Have you been searching for panel quilt ideas? I know what it's like to have a panel you love but then you don't know what to do with it!
This free panel quilt pattern is quick and easy to sew and will work with most panels. With only four coordinating fabrics and a couple of hours, you can have borders added to your panel.
The finished quilt size is approximately 32" x 48" so the finished quilt can be a large wall hanging or a small child's quilt. Add additional border(s) to make the quilt larger.
The printed panel is the main feature of this quilt. Look for fabrics from the same fabric line as the panel as these would be ideal for the pieced border. If those fabrics are not available, select some fabrics that will match the panel colors and theme.
One of the fabrics can be a "feature" fabric. This fabric can be fussy cut for the smaller blocks around the outer border. For the sunflower quilt, the sunflowers on the border were fussy cut. On the James & the Giant Peach quilt, the motifs fabric was fussy cut to center the images in the blocks.
The seams of the outer border overlap in the corners to wrap around the quilt. These are sewn together with partial seams. This looks difficult to sew, but I will show you a simple way to assemble the quilt and require only one partial seam!
Keep reading for the free pattern or click the link below to watch the video tutorial for assembling this quilt top.
The full tutorial is available for free on this page, but if you'd prefer a printable, ad-free version of this pattern, click the link below to purchase one from our Etsy shop for a small fee.
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Evolution of this Quilt Pattern
A few years ago, I purchased the sunflower "You are my Sunshine" quilt panel. I don't usually purchase panels because, like a lot of quilters, I have trouble figuring out what to do with them.
I already had the black fabric with the happy cute bees and really liked that fabric. It just always makes me smile to see those cute little bees! Sunflowers are also one of my favorite flowers. So when I saw this panel, I had to purchase it.
Next was trying to figure out what to do with the panel to make a quilt or wall hanging. I found a photo on the Timeless Treasures site of the Message Board pattern by Jill Boyd, The Quilt Chef. I'm not sure why, but I was unable to find the actual pattern instructions even though I Google searched for them. As of the writing of this tutorial, Jill is now selling a Message Board 2.0 pattern on her site. The pattern can be viewed and purchased through the link provided above.
Since I couldn't find the pattern for sale, I decided to make my own version using the original pattern as inspiration. My version is simpilified by removing the white borders around the blocks. I had to figuring out the measurements needed for the different blocks and borders.
I ended up with the quilt shown above and am impressed with how it turned out. Before quilting the layers, I used a trapunto technique on the bees and flower centers on the panel sections. This makes those sections pop forward as they are puffy.
It is hard to see in the photos, but maybe you can see how the flower center & happy bee is puffy. This sunflower quilt ended up being approximately 29" x 48".
After making this sunflower quilt wall hanging, I found the James & the Giant Peach panel and decided to use a similar pattern for this quilt panel.
I only had three coordinating fabrics for the new panel, so I changed the side borders to have three fabrics. I kept the overlapping, partial seams, on the corners of the outer border. Don't worry, this is not difficult to sew!
I wanted to add more width than height so I changed the border measurements so the side borders of both inner and outer borders are larger than the top and bottom borders.
I hope you enjoy this panel quilt idea and free pattern and use it to make some panel quilts for yourself!
If you are new to quilting and need more detailed instructions than are provided in this tutorial, please visit our Beginner Quilt Series pages.
Panel Quilt with Pieced Border
Quilt Finished Size: 32 x 48 (approximate)
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Seam Allowance: 1/4"
WHAT YOU NEED for this panel quilt pattern
- Approx 24" Fabric Panel trimmed to 22-1/2" x 42-1/2"
- 1/4 yard fabric for inner border
- 1/2 yard each fabric 1 (orange) and fabric 2 (yellow)
- 1/4 - 1/2 yard of fabric 3 (blue) motif fabric - purchase more if fussy cutting sections of fabric for the motifs.
- 1-1/2 yard backing fabric
- 1-1/2 yard batting - I used cream flannel but use your favorite batting.
- Fabric(s) for Binding - amounts will depend on the type of binding, see binding step.
- Rotary cutter, ruler, mat
- Iron and Ironing Board
- Sewing Machine, Thread, Pins and Scissor
INSTRUCTIONS To make a panel quilt with a pieced border
STEP 1: Download FREE Layout Image PDF
We have created a PDF with the layout diagram and cutting instructions. Click the link to download Panel Quilt with Pieced Border - Layout and Cutting Instructions PDF.
The layout diagram shows the locations of each fabric, 1 - 3, with color codings.
- Fabric 1 = orange with circles
- Fabric 2 = yellow
- Fabric 3 = blue - motif
- Fabric 4 = purple (inner border)
The cutting and assembly instructions refer to the colors on the diagram.
What if my panel is wider than 24"
Panels come in different widths and this pattern is designed for panels that can be trimmed to 22-1/2" x 42-1/2".
If your panel is larger, you can still use this pattern by adding extra width to the yellow and orange pieces in the top and bottom border and also to the inner border strips.
