A little while back, I mentioned that I’d be posting the pattern for  the Sparks Baby Quilt. Here it finally is!  I’ve learned that writing up patterns feels like real homework to me… no fun!  But I do want to start doing it more.  I feel like the more I do it, the easier it will get.

Let me preface by saying that I hope that this pattern works out for you.  It’s the first quilt pattern I’ve written up and I’m generally not someone who follows patterns. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s mistakes and/or confusions.  Please drop me a note or comment if you have thoughts or suggestions for changes.  Also, do let me know if you make the quilt!  I would love to see your results.

Ok – here’s the pattern!

Sparks Baby Quilt

Sparks Baby Quilt

The finished quilt measures 46.5″ x 60″

Needed Fabric:

Blocks – all of mine are different fabrics, but that’s up to you!
– 20 3.5″ square centers
– 20 frame sides,  3.5″ x 6″
– 20 frame tops and bottoms, 8.5″ x 6″

Sashing – I used off white Kona cotton:
– 15 strips of  2.5″ x 8.5″
– 4 strips of  2.5″ x 38.5“

Border – I used off white Kona cotton:
-2 strips of  4.5″ X 48.5” for side border
-2 strips of  6.5″ x 46.5” for top and bottom border


Let’s do the easy part first.

Cut the sashing and border

Sashing & Borders cut out

15 strips of  2.5″ x 8.5″
4 strips of  2.5″ x 38.5“

2 strips of  4.5″ X 48.5” for side border
2 strips of  6.5″ x 46.5” for top and bottom border

Then, cut out the fabric for the blocks

Cut centers:
-20 centers,  3.5″ square.

For my centers I did lots of fussy cutting.   After measuring and cutting my first square, I like to then use it as a template for cutting out the rest of the centers.  Some people hate templates, but I find them helpful for fussy cutting.

Fussy Cutting

Using the template makes it easier for me to see which part of the fabric I want to cut out.  Make sure to use the same square as the template all along, and not to trim its edges as you go.  You don’t want the squares you are cutting to gradually change a bit in size.

Cut frames:
– 20 frame sides,  3.5″ x 6″
– 20 frame tops and bottoms, 8.5″ x 6″

Cut Fabric

Next, cut the fabric for the block frames in two.

I do it randomly, but first I lay them out and do some design planning before I decide which squares will be cut which way.  Here the fabric is stuck up on my (tri-colored, yes it’s just three pieces of felt!) design wall so that I see how it will all look.

Design decisions

There are a couple of things I consider before cutting the fabric for the frames in two.  I wouldn’t want to find down the road that all of my oranges have the center in the upper right.  Or all of the blocks that I want on the left edge of the quilt have centered centers. That’s wordy, but I hope you see what I mean.

Also, keep in mind that some of your blocks have a right side up (unless you didn’t fussy cut) – so you can’t flip them around later to change the position of the center.

If you aren’t comfortable cutting the frames randomly, I have broken it down like this:

Block options

8 blocks – off set top & bottom, off set sides
– Cut 8 of the 3.5″ x 6″ down to 3.5″ x 2.5″ & 3.5″ x  3.5″
– Cut 8 of 8.5″ x 6″ down to 8.5″ x 2.5″ & 8.5″ x 3.5″

When piecing these 8 blocks put:
– 2 centers in upper left
– 2 centers in lower left
– 2 centers in upper right
– 2 centers in lower right

4 blocks – off set top & bottom, centered sides:
Cut four  3.5″ x 6″ strips down to 3.5″ x 3″ and 3.5″ x 3″
Cut four  8.5″ x 6″ strips down to 8.5″ x 2.5″ and 8.5″ x 3.5″

When piecing these 4 blocks put:
2  centers higher in the block
2  centers lower in the block

4 Blocks – centered top & bottom, off set sides
Cut four of the 3″ x 6″ strips down to 3.5″ x 2.5″ and 3.5″ x 3.5″
Cut four of 8.5″ x 6″ down to 8.5″ x 3″ and 8.5″ x 3″

When piecing these four blocks put:
2 centers to the left
2 centers to the right

4 Blocks – centered top & bottom, centered sides
Cut four of the 3″ x 6″ down to 3.5″ x 3″ and 3.5″ x 3″
Cut 4 of 8.5″ x 6″ down to 8.5″ x 3″ and 8.5″ x 3″

All four of these blocks are pieced the same way.


Piece all the blocks, randomly or as indicated above.

Ready to peiceStep 1Step 2

Here are all of my pieced blocks:

Finished Blocks

Next, piece the sashing.

First attach the blocks to one another with the fifteen strips of  2.5″ x 8.5″ until they are put together in 5 rows.

Connecting blocks with sashingRows with sashing

Then continue by attaching all the rows to each other with the four strips of  2.5″ x 38.5“.

