Pieced Fabric Checkerboard How-to (2022)

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From yesterday’s newborn fabric book project, I thought I would do a basic tutorial on how to quickly piece a fabric checkerboard. This is geared mostly for a not-quite-beginner sewist, or someone who hasn’t done piecing before.

We’ll be using a technique called strip piecing. This is so useful in any 2 color patchwork! I actually have thistable runner WIP that uses two similar fabrics in checkerboard fashion as part of the design.

Strip piecing is used very often in modern-day quilt piecing; it saves so much time now that we have rotary cutters that quickly and accurately cut strips!

For strip piecing, you need thetrio of rotary cutting equipment for safe and accurate cutting: a rotary cutter, an acrylic rotary cutting ruler (also called a quilting ruler), and a self-healing cutting mat. You can find videos on how to safely use them on YouTube. Please take those safety concerns seriously! They are real, but easily managed as long as you understand the importance. We’re talking stitches here people, and not the kind that goes in fabric, but the kind we want to avoid from the doctor! Rotary blades are sharp, Sharp, SHARP!

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The first step is to cut strips of fabric. Lay your fabric out straight, on the cutting mat, and cut the strips you need.

How do you know what size fabric strips to cut for your project? Whatever size squares you want to have showing when you are finished, all your cutting will be done 1/2″ wider.

// For instance, if you wanted to make a checkerboard pillow cover and wanted to end up 3″ squares to look at, you would cut the strips 3 1/2″ wide. //

I’m just going to keep talking in terms of black and white, but you might be doing yellow and gray, turquoise and coral… any two colors you want!

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Specifically for this little book-size panel from yesterday’s project, there is a grid of 7 squares by 7 squares. They all measure 1″ square each when finished, soooo…

(Video) REPLAY: Create a Fabric Checkerboard with Misty

… I cut 1 1/2″ strips of fabric to start with. (OK, yes you might have noticed that my squares are not squares, they are rectangles… I confessed to that late night cutting mistake yesterday! I won’t be telling you any further info about that — these directions will give you a checkerboard made of squares!)

It is much easier when you are making a checkerboard with an even number of pieces: you can make one set of strips to get the whole job done. We will talk odd-numbered checkerboards in a sec, but odd-numbered ones are the only way to get all 4 corners to be the same color. Ya gotta make your choices :)


Let’s get started! Strips! Sew a black one and a white one together along a long edge, right sides together and edges matched up exactly, as we do for almost all sewing. Sew with an accurate 1/4″ seam allowance. It’s narrow! Go slowly, keep it at 1/4″.

When you get done, press the seam allowances over to the side — the side with the dark fabric. Make sure you aren’t pressing in any folds — you might not notice them from the backside, but check to make sure the fabric is flat-out before you press. I have a photo farther below that shows the backside pressed this way.

Tip: Pressing at each step of the way is E.A.S.I.E.R. than doing it later. And yes, you have to. Heat up the iron. Suck it up! ;)

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Once you have all the fabric strips sewn together and pressed in pairs of black and white, sew those pairs together into groups of 4. Press the new seam allowances toward the darker fabric. Keep going, sewing larger and larger groups of strips together until you have the right number for across your checkerboard. I sewed 3 pairs of strips into a strip set of 6 to get started. Simple enough!

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And the backside, with all the seam allowances pressed over, resting on top of the black strips.

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(Video) Sewing Patchwork Blocks with Strip Piecing

Odd Numbered Checkerboard info.Don’t freak out if you don’t like math! We’re only talking checkerboards here! It’s not that bad!

If you are making an odd-number checkerboard, half your crosswise strips will need to have white on both ends, and half will need to have black on both ends. OK? OK. And then there will need to be one additional strip of one of them, to make up the odd number of rows. I chose to have an extra white row so all my corners would be white.

My checkerboard is 7 squares across and 7 rows down. 4 of my rows have white on the ends, and 3 of the rows have black on the ends. I took my strip set of 6 strips and cut it into two sections…

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… then I added a black strip to one part, and a white strip to the other part. Remember, you only need to do this if your checkerboard has an odd number of squares across!

