Iris Pots


  • 0.5m of yellow/orange background fabric.
  • 0.5m of patterned fabric for setting diamonds.
  • Scraps of different greens, purples, bright orange, pink and reds.
  • 38in x 4in strip of striped fabric for the pots.
  • 36in x 36in of backing fabric.
  • 36in x 36in of wadding.
  • Invisible thread for machine quilting.
  • Decorative threads for embellishing; I used YLI Jeans Stitch in orange, yellow, purple and green; you will also need Jeans needles to sew these threads. (Threads and needles available from some specialist suppliers)
  • Motif for appliqué, flower button or similar decoration for the middle of the quilt.
  • Fabric for binding.
  • Freezer paper.

Finished Size

28in x 31in.

Skill Level


This Hexagon-shaped quilt, "Iris Pots", is made from triangles and diamonds. The interesting look is achieved by foundation-piecing the triangles before joining them. I recommend the use of freezer paper as the foundation for this pattern to ensure accuracy. The advantages of this will become obvious as you work. Its transparency makes tracing the patterns easy and also helps when placing the fabric pieces on the shiny side. When the pieces are ironed, the shiny side of the paper will stick to the fabric, preventing it from rolling back and causing blunt points.

You can also make the diamond template from freezer paper, then iron it on to the wrong side of the fabric, draw around it, remove it and reposition it for the next fabric diamond. Cut out with an added seam allowance of about 3/8in.

Figure 1: Join AB pieces into threes, then join the two halves
Figure 1: Join AB pieces into threes, then join the two halves.


Trace the foundation piecing patterns Iris Pot 1 and Iris Pot 2 onto the matt side of the freezer paper. Mark your colour choices on the tracing. Remember that the tracing is a mirror-image of the actual quilt. Cut out the tracing exactly on the outside line. This is the seam line that joins the triangles and diamonds, so the fabric will need to extend beyond the paper to give you a seam allowance of about 3/8in. You can make a template for diamond C using triangles A and B together.

You will need 6 foundation pieced triangles A, 6 foundation pieced triangles B and 6 diamonds C.

Foundation Piecing

  1. Cut a piece of fabric large enough to cover the area numbered 1 on one pattern, plus seam allowances. Iron the fabric, right side up, to the shiny side of the paper (the side not drawn on).
  2. Turn to the drawn side of the paper and hold up paper and fabric against a light source to check for adequate seam allowance beyond the lines of area 1.
  3. Cut a piece of fabric large enough to cover the area numbered 2 plus a generous seam allowance. Do not forget that the fabric will go on the shiny side, so the fabric shape should be in mirror-image to the drawn shape on the tracing. When in doubt, cut a very large piece of fabric!
  4. Place the number 2 patch right sides together with number 1 patch. You will be sewing on the line between 1 and 2 on the drawn side of the pattern, so check that you have placed the patch correctly and that the patch will cover the area numbered 2 after sewing and pressing over, plus seam allowances. You can have a "dry run" by pinning the patch through the sewing line and flipping it over. Once you are happy with the placement, sew the patches together by sewing on the drawn line through all layers. Sew with a shorter stitch than usual and start and finish four or five stitches beyond the line of the patch. When you remove the freezer paper at the end of stitching all the numbered areas, you will be putting some strain on the stitches so make sure the stitches are small enough to be secure.
  5. Trim the seam and press the fabric patch 2 over the shiny paper area numbered 2.
  6. Continue with the area numbered 3 and the following numbered pieces in the same way. Make sure you leave enough fabric for a seam allowance around the outside edge of the tracing.
  7. After completing the foundation piecing, draw the seam line on the wrong side of the fabric around the edge of the freezer paper, transferring any marks for matching at the same time. Remove the paper carefully.
  8. Foundation piece both patterns, A and B, in this way.
Figure 2: Join C diamonds to A pieces
Figure 2: Join C diamonds to A pieces
  1. Join A pieces to B pieces by pinning and sewing on the marked seamlines, matching the marks.
  2. Join AB pieces into threesomes, then join the halves to form the star shape (Figure 1). Do not stitch into the seam allowance; stitch only on the drawn line and secure the stitches at the beginning and end of the line. This will enable you to set in the diamonds C easily.
  3. Pin and sew two adjacent sides of a C diamond to the sides of two adjacent A pieces (Figure 2). Sew on the drawn line only; do not sew into the seam allowance but secure the stitches at the beginning and end of the line. Set in all C pieces in this way.
  4. Trim all seams and threads and press the work carefully.
  5. Appliqué a motif to the middle of the quilt. I cut a motif from a patterned fabric and applied it with a large machine satin stitch using thick thread for a striking look (I used YLI Jeans Stitch).
  6. Layer the quilt with backing and wadding.
  7. Quilt in the ditch around all the main shapes with invisible thread, then use decorative threads to sew some programmed stitches in the pot and flower shapes. I quilted some freehand flower shapes in the background and setting diamonds.
  8. Bind the quilt, using the method you prefer. A straight or bias-cut binding can be used.

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 8 Number 2 - March/April 2000