Inspire a beginner on National Quilting Day

National Quilting Day is Saturday, March 17th—do you have plans to celebrate? Some years I’ve gathered friends for a good old-fashioned bee. Other years I’ve celebrated with a fistful of cash at my favorite quilt shop. One year I simply locked the door to my sewing room for the day (me in, everyone else out). I’m always on the lookout for an excuse to quilt, and National Quilting Day works every time!

Last year, my celebration was one to remember. After patiently waiting until I knew he was ready, I taught my seven-year-old son how to make a quilt block. What fun! Slow and timid at first, I could see his confidence grow as the block took form. We made it into a bag that he now totes his toys in.

Quilting is a wonderful solitary sport, but it can be even more enjoyable when shared with friends (or sons). If you don’t have a quilting friend to share the day with, why not create one from scratch? Teach a beginner how to quilt! As one of many free patchwork quilt patterns coming your way on the Stitch This! blog, this “Just Buttons” design is perfect when you need a simple beginner quilt pattern to share with a newbie.

The Snowball block is one of those quilt-block patterns that has it all—an easy way to play with fabrics and colors, an encouraging trip through quiltmaking basics, and a quilt beginner’s dream introduction to triangles (by starting with squares). More squares and rectangles finish the design.

Beginners could easily make this quilt without the buttons,
but if you have buttons to share, why not dip into your stash?

We’ve dubbed this quilt one of our patchwork quilts for beginners. It’s a design a quilt beginner can be proud of finishing. But if you’re looking for easy quilt patterns to have on hand when your urge to sew strikes, bookmark this project—and start sorting your stash right now in preparation for tomorrow’s big day.

So, how will you celebrate quilting’s biggest day this year? Share your ideas in the comments!

Happy National Quilting Day, everyone—make time to celebrate!

Free Quilt Pattern: Just ButtonsJust Buttons quilt

Design by Susan Nelsen. Originally published in All Buttoned Up by Loraine Manwaring and Susan Nelsen. Susan is also the co-author of Holiday Wrappings and SuperStrata Quilts. Visit Susan’s website.

Skill level: Beginner
Finished quilt: 49 1/2″ x 60″; finished block: 4″ x 4″.

Yardages are based on 42″ – wide fabric.

  • 2 yards of cream print for block backgrounds, sashing, and inner border
  • 1 1/4 yards of assorted medium and dark prints for Button blocks
  • 1 1/8 yards of multicolored print for inner and outer borders
  • 7/8 yard of black print for sashing cornerstones and binding
  • 3 1/8 yards of fabric for backing
  • 56″ x 66″ piece of batting
  • 80 bright-colored buttons, 5/8″ to 1 1/8″ diameter

All measurements include 1/4″ -wide seam allowances.

From the cream print, cut:

  • 9 strips, 4 1/2″ x 42″; crosscut into 178 pieces, 1 3/4″ x 4 1/2″
  • 12 strips, 1 3/4″ x 42″, crosscut into 252 squares, 1 3/4″ x 1 3/4″

From the assorted medium and dark prints, cut a total of:

  • 63 squares, 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″

From the black print, cut:

  • 4 strips, 1 3/4″ x 42″; crosscut into 80 squares, 1 3/4″ x 1 3/4″
  • 6 strips, 2 3/4″ x 42″

From the multicolored print, cut:

  • 5 strips, 4 1/2″ x 42″; crosscut into 36 squares, 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″
  • 6 strips, 2″ x 42″

Making the Blocks
1. Using a soft-lead pencil and a see-through ruler, draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the wrong side of each cream square.

2. With right sides together, position a cream square on each corner of an assorted-print square. Stitch on the diagonal lines. Trim 1/4″ from the stitching lines; press the triangles and the seam allowances toward the corners. Repeat to make a total of 63 Button blocks.Assembling the Quilt Top
1. Randomly arrange the Button blocks between the cream 1 3/4″ x 4 1/2″ pieces to create nine block rows. Add a multicolored 4 1/2″ square to the ends of each row. This will create the side inner borders when the rows are sewn together. Rearrange the Button blocks as needed to create a pleasing overall arrangement. Sew the pieces in each row together. Press the seam allowances toward the cream pieces.

2. To make the sashing rows, sew eight black 1 3/4″ squares between nine cream 1 3/4″ x 4 1/2″ pieces as shown. Press the seam allowances toward the cream pieces. Make 10 sashing rows.