Sometimes you just make two separate strip sets right from the start, especially for a checkerboard with larger squares.

Now I have strip sets of 7 strips, and exactly what I need to cut some white-on-both-ends rows, and some black-on-both-ends rows.


Next, we cut the strip set into crosswise strips. How big of strips? Same as you cut the strips off the fabric! For me, that was 1 1/2″

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Place the rows in order. Sew them together in sets of 2. PRESS EACH SEAM to one side OR opened up and laying flat. If you choose to press to one side, it doesn’t matter which direction now that we have alternating colors in every row — just pick one and stay consistent.

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(Video) Quilty: How to Quilt a Checkerboard Pattern

TIP! Keep track of which edge you need to sew when you pick up the two strips. It is easy to lose track between work surface and putting the fabric under the presser foot. If you sew the wrong edge together, you won’t be able to get an actual checkerboard pattern. I often use a pin as a marker: flip one strip on top of the other one, stick a pin quickly into the edges you plan to sew together, then move it over to the machine. Line it up and stitch.

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The “line it up and stitch” part is pretty cool. The squares will nest themselves together because of the way the seam allowances are all pressed. Use this fact to make sure the corners of all your squares are matched up when you are finished with your sewing. You can feel with your fingertip that each seam on the top layer fits nicely against the seam on the bottom layer — no gaps, and no bulky overlaps. You can match them up and pin them, or you can snuggle them together as you come to them while sewing.

One more thing to pay attention to when you are sewing: as you sew these crosswise rows together: half of the seam allowances on the underside will be likely to get scrunched up. Just do a little peek underneath before you get too close to the next seam to sew across. If the underlayer’s seam allowances have gotten pushed out of place (from the direction you pressed them in) just straighten them out — a pin works great as a tool to do this.


Back to the beginning. How long do you need to cut the strips to start with??? Reminder: no math panic! This is a math-friendly site ;)

The original strips you cut from the fabric need to be long enough to get the project done. One multiplication problem will give you the answer you need. Remember, no math panicking allowed here!

First number: how wide are you cutting the strips?

Second number: how many rows will be in your project?

Multiply them. Use a calculator — I keep one at my sewing table. Done!

Give yourself some fudge factor (an inch or three) and that’s how long your strips need to be cut. But what if you have a shorter piece of fabric than that? Plan on making a couple of strip sets — as long as you can get all your crosswise strips cut from them, it doesn’t matter how many strip sets it takes!

My black and white strip set needed to be a total of:

(Video) Quick Checkerboard Border Quilt

1 1/2 ” (strip width) X 7 (rows) = 1.5 x 7 on my calculator = 10.5 inches long!

This does NOT include any fudge factor yet.

I had to split mine up into two parts, remember?, because I needed black-ended rows and white-ended rows. With some fudge factor included I went for 13″

That gave me 6″ to cut the 3 black-ended crosswise rows from, and 7″ to cut my 4 white-ended crosswise rows from.

More fudge factor allowance is better than less :) Save yourself some possible frustration, not some fabric. Cut longer strips!


Once you sew those last seams together, to join all the parts PRESSING AFTER EACH STEP, you have your checkerboard. Use it as a single cohesive piece of fabric in your project — TA DAAAA!

Story! I took my first quilting class in 1988 and we cut cardboard squares and triangles, used a pencil to mark the stitching lines on the fabric, and a little device to also draw the cutting lines of each and every piece, then trimmed them all out by hand. Can we say tedious??? Of course, in that class we also hand-sewed all those pieces together… was fun, but I’m on to rotary cutting and machine piecing!

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Happy stitching!


A pieced border involves calculating where close counts. Quilting templates will help with the cutting.

