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How to make a Patchwork Quilt Design Without a Pattern with Broadcloth Studio

How to make a patchwork quilt without pattern

Hi there, Amanda from @broadclothstudio here! I love math, I really do. And I really love “quilt math”: figuring out the most efficient way to cut out all my patchwork pieces is like a fun puzzle to me! But sometimes even I don’t really feel up to doing all the calculations. I kinda just want to throw caution to the wind, roll up my sleeves, and start sewing. So, in honour of those days when I just can’t be bothered, here’s my “No Pattern (Just a Little) Minimal Math” way of figuring out the patchwork for a quilted coat just like the Hovea Quilt Coat & Jacket!

Making a patchwork design without a patternQuilt jackets and coats are the perfect opportunities to have some fun with your patchwork without a pattern! Now, that can be overwhelming for some folks, especially if you haven’t done a lot of patchwork before. So, to help alleviate some of the anxiety around having to do math or make an entire quilt top to just cut off, here’s my “three-step approach” to how I approach making my patchwork “fabric” without a pattern:

  1. Decide on the type and size of the patchwork blocks you want to make
  2. Figure out how many blocks you’ll need (by literally counting)
  3. Figure out how many precuts/how much yardage you’ll need

Okay, okay, sure, this assumes that you won’t be doing anything more complicated than a mix of squares and triangles, but don’t let that be a buzzkill! What I love about this kind of patchwork is that it’s a mix of straightforward constructions with a haphazard layout that’s just so much fun to watch come to life.

Making a patchwork design without a patternSupplies/Materials

  • Quilting ruler (my 6.5in x 12.5in is a go-to)
  • Cutting mat
  • Yardstick or a measuring tape (or a big quilting ruler if you’ve got one handy)
  • Fabric pen/pencil/chalk
  • Pins
  • Rotary Cutter (scissors will work too)
  • Plus your usual sewing equipment (machine, thread etc)

Making a patchwork design without a patternNo quilting ruler? You can get away without one by making a square template out of paper and tracing it on the back of your squares before cutting them out with scissors. I used to cut out all my patchwork pieces this way, so I can attest that it can be done!

Making a patchwork design without a patternDecide on your patchwork: squares or squares + triangles

The first step to take is to decide what kind of patchwork you want to make. Do you want to do just square patches? Do you want to add in some triangles? How about some other, smaller triangles? For my Hovea quilt coat, I decided to do a mix of square patches, half square triangles (HST), and quarter square triangles (QST). I’ve always loved scrappy quilts and this mix felt like the perfect way to lean into that vibe!

My next decision was to figure out what size the blocks would be. After some indecision (and a couple Pinterest searches for “Quilt Coat”), I decided that I wanted all my blocks to be 6”.

And here is where a little math sneaks in. Since I knew I wanted to use HSTs and QSTs, I knew that I’d have to factor in how much fabric would get “eaten” when constructing them. Fortunately, the math isn’t hard! To get all my pieces to 6”, I needed to add the following to each of my measurements to start to get my “starting” square size:

  • Square Patch: +0.5in (so 6.5in for my coat)
  • HST Patch: +1in (7in)
  • QST Patch: +1.5 (7.5in)

Wondering what size square you’ll need? Curious as to how to make HSTs and QSTs? I’ve got all the math over on Broadcloth Studio dot com!

If this kind of math is too much, that’s okay, you can easily make a quilt coat with just square patches and skip all the triangles and all the cutting! How you ask? Let me introduce you to Pre-cuts. They’re fabulous, fun, and an easy way to buy lots of different fabric prints without ending up with lots of extra yardage and take the heavy lifting of cutting out of the equation. Standard square precuts come in three sizes:

  • Mini Charm (also called “Candy”) – 2.5in x 2.5in
  • Charm – 5in x 5in
  • Layer Cakes – 10in x 10in

If that’s more your speed, make sure to check them out!

