What lies beneath


  • 14 fat eighths in co-ordinating colours
  • 75 x 150cm of wadding
  • 50cm of fabric for the border
  • 1.5m of backing
  • Cotton perle or thick threads for quilting

A fat eighth is half a fat quarter. Usually about 9 x 20in. Many quilt shops sell packs of fat eighths already colour co-ordinated for you.

Finished Size

27 x 55in (69 x 140cm)

Skill Level


You can download a copy of the original magazine pages for this project here, What lies beneath?

The inspiration for this quilt came from a trip to Venice where Cherry found a wonderful book showing 52 tiled floors in the city. She visited as many of them as she could in the three days she was there. A section of the floor of St Marks Basilica was the colour inspiration for the quilt.


Figure 1
Figure 1: The stack of fabrics
Figure 2
Figure 2: Cutting the fabric stack
Figure 3
Figure 3: One block with fabrics taken from each layer
  1. Cut 21 9in squares, one from each of the fourteen fabrics and an extra one from your favourite seven fabrics. Sort into three piles with seven fabrics in each. Make sure that each pile contains seven different fabrics.
  2. Take the first pile and lay the squares one on top of each other, all RS up. Press well as you add each piece. Figure 1.
  3. Look at the cutting diagram for Random Triangles (shown on the top fabric on Figure 1) and by eye, using a rotary cutter, cut shapes through all layers. Start on the four corners of the squares, approximately the same as the diagram. Make sure that the triangles are cut unevenly. For clarity Figure 2 shows just one layer but they are all cut together. You need to hold the layers very firmly and use a new rotary cutting blade.
  4. There will be an irregular four sided central shape left. Cut this diagonally from one corner to the other. Next, one at a time, cut each of the resulting triangles in two. Make sure that the cutting line is different in each triangle. See Figure 2.
  5. Keeping the fabrics in piles, gradually lay them out into blocks. Lay all the blocks out before you start stitching. As you get to move the last few pieces you may need to adjust some of those placed earlier. An example is shown in Figure 3.
  6. Starting with the middle triangles, stitch the pieces together with a scant 1⁄4in seam. Do not worry if the seams do not fit exactly, this is bound to happen because no seam allowance has been added.
  7. Join the four centre triangles together. Then add the four corner triangles in turn.
  8. Repeat twice more with another two sets of seven squares. This will give you 21 blocks.
  9. When the blocks are finished, square them up to the size of the smallest block and lay the blocks out, three across by seven down. Try to ensure no two fabrics match at the seams – trickier than it looks. You also have the choice of having all the blocks the same way up or rotating and twisting them.
  10. When you are happy with the arrangement stitch the blocks together into rows and then join the rows. Press well at each stage.

The border, quilting and finishing

Figure 4
Figure 4: Quilting design shown on the front (above and back)
  1. Measure across the quilt in the middle and cut two 3in wide strips of border fabric to this measurement.
  2. Stitch to the top and bottom of the quilt. Press the borders away from the blocks. Measure the length of the quilt and add side borders the same way. You will need to piece the lengths unless your fabric is 60in wide.
  3. Choose backing material and wadding and cut these 2in larger than the quilt – 1in all round.
  4. Decide on a quilting design. A fairly simple design is suitable for this multi coloured quilt. Cherry drew a rectangle 8 x 2 1⁄2in and rounded the corners. This was used to mark a soft meandering line from the top to the bottom of the quilt. See Figure 4.
  5. Mark the quilt top and then layer with the backing and wadding, and tack ready for quilting. Big stitch quilting with thread such as cotton perle or dyed cotton thread from the Handweavers Studio looks effective on this quilt. When the quilting is finished, trim the wadding and backing to the same size as the quilt top.
  6. To make the binding, cut and stitch spare fabrics used in the quilt into short 1 1⁄2in wide strips. Stitch together into a long strip. Sew to the edge of the quilt with a 1⁄4in seam. Turn to the back, fold under 1⁄4in and hand stitch to the back.
  7. Finally, add a label and hanging sleeve to the back of the quilt.

This technique developed from a workshop Cherry took with Katherine Guerrier on Colour Blocks.

Finished Quilt

First published in Popular Patchwork March 2003