Sashing 2Sashing 3

Finally, piece the border.


First sew on the sides, the 2 strips of  4.5″ X 48.5”.

Borders 2

Then sew on the top and bottom, the 2 strips of  6.5″ x 46.5”.

Congratulations! You have a finished quilt top!

Finished Quilt top

From here, if you need to, check out this post for links on how to baste, quilt and bind!  Hope that you enjoyed the pattern!

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  • Carrie

    February 16, 2009 at 2:11 pm | Reply

    Oh super! I’ve wondered what your process was for choosing the borders around the centerpiece fabrics. I’m definitely going to try this down the road!

  • Mal*

    February 16, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Reply

    I LOVE the look of this quilt. Thank you for generously sharing!

  • Cathy

    February 16, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Reply

    Very good tutorial for sparks baby quilt pattern. thank u for sharing! I think I will make one sometimes soon after I catch up my few projects.

  • Katy

    February 16, 2009 at 3:10 pm | Reply

    Awesome – i will be making one of these for sure… Great tutorial.

  • Karen

    February 16, 2009 at 3:36 pm | Reply

    What a great quilt. Thanks for the tutorial!

  • missy

    February 16, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve been admiring your work for some time and have really wanted to try something like this for a quilt for my daughter. I will definitely be making something similar in the near future.

    Thanks again!

  • Maranda

    February 16, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Reply


  • Maria

    February 16, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Reply

    Thank you for getting this pattern to us bloggers…lots of work in writing. Only one question..was is fussy cutting?

    • Alissa

      February 16, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Reply

      Hi Maria! Fussy cutting is when you want to cut out a specific part of the fabric. Rather than just cutting off the size you need, you cut the size you need out of a certain part of the print. Like in the photo you can see I’m cutting out the little tiger. Hope that helps!


  • jacquie

    February 16, 2009 at 5:45 pm | Reply

    great work alissa! pattern writing is definitely not easy. it’s much easier to make it than to write it down so someone else can make it!

  • Jenzycole

    February 16, 2009 at 5:51 pm | Reply

    I will certainly try the our pattern/tutorial and let you know how it goes. Thank You because I was curious of how you put these quilts together and wanted to do one. So we will see, wish me luck.

  • Rachel

    February 16, 2009 at 7:43 pm | Reply

    Thanks so much for the great tutorial!! I have been wanting to make a quilt like this for some time now. I do have one question, on one of the blocks you have the sides being cut to a 3×3 square. Wouldn’t one side have to be 3.5 in order to attach properly to the 3.5 center square? Or is there a special way to attach that or do we cut the center square down? :o)


    • Alissa

      February 16, 2009 at 7:50 pm | Reply

      Eeeek! Rachel you are completely right! I messed up a bit there – corrections made! Thank you so much for pointing that out to me!

  • Randi

    February 16, 2009 at 8:01 pm | Reply

    Wow! It is so great that you took the time to put this together! Thank you.

  • Wendy

    February 16, 2009 at 11:04 pm | Reply

    Thanks so much! I already had the quilt in my “inspiration” folder, now I copied and pasted the directions into a word document to keep with it. I am ready to make it!!!

  • Sarah

    February 17, 2009 at 6:07 am | Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I never would have come up with that method of randomly cutting the sides and tops for off-center middles. Thanks!

  • Janis

    February 17, 2009 at 6:17 am | Reply

    Your quilts are always gorgeous! Your pattern tutorial is very detailed (I’m sure that was a lot of work!). No doubt there will be a lot of new quilts started today!

  • Jackie

    February 17, 2009 at 7:49 am | Reply

    Love the quilt! Great Tutorial.

  • Julia

    February 17, 2009 at 9:52 am | Reply

    Hi Alissa,
    thanks for sharing the pattern for this beautiful quilt…!
    Hugs, Julia

  • Trina

    February 17, 2009 at 10:59 am | Reply

    Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to write out and share this quilt pattern. I’ve been trying to figure out how to recreate it and never got close to anything as simple as cutting a larger block into two pieces randomly. It makes so much sense! I just can’t say thank you enough! Someone should start a flickr group for all those who follow this pattern- I would love to see what everyone else does with it.

  • amandajean

    February 17, 2009 at 3:24 pm | Reply

    thanks for sharing the pattern! pattern writing is fun, huh??? 😉

  • Lee-Anne Gilbert

    February 18, 2009 at 1:15 am | Reply

    OMG Alissa… you are right… it is a lot of work… but you have done well girlfriend!! You are a natural!! Lx

  • Amy

    February 18, 2009 at 5:51 am | Reply

    Thanks for the pattern. I finally “get” how you get you centes to be “randomly” placed… (I am working on somethign similar, but each & every one of my centers is in the “dead center.”)