If the shape is irregular and cannot be cut easily. with a rotary cutter or Thangles does not have the size you need, trace. your border onto template material, add a 1/4-inch seam allowance and. cut patchwork units using the template you just made; With Quilt design software, such as EQ6, you can. quickly and easily try different ideas for your pieced border.. You can take the heart burn out of a pieced border by simply adding a. plain border that will function as an equalizer to expand the quilt top. to a size that is divisible evenly by another number.. This strip border will act as a spacer between the quilt top and. the first border or between the first border and the second border.. You cut long strips of fabric, sew the edges together to. create strip sets which are then cut one final time into shapes for. quilt blocks.. Cut your strips across the fabric width (opposite the selvage) unless the direction of a print dictates otherwise; Cut strips the width of your intended unfinished patches; If the checkerboard finished pieces are 2-inches. square then cut the strips 2 1/2-inches wide.. This includes the 1/4-inch. seam allowance to join together; Your choice of fabric should be one light color and one dark color that has been used in your quilt top; Align the light/dark strips right sides together, matching the cut edges; Pin the strips along the cut edges to hold securely; Use a small stitch and stitch slowly, keeping your eye on the 1/4-inch mark...not the needle; It is extremely important to stitch a true 1/4-inch. seam.. Your fabric lengths will be 40 or more inches long and such a long. seam may shift...good idea to pin; Lay the unopened strip set on the ironing board with the darker fabric on top and the stitch seam away from your body; Press using an up and down motion...do not drag the. iron left to right as this will stretch the fabric and may cause the. strip to be wavy...not good!. You will want to cut the same width that you. cut the individual strips which in our example is 2 1/2-inches; After the strip set is cut into sections, reverse. every other cut to form the checkerboard pattern and be extra careful to. stack each cut one on top of the other and place the stack to the left. of your sewing machine needle to get ready to join together; The simplest matching is snuggling the seam allowances. together until you can feel with your fingers that the seams match. exactly.. Next cut the 4. 1/4-inch square in half diagonally then carefully lift your ruler and. rotate the cutting mat so you can cut diagonally in the opposite. direction to make four pieces.. If in the end the border is more than 2-inches longer than the. quilt try adding a narrow 1-inch border before adding your flying geese. border.. If you like the scrappy look and a quick border, try using all of the. fabrics that you used in your quilt top to make your next pieced. border.. If you are using a pieced border, the pattern may affect the. proportion of border to quilt so you may have to use two or more layers. in your pieced border.. By doing so you make the quilt fit. the border rather than the border fit the quilt.

Fun and creative ways to sew with fabric panels. 20+ things to make with quilt panels. What to make with a fabric panel.

This one uses bits of another panel to create a patchwork border.. These two cute panels designed by Christopher Thompson were cut out, quilted and bound, and used as decorations in a Nursery.. This is an example of a panel designed to be used to create a 3D object.. Zip bags are easy to make in any size that you like, which makes this a great project to create using the panel.. Instead of creating a quilt, use parts of the panel to create a bit of Embroidery Hoop Art.

Paper piecing is one of the best tools in our quilting arsenal for creating crisp shapes and perfect patchwork on our quilt tops. Level up your skills with this tutorial for how to turn a quilt block pattern into an easy-to-use FPP template!

Read on and our quilt pro Laura Pritchard will show you how to take a quilt block pattern and turn it into paper piecing template.. We can’t start on one side and work across as we’ll hit intersecting lines.. We’re going to start with fabric piece 1 in the centre square… we could stitch pieces either side.. Starting with fabric piece 1 in the corner of the top row, I can add pieces to each side (2, 3 and 4, 5) in sequence.. Her work has been published in several quilting and craft magazines including Love Patchwork and Quilting, Mollie Makes and Simply Sewing.

So, you have a quilt top all pieced together, and it just needs something more. This is where borders come in. So, what borders should you use? Like everything in quilting, there are no hard and fast rules, only what you like. Today, I’ll show you some ideas, and ways to figure border size and number.

In this quilt, no borders were used at all.. The block size is 12-inches, so the final border is 1/4 of the block width.. This quilt has the sashing extended around the quilt, then a scrappy narrow border is added, with a solid red outer border.. The second border is all scrappy at 3 inches wide, then a 5-inch final border completes the top.. Your borders do not have to be the same all the way around the quilt.. The borders then worked off that proportion with the checkerboard at 4 inches (2/3 of the block size), then the next border at 2 inches (1/3 of the block size), followed by a three inch scrappy (1/2 of the block size) and a four inch frame.

