Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Twirla...a quilt tutorial

Twirla 56'' x 70''

I shared this quilt last night on Instagram, and thanks so much for all the love and comments it has gotten. It is a fun technique that I dreamed up almost four years ago.

Tanner's Twirl

I made the original quilt for my daughter's new college roommate at the time, and she loved it! I added sashing and borders to make it fit the dorm bed (twin XL) and used the one constant fabric for all of the blocks. This really shows off the reverse (positive and negative) version of each of the blocks. Some have black centers and the others have bright centers.

Then I had fun teaching the technique to my local guild. Many fun quilts have resulted from that workshop. I have seen several recently on social media. And I thought it was time to make another one for me this time.

I used a fat quarter bundle from Deb Strain called Homegrown. I love the shades of black, charcoal, grey and cream. It's got wonderful variations of scale and pattern and honestly, I don't think Deb Strain has ever produced something that I didn't find wonderful!

For those of you who have made a 'stack and whack' style quilt, this is very similar. I took step by step photos while I was making it so that you can see how simple the process is. Each process results in TWO blocks that are the color reverse of each other. There is not fussy cutting and no special ruler needed. There is also very little waste, so that's a bonus.

Now let's get started!

Print a copy of the tutorial and template HERE.


20 fat quarters (2 per every set of 2 blocks)
1/2 yard binding
3 1/2 yards backing
62'' x 78'' batting

Read through all of the instructions before beginning.


  • 4 squares of one fabric 8 1/2'' x 8 1/2''
  • 4 squares of a second fabric 8 1/2'' x 8 1/2''

Layer all squares right side up (if some of the fabrics are face down, this will NOT work!)

Cut the stack in half from corner to corner.

Layer template piece #1 on the bottom edge of the bottom triangle as shown. Using a long ruler on top of the template, cut along the edge.

Layer template piece #3 on the left side of the remaining triangle as shown. Using a long ruler on top of the template, cut along the edge.

You have now cut all of the pieces for TWO blocks.

Take the top fabrics from stack #2 and stack #4 and move them to the bottom of the stack so that the fabrics alternate as shown.


Use a scant 1/4'' seam allowance on all seams. Be gentle as most edges are bias. Do NOT pull on the fabric! No pinning is needed, unless you prefer.

Sew a #1 piece to a #2 piece along the long edge as shown. Sew from the outside edge (wider sides) to the inside (smaller edges). Overlap the points at the start to create an even edge at the beginning. The ends will NOT meet. One piece will be longer than the other. We will trim them even after we press them!

Repeat with #3 and #4 pieces the same as you did with #1 and #2.


Once all of the pieces are sewn into 2 piece units, press the seams toward piece #2 and piece #4. Be consistent as this will help the blocks go together later.

Using a long ruler, line it up along the edge of piece #2 as shown and trim away the excess of piece #1. Repeat for all four of these units.

Using a long ruler, line it up along the edge of piece #4 as shown and trim away the excess of piece #3. Repeat for all four of these units.

Sew these together just like you would any half square triangles. Layer a #3/#4 unit on top of a #1/#2 unit and sew along the long edge. Be careful not to stretch while stitching as this is all bias!


Press the seams toward the #3/#4 side of the triangle. All seams should be pressed in one direction on the back. They will 'spin' when the block is finished.

TRIM the squares to 7 1/2" x 7 1/2" using a square ruler. Line up the diagonal seam line on the diagonal line of the ruler. Trim away the excess.

If you did not use a scant 1/4'' seam, you may need to trim all of your squares to 7'' x 7''. That is fine! You do what works for you! Just make sure all of your squares are the same size and that the diagonal seam is directly in the two corners. 

Arrange the blocks into a four patch. Make sure the blocks all spin the same direction and make sure you have separated the blocks into two sets of matching blocks. They will not look like this quilt if you mix them up!

Sew them together just like any four patch. One block will have a dark center the other will have a light center. Your blocks should be 14 1/2" square (or 14" if you trimmed them to 7")

Pinwheel press the seams so they are all going in the same direction. Admire your first two blocks!


The quilt shown above has 20 blocks. I made 10 block pairs. Arrange them in four rows of five alternating light and dark centers.

(2 fabric version)

Or arrange them in light and dark rows, play with it and see what makes you happy! Make more or make less! Make it any size you like. It's a great way to use up a fat quarter collection! You will even have a strip of each fat quarter left over to make a scrappy binding if you want!

And be sure to share them on social media using the #twirla and #butterflythreadsquilting
I love to see what you're doing!

Stay safe and enjoy every stitch!


  1. What a great looking quilt, Diane! I would love to try it. Perfect for pre-cuts. Now I have an excuse to buy a nice fat quarter bundle... heehee! Thanks for your generosity in sharing the pattern/tutorial.

  2. This looks like it wou,d be a challenge for those of us who have any kind of spatial dyslexia, but it's such a fun quilt I need to try it. Thank you for sharing this tutorial.

  3. Thanks for another freebie. I'd like to try it later with some floral fabrics, but the bias may give me a problem. I can't adjust the pressure on my presser foot, so sewing long bias seams can be frustrating. Maybe I'll try just one set of blocks to see how it goes. If it doesn't work well, they'll end up in the orphan block bin. [insert smiley here]

  4. Interesting! Thank you for the free pattern to give it a whirl.

  5. Oh I love this!! Thank you so much for the tutorial/pattern!!

  6. Love that one in the black/gray colorway!!

  7. Thank you. I may have to give this a try. Looks like fun.

  8. Diane, thank you so much for your generosity in sharing another free pattern. I have some black and white prints that will be perfect--and use up some stash! Thanks again.

  9. Thank you for another new pattern. I really love this one! (I love all of your patterns :))

  10. Thank you for a great pattern. I would love to make it for my son & DIL. Only problem making a quilt for them is that they have a super king bed, which down here is HUGE. The quilt needs to be at least a 100 and something square. Inches I mean! haha!

  11. First, Thank you from all of us that just download the pattern. This is is a great pattern in the use of color. Yes I consider black & grays a color!
    Knowing this could be done in many color ways. My mind is a jumble with how I work your pattern,can I use prints that read as a color? Probably I'll end up working it just the way you wrote it. I'm sure you already went through so many variations including a general scrappy look. I'm excited to see what everyone posts. Thanks for reading my long post. When I really like a pattern I want to share my joy. quiltyladyrr
    at gmail dot com.


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