Making a patchwork design without a patternMethodology: grid and count

Once you’ve decided on what kind of patchwork you’re going to do and the size of your patches, then you get to lay out the grid of your patchwork before counting how many patches you’ll need. Yes, it really is that simple.

At this point, I grabbed my quilting ruler and a highlighter and marked out a 6in grid directly on my Hovea pattern. And then I counted up the boxes. For the squares that didn’t quite fit perfectly, I counted them as one if they were roughly half a square or bigger.

 Making a patchwork design without a patternThe Math

Once I had counted all my squares, I doubled them as needed (two sleeves, two front pieces, etc) and added them all up. And then I divided them by three to figure out how many Square, HST, and QST patches I’d be making…which is exactly the number of starting squares I’d need of each!

At this point, you may be asking “but how did you know that you needed that many squares to make your mix of squares and triangles?” That’s the best part of this kind of quilt: no matter how I divide up the patches between squares, HSTs, and QSTs, the number of fabric squares I put in will create the number of final patches I need (two squares make two HSTs; four squares make four QSTs, etc).

Once I knew how many starting squares of each I’d need, I figured out how much yardage I would need. The great thing about quilting cotton is that it typically has a 42in width of fabric (WOF). So I just figured out how many 6.5in/7in/7.5in squares would fit into 42in and roughly how many WOF strips I’d need of each of them and translated that into how many yards I’d need (I typically sketch out yardage on the back of a piece of paper).

And then I went to the fabric store to see what fabrics I wanted to play with. I found seven fabrics that looked great together and did some back of the envelope math to figure out how much of each I’d need to have enough squares. And that was all of my math!

Making a patchwork design without a patternTime to Patchwork

Once I washed and ironed my fabric,  I started sewing my triangles together (you can read more about making QSTs here and HSTs here). Then I trimmed them and my squares all down to my unfinished block size (6.5in unfinished to get my 6in finished patch size).

When it came time to sew them all together, I laid them out over the pieces of my pattern and sewed them together that way to roughly fit the size of the coat pieces as required. If I had sewn them all together into a large piece of patchwork “fabric” I would have needed more patches to fill in the excess. One word of warning: when making patchwork, you’re always working with a 0.25in seam allowance!

Once I had all my oversized pieces, I then quilted them before sewing them all together. And I couldn’t be happier with how my patchwork party turned out: it’s the perfect amount of haphazard!

Making a patchwork design without a pattern Making a patchwork design without a pattern Making a patchwork design without a pattern Making a patchwork design without a pattern Making a patchwork design without a pattern


Here’s the full list of Hovea inspiration and ideas:

Here’s the full list of Hovea tutorials & Hacks:

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About Author

A New Englander who now calls New York home, Amanda has been quilting since middle school and sewing since forever. In 2017 she started her second company, Broadcloth Studio, a collection of bold and modern quilt patterns that are designed to be enjoyable to make. With Broadcloth Studio, Amanda aims to celebrate the craft, the community, and the heritage of quilting every day (with a fresh take and an irreverent wink). Beyond her sewing machine, Amanda is most likely to be found with her nose in a book, playing the viola, or out on the hiking trail.

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2 years ago

Your coat is beautiful! Just curious if this is View C or View D?

2 years ago

I just made my first quilt coat and I am in love! I cut the lining fabric according to the pattern and laid my patchwork pieces on top as I cut them out. I would sew a few things together and then lay it back on top to check the size and placement. Zero math!!! Just keep piecing until it covers the pattern piece!

2 years ago

Hi! I have a weird question. My mom passed and ahe had amazing quilts for our family home. I want to keep them, and i’d like to transform one into a coat! Is that doable? To cut out an existing quilt? Thanks so much!

2 years ago
Reply to  Gabrielle

Hi Gabrielle! I’m so incredibly sorry for your loss. I think that is such a beautiful idea! Yes it is definitely doable. We actually wrote a post with some tips here when one of our team members Anita wanted to make a coat from one of her mum’s quilts :) I really hope it helps! xo