought on this. Looking forward to giving this a try.