If you’ve seen a zig-zag quilt, you’ll immediately see the fascination. It looks like giant bands of rick-rack trim sewn into a quilt — but really, the zig-zag effect is achieved with a series of triangles and a trick of the eye.

uilt Layout by designsbykari, on Flickr

Now, you might look at a zig-zag quilt and figure it’s pretty straightforward to make — but it turns out there are a couple of different ways to cut your triangle pieces and a couple of different ways to assemble them, too. Check out these quilt tutorials for great instructions and, better yet, for the photographs and illustrations that are soooo essential to make sense of each quilter’s cutting and piecing methods — I love how the quilting community tends to share ideas and build on each others’ creativity, don’t you?

My current favorite tutorial is the Zig Zag Quilt Along series (oh, such beautiful step-by-step photographs!) by Ashley of Mommy By Day, Crafter By Night.

To step back a bit, this quest to round up a variety of really good tutorials to make a zig-zag (or chevron pattern) quilt began when my mother-in-law gave me one she’d just finished off, patched in luscious greens and browns. It had been a while since I’d done any quilting, just kind of overwhelmed with the idea of taking on a queen-sized project while things are so busy around here, but hey – this just looked so cool – and so easy! You can get so many different effects just with a clever choice of color and pattern, too.

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Zig-zag quilt by Nettie PeteThe first tutorial I bookmarked was one by Taylor Groneck (which, sadly, is no longer online) that she’d based on a pattern in Denyse Schmidt Quilts book, made with the advice of…

Nettie Pete (of Etsy fame), who shares on her blog, A Quilt Is Nice, her Zig-Zag Quilt Tutorial for the quilt inspired by…

The Purl Bee’s Zig Zag Quilt. The Purl Bee is the blog of Joelle & Jennifer Hoverson’s awesome and inventive crafty-sewing shop, Purl Soho, by the way — and if you visit, better plan to set aside a couple hours to explore the shop and the blog, both, for colorful project ideas.

In fact, most quilters (except maybe the real quilting divas among us) agree that the main challenge of a zig-zag quilt — once you’ve picked the fabrics and planned the colours layout — is to take care to get the points of the triangles lined up right when you’re sewing them together. (Tip: Amy’s Creative Side can help you match those points.)

anna-maria-horner-sewing-bookAnother help for accurate piecing I like is the triangle templates (with clear how-to illustrations) in a gorgeous free zig-zag quilt pattern that Anna Maria Horner, author of Seams to Me: 24 New Reasons to Love Sewing, offers as a free PDF download on her blog. “The Folk Dance” is what Horner calls her version of the vintage zig-zag quilt pattern, if (like me) you enjoy the idea of giving an evocative name to a quilt, giving it the status of a work of art as well these originals deserve.

But if you want to avoid “those pesky triangles” completely, hey, the simple rectangle is your quilt-making friend right here, with the Bee Square Fabrics pattern and instructions by AmandaJean of Crazy Mom Quilts. You won’t believe how quick and easy the zigzag quilt top goes together – I’ve got one on my own bed right now, in fact. They’re great for kids’ rooms and college dorms (and also, ahem, for grown-up people who spill their morning coffee on the bed covers) just because the triangle-free zigzag in particular is not a huge investment of time.

The simple zigzag quilt gives you that comfy cosy homemade vibe we all love, without necessarily making you feel you need to treat the quilt like a priceless treasure the way you would if you’d put half your life into hand-piecing a Grandmother’s Flower Garden pattern, say, with all those maddening little octagonal pieces. I do like fairly simply patchwork in a quilt for daily use, letting the colors and fabric arrangement tell the story. After all, quilts are traditionally made to be used in the home, and while we appreciate the art quilts as much as the next person, there’s a lot to be said for the warmth and comfort of the lovely old tradition of repurposing small pieces of fabric into objects that so perfectly combine usefulness and beauty.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Pedestal Table

    I love hand made quilts. i just never have the patience to complete one.

  2. Hollie

    At my house here in New Glasgow I have two handmade quilts one is a crazy quilt and the other is an oldfashion sqares one made of old jeans and cords, you have to enjoy the artistry of a quilt well made.

    Nice to find your blog!

  3. Ching Ya

    I’m not a sewing person, but my mom’s gonna check this out! ^^ It’s what younger generations are missing out, the art of sewing & handicrafts. I’m really ashamed. :(

    1. Michel

      Here’s something I do, and everyone can do, and it is a neat thing for blind babies and uses up your ends and scraps. You can make up a bunch and donate them to the blind group in your area and it’s a feel good thing ~ literally ~ for everyone. They’re called Tactile Quilts. What you do is make a quilt about the same size as a baby blanket for the floor, only you use several squares or rectangles using various types of fabric, fur, silk, corduroy, fleece, anything that has a different feel to it. When a blind baby is put on this quilt, it stimulates their sense of feel and encourages them to crawl to find out what the next ‘feel’ is. I hate making these because I know there is a blind baby, but I love making them because I know it helps. Get a group of ladies together and make some to donate.

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