The 1-1/2" inner border strips (fabric 4 - purple) will need to be cut 1-1/2" x (Width of Panel) to accommodate larger panels. Trim it to the width of your panel.
The 2-1/2" outer border, fabric 1 (orange) and fabric 2 (yellow) length will need to be adjusted. For example if your panel can be trimmed to 35-1/2" x 42-1/2", there is an additional 13". These 13 inches can be split between the yellow and orange fabrics. So, those pieces would be cut 2-1/2" x 20-1/4".
Additional Width = (Width of Panel - 22-1/2) / 2
New Length to Cut Strips = 13-3/4 + Additional Width
Additional Width = (35-1/2" - 22-1/2) / 2 = 13
New Length to Cut Strips = 13-3/4 + 6.5 = 20-1/4
So, in this case instead of cutting 2 strips from Fabric 1 & 2 at 13-3/4" x 2-1/2", the two strips of each fabric would be cut 20-1/4" x 2-1/2".
STEP 2: Cut the fabrics for the borders
Trim the panel to be 22-1/2 x 42-1/2.
Cut the remaining fabric pieces according to the following list:
Fabric 1 - Orange (fabric with oranges)
Cut 2 - 20-1/2 x 3-1/2
Cut 2 - 13-3/4 x 2-1/2
Fabric 2 - Yellow (fabric with yellow background)
Cut 2 - 20-1/2 x 3-1/2
Cut 2 - 13-3/4 x 2-1/2
Fabric 3 - Blue (motif fabric with large images)
Fussy Cut 2 - 6-1/2 x 3-1/2
Fussy Cut 2 - 2-1/2 x 2-1/2
If you do not have a motif fabric, this fabric can be cut as the other fabrics.
Fabric 4 - Purple (orange and yellow stripe fabric) - used for inner border
Cut 2 - 22-1/2 x 1-1/2 - top & bottom border
Cut 3 - 2-1/2 x WOF (width of fabric) - left & right side borders
The photo above shows the trimmed panel and the pieces cut for the two borders.
Step 3: Add the inner border
All seams for this quilt are sewn with a 1/4" seam allowance. For piecing the quilt top together, use white or cream thread in the sewing machine. Set the machine to a straight stitch at the normal length.
A 1/4" piecing foot is helpful to get the seams the correct size. If you do not have a 1/4" foot, then use your standard foot and the 1/4" guide on your sewing machine.
Begin by adding the top and bottom inner borders to the quilt. This is fabric #4 indicated by the purple color on the diagram. The top and bottom borders are 1-1/2" strips.
Pin one of the 1-1/2" x 22-1/2" strips along the top of the quilt panel with the right sides of the fabric facing together. Align the edges of the fabrics along the top and sides of the border fabric. Sew the border to the quilt panel with a 1/4" seam allowance.
Iron the seams towards either the border or the panel. For this quilt, they can be ironed in either direction.
Add the inner bottom border to the quilt panel.
The 2-1/2" WOF side border strips are probably not long enough to cover the entire side border.
To make the borders long enough, use the third inner border strip (2-1/2" x WOF) and cut it in half. This will make two pieces approximately 2-1/2" x 22".
Sew one piece of the cut strip to each of the 2-1/2" border strips. This will make borders long enough to cover the sides of the quilt top.
Since my border fabric is a striped pattern, I joined the strips using a straight seam. This made the seam practically invisible since it was sewn along the stripes in the fabric.
The seams can also be joined with a mitered seam. I would usually use a mitered seam for joining most border fabrics together. If you need instructions on joining fabrics together with mitered seams, please see our How to Join Quilt Binding Strips tutorial.
Sew the side borders onto the quilt top.
Iron the side borders open and the seams in the same direction as the top and bottom borders.
The first border is complete!
Step 4: Piece the Outer Border
The next step is to piece the outer border together. This will use the pieces cut from fabrics 1, 2 and 3.
Using the diagram as a reference, lay the pieces in the correct order for the top, bottom and side borders.
For example, the top outer border in the diagram shows an order of yellow (fabric 2), blue (fabric 3) and orange (fabric 1). This is the 3rd strip shown in the photo below.
If there are directional fabrics, be sure to pay attention to the fabric direction when laying out the strips. For the 3rd and 4th strip in the photo below (top and bottom border), the motif is placed right side up.
The first two strips in the above photo are for the left and right sides. Notice that the blue is on the top of the quilt on the left and the bottom of the quilt on the right.
So, when laying out those two strips for the side borders, the motif fabric was placed in opposite directions for each strip. This way when they are sewn to the quilt, the motifs will be facing upright.
Sew the seams between the pieces in each border strip together with a 1/4" seam. Press the seams to one side.
Step 5: Sew the outer Pieced border to the quilt
Adding this border onto the quilt is a little harder than the first border. Looking closely at the layout, notice that the top border on the left corner overlaps across the left border.
But this left border is not added yet! How do we sew this? Each corner of this quilt has an overlap like this and these are called partial seams.
What is a partial seam in quilting?
