I Spy Quilt Tutorial

Have you ever played the classic game “I spy with my little eye” with your kids or grandkids?  Why not make them an I spy quilt?  

An I Spy Quilt or Mat is the perfect interactive quilt for toddlers to learn to identify objects and older children to spend time searching for the objects.

I Spy Quilt Tutorial - FB


What is an I Spy Quilt?

These quilts usually contain many different objects and pictures, so the child plays I Spy with what is found on the quilt. As well as being useful, these quilts can be used as an educational floor mat for little ones.

Many quilters who make I Spy quilts spend a lot of time and money collecting pictorial and novelty quilting fabric in order to make the quilt.  But with the I Spy Panel - Spring designed by Anne Kelle from Robert Kaufman Fabric creating an I spy quilt is fast, easy, simple, and extremely CUTE.  

Where can you purchase the I Spy Panel?  At the end of this post are some links.

Today’s I Spy quilt pattern was inspired by an I Spy Play Mat featured on Anne Kelle’s website.  However, I decided to revise the pattern in order to use more of the adorable characters on the front of the quilt.  

Besides this I Spy quilt, another fun, traditional quilt for a baby is our windy pinwheel quilt.  Also, check out our toddler and baby quilt patterns and projects page for over 15 free projects.

So, let’s get started with my version of an I spy quilt.  Learn how to sew it up with this tutorial and video.

Printable PDF Version - Keep reading for a free version of this tutorial. If you would like to purchase an ad free printable version of this tutorial, please visit our Etsy Shop listing for I Spy Quilt Tutorial. For a small fee, you can purchase a PDF downloadable version of this tutorial. #ad

COMPLETE VIDEO TUTORIAL AVAILABLE! The video below is a preview with no audio, to watch the whole video tutorial, click the link I Spy Quilt Tutorial to watch in Youtube.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. We make a small commission on sales through the affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your purchase and your support! Please see our full Affiliate Statement for more information.

I Spy Quilt Finished.JPG

how to play the I SPY game with the quilt

Toddlers will enjoy pointing (or have you point) to the item on the quilt and learning the name of the object.  For older children, to play the game with the quilt, ask the child to find an object and let them search for it.

how to make this I Spy Quilt

With this tutorial, you can sew a fun I Spy Quilt for a kiddo in no time.  Or make it as a gift for a newborn or baby shower.

Even a quilting newbie can make this I spy quilt.  If you can sew a straight line - you can do it! The entire quilt is made with quilt squares and half-square triangles, which make assembly easy.

Skill Level: Beginners
Finished Quilt Size: 33 1/2" x 33 1/2"

I Spy Quilt Supplies.JPG

to make the quilt top you need:

  • I Spy Panel - Spring from Robert Kaufman Fabric
  • 1 - Blue Fat Quarter
  • 1 - Pink Fat Quarter
  • 1 - Yellow Fat Quarter
  • 1 - Green Fat Quarter
  • 1/4 yard White Fabric
  • 1/2 yard Fabric for Inside Border and Binding
  • Rotary Cutter, Ruler, and Mat
  • 4 1/2" Triangle Square Up Ruler
  • Sewing Machine
  • Pencil
  • Basic Sewing Supplies

I Spy Panel Note:  Robert Kaufman Fabric has two Ann Kelle I Spy panel colors - Spring and Bermuda.  To replicate this I spy quilt use the I Spy Spring Panel.

to finish the quilt you need:

  • Batting
  • Fabric for the Quilt Back

Seam allowance 1/4" unless otherwise specified.

When designing a quilt, the first thing I do is draw the design on graph paper.  Here is a look at my I Spy Quilt design. I Spy Quilt Pattern.JPG After designing, it was time to put the quilt together.

INSTRUCTIONS for sewing our I spy quilt

I Spy Quilt Free Pattern 2.JPG

STEP 1: cut panel apart

The first step is to cut the quilt panel blocks apart into 3 ½” squares.  

I Spy Quilt Half Square Triangles FabricsCut Panel.JPG After cutting all the theme block squares, stack the squares into piles according to color and set them aside to use later when assembling the quilt top. I Spy Quilt Cut Image Blocks.JPG

STEP 2: half-square triangles units

Next, let’s assemble the half-square triangle units needed for the quilt. I Spy Quilt Cut Squares.JPG Cut fabric as follows:

3 – 4” squares blue fabric
3 – 4” squares pink fabric
3 – 4” squares yellow fabric
3 – 4” squares green fabric
12 – 4” squares white fabric

I Spy Quilt Half Square Triangles Mark.JPG To assemble the half-square triangles, begin by drawing a diagonal line with a pencil from one corner to the opposite corner on the wrong side of all the white 4” squares.    If you don’t have a quarter inch pressure foot, draw two more lines one of each side ¼” from the original line.