Foundation paper piecing involves taking small scraps of fabric and machine stitching them to a paper template to create clever patchwork effects. Read on for our complete guide to foundation paper piecing for beginners.

To check whether the piece of fabric will cover section 2 and ¼in beyond each seam line, pin along the seam line and pull the piece of fabric over with your finger (Fig 3 below).. Flip the template so that the printed side faces up and sew the seam between sections 1 and 2, sewing exactly on the line (Fig 4 first below).. If, however, the seam touches the edge of the block, continue the seam until you reach the dashed line of the seam allowance.. Fold the template along the seam line and trim the seam allowance on the fabric piece to ¼in.. To prepare to piece section 3, fold the template over at the seam line between sections 1 and 3, which is the seam that will attach section 3.. You are trimming the seam allowance for the seam you are about to sew, which will make it easier to align the next triangle to be pieced (Fig 8 below).. The stitches extending beyond the end of the seam lines may prevent you folding the template at the seam line.. Flip the template so that the printed side is facing up and trim off excess paper, trimming the block to the outer dashed seam allowance line (Fig 11 below).

Today's Block Friday block is the Checkerboard Quilt Block Pattern. This block is actually easy to sew but can be a bit tricky to get perfect. In this post, I explain why so you can be on the lookout for the trouble points. It all goes back to the math. One thing you should know...

Today’s Block Friday block is the Checkerboard Quilt Block Pattern.. I have a question: why is the Farmer’s Daughter block 5″ while all of the others are 6″?. I want to make a table runner using the blocks that you published in December and want to make them 6″.. The answer lies in how the math works out when you draft the block.. To make the calculations, you take the finished block size and divide it by 3 to determine what each unit in the grid should measure.. The Farmer’s Daughter block is based on a 5×5 grid.. Here is what you can do to make this work in your design: make a border around your 5” Farmer’s Daughter block.. And I can’t wait to see what you make with your Block Friday patterns!. But unlike the Farmer’s Daughter pattern where the error is repeated five times over, in the Checkerboard Quilt Block Pattern the rounding error is only applied to the squares that are turned on point .. When you make a block that turns out EXACTLY the correct unfished size, with all the points in the right places, then I like to say that you’ve “NAILED IT!” In order to “nail” this block, you need to be extra vigilant with your precision when sewing your seams.. Then, go back and sew the remaining corners to the other two opposite sides of the block. The Creative Grids Square on Square 8″ trim tool is perfect for squaring up this block.. The links below are affiliate links , which means that if you click either link and choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission.. The Checkerboard Quilt Block is very similar in style to the following blocks, which you can find in my Quilt Block Library.. The Economy Quilt BlockRight and Left Quilt BlockSo, that about wraps up the info I have for you on making the Checkerboard Quilt Block Pattern.

Sew stunning projects in a fraction of the time with Judy Niemeyer-inspired paper-piecing techniques.

Review the Class Preview video, and the various written descriptions of the Class and each Lesson before you purchase-to-own, so you have a good understanding of the Class content.. You will be given the option to join as a Premium Member of Craftsy, giving you access to this and all other then-active Classes throughout the term of your Premium Membership, or to purchase this one Class only, which you would then have access to perpetually.. Within your MY ACCOUNT, a section labeled “Classes” will appear, including a link to watch the videos of your Class and to access any Bonus Materials included.. Unless you are a Craftsy Premium Member, or until you purchase a Class, the Class Bonus Materials (any PDF download materials, etc.). In an attempt to avoid this situation, please review the Class Preview video and the various other written descriptions of the Class and each Lesson before you purchase, so you have a good understanding of the Class content.


1. Eleanor Burns makes Checkerboard Border
(Quilt in a Day)
2. A Variety of Two Color Heel Stitch Fabrics, stranded, checkerboard and eye of partridge
(Knitting with Suzanne Bryan)
3. Do you know the Easiest Way to Make a Checkerboard quilt?
(Pat Sloan)
4. DIY Fabric Travel Checkerboard Game
5. How do you piece a quilt backing from multiple pieces of fabric?
(Pat Sloan)
6. Postage stamp quilt-learn to sew-simple quilt-scrap quilt-leader/ender
(my sewing room)

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