3. To make the top and bottom inner-border rows, sew eight cream 1 3/4″ x 4 1/2″ pieces between nine multicolored 4 1/2″ squares. Press the seam allowances toward the cream pieces. Make two rows.

4. Following the previously determined arrangement, sew the block rows between the sashing rows. Add the top and bottom inner-border rows. Press the seam allowances toward the sashing rows.

5. Add the multicolored 2″-wide strips to the quilt top. For details, refer to How to Sew Borders on Quilts on our How to Quilt page.

Finishing Your Quilt
1. Layer the quilt top with batting and backing; baste. For details, refer to Making a Quilt Sandwich on our How to Quilt page.

2. Hand or machine quilt as desired.

3. Use the black 2 3/4″-wide strips to bind the quilt edges. For details, refer to Binding a Quilt on our How to Quilt page.

4. Embellish each sashing cornerstone with a button as shown in the project photo, or create your own arrangement.

More from Susan Nelsen:
For simple beginner quilt patterns with a holiday theme, check out Susan’s book Holiday Wrappings with Loraine Manwaring–make a date with your new quilting buddy to start stitching for Christmas now.

After a trip to beautiful Bali, two quiltmaking friends were inspired to quilt. Grab a quiltmaking friend of your own and let SuperStrata Quilts inspire you to discover how quilt designs can differ greatly depending on the maker.


16 Comments (leave a comment)

  • Great pattern — easy enough for a beginner, but cute enough for all!

    —Deb H. on March 16, 2012
  • Great quilt! I will be celebrating my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary which is also tomorrow. Big family get-together in their honor.

    Nancy Allen on March 16, 2012
  • I will be celebrating by hosting my 14th annual NQD retreat….20 of us making quilt tops (my design) in a day, with plenty of talking and giggling and catered breakfast and lunch!

    Anne Wiens on March 16, 2012
  • My goal is to clear a path through my studio to be able to do some organizing. Maybe then I can actually do some quilting!

    —Chris on March 16, 2012
  • Hmmm, it’s also St. Patrick’s Day. I think I might have to quilt something green!

    —Karen Johnson on March 16, 2012
  • am a beginner do u have the simplest designs quilt that u can suggest me?

    erifili manolatou on March 16, 2012
  • I’d suggest trying the quilt in this post, "Just Buttons". It’s cute and great for beginners. You can also take a look in our shop. We have books and ePatterns just for beginners!

    —Karen Johnson on March 16, 2012
  • looks like a great pattern to make for kids, using scraps–thanks! ANd tomorrow is "stay at home and finally get a start on those baby quilts that have been patiently waiting" day!!

    —Nini Frank on March 16, 2012
  • Hi,
    I have had the pleasure of introducing quilting to high school students I have taught in two schools. At the moment I am teaching a beginning class in a girl’s school in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I will also try to inspire two of my daughters to make quilts during their spring break in a week.

    A belated Happy National Quilting Day. Thank you to the woman who inspired me to quilt over 29 years ago.


    —Chase on March 17, 2012
  • I celebrated my fifth National Quilters Day(I am still just a beginner!) by attending my fifth of Anne Wiens NQD Retreats! She has truely been an inspiration to many of the quilters in this area – young and old. You definately walk away from any class of Anne’s feeling like you can tackle just about anything! And thats after all the giggles and great food! Thanks, Anne…keep on designing those wonderful patterns!

    —Chris Browning on March 19, 2012
  • I will be quilting with friends–share the fun!

    Cheryl Zehms on March 17, 2017
  • Great quilt for using up some of my scraps. Thanks!

    —Susan L. on March 17, 2017
  • Wow what a great way to use up scraps. I will definitely put this on my to-do list as this year’s goals is to make quilts just using scraps from my stash. Thanks for the pattern.

    —Sue F on March 17, 2017
  • I worked on two of my wips this morning. Then I left to go and get additional fabric for another quilt. Then I will call a friend to meet up with them to share my bounty and to discuss the WIPs.

    —Vanessa Wallace on March 17, 2017
  • I want to make this quilt with scraps to give to charity. Fun pattern!

    —Phyllis C Ryan on March 17, 2017
  • What a fun pattern! Looks easy, too, for a first time quilter. Simple embroidery could add even more interest.

    —Rose D. on March 17, 2017

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