  • Rebekah

    February 18, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Reply

    Thanks for sharing this pattern! This is such a cute quilt

  • Wendy

    February 18, 2009 at 5:36 pm | Reply

    Absolutely Lovely! And I applaud you for remembering to take so many pictures along the way, makes a pretty and informative post. Thanks

  • Delilah

    February 19, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Reply

    That quilt came out awesome! It inspires me to want to start quilting!

  • Beth

    February 20, 2009 at 4:11 am | Reply

    So beautiful! I can’t wait to give this one a try. Your color choices are so vibrant and the patterns are great together. Thanks for sharing the pattern too.

  • Amy

    February 21, 2009 at 6:10 pm | Reply

    Wow – that DOES look like quite a lot of work. Thank you for doing it. I love the quilt. Actually, I recently copied it (imitation is the truest form of flattery and all). As soon as I get around to the finish work I’ll post pics. Next time I’ll try your pattern and see how far off I was!

  • Denise Felton

    February 23, 2009 at 12:33 pm | Reply

    Precious pattern, wonderful tute! I’ve scheduled a link to your post to go live on my blog tomorrow morning (Central USA time). I hope it brings you a few extra clicks.


  • Sarah your Sister

    March 3, 2009 at 2:38 am | Reply

    LOVE IT!! Now if only I can sit down and calmly work my way through your fab tutorial!! I wish you lived closer so you could just show me!! 🙂

  • Elizabeth

    March 12, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Reply

    LOVE! Thanks so much for the tutorial. My baby might just need another quilt!

  • erin

    March 14, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Reply

    ohhhhh my goodness, i have to make this for our baby (due in july) i just love it. thanks for sharing, it’s a good tutorial!! i’m telling you, this kid is going to be building the most insane blanket forts when he gets old enough. like, he’ll be tenting our whole house.

  • petits détails

    March 24, 2009 at 8:33 am | Reply

    I love your quilts — you have such a way with colors and patterns. Thank you so much for spending the time on this great tutorial and for sharing the pattern! I’ve started making this for my little boy and it’s so fun!

  • nelly

    April 1, 2009 at 11:50 am | Reply

    c’est très joli !
    bonne soirée

  • Emily

    May 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm | Reply

    Just wondered how much fabric is needed for the backing? Thanks!

  • RosaMaria

    May 21, 2009 at 4:53 pm | Reply

    muchas gracias por compartir!!!!
    thanks for sharing!

  • Alissa

    June 16, 2009 at 12:17 pm | Reply

    Great site….let the creative Alissa’s unite. 🙂

  • Amy

    June 21, 2009 at 11:32 am | Reply

    Thank you so much for your great instructions! A friend of mine is expecting, and I decided to make my first quilt for her baby shower…so I googled “first baby quilt pattern” and found your website right away. I thought the off center squares would be the perfect complement to her crib bedding (glennajean.thebabybedding.com/DomainCribBedding.php), and got to pick out some fun fabric. Your directions were fantastic, and I wanted to share a photo of my finished product! (Okay, I’ll admit that I’m sending the pieced front to my mom to do the actual quilting, but I’m easing into the addiction!) Thanks again!


  • Renee

    July 16, 2009 at 5:39 pm | Reply

    That’s cute. I think I’ll try that for my baby cloths quilt. I saved my favorite outfits from my baby’s first year. If anyone else uses clothing for the centers don’t forget the fusible stabilizer on the back.

  • FullertonRegan

    July 28, 2009 at 11:32 am | Reply

    Yay! I googled “Unisex baby quilt” and this came up. I’m so happy it did because not only did you give me great inspiration… you also gave me a free pattern! Thanks for sharing Alissa… I’ll send you a pic of the final project (it’ll be months from now, but it’ll get done).

  • Nova

    September 18, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing. I just made one!


  • filipa

    September 30, 2009 at 7:59 am | Reply

    Fantastic!!! Thank you!

  • Joely

    October 3, 2009 at 9:04 pm | Reply

    thanks so much for a lovely pattern!

  • Carla

    November 3, 2009 at 7:10 pm | Reply

    I love the look of this quilt. Thanks for posting the tutorial. The cream sashing you used give this quilt an antic feel. Very pretty.

  • ann woodward

    December 1, 2009 at 12:16 pm | Reply

    Hello, I am fascinated by the name of your quilt. My maternal ancestors were “Sparks”, and in fact have a “lane” named for them at the site where they established a homestead in Cade;s Cove, Tennessee. During the construction of the TVA, the government bought (under great resistance I am told) each individual property and destroyed all buildings except the Oliver family home. That home is now part of the exhibit in the Cade’s Cove National Park. The Olivers fought the gov’t for years and I am not sure if they ever settled. That could be why the Oliver property is still standing.There are 2 churches in Cade’s Cove, my mother’s family members are buried there.
    Anyway, that’s why I am curious about where the name of your quilt came from.
    Thanks, Ann Woodward

  • Amy

    December 6, 2009 at 5:15 am | Reply

    Love this quilt pattern! I also really love the fabrics you used, can you tell me which ones you used?