Let begin assembling the half-square triangle units.  You may want to check out our comprehensive video and photo tutorial with step by step instructions on how to make half-square triangles.I Spy Quilt Half Square Triangles Fabrics.JPG Place one white square on top of one color square with edges matching and right sides together.  Use a pin to hold the two pieces together securely.I Spy Quilt Half Square Triangles Sew.JPG Sew two seams ¼” away from the pencil marked line one on each side with a ¼” presser foot.  If you don’t have the ¼” presser foot, sew along the lines you draw on either side of the centerline.

I Spy Quilt Half Square Triangles Pin.JPG

 Cut the unit in half along the diagonal pencil line. I Spy Quilt Half Square Triangles Cut.JPG

Next, trim the unit to the exact size needed.  For the quilt we want 3 1/2" squares.  So, place a triangle square up ruler on the triangle unit with the 3 1/2” marking for the finished block size along the seam.  Trim away the excess fabric.I Spy Quilt Half Square Triangles Trim.JPG

Before opening the unit, set the seam.  This simply means to press the seam flat before pressing it open or to one side. 

Then open the block, right side up.  With the tip of the iron, carefully press along the seam making sure the seam allowance is pressed toward the darker color. Cut off the dog ears.I Spy Quilt Half Square Triangles.JPG Two half-square triangle units are finished.  Continue making half-square triangles units with all the squares.  When you are finished you should have:
6 – blue/white units
6 – pink/white units
6 – yellow/white units
6 – green/white units

STEP 3: assembling sections

For assembling the quilt, doing it in sections make it easier and less likely to have an assembly error.  So let’s begin with the blue section.  To make this section you will need 7 blue object colored squares, three white object squares, and the blue half-square triangle units. 

I Spy Quilt Block Assembly.JPG

Refer to the I Spy pattern, on a flat work surface begin arranging them according to the diagram place the half-square triangles and the white object squares in their appropriate place.  Then put the blue object square and rearrange them until you have an eye-catching display. 

Begin by piecing together individual rows.  Take one row of squares at a time to the sewing machine and sew them together.  Then, sew the rows together forming the blue square section.  Continue constructing each section - the pink, yellow, and green sections.

Here is a look at my sections.I Spy Quilt Block 1.JPGBLUEI Spy Quilt Block 2.JPGPINKI Spy Quilt Block 3.JPGYELLOWI Spy Quilt Block 4.JPGGREEN

There are not seven green and yellow squares so when doing these sections you need to include some other colors.

STEP 4: sew center units together

The blue, pink, yellow, and green sections need to be sewn together.  To do this, sew the blue and pink sections together and the yellow and green sections together.

Then, join these two units together and the center of the quilt is complete.

STEP 5: Inside border

A border (or borders) is a strip (or strips) of fabric that frames the edges of the quilt center.  Our I Spy quilt will have two borders - a plain inside border and a pieced outside border.  The inside border is first.

For this I Spy Quilt, purchase a fun, colorful fabric for the inside border and the binding. I chose this fun striped fabric that complimented the other fabrics and colors of the quilt.

I Spy Quilt Binding.JPG From the inside border fabric cut:
2 strips - 2” x 24 ½”
2 strips – 2” x 27 ½”

Begin by sewing the side borders to the centerpiece and then finish with the top and bottom border. 

To start, fold the first 2" x 24 1/2" border strip and mark the middle with a pin.  Fold it again and mark the quarter points with a pin.  Also, mark the middle and quarter points on the quilt side edge with pins.

Pin the middle of the border to the middle of the quilt. Next, pin each end and then the quarter points together.  I am sure you already realize but I thought I better mention that you are pinning with right sides together.

Sew and press the seam toward the border.  Do the same on the opposite side with the other 2" x 24 1/2" strip.

Now, just repeat the process for the top and bottom border using the 2" x 27 1/2" strips.

STEP 6: outside border

Wanting to showcase more of the character-themed blocks, a pieced outside border was the answer.  This border is an interesting extension of the pieced top adding beauty and balance to the main attraction.

I Spy Quilt Fabrics.JPG
To make the outside border you need the following pieces of fabric:
16 – White 3 ½” object squares
2 – 3 ½” x 9 ½” blue rectangles
2 – 3 ½” x 9 ½” pink rectangles
2 – 3 ½” x 9 ½” yellow rectangles
2 – 3 ½” x 9 ½” green rectangles

Let’s begin sewing the outside pieced borders together. I Spy Quilt Finished Top.JPG Refer to the diagram for the color arrangement and placement of the object squares when sewing the borders together.  Be careful when sewing the object squares on the left and right side borders.  You want them facing in the correct direction. 

