Toy Box Tumble


  • Approx 14 fat eighths or the equivalent in scrap fabrics; this will give you a large variety of choice for your squares (Note: you need at least three 4 1⁄2in squares of each fabric)
  • 1m of 100% cotton calico
  • 105 x 140cm (41 x 54in) of backing fabric
  • 105 x 140cm (41 x 54in) of wadding (polyester will make the quilt light and easily washable)
  • 40cm of fabric for the binding
  • Threads for sewing and quilting

Finished Size

37 1⁄2 x 50in (96 x 127cm)

Skill Level


This project is ideal for using up scraps, children’s fabrics or one of the impulse ranges of fabrics bought and not yet used. The finished size of this lap size quilt is 37 1⁄2 x 50in following the cutting measurements below but check the size of your scraps, as long as the squares are all the same size it doesn’t matter if they are a bit larger or smaller than the size given

  1. Cut the following:
    • Seventy two 4 1⁄2in squares from the calico
    • Seventy two 4 1⁄2in squares from the patterned fabrics (at least three from each fabric)
  2. Put 24 calico and 24 patterned squares to one side. If using scrap fabric put aside one square of each fabric (these are for the centres of the units). Cut the remaining squares in half across the diagonal to make 96 calico triangles and 96 patterned triangles.
  3. Each calico centre is matched with four patterned triangles of the same fabric and each patterned square is matched with four calico triangles. Take one centre calico square and two matching triangles of the same patterned fabric. Stitch the triangles to the opposite sides of the square. Press away from the centre and trim level with the sides of the centre square. See Figure 1.

    Note: When stitching on the triangles it is best to have the triangle on the bottom and the square on the top, as this helps to keep the fabric stable whilst sewing. Remember that all the long edges of the triangles have a bias (stretchy) edge. Repeat this with all the calico squares.

  4. Stitch a second pair of triangles to the two remaining sides of the squares, keeping the fabric combinations the same. This time the triangles should fit perfectly along the side of the centre square. Press the triangles away from the centre squares and trim each side to straighten the edges and square the units off neatly. Repeat with the patterned fabric centres using calico triangles. The squares should measure 6 3⁄4in at this point.
  5. Continue until all 48 units are complete. Lay the units out, keeping the ‘pairs’ of fabrics separate in your arrangement. Alternate the patterned centre and calico centre units into eight rows of six units. Figure 2.
  6. Stitch the units into rows and press the seams of alternate rows in opposite directions. This means they can be butted together for more precise piecing when joining the rows. Stitch the rows together. Figure 3

TIP! Centre the triangles along the side of the square – the triangles should overhang the square by about 1in

Figure 1: Piecing the blocks
Figure 1: Piecing the blocks

Quilting and Finishing

  1. Quilting may be done by hand or machine. A simple grid following the unit lines sets the quilt off nicely or you could spend more time and hand quilt a motif in each calico centre square, perhaps inspired by the pattern on the surrounding fabric. YLI Jeans thread was used by Stephanie to quilt this snuggle quilt, which blended with the random mix of fabrics.
  2. A plain fabric binding sets the quilt off; choose one of the colours from your patterned fabrics and cut five strips 2 1⁄2in wide across the width of your fabric.
Figure 2: Arranging the blocks
Figure 2: Arranging the blocks
  1. Join the strips into one length and press in half lengthwise, WS together. Measure and cut two strips that match the sides of the quilt. Place with raw edges even and stitch with a 1⁄4in seam. Turn to the back and slip stitch in place.
  2. Repeat for the top and bottom edges but cut the strips slightly longer to overlap the end of the quilt. When you have stitched the strips in place fold the ends under neatly before turning to the back and stitching into place. Add a label and date your quilt.
  3. Give to your favourite child with instructions on its uses – making dens, playing I spy or cuddling up with a book on the sofa.
Figure 3: Quilt layout
Figure 3: Quilt layout
Toy Box Tumble

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 13 Number 4 - April 2005