Pillow Block Quilt in Progress

Pillow Block sideA few months ago, I wrote a post about a type of quilt my Grandma Horvath used to make. I’m not sure what she called it, so I decided to call it a pillow block quilt.  Inspired by her handiwork, I decided to make one of my own.

I have to admit, I didn’t do as much research on her quilt as I should have before diving into my own. First, I probably should have measured the blocks. In my first attempt, I cut the blocks to 4.5 inches, which would have given me a 4-inch block. It seemed really big—and it was; Grandma’s blocks came in at a little less than 3 inches. For the stuffing, I bought some high-loft polyester batting, but after stuffing a few of my blocks with that, it just didn’t seem right. Upon further inspection, Grandma must have used fiberfill (or cut up nylons).

So, with all that figured out, I started in on the blocks I’ll actually use for the quilt. To get those 3-inch squares, I’ve been cutting my front and back fabric pieces to 3.5 x 3.75 inches.

Pillow Block 1

I sew the two long sides and one short side by machine and clip the corners. I turn the pocket right-side out and use my handy crochet hook to help me with the corners. (Both my mom and I remember getting poked by the corners on Grandma’s quilts.) I do iron at this point for a nice, crisp pocket.

Pillow Block 2

While my iron is out, I fold the open edges into the pocket to make the pocket 3 inches square, and press the folded edges. I was finding I was having a hard time folding over just 1/4 inch of fabric, so I added another little bit to that end to make the folding easier.

I’m still working on figuring out the exact amount of fiberfill to put in each pocket. Some of my earlier ones are much puffier than recent ones, but I think I like them a little less full. I do make sure to break apart the fiberfill a bit, so I can push it into the corners of the pocket.

Next comes the hand-sewing part of the process. I whipstitch the pocket closed.

Pillow Block 3

And then whipstitch this pocket to its adjoining pocket on the quilt. In looking at Grandma’s quilt, she may have been able to combine the sewing-closed step with this one, but I haven’t gotten that down yet, so I do it in two steps.

Pillow Block 4

Grandma made of all her pillow block quilts as trips around the world, so that’s what I’m doing as well.

Pillow Block top

I honestly don’t have any idea how much fabric I’ll need. Right now, I’m using stash fabrics, but as the “trips” get longer, I may have to purchase some yardage.

Grandma seemed to always use plain white or off-white fabrics for the back. It shows some of the non-prettiness of my handstitching, but so it goes.

Pillow Block back

I have to say, Grandma either had a lot more patience than I do, or she found a way to simplify the process better than I have. Because this quilt is going to take a while. I do like that handwork part of it, though. It’s really perfect for winding down before bed and keeping my hands busy while watching TV. I’ll keep you posted on the progress!

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  1. Love it, Christine 🙂
    Your process is so much like mine, in that I jump before I totally think it thru. Hehehe.

  2. Lynn Welch

     /  February 20, 2013

    I really like this type of quilt and I cannot wait to see your finished product. The colors are great together…keep up the good work!

    • Thanks, Lynn! If you have seen a quilt like this in the past and have a photo of it, I’d love to see it. My Grandma’s are the only ones I know of.

  3. Gina Rath

     /  February 20, 2013

    This should be interesting. I found a link for a quilt the author calls a biscuit or puff quilt, compared to her instructions it looks like you have pretty much figured it out! http://www.karensvariety.com/ARTICLES/BiscuitQuilt/Biscuit.htm

    • Thanks for finding the link, Gina. The person who wrote this article even mentions stuffing them with nylons! Looks like Grandma was right on trend in the ’70s.

  4. I think you have the puffiness that Mama had now. It is looking very much like hers. Thanks for remembering her in your quilt.

  5. What a lovely project, Christine. Quilts inspired by a loved one are my fave. I’ve never seen this technique – can’t wait to see this all finished!


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