We're having a heatwave


All fabrics 114cm wide
  • 20cm of pink for section 1
  • 20cm of dark pink for section 2
  • 20cm of red for section 3
  • 10cm of maroon for section 4
  • 30cm of bright red for section 5
  • 30cm of red and gold for section 6
  • 30cm of burgundy for section 7
  • 60cm of turquoise for section 8
  • Assorted different yellow scraps from your scrap bag for sections 9 and 10
  • 10cm of yellow for the inner border
  • 40cm of red for the inner border and binding
  • 50cm of green for the border
  • 140cm square of wadding
  • 140cm square of backing
  • Quilting threads for hand or machine in matching colours

NB: When using the templates to cut out fabric sections take care not be wasteful.

Finished Size

135cm (53in) square

Skill Level


In 2003 the Manager of Bromley Community Centre asked Beckenham Quilters if they would be prepared to make and donate a quilt for the newly enlarged premises at the old Magistrates Court. Annette Claxton volunteered her design Heatwave as well as offering to run an evening workshop for the members to brush up on the ins and outs of curved piecing.

The wall on which the quilt was to hang was painted a vivid and cheerful bright yellow, so it seemed appropriate to select the colours in a similar lively combination, particularly as the block had been designed during a period of intensely hot weather. Some of the lines in the sun area are planned to be offset when the blocks are joined, giving a shimmering effect.

Members from the group pieced 22 blocks: 16 were used in the quilt and the others were made into a Mini Heatwave quilt to be held in their collection.

The wallhanging was passed around to many members who hand quilted it, bound the edges and made the label. Interestingly the group has kept many of the quilts made since they formed 25 years ago, which are used by members as teaching aids, and for talks and inspiration. The quilt was presented to the Centre in January 2004.

About the pattern

Please note that the template block is printed in reverse so that it will make up the same way as the key illustration. Seam allowances are not included, as you will be sewing on the drawn line. Each block makes a 28cm (11in) square plus seam allowance, although you could vary this by enlarging the diagram to the size of your choice.

There are four variations of the layout illustrated. The first layout in Figure 1 was used, rotating the block on the centre pale pink area.

On some of the other layouts the block is flipped. To reverse the block, arrange the template pieces on a flat surface, with the printed numbers side down. Draw double balance marks and single junction lines across the cut edges of the templates. Add the arrows on the edges and number the pieces, together with R for Reverse. Vary the spacing between balance marks. Place the templates on the WS of the fabric with the new markings RS up.

You may wish to trace the block onto template plastic using a permanent pen. Do this before cutting the templates. Place a red dot on one side and a blue on the other to remind you which side is Reverse.

To prevent the templates slipping on the fabric, attach a small piece of double-sided sticky tape on the side to be placed on the fabric. Only leave it in contact with fabric for a short time as it can make permanent stains. When you have finished put the protective pieces back on the sticky tape. You may also need to reinforce the narrow part of template 8 if you are making a lot of blocks.

A sandpaper board keeps fabric from slipping and makes drawing round templates much easier. Simply put double-sided sticky tape onto a piece of card and attach the sandpaper.

Heatwave detail
Heatwave detail

The double lines are balance marks, essential for accurate piecing; the single lines are junctions. The arrows on the side are a reminder to add a wider seam allowance than 7.5mm (1⁄4in) in case there is a variation between finished block sizes. The fabric grain on all templates should be parallel with the sides of the templates.

Sew by hand if you wish. You can tack the pieces together or simply pin before machine sewing. Avoid glass headed pins when machining. Use instead fine long dressmakers pins.