  • Melanie

    December 30, 2009 at 10:34 am | Reply

    I finished this in time for a Christmas gift. Check it out! I only changed the outside sashing size.


  • Cindy

    February 21, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Reply

    Thanks for sharing this great pattern. I do have one correction – the top and bottom border dimensions are incorrect – too short to fit the pieced top. They should measure 46.5″ wide instead of 45″. I actually cut mine 4.5″ x 46.5″ so they’d be the same width as my side borders. Otherwise the pattern was very clear and easy to follow. Thanks!

    • Alissa

      February 21, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Reply

      Thanks Cindy! You’re right about that – crazy that it took so long for anyone (or me!) to notice! Will make the changes to the pattern.

  • Mary

    June 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Reply

    I am wondering if you have made this pattern into a queen size quilt and if so, how many extra blocks are required? I’d love to have this quilt for my bed!

  • Laurie

    July 10, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Reply

    I’ve had the fabric for my grandbaby’s quilt for months, and now she’s due any day – this is exactly what I needed – adorable and easy!! 🙂 Off to cut!

  • Emily

    August 11, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Reply

    Finally finished my quilt! Here is a link to a few pics


    Thanks for a great pattern, I’m sure I’ll use it again. I have my eye on those new Kaufman Dr. Seuss prints….

  • Tracy

    August 16, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Reply

    Beautiful quilt and clear directions. I can’t wait to make it. Oooh, must go buy fabric!

  • Kristine

    October 2, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Reply

    Alissa, I love this quilt!!! I can’t wait to try it. Your directions are thorough and easy to understand. I’m going to make a baby quilt for a good friend using your pattern. Starting it this weekend! Wish me luck!

  • Melody

    January 20, 2011 at 10:44 am | Reply

    I LOVE this quilt!! I am going to make one. Thanks so much for the tutorial, it looks great! I do have one question. I want to make a Dr. Seuss version, I think it would work well because there are so many different fabrics in the collection. But, how much fabric should I buy for the blocks? I was thinking to do about two block centers and two block borders out of each print. Would a fat quarter of 10 fabrics be enough for the blocks? Would a “normal” quarter be better than a fat one?
    Thanks again!! 🙂

  • ania.the.map.cutter

    July 14, 2011 at 7:22 am | Reply

    Alissa – thank you so much for sharing this tutorial! I made a little baby quilt with its help last weekend… so so grateful for this resource. Thanks so much! http://papercuthearts.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/what-im-up-to-my-first-quilt/

  • Jess

    October 7, 2011 at 6:20 am | Reply

    Thanks so much for this tutorial – it was so much fun to do :). My interpretation is here: http://theelvengarden.blogspot.com/2011/10/magenta-bird-tree-quilt.html – great pattern, love your work!

  • Corey Milligan

    January 6, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Reply

    I have two questions for this pattern – can I use fat quarters for the blocks? What would your measurements call for, if I want to make a full size? Gorgeous pattern!

  • Lauren

    January 7, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Reply

    Alissa, thank you so much for this great pattern and inspiration. I made my first quilt using this tutorial and it turned out great. Here are the pics of the finished quilt – the mom-to-be loved it!

  • Rhea

    September 1, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Reply

    Hi Alissa, I’m in the process of cutting the pieces to make this quilt and am wondering if there is an error in the pattern or if I’m doing something wrong with the center section of the block. The side pieces plus the center add up to 9.5″ instead of 8.5″. It’s looking like I need to trim a full inch off somewhere, either the center piece or the side frame, but this is not addressed in the pattern. Any advice is appreciated.

    Thank you!

    • Alissa

      September 4, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Reply

      That inch is eaten up in sew allowances when you sew the pieces together. Can’t wait to see your finished quilt!

  • Rhea

    September 1, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Reply

    Oops! I think I just figured it out. Can you tell I’m a first timer? I’ll send pics when it’s completed. I’ve got some really cool fabrics here. Thank you!

    • Alissa

      September 4, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Reply

      Great! Sorry for the delayed reply to your first comment…

  • heather

    November 24, 2012 at 8:50 am | Reply

    The directions are great! I am a visual learner and seeing your great photos was 75% of the help that i needed. Lately, I am on a trend of oddball patchwork blocks (blocks that are a bit left of center ;)MUCH more creative than perfect centering etc. i love the crazy quilt notion that nothing is the exactly the same from block to block.
    Also, when you fussy cut the centers and chose the animals, the blocks really framed in the animals and this was the eye catcher.

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