Christmas Surprise


  • 50cm (1⁄2yd) red fabric for large squares – Regan used five different fabrics
  • 50cm (1⁄2yd) green fabric for large squares – Regan used five different fabrics
  • 70cm (3⁄4yd) red fabric for the side and top and bottom panels
  • 2m (2 1⁄4yds) of fabric in total for small squares – Regan used a variety of fabrics from her scrap bag
  • Approx 170 x 170cm (67 x 67in) backing fabric
  • Approx 170 x 170cm (67 x 67in) wadding
  • 1m (1 1⁄8yds) binding fabric – Regan has used a wide binding
  • Thread
  • Water or air erasable marker pen

Finished Size

Approx 159 x 159cm (62 1⁄2 x 62 1⁄2in)

Skill Level


This very simple quilt pattern is fabulous for using up small scraps and, as it is based on just two square sizes the top is very fast to cut and piece together. Regan loves the scrappy look, but if you prefer a more contained scheme, this quilt will still look great. Just make sure that that each fabric used features throughout the quilt top and don't forget to add a contrasting colour in amongst the smaller squares, as this really lifts the other colours.


  1. From the fabric for the large red squares, cut 20 5 1⁄2in squares.
  2. From the fabric for the large green squares, cut 20 5 1⁄2in squares.
  3. From the red fabric for the side and top and bottom panels, cut four 5 1⁄2 x 43in pieces.
  4. From the fabrics for the small squares, cut 329 3in squares.
  5. From the binding fabric, cut six 6in strips across the width of the fabric.


Figure 1: Quilt layout diagram

  1. Make up 38 pairs of small squares. Take 15 large red and 15 large green squares; attach a pair of small squares to one side of each large square. Take two of the remaining large red and two of the remaining large green squares and stitch a pair of small squares to opposite sides of each one; set aside for the corners of the quilt top.
  2. Take the 15 red and 15 green units make in step 1 and, referring to Figure 1, lay out in alternating colours, with the small squares on the right-hand side. Join the units into six rows of five.
  3. Take the remaining three large red and three large green squares and, maintaining the colour pattern, add to the end of each row made in step 2. See Figure 2.
  4. Make up nine rows of 17 small squares each. Try not to produce a pattern as you develop each strip but instead scatter your fabrics throughout.
  5. Take two 5 1⁄2 x 43in side panels. Stitch a row of 17 squares to each long side of each panel as in Figure 3.
  6. Take the remaining 17 square units and stitch to the bottom of the first five rows made in step 3. Join the rows together. See Figure 3.
  7. Referring to Figure 3, join a side panel unit to each side of the quilt centre.
  8. Make up four rows of 25 small squares each. Join one row to the top and one row to the bottom of the quilt centre. See Figure 3.
  9. Take the 5 1⁄2 x 43in top and bottom panels. Referring to Figure 3, stitch a small/ large/small square corner unit made in step 1 to each end of each panel. Join these units to the top and bottom of the quilt centre.
  10. Join a 25 square unit to the top and bottom of the quilt centre to complete the top. See Figure 3.

Figure 2: Making a row

Figure 3: Assembling the blocks and borders

HANDY HINT Save time by chain piecing the small squares together. Simply continue to feed pairs of matched patches through the machine without cutting the threads between them. When all the pairs are stitched together, snip the threads between the units and press open.


  1. Give your quilt top and backing a good press. Layer the quilt by placing the backing fabric wrong side up on a clean flat surface, followed by the wadding and then the quilt top, centrally and right side up. The backing and wadding are slightly larger than the quilt top. Pin or tack in place.
  2. With the walking foot attached to your machine, quilt in the ditch along each row and down each column. Then change the sewing machine foot to a darning or embroidery one, lower the feed dogs and turn the stitch length to zero. Having practised first with pencil and paper and then on a spare quilt sandwich, stitch the holly berry design along each of the panels. If you prefer, before you layer the quilt you can transfer the design onto the quilt top using an erasable marker pen. See Figure 4 for direction of stitching for the holly berry template. See Figure 5 for an alternative single holly pattern.

Figure 4: Quilting design

Figure 5: Alternative quilting design


  1. To bind the quilt, trim the excess backing and wadding level with the quilt top edges. Regan wanted a firm wide binding, so she opted for one that followed the usual look on the front of the quilt but which is wider on the reverse.
  2. Take the binding strips and piece together to make four 65in lengths. Fold in half lengthwise, WS together, and press and starch. Matching the raw edges of the binding to the raw edges of the quilt top, sew each strip in place. Start and stop the stitching with a securing stitch 1⁄4in from each end, being careful to match up but not overstitch the adjoining bindings.
  3. Press each binding strip into position on the back of the quilt. Continue the pressing line to the end of each binding strip. At each corner, place the folded edges of adjoining binding strips together; push and fold the quilt up at a 45 degree angle to aid this. Secure with pins or tacking as the internal corner of the binding is dependent on this being a good match. With a set square, or the corner of a postcard, draw your stitching line using the 45 degree line of the quilt as your starting point and making the 90 degree turn on the bottom pressing line. The starching will help at this stage. Stitch securely along the marker line, trim and turn. Tuck the corner into place with a pencil or the tip of your scissors to get a good point and then neatly slipstitch in place by hand.
  4. Finally, add a label and your quilt is complete.

EXTRA IDEAS The larger squares and side panels can be used to maintain a colour theme, while the smaller squares can help you to make a dent in your stash...

For example, use cream or calico for the larger squares and blues for the smaller ones for a sophisticated look. Or use black and white fabrics for a more dramatic quilt, which would look good in a teenager’s bedroom. Bright colours, novelty prints or pastels would make great quilt for younger children.

Do experiment – and don’t forget to send us photos of your versions of this fun quilt!

First published in Popular Patchwork December 2008