Block showing Reverse dots and other markings
Block showing Reverse dots and other markings


  1. Enlarge the block onto card, if possible. Cut out the templates on the drawn lines.
  2. Press all the fabrics then cut and stick a snip of the selected colours onto the key design. Place the templates on the back of the fabrics, printed number side up, making sure the grain is straight on the edges. Using a fine pencil, draw around the edge of each template 16 times, dovetailing, but being sure to leave enough seam allowance between them. This is the sewing line. Mark all the balance lines and junctions. Place each number in the seam allowance.
  3. Cut out remembering your seam allowances. Arrange the pieces in blocks to check that the colours work together and that none have been left out or incorrectly cut.
Block laid out before sewing
Block laid out before sewing

TIP! For dealing with the skinny pointed end of sections 2, 4 and 7, after drawing around the template, add a straight line across the pointed end. This will show you exactly where to sew across.

Sewing the blocks

  1. Prepare to sew, chain fashion, by pinning the pieces together in pairs. Annette works with the longer (concave) curve on top, snipping into the seam allowance so that it will stretch while sewing. Take care not to cut into the sewing line. You may find you can get away without snipping on some of the seams.
  2. First match and pin the ends of the pieces then match the balance marks and fill in with more pins in between.
    Figure 1: Layout diagram
    Figure 1: Layout diagram
  3. Join with either horizontal or vertical pins. Vertical pins are pulled out just before the needle reaches them; horizontal (sideways) pins can be sewn over. It does not matter which way you pin just ensure the lines are held together accurately. Find a way of working that suits you.
  4. Pin pieces 1&3, 4&5, 6&7 and 9&10. Feed the pieces chain fashion under the machine needle one after the other. Sew right to the end of each pair. Snip the joining threads and check for inaccuracies. Correct if necessary by unpicking a few stitches and re-sewing. Press.
  5. To achieve an accurate point on sections 2, 4 and 7 the seams should be pressed away from the first sewn line so that the second line is visible when you add the next piece. Add 2 to 1&3, and then join 4&5, next 6&7, then 8, finally 9&10.
  6. After sewing, trim the seam allowances slightly to neaten. Using a steam iron, press seam allowances either into curves or towards the darker fabric. Although it does not make too much difference which way the seam allowances lie, be sure to be consistent on all the blocks as this might affect the quilting design. Press the seam allowance first up on both sides, then to one side and finally on the RS. Trim the square to 29.5cm (11 1⁄2in).
    Figure 2: Alternative layout diagram
    Figure 2: Alternative layout diagram

Joining the blocks together

Place the finished 16 blocks in the order of layout you have selected. Sew the blocks together in rows, pressing open the seams between each block. Next sew the rows together. The finished piece should measure 112cm (44in) square (plus seam allowances).

Block pieces pinned Chain piecing on the machine Pieces 1 & 3 with 2 showing pressing detail
Block pieces pinned, Chain piecing on the machine, Pieces 1 & 3 with 2 showing pressing detail

Putting on the borders

  1. Measure across the centre and cut two inner borders 4cm (1 1⁄2in) wide from the yellow fabric (top and bottom), measure again and cut two from the red fabric (sides). You may need to make joins.
  2. Attach the strips. Measure across the centre again and cut two green borders 10.5cm (4in) wide to fit the top and bottom, then measure again and cut two borders to fit the sides. Attach as before. Press very well.
Figure 2: Alternative layout diagram

Prepare for Quilting

  1. Lay the backing fabric on a flat surface RS down and hold the square taut with masking tape. Next place the wadding over the backing and then the quilt top, centred.
  2. Smooth to remove wrinkles. Pin from the centre outwards and then tack well. Use tacking cotton, which is not polished and therefore clings to the fibres. Carefully removed, they can be saved and re-used again. Alternatively use quilters safety pins.
  3. Hand or machine quilt with concentric circles from the centre of each sun, with matching quilting or your favourite thread. Quilt the borders with parallel lines. Square and trim the quilt.
  4. Make the binding by cutting 5cm (2in) strips long enough to fit around the quilt. Measure and place RS together. Horizontal pin the binding from the centre to either side. Machine stitch. Fold the binding to the back and hand sew with a slip stitch.
  5. Finally make a label with your name, address, date and the name of the quilt, and attach to quilt back.

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 12 Number 11 - October 2004