Colours of the East


  • Six fat quarters, or 1.5m (1 5⁄8yds) of special fabric
  • 1.5m (1 5⁄8yds) of background fabric, at least 42in wide
  • 25cm (1⁄4yd) for narrow border (also called a thin quarter)
  • 1m (1 1⁄8yds) for outer border; this can be the same as fabric used in the pieced section of the quilt
  • 40cm (3⁄8yd) for binding
  • 1.4 x 1.7m (54 x 65in) wadding
  • Sewing threads. As Stephanie used a light background fabric, she used a cream thread for piecing
  • Quilting threads. Stephanie used a cream quilting thread on the cream fabric and a multicoloured thread on the Japanese fabrics

Finished Size

Approx 117 x 152cm (46 x 60in)

Skill Level


Where to buy

Fabrics used in this project are available from all good quilt shops. Along with a background fabric for the centre of the quilt, you will need six fat quarters of fabric. An alternative choice is to use a single special fabric in place of the six fat quarters. This quilt works well with any group of coordinating fabrics; Stephanie used Japanese fabrics but any character, novelty or themed set of fabrics would work well.


Figure 1
Figure 1: Straits of Georgia block
  1. You will be able to construct eight 6 1⁄2in square Straits of Georgia blocks from each fat quarter. These blocks are joined into straight rows with each fat quarter fabric being arranged diagonally. See Figure 1.
  2. From each of the six fat quarters cut four strips 2 1⁄2 x 21in and three strips 1 3⁄4 x 21in. From the 42in width of background fabric, cut twelve 1 3⁄4in strips and nine 2 1⁄2in strips.
  3. Cut all background strips in half crossways to measure 21in (you should have 24 narrow strips and 18 wider strips). If you are using a single fabric instead of fat quarters there is no need to do this cut.
  4. With right sides together, sew one 2 1⁄2in fat quarter strip to one 1 3⁄4in background strip along the long edges. Continue with the remaining 2 1⁄2in fat quarter strips. You should have a total of 24 bands of two fabrics. Press all seam allowances towards the fat quarter fabrics.
  5. Repeat the same process with the fat quarter 1 3⁄4in strips of fabric, sewing them to the background 2 1⁄2in strips and pressing the seam allowances to the fat quarter fabric. You should have a total of 18 bands of two fabrics.
  6. From each of the 24 bands of fabric with the wider fat quarter strip, cut pieces 2 1⁄2in wide until you have 32 units from each colour. See Figure 2. You should have a total of 192 units.
Figure 1
Figure 1: Cutting pieces 2 1⁄2 wide
  1. From each of the 18 bands of fabric with the narrower fat quarter strip, cut pieces 1 3⁄4in wide until you have 32 units from each colour. See Figure 3. You should have a total of 192 units.
Figure 1
Figure 3: Cutting pieces 1 3/4 wide
  1. Using the same fabric units, join one small unit to one large unit to make a quarter of the block. See Figures 4 and 5. Press the seam allowance to the larger unit. Make 32 of each colour combination, 192 in total.
Figure 1
Figure 4: Joining the units
Figure 1
Figure 5 Joining the units
  1. Using blocks of the same fabric, stitch the units together into pairs, pressing the seam allowance towards the larger square of fat quarter fabric. See Figure 5. Sew the pairs together to make the Straits of Georgia block. You should have eight blocks from each fat quarter.
  2. Lay the blocks out in a diagonal colour arrangement, or an arrangement of your choice, with six blocks across and eight blocks down. See Figure 6.
  3. Stitch the blocks together into rows. Press the seam allowances on each row in opposite directions. Sew the rows together. Press carefully.
Figure 2
Figure 6 Suggested layout for the quilt centre


Figure 2
Figure 7 Attaching the narrow borders
  1. Measure across the centres to get the border lengths. Cut the first narrow border fabric into strips 1 1⁄2in wide. Join together if required and sew first to the sides and then to the top and bottom of the quilt, as shown in Figure 7.
  2. Again, check the centre measurements before cutting the outer wider border into strips 5 1⁄2in wide. Join the strips together if required and sew first to the sides and then to the top and bottom. See Figure 8.
  3. Layer the backing, wadding and the finished pieced top and secure using your chosen method, by tacking, pinning or spraying with 505 spray.
  4. Quilt as desired. Because of the variety of fabrics used in this quilt, Stephanie kept her quilting simple and chose machine quilting rather than hand quilting. Using multicoloured quilting thread, she machine quilted diagonally across the patterned fabrics as shown in Figure 9.
  5. For quilting on the background fabrics, Stephanie also used a simple quilting line going diagonally across the quilt from one point of the background cross-point to the other. This gave an attractive quilt line without being too complicated and was easy to achieve. See Figure 10.
  6. The borders were also quilted simply, with straight-line machine quilting in the appropriate coloured quilting threads.
Figure 2
Figure 8 Attaching the wide borders
Figure 2 Figure 2
Left: Figure 9 Quilting the patterned fabrics
Right: Figure 10 Quilting the background fabrics


  1. Measure across the centres of the quilt to find the width and length of the quilt. Mark the centres of each side of the quilt. Cut the binding fabric 2in wide. The binding strips need to be joined into one continuous length. Fold in half lengthwise WS together and press. Measure the binding fabric and mark the corner and centre points of the quilt on the binding.
  2. Leaving a short tail and starting midway along one side of the quilt, sew the binding on until the point where the two seam allowances meet at the first corner. Turn the work and sew to the corner point of the quilt.
  3. Fold the binding up away from the corner making a 45° fold and then bring the binding back down making a second fold at the edge of the work. Restart the stitching at the edge of the work.
  4. Repeat this mitre at each corner, finishing off the binding neatly at the halfway point of the first side. Finish off by joining the binding with a bias join. Turn the binding to the back of the work; turn under a small hem, pin and slipstitch into place with matching thread.

Stephanie saw the Straits of Georgia block at a quilt show and liked it so much she made her own version. The block was originally designed by M'liss Rae Hawley for her book More Fat Quarter Quilts published by Martingale in 2001. If you have enjoyed this project, you may like other similar projects in M'liss Rae Hawley’s books

First published in Popular Patchwork Issue 4 2007