How To: Sew a Diagonal Strip Quilt

January 18th, 2014


Strip quilting with the Quilt As You Go method is pretty much the only way I can quilt these days. It’s such a quick and easy way to make a simple quilt, and be done with it in a matter of hours. I call it my 2-nap quilt, as I really can only quilt when my boys are napping, and a strip quilt takes about 2 nap times to get done start to finish. And lets be honest… I haven’t had much time to practice extensive quilting techniques, so this is pretty much as good as it gets for me right now.

Here’s a quick tutorial on my diagonal strip quilt, it’s a little bit more tricky than a standard strip quilt. First step is super easy – I cut 5″ strips out of all of my fabrics – You can do this with any size strip – a jelly roll would save you time on the cutting, but take more time on the sewing. I like the 5″ because I can cut all the left-over strips in half and use the 2.5″ for binding strips.

All the fabric is from my new line with Riley Blake Fabric – Lost & Found 2.

I laid them out in an order that I liked, and then moved onto the batting and backing. You want to cut your backing to your final quilt size (give or take for squaring up). For this quilt, I used the whole width of the fabric – so like 44″ and for the length I went about 64″ Then I cut the batting to match. I use a 100% cotton backing because it has a nice tack to it and sticks with the cotton fabric without any shifting. I iron the backing to the fabric with a hot iron to make the two pieces stick better to each other, and to remove any wrinkles. And I’m laughing as I look at this really wrinkly picture! I must have ironed it after this!

I wanted to make a diagonal strip quilt (never done this before), and thought it would be cool if I started at one corner, and then reversed the diagonal. So first step was to make a base-line to end my first set of strips.


I used my fussy cutter, to get a good straight edge from my fabric. I used my long ruler to follow that line and draw directly on the batting.


Okay so I don’t have a photo of the next step, but basically I laid out all my strips FACE-UP on the batting, starting on the baseline I just drew, and trimmed the ends about an inch longer than the end of the quilt.

Then all you do is start sewing. I rolled up the majority of the quilt so it would fit in my machine arm, laid down my first strip and sewed it down right-side-up. I just use a standard sewing foot and keep my feet in a normal position.


I took my second strip, and placed it right-side to right-side – matching up the seams, and sewed down. quilt_sew2_theprojectgirl

Flip the strip over – exposing the right-side. I recommend pressing this down to keep all your seams nice and flat. Then you take the next strip and again place it right-side to right-side – match up the seams, and sew.



This is what the quilt starts looking like as you sew and flip, press, and repeat.


And here is the whole set-up with my rolled-up batting and backing. I unroll it as I add more strips.


You can see the backing and batting is all being quilted together in one step.



Once all the strips are sewed on, the quilt looks something like this. You can see the selvage edge going diagonal across the middle of the quilt. 

I used my long ruler again to mark a diagonal line on the top of the fabric. You need to make sure that you’re not sewing on a weird angle from this point, and also to make sure that your selvage edge all gets covered by your next strip. quilt_line_theprojectgirl

I laid out all my strips in the order I wanted to sew them on. For the longer ones, I had to sew extra to make the strips longer. I decided to sew a different fabric on the end, but using the same fabric would give a more seamless look for your strips.


Once I was happy with the layout, I pinned the first strip right-side to right-side along the line I just drew, rolled up the excess, and sewed down the seam.


Then I followed the same process as above and sewed all the rest of the strips down. Then I simply squared it up to prepare it for binding.


You can see the quilting lines on the back here:


For the binding, I cut any remaining strips in half long ways, and sewed a long line of scrap binding. Then I just machine bound it (because I have no patience for hand binding!) really quickly using this machine binding method.

You can see the scrap binding here – how it’s all the different patterns. I love how this binding looks!



So that’s pretty much it! If I missed any steps, or you have any questions, just leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to reply. This quilt took about 5 hours.quilt_full_theprojectgirl

I almost forgot to show my pink/red colorway of Lost & Found 2. I made this quilt using a standard side-to-side strip quilt method. I cut varied thicknesses for my strips, and sewed several lines across each strip. This is a smaller baby-sized quilt – approx. 36×50, and took less than 2 hours to complete start to finish. stripquilt_pink_theprojectgirl


26 responses to “How To: Sew a Diagonal Strip Quilt”

  1. Tiffany says:

    These are so precious! I couldn’t sew myself out of a fabric box so I’ll have to stick with my knit blankets. The fabrics you used are beautiful.

  2. Jen Allyson says:

    Thanks 🙂 🙂

  3. Great tutorial! I LOVE to sew and even owned a sewing machine before I knew you could use it to sew on paper – LOL! I have been wanting to make a simple quilt and this looks like the perfect starter for me! Marking this down as a definite project for 2014 – thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Susan says:

    Beautiful! Love how it is all sewn and quilted as you go!! Can’t wait to see more!