Here is the order for sewing the borders:

Left Side  – object square, green rectangle, object square, yellow rectangle, object square

Right Side – object square, yellow rectangle, object square, green rectangle, object square

Top – Object square, object square, blue rectangle, object square, pink rectangle, object square, object square

Bottom – Object square, object square, pink rectangle, object square, blue rectangle, object square, object square

To sew this border to the quilt top, repeat the same process that was used to sew on the inside borders.  Sew the sides first and then finally the top and bottom borders.  

 A NOTE:  You will have four character-themed squares left which can be used on the back of the quilt.

STEP 7: finishing

The quilt top is finished. 

The final step is to hand quilt or machine quilt and sew the binding on using your favorite method. We have many tutorials on different types and ways to sew binding to a quilt.  

For my quilt, I used straight-line quilting

I Spy Quilt Close up 1.JPG

AND stitch in the ditch.

I Spy Quilt Close Up 2.JPG

Stitch in the ditch or ditch quilting is a style of machine quilting that simply follows along the seam lines of the quilt top.  There are two common ways - stitching in the seamline where the two quilt fabric join or as close as possible to the seam.  Here is a stitch in the ditch tutorial.I Spy Quilt Finished 2.JPG

Use our binding calculator to figure out the number of strips to cut for creating the binding for this quilt.

I  love how the  I Spy Quilt turned out and my great-grandson, Elijah, loves it too.  He is continuously pointing to the objects and learning their names.  And of course, the sounds some of them make.

Think about making one for your child or grandkid!  I have decided this is now going to be one of my go-to handmade gift for a baby shower.

How to Enlarge the I Spy Quilt?

Simple!  You can enlarge it by adding another border or two. hopes you enjoyed this I Spy Quilt project.  We are always happy to get feedback from our guests.  Just contact us.

Happy Quilting!

I Spy Quilt Finished 4.JPG

Printable PDF Version - If you would like to purchase an ad free printable version of this tutorial, please visit our Etsy Shop listing for I Spy Quilt Tutorial. For a small fee, you can purchase a PDF downloadable version of this tutorial. #ad


If you have any questions about this project, contact us through the YouTube Video comments or our Contact Us page. We respond to questions in e-mails and YouTube comments regularly.

A Few Popular Free Quilt Patterns for Kids

Baby Crib Quilt - fbBaby Crib Quilt Tutorial - Looking for another beginner quilt tutorial?  Check out this wonderful baby quilt pattern.

Strip Quilt TutorialStrip Quilt Tutorial - This quilt is a quick, easy and time-saving way to whip up a quilt and is the ultimate quilt for beginner quilters.

Easy Sailboat quilt Block patternSailboat Quilt Block Pattern - The sailboat block is easy and fun. Create an awesome baby quilt, boy quilt or nautical themed nursery.

Woodland Animals Baby QuiltThis fast 3-yard quilt is perfect for a baby quilt.

Pinwheel Quilt - Pinwheel quilts are popular baby quilts.

Supporting Products and links: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. We make a small commission on sales through the affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your purchase and your support! Please see our full Affiliate Statement for more information.

I Spy Panel

I Spy Panel #ad

There are two "I Spy" panels. "Spring" was used in this tutorial. "Bermuda" is very similar panel with a little different color option. Affiliate Link to Etsy

I Spy Pattern Layout - PDF

I Spy Pattern Layout - PDF PDF

This is a PDF of the layout image for the pattern.

I-Spy Panel - Spring

I-Spy Panel - Spring #ad

100% Cotton Novelty I-Spy Panel. by Ann Kelle from Robert Kaufman Fabric - Each Panel is approximately 24 x 42 inches. Each Square is about 4 inches x 4 inches. Affiliate Link to Etsy

I-Spy Panel - Spring

I-Spy Panel - Spring #ad

Adorable I-Spy Panel from Ann Kelle for Robert Kaufman Fabrics. One panel measures approximately 24"x42". There are a total of 60 squares on the panel, each square measures approx. 4"x4". Affiliate Link to Etsy

OLFA 18-Inch x 24-Inch Self-Healing Double-Sided Rotary Mat

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Use only rotary cutters and blades,Suitable for any small to medium size project Affiliate Link to

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Purchase rotary cutters at Check out their selection. Affiliate Link to

Sewing Scissors

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A huge selection of sewing scissors are available at Affiliate Link to

Triangle Square Up Ruler, 4 1/2"

Triangle Square Up Ruler, 4 1/2" #ad

Easily square up triangles in seven sizes: 1-1/2 Inch 2 Inch 2-1/2 Inch 3 Inch 3- 1/2 Inch 4 Inch and 4-1/2 Inch Affiliate Link to Amazon

I Spy Quilt Tutorial - pin

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