My Heart is in the Thirties


  • 3m print fabrics
  • 1.75m plain fabrics
  • 1.75m border fabric
  • 1m calico
  • 4m cream backing fabric
  • Wadding 185 x 185cm (73 x 73in)
  • Wadding scraps cut into small pieces for stuffing the border
  • Bondaweb
  • Cream thread
  • Light invisible thread for quilting
  • Erasable marker (optional)

Finished Size

Approx 178 x 178cm (70 x 70in)

Skill Level


This simple quilt is a joy to make. To show off the colours and prints of the Thirties fabric, it is heavily quilted between the hearts with a vermicelli pattern in invisible thread. The padded binding gives a modern twist; the corners are rounded and do not have the normal ‘tidy’ look about them. This gives a more a homely finish than a traditional binding, especially after some wear and a few gentle washes.

Thirties fabric has a nostalgic feel about it, but this quilt would look stunning in red and white, perhaps with hand quilted red hearts. It would also be luscious in pinks and cream. A smaller version in baby colours would be perfect for a cot quilt.

Handy hint This is a simple project so long as you take care to make the square corners meet crisply, which is helped by lots of pressing along the way.

Cutting Instructions

  1. From the print fabrics, carefully cut 93 squares 4 1⁄2 x 4 1⁄2in.
  2. From the plain fabrics, carefully cut 92 squares 4 1⁄2 x 4 1⁄2in.
  3. From the border fabric, carefully cut the following:
    • Eight squares 4 1⁄2 x 4 1⁄2in
    • Four strips 4 1⁄2 x 36 1⁄2in
    • Four strips 4 1⁄2 x 60 1⁄2in

Appliqueing the Shapes

Figure 1
Figure 1: Bond hearts at angles
  1. Trace the heart template from the pattern sheet and cut out from sturdy plastic. Template plastic or a container lid is best, or make several copies in card as they will be well used by the end of the project.
  2. Trace the heart 100 times onto Bondaweb and cut out roughly around the shapes. Iron the hearts onto the various print fabrics and cut out carefully.
  3. Reserve your eight favourite heart prints for the border squares. Iron the rest in place onto the plain fabric squares, at different angles and using as many different combinations as possible. Figure 1
  4. Set the border hearts at 45 degrees and iron them in place; satin stitch around each heart to secure it to the quilt.
  5. Lay out the pieces as you would like to see them in your quilt. Your colours should be evenly spread about the top and the hearts facing in every direction. See Figure 4 for a layout example.
  6. Once you are satisfied with the layout, make up the central nine-by-nine square row by row. Press each row's seams in opposite directions so that when the rows are stitched the seams lock together neatly to give a good alignment. Figure 2.
Figure 2
Figure 2: Align the seams
  1. Taking two of each of the border strips attach your selected heart squares at each end. Ensure that the hearts are positioned with the points away from the border, both the same way up. Figure 3.

Figure 3: Border arrangement
  1. Add the smaller border to left and right of the top and then press towards the border. Stitch the remaining heart borders to the top and bottom of the top with the points facing out.
  2. Make up the remaining squares into two strips 11 squares by two squares, and two strips 15 squares by two squares. Stitch onto the main quilt panel as for the smaller border, with the shorter strips on the left and right, and the longer strips at the top and bottom. Press.
  3. Attach the final border as before. Your quilt top is now complete

Figure 4: Quilt Layout

Quilting and Finishing

  1. Make up the backing fabric into a square. Press well and smooth it out right side down. Spread the wadding on top. Lay your completed quilt top, right side up, to create your quilt sandwich. Baste or safety pin in place.
  2. Using the heart template and an erasable marker, draw a heart in every print square and along every border in line with the fabric squares. Make sure that the hearts face in different directions to continue the random look of the heart positioning.
  3. Select invisible thread as the top thread of your sewing machine and put a complementary thread in the bobbin. Freehand a single line of stitching around each appliquéd heart and each traced heart.
  4. Use a small vermicelli quilting design between each heart outline; this gives the impression of ‘puffed’ hearts on a flat background. Start in the centre and work outwards in sections as this eliminates puckering on the fabric.
  5. Alternatively, hand or machine quilt the hearts without the intense stitching in between them. This would be more than enough quilting to hold the layers together effectively.


  1. From the leftover fabrics, make up a pieced length 11.5cm x 7.8m (41⁄2in x 81⁄2yd). Use both the patterned and the plain fabrics. From calico, cut and piece a matching strip.
  2. Sew these two strips together along their lengths to create a wide binding. Press the seam towards the calico then fold in half lengthways and press.
  3. With the calico side face up, pin the raw edges of the binding strip to the outer edges of the quilt top. Stitch in place 1⁄4in from the quilt edge, taking care at the corners as there is a lot of fabric there to manoeuvre.
  4. Take the binding over to the back of the quilt and slipstitch in place 1⁄4in from the edge, covering the previous stitching as usual. As you proceed to slipstitch around the quilt, stuff the gap with the scrap pieces of wadding. This is an excellent opportunity to use leftover wadding from previous quilting projects.
  5. Take care to stuff the border quite firmly because over time the wadding will flatten a little. The corners take a little juggling; ease off on the amount of stuffing at this point and slipstitch the folds created by the corner turn.
  6. Remember to label or sign and date your quilt.
Figure 2

First published in Popular Patchwork September 2007