  5. lou says:

    omg this is just awesome. sewing and quilting in one step is such a time saver so that the quilt becomes a one-day project! wow. i’ll consider that for my next one (after i finish the one that is waiting to be finished since 2 months…) 🙂

  6. Toniemarie says:

    This is so neat! Thank you for sharing! I think this would work with old blue jeans! I have 2 large totes over flowing! LOL

  7. Elizabeth A says:

    How much total fabric for the front? I want to make something like this for a friend with cancer to take to chemo.

  8. Gail says:

    How much fabric was used for the front of diagonal strip quilt

  9. […] so I have been looking around for tutorials and ideas. I am thinking something simple like a strip quilt but I plan to freestyle it a bit (like sherry from young house love) since this will be my first […]

  10. Jen Allyson says:

    less than 2 yards

  11. Jen Allyson says:

    less than 2 yards. It really depends on how large of a quilt you want to make. There is very little waste especially if you do a standard horizontal quilt.

  12. Another Gail says:

    I am definitely going to try this!
    By the way, you used the word ‘backing’ instead of the word ‘batting’ two times in the batting/backing portion of the instructions. You might want to change it so new quilters will not be confused.
    Thanks a bunch for the new quilt idea!

  13. Jen Allyson says:

    THanks! I’ll fix it!

  14. Laura Alvarez says:

    Thanks for this tutorial. I am a VERY new quilter and was looking for a simple quilt pattern to try. This looks perfect. I’m going to grommet some fabric tomorrow and give it a go. I may try the horizontal one first as it looks even simpler than the diagonal though I do love that diagonal design.

  15. Clare says:

    I love them both, although the yellow and blue diagonal is my favourite as those are my favourite colours. I do have one question: At the very beginning, when you sew the first strip down, do you sew both sides of it or only the one side shown in the photo?

  16. Jen Allyson says:

    Only the one side. Once it’s stitched right-side down, then you flip it over so it’s right-side-up and stitch another strip right-side-down over the top of it, and then flip that one.

  17. Laura Alvarez says:

    I just finished my version of this quilt and love how it came out. I can’t believe how quick and easy this pattern is. Thanks so much for a great tutorial. Not sure if I can add a link but if you want to see it there is a picture on Flickr. My username is laurmann. It’s a music theme and I made it for my son who loves it.

  18. Jamie says:

    I am so excited to try this quilt! I have young children and am excited to be able to accomplish something during naps. Your tutorial is so easy to follow I was wondering if you would show\tell how you bind the quilt? I am new to sewing and have no idea how to bind it all together.

  19. Jen Allyson says:

    I just follow an online tutorial every time I need to bind (because its not so often, and I forget in between!) I always machine bind because I don’t have the time to hand bind. So just do a quick search for “machine bind tutorial” and you’ll be able to find some good resources including you-tube videos that can walk you through it.

  20. Nicole says:

    This is so great! So does that mean that you don’t make bias tape? You just use the strips as they are? I just love your fabric choices!

  21. Jen Allyson says:

    Yep! I just cut strips. You can sew them together on the bias so you don’t get a big wad of fabric where all the seams meet, but you don’t need to cut the strips on the bias (though you can if you have a squarish piece of fabric it works out much better than stripping it).

  22. Denise Cox says:

    Love this quilt! Have been wanting to do a quilt as you go quilt on minkee fabric– it’s 60 inches wide so 60×72″ would be a great throw. Had only seen with 2.5″ strips, love the look of 5″ ones. Thanks for making the tutorial. 2 nap quilt is how I’m going to think of it from now on.

    Thanks again! Denise, Crochet is Everything Else!

  23. Teresa Watson says:

    Wonderful tutorial! Thanks for taking time to put it together for us. I sewed a lot when my children napped as well. Now my nest is empty and still love to sew, mostly quilts now. I will definitely be trying this method. Love it!

  24. Laurie Lomeli says:

    Has anyone tried this as a larger quilt? Like twin size? I’m wanting to try that, but I imagine it may be difficult to bunch up that much fabric and batting under the arm of my machine.

  25. Jen Allyson says:

    I’m not sure. I think it would go okay though because you’re really rolling it. I suppose it depends on the sewing machine as well. Maybe try on a small one and then see if you think you could go bigger. Its super fast once you get started.

  26. ART says:

    Brilliant, thank you. I made a crib quilt in a weekend by first joining 3″ x 8.5″ strips together along the long side to get 46″ x 8.5″ pieces, then used this method to join them with sashing in between to the batting and backing. I then did some machine quilting in the sashing along the 45″ dimension (the rest was hand quilted over the next couple weeks). I would totally try it with a larger size quilt next!

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