Puzzle Box Quilt

Hi there.  This is Brigitte from ZEN CHIC with a new Moda Bake Shop project! The Puzzle Box Quilt is made from a Layer Cake and a Bella Solid border. Make your own beautiful version and I would really love for you to add a picture to my Flickr Group or a link of your blog to my linky here.  For more beautiful ideas of minimalist and contemporary quilts I invite you to stop by at www.brigitteheitland.de

Layer Cake Quilt

You can choose between a lap size and a bed quilt:

51” x 51” 81” x 81”
Center 1 Layer Cake of Bella Solids (I used the Warm Pastel assortment) 1 Layer Cake of Bella Solids (I used the Warm Pastel assortment)

3 yards of a coordinating solid
(I used 990073 clover)
Batting (at least) 54” x 54” 84” x 84”
Backing 54” x 54” 84” x 84”
Binding 1/2 yard of a coordinating solid 3/4 yard of a coordinating solid
(I used 990073 clover)

Cutting instructions (feel free to cut more than one at a time by placing them evenly on top of each other):
Take a 10″ square and make two horizontal cuts: starting at one edge cut two strips, each of 2 1/2″ width. You should have 3 strips, two 2 1/2″ x 10″ and one 5″ x 10″

Cutting 1

Now take one of these 2 1/2″ strips and make to vertical cuts: starting at the left edge cut a piece of 3 1/4 ” and one of 5 1/4″ (the leftover is 1 1/2″ wide).

Cutting 2

Cut all of the layer cake squares this way.

Layer Cake Quilt

Piecing instructions:
This quilt design works best if you take care to bring some contrast of the colors in each block. Avoid pairing two colors in one block that are very close to each other.

1.) To get my colors organized, I grouped my cut fabric stack in two portions: a half of lighter (first row) and a half of darker ones (second row). You could also sort by warm and cool values.

Moda bella solids warm pastels

For each block’s center I chose a color of one group and surrounded it by a color of the opposite group randomly. The surrounding 4 pieces are all from the same color.

2.) Once you have paired the colors for your blocks, sew the middle strip together {refer to the picture below}. Your seam allowances are 1/4”.

Piecing 01

If you do this as a first step for all your blocks, you can speed up your sewing process by chain sewing.

Chain sewing

Press seams away from the centre rectangle.

3.) Add the other surrounding strips to each of these middle strips {refer to the picture below} Again your seam allowances are 1/4” and you can use chain sewing.

Piecing 02

Press away from the centre again.


That’s so simple, you can’t do anything wrong, can you? (That’s what I thought, but actually you can ;-(… What happened to me was that I accidentally changed the direction of my middle strip so I came out with this version:

piecing (2)

Instead of this:

 piecing (1)

Uups. Well, that really doesn’t matter, as long as you make sure that all of your blocks have one same direction. So take good care of this point. For the developer of this tutorial {poor me}, it means Photoshop has to save the job by mirroring my pictures ;-).

4.) Repeat until you have a pile of 40 blocks. For the quilt top we need 36 blocks, the remaining 4 blocks can be saved as an insert for your backing. Square your blocks up to a 9” square, and that’s it.

piecing (3)
Moda Bella Solids Warm Pastels

Assembly Instructions:
Now the fun part begins! Play around with your blocks and place them. Your setting will be about 6 rows of 6 blocks. You have several layout options:

All blocks could be laid out in the same direction, which gives your quilt a very straight and minimalist look:

Puzzle Box Quilt Along

All blocks could have their inserts in one direction (either horizontal or vertical), but alternating: one block with an insert on top, one on bottom:

Puzzle Box Quilt Along

Another layout version is to alternate the direction of the insert per column…
In the first column all inserts are horizontal, alternating from top placed to bottom placed. In the second column, all inserts are vertical:

Puzzle Box Quilt Along

Or what about this version?

Puzzle Box Quilt Along

There are many possibilities; just play around and find out which one you like best. I ended up with a version spinning around four blocks to get a set like this and assembling these sets together…

Puzzle Box Quilt Along

IMG_1588 Web

Once you are happy with your layout, begin by piecing your first 6 blocks together by an 1/4” seam allowance to get row 1.

Repeat this until all blocks are pieced. You will have 6 rows with 6 blocks in each row.  Press the rows in alternating directions. For example: row 1 will be pressed to the right, row 2 to the left, row 3 to the right and so on.

Now the rows can be pieced in sequential order. Attach row 1 to 2, 2 to 3 etc. Press these seams to one side or open – whichever you prefer.

This layout will make a lap quilt of 51” square. If you prefer to cover your queen size bed with your puzzle box quilt you may add a border of about 15”.

To do so…
From your border fabric cut 7 strips, each of 15 1/2” x width of fabric. Cut one of them in half.

For each of the left and right borders, sew together one and a half strips and trim them to a length of 51 1/2”. Sew these to side edges of quilt center.

For each of the top and bottom borders, sew together two strips and trim them to a length of 81 1/2”. Sew these to remaining edges.

Finishing Instructions:
Build a quilt sandwich and baste your quilt.

Now it’s time to choose which quilting pattern you like to use. You have several options: You can for example leave the inserted rectangles without any quilting and quilt only your background to make them really pop out. Or – to keep it simpler – you quilt with an edge-to-edge overall pattern.

I looked for something very contemporary with round shapes to get a contrast to all of the rectangles. I like to stroll around Leah Day’s site and find some inspiration. Her H2O quilting pattern, inspired by the chemical formula for water, made the cut.

Quilting pattern

quilting pattern

quilting pattern

I used a monofil thread to give my quilt only some dimension without adding thread color. This pattern is easy to sew, even for beginners.

Although there are lots of beautiful print collections available as a layer cake, this design looks most stunning made with just solids.  Choose your favorite size and make quilts from different colorways – the Puzzle Box Quilt will always look impressive!

Have fun with your own colorful version!

Brigitte Heitland