Have you ever sewn a French braid quilt or quilt block? Also called friendship braids, French braid quilts are sewn from fabric strips in a pattern that gives the illusion of woven strands. This is a very beautiful block that looks great in prints or solids, and it’s also easy enough for beginners!
The block is assembled in very much the same way that you would French braid a person’s hair. The construction is also similar to a log cabin quilt pattern, in that you’ll be doing a lot of starting and stopping, pressing your block in between each strip. For this reason, you may wish to chain stitch three or four French braid rows at the same time, to save a little bit of time spend moving fabric on or off the machine.
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Are you ready to learn how to make a French braid quilt?
I’m going to share two methods. The first method uses any ruler and the second method minimizes fabric waste with a special ruler. Let’s get started!
Method 1: Use any ruler
Cut 2½” x WOF strips of three or more fabrics.
You can also use pre-cut fabric strips like 2½” strips. Subcut the WOF strips into 7″ strips. You should get six strips of each color. (If you’d like a wider block, you can cut your strips to 10″, giving you four strips of each color.)
Lay out the strips as pictured, alternating them so no two strips of the same fabric touch. You can use as many strips as you’d like, depending on the height of your quilt. For this tutorial, I’m just demonstrating the technique using several strips.
Starting at the bottom of the block, flip the bottom left fabric (my dark one) over the tip of the bottom right fabric (my granny square fabric ). Pin in place and stitch where the strips intersect. Press the seam downward toward the bottom of the block and flip the strips back to their original position.
Choose the strip that’s just above the seam you just sewed. In this case, it’s the solid pink strip. Flip the strip down over top of the strips you just joined. Pin the strip in place and stitch ¼” from the edge. Press the seam down toward the bottom of the block.
Continue this way, working your way to the top of the block to join all of the strips.
When you are out of strips, it’s time to trim! To trim the block, line up your ruler on the right side and cut off all of the points to form a straight edge. Flip your block and repeat on the other side. Square up the top and bottom of your block to form a rectangle.
Method 2: Use the binding tool
If you liked the last French braid quilt tutorial, you’re in for a treat. I’d like to now share a second method, which uses the binding tool ruler from TQM products.
I learned about this technique from Missouri Star Quilt Co., and I just had to give it a try! The benefit of using this ruler is that you can maximize your fabric while getting a block that’s a bit wider.
Place one 2½” x WOF strip in front of you. Line up the straight edge of the binding tool ruler with one short end of the fabric strip and cut at the angle. Now, rotate the ruler so the angle matches up with the angle of the fabric and cut again (this time, along the straight edge).
You should be able to cut five of these pieces from one WOF strip.
Now, arrange your fabric pieces as pictured. You may have to play around to find a piece that’s the right color and pointing in the same direction, since the fabric strips are cut at two different angles. Follow the French braid quilt tutorial above to join the strips. At the end, you will only trim the top and bottom of your block.
Examples of French braid quilts
Our free Batik Braid mug rug uses thin strips of batik fabric and then turns the small quilt top into a handy mug rug.
Photo via Bluprint member Pure Joy Patterns
Some French braid quilts have small squares, or cornerstones, between the strips. In this variation, you can see that strips are directly across from a strip in a matching color.
Have you ever made a French braid quilt? What method would you choose?
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