Designing a Sampler Quilt

Sampler Quilt for the new Puppy

The Facebook AccuQuilt Qube group has asked to do a block of the week Sampler quilt. Sampler quilts are a lot of fun because each block is different. They’re also nice as a teaching tool because there are many different shapes and practice in joining those shapes can be used. However, sometimes a Sampler quilt can begin to look like jumbled up blocks – or at least in my way of thinking. I like clean lines and clear colors in quilts. So that is what goes into my thinking in designing a Sampler Quilt.

One way of doing this is simply to use the background fabric for the sashing and to make the sashing wide enough to give the blocks a background so that each block stands out on its own. Another way of doing this is to use background fabric strips to frame the block – I call this a floating frame. The result of this is a larger block than the original block design. In this case, I use a light or medium fabric sashing between blocks and often make it narrower or the same width as the floating frame. The floating frame makes either a larger quilt or a quilt with fewer blocks. For the same number of blocks, this requires a lot more background fabric.

These are just my thoughts about it all. Below are EQ examples of a Floating Frame block as well as a layout with a color sashing and a layout with a background sashing.

Quilt Block with Floating Frame
Quilt Block with Floating Frame
Sampler Quilt with Background Fabric Sashing
Sampler Quilt with Background Fabric Sashing
Sampler Quilt with Color Fabric Sashing
Sampler Quilt with Color Fabric Sashing
Sampler Quilt with Floating Frame Blocks and Color Sashing
Sampler Quilt with Floating Frame Blocks and Color Sashing

Have a Happy Day!


Author: Marjorie Busby

My blog is about helping other quilters learn to use great tools in their quilting through what I can teach and through finding other bloggers who have good information. In addition, I am a mother and grandmother. Other hobbies include any other stitchery which makes me happy at the moment. I worked in clinical research for most of my career. I am now retired and enjoying every minute.

11 thoughts on “Designing a Sampler Quilt”

  1. I love that you give option settings! My idea of a sampler quilt, is probably what you described as jumbled…lol. I love the blocks you designed in your sampler, I would love them even more if they were made up of several sized blocks, maybe because it gives the quilt a more complex look to me. It’s probably more work to design that way but I pay more for those patterns because they are my favorite.

    1. Hi Julia, And that is what makes us all unique and offers so much creativity in this world. I like the idea the complexity of different size blocks, but still like each block to stand alone. Bea Lee ( designs lots of quilts like the ones you describe. I am sure you would love her patterns.

  2. Thank you for this well illustrated post. I have never actually considered my sashings and borders at the design stage, rather I audition them when I get to them. Your pictures have helped me clarify in my mind, why I should think about them much earlier, rather than letting them happen organically.
    Thank you such too for the Broken Dishes QAL. Although I am behind due to being called away on family matters I am now enjoying sitting in my garden cutting out the blocks. I am carefully bagging and labeling them in order to sew the quilt together during an upcoming camping holiday.
    From Ottawa, Canada

  3. If it’s not too much trouble could you include the unfinished size of block as we go. Thanks. Love doing your patterns. Finished my broken dishes quilt. Will post shortly

    1. Hi Mary Ann, the unfinished size is always 1/2″ more than the finished size. I always use the finished size because that is the size of the Qube and hopefully you don’t have to even think about the unfinished size. With so many sizes, it gets really confusing if I put too many numbers in the instructions, especially with the 8″, 9″, and 10″ so close together.

      And so exciting that your quilt is finished. Can’t wait to see it.

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