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2 essential tips for using printed squares in pieced quilt blocks

by Christine Baker

This week on QUILTsocial I get to play with Northcott’s new ‘Full Bloom‘ fabric line! I was super excited to pick out the fabrics I wanted from the website, but when they arrived at my house they were even MORE beautiful than they looked online!!

The Full Bloom fabrics from Northcott include bright tone on tones and lovely prints.

The Full Bloom fabrics from Northcott

When I first saw the fabrics online, my preliminary plan was to use the black tone-on-tone fabric as a background for fusible applique using the bright reds, greens, oranges and yellows. But once I saw the size of the flower squares on the panel, I decided to use them as the center of pieced quilt blocks.

If you want to make your own Full Bloom quilt with me this week, hop onto the Northcott website and use the Product Finder on the Full Bloom page to find a shop near you that carries all of the fabrics.


  • one panel 21778-99
  • ½yd [50cm] 21779-24 (stripe)
  • fat quarter 21780-24 (red tone on tone)
  • fat quarter 21780-52 (yellow tone on tone)
  • fat quarter 21780-72 (green tone on tone)
  • ¼yd [20cm] 21808-10 (white polka dot)
  • fat quarter 9025-23 (pink leaf print)
  • fat quarter 9025-53 (yellow leaf print)
  • fat quarter 9025-58 (orange leaf print)
  • fat quarter 9025-77 (green leaf print)
  • 1¼yd [1m] 9025-99 (black leaf print)
  • ⅜yd [40cm] binding
  • 3¼yd [3m] backing

The problem with panels and pre-printed squares

Fabric is stretchy, and every fabric manufacturer, despite their best intentions may have images that are printed not-quite square. So in order to use these lovely fabrics to make quilts, we sometimes have to get ‘creative’. Here are my 2 essential tips for using preprinted fabric squares in pieced quilt blocks:

TIP 1 trimming is key

As you can see the flower squares in my Full Bloom fabric panel measure 5½” x 5¼”. If I were to put plain borders around each square, I could trim to this size. If you want to make a more complicated pieced block, you’ll want to trim these so that they’re the same height and width. Unless, of course, you REALLY like a challenge!!

The preprinted square of Northcott Full Bloom fabric is measured and trimmed square.

Measuring and trimming

Keep in mind when trimming, that you’re going to have a ¼” seam allowance on each side and you can trim so that the white fabric is showing on any of the sides, as long as it is less than ¼” wide. Here’s the square of Full Bloom fabric trimmed to 5½” square. As you can see I left a small amount of white on each side, but this will be hidden in the seam allowance.

The trimmed square of Northcott Full Bloom fabric has a small amount of white on each side, but this will be hidden in the seam allowance.

The trimmed square

TIP 2  add borders to the panel or printed square as needed

We do a lot of designing with Northcott panels and we’ve learned this tip the hard way! Sometimes a panel will be up to ½” narrower or wider than we think it’s going to be when we design a quilt.

If the borders that go around the quilt are pieced, then the panel needs to be EXACTLY the right size to fit!! The solution to this problem is to incorporate an inner border that can be trimmed or widened to make the panel section the right size to fit the borders.

In my original plan, I was going to make pieced borders for each of the fabric squares. Each of the flower squares would have two 2½” squares of the bright fabrics on each side and another square in the corners. BUT, due to a cutting error (yes, I was cutting too late at night and THOUGHT that I had it all figured out but obviously didn’t) the two 2½” squares sewn together are too short to fit onto the side of the fabric square. Three sewn together is too long. AND I’ve already cut all of my fabrics into 2½” strips, so I’ve got to come up with a solution.

Due to a cutting error, the trimmed squares won't fit the pieced borders so an inner border must be added.

The trimmed squares don’t fit the borders

Here’s where the inner border solution comes into play. I added 1″ strips of fabric first to the sides of my squares:

The side borders are added to the Full Bloom squares first.

Add the side pieces first

And then added 1″ strips of the black fabric to the top and bottom. By using a fabric with the same color are the background in the square, you hardly notice it’s there!

The top and bottom borders are added to the Northcott Full Bloom squares after the side borders are sewn on.

Adding the top and bottom borders

Now my border with three of the 2½” squares sewn together fits perfectly!!

Now that the inner borders have been added, the pieced borders fit the preprinted blocks.

Now the borders fit

Putting the plan into action

Now that I’ve figured out how to get everything to fit, I need to cut all of my Northcott Full Bloom fabrics. Tomorrow I’ll show you what needs to be cut, I’ll also talk about how to get everything organized to make projects more portable, as there are times you’ll want to take your project along to work or at a retreat or a sewing day away.

This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: 6 steps to get ready for a quilt retreat

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Mary Gardner October 15, 2017 - 10:30 am

Thanks for these great tips. I need all the correcting help I can get! Also love these fabrics – the colors are gorgeous.

Sara Bamberg October 6, 2017 - 8:29 pm

going to give this a try

Christine Baker October 8, 2017 - 8:47 pm

Awesome! Have fun 🙂

Laurie P October 6, 2017 - 7:22 pm

Very helpful! I love tips for helping me learn the process!

Christine Baker October 8, 2017 - 8:49 pm

Thanks Laurie – I’m glad that you’ve found them helpful!

Val October 5, 2017 - 10:34 pm

This is a very interesting post.

Janet T October 5, 2017 - 10:09 pm

Love the flowers in the center. Beautiful quilt.

Orla V. October 5, 2017 - 9:19 pm

I absolutely adore Poppies, and the fabric pictures are stunning, and the coordinated fabrics are just beautiful. I’m looking forward to the the next 4 parts of this series. I even went on Northcott’s site to check for local availability – unfortunately there isn’t any. But I am enthralled with the post – many thanks!

Christine Baker October 8, 2017 - 8:52 pm

Hi Orla – check out the online retailers that are listed on the Nortchott product finder. It looked like there were 3 or 4 that carry the collection.

Beth B October 5, 2017 - 7:31 pm

Love the colors of these fabrics! What beautiful designs!

Christine Baker October 5, 2017 - 8:31 pm

I know!! Those fabrics are just beautiful!!

Hugh Laing October 5, 2017 - 5:37 pm

very clear and helpful

Christine Baker October 5, 2017 - 8:32 pm

Hi Hugh – glad you found the instructions helpful.

Sandy Allen October 5, 2017 - 1:32 pm

Thank you! I thought it was me that was having issues with the printing on panels. Love the idea of adding borders to get it to a uniform size!

Christine Baker October 5, 2017 - 8:35 pm

You’re welcome Sandy! I use this technique a lot! Have fun!

LINDA October 5, 2017 - 12:05 pm

beautiful collection! Thanks for sharing info. here!

Christine Baker October 5, 2017 - 8:36 pm

You’re welcome Linda. I’m glad that you’ve found the information helpful 🙂

Brenda West October 5, 2017 - 12:02 pm

Thank for this – what a great way to correct a cutting error. I am learning to sew on my own and this gives me just another idea on figuring out how to correct errors. Love the framed pieces around your center – looks planned.

Christine Baker October 5, 2017 - 8:38 pm

Thanks Brenda! I’m glad that you found the info useful. Nobody’s perfect, but if you know how to fix things as you go, no one ever needs to know that you made a mistake!!

Jackie White October 2, 2017 - 10:11 pm

Love your honesty and your tips on fixing!

Christine Baker October 5, 2017 - 8:42 pm

Thanks Jackie!! Nobody’s perfect – especially ME!! But I do think I’m pretty good at fixing my boo boos (guess it’s because I’ve had lots of practice LOL)


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