When the borders or pieces on a block overlap each other and cannot be sewn completely, it is called a partial seam. To complete the block or border, the seam is sewn but stopped about 1/2" from the end. The other pieces are sewn around the quilt or block. The last piece will be sewn to end where the partial seam ended.
Then the first piece with the partial seam is put into place and the section of the seam skipped earlier is sewn to complete the seam.
Pay attention to the direction the pieces are sewn to the block or quilt. If you go in one direction, you will end up with only one partial seam to sew. If you add the pieces in the other direction, you will end up with four partial seams to sew!
For example in the quilt we are making, if you sew the right side on after the top and then continue with the bottom and finally the left, then there is only one partial seam.
Try that in the other direction and sew the top first, then the left side, bottom and right side. You will end up having to sew four partial seams!
Easy way to sew the outer border onto the quilt with the partial seams
To sew on this border, start with the top border. Place the border onto the quilt top with fabric right sides together and align the right side of the border strip with the right side of the quilt (see in photo below).
Pin the border across the quilt. Place two pins about 1/2" - 3/4" from the left side of the quilt top. This reminds you where to stop stitching. The seam needs to be left open enough on the left side of the quilt top to sew the left border on.
There will be extra border fabric hanging off the left side of the quilt! This is expected.
Sew the top border onto the quilt with a 1/4" seam allowance stopping at the double pins. Back tack at the end to secure. Press this border open and the seam to one side.
Continue with the right side border. Take the right border and place it on the quilt top with the right sides together. This border will align with the top and bottom of the quilt top. The top of the border will overlap across the top border just sewn onto the quilt (see photo below).
The bottom of the right border will end at the bottom of the quilt top (see photo below). Pin, sew and press this border.
Continue with the bottom border in the same way. See the photo above to see how the bottom border overlaps across the right side border.
The left border is added last in the same way as the right and bottom borders. This border will end at the top of the quilt by the partial seam.
Finally, finish sewing the partial seam by laying it down across the left border and finishing the seam.
The finished partial seam is shown below. That wasn't too hard!
Step 6: The Panel quilt top is complete
Give the entire quilt top a good pressing to make sure all of the seams are pressed and the quilt is ready for layering and basting.
If you would like a larger quilt, another border or two could be added around this quilt.
Step 7: Cut the Backing and batting
Cut the piece of backing and batting fabric to be at least 3" - 4" larger than the quilt top all the way around.
Since the quilt is approximately 32" wide, the backing fabric should not need to be seamed together as it's wider than the quilt.
I used cream flannel for the batting of this quilt. I don't usually use flannel for batting but this quilt will be donated to Comfort Cases. The quilt needs to be able to be rolled into a small roll and the flannel provides warmth but also will roll smaller than traditional batting.
So, use your favorite batting for this quilt. I usually use Warm and Natural batting.
Step 8: Pin the layers
Layer and baste your quilt using your favorite method. I prefer to pin baste my quilts. I am just more comfortable with this method than spray basting.
If you would like to learn how to Layer and Pin Baste a Quilt, follow the link to our tutorial on this process.
Step 9: machine quilt the layers together
Selecting how to quilt the layers together can be difficult with a panel quilt. You want the panel to stand out and not be hidden by the quilting.
I will usually select a minimal quilting method for my panel quilts. For the sunflower quilt shown earlier, I added some echo quilting in the black areas around the words, bees and sunflowers. This allowed the trapunto and the panel to stand out.
For this quilt, I decided to sew straight lines through the panel section of the quilt. The two close-together lines were spaced 1/2" apart. Then there is about 2-1/2" between the double lines.
I used my favorite Clover Chaco Liner Pen to mark the lines. These mark the lines quickly and easily.
Below the photo shows the panel with the pins and markings. The borders have not been marked yet.
To sew the lines, a walking foot is recommended. The walking foot helps to make sure the top and backing of the quilt move through the machine at the same rate.
I used a variegated green/yellow/blue cotton quilting thread for the quilting of this quilt. I carefully sewed through the layers of the quilt following along the marked lines.
For some extra tips and instructions on How to machine quilt, click the link. Below shows the lines quilted onto the panel section.
For the borders around the quilt, I decided to quilt horizontal lines approximately 1" apart. I used a short ruler to measure and a chalk marker to mark the lines.
Below shows part of the quilt borders marked.
For the side borders and the short lines, I stitched one continuous line to keep from having a lot of thread ends. Start at the edge of the quilt and stitch towards the panel. At the panel, turned 90 degrees and stitch-in-the-ditch along the very edge of the panel to the next line then pivot 90 degrees and stitched back to the quilt edge. Turn 90 degrees again and stitch along the batting off the edge of the quilt to the next line.
Continue in this back-and-forth pattern down the entire side of the quilt. In the photo below, I'm pointing at the stitch-in-the-ditch along the edge of the panel.
Below shows a portion of the quilt with the panel and borders quilted. Stright lines were stitched across the top and bottom borders.
And below is a view of the finished quilt with a closeup of the quilting.
Step 10: Square the Quilt
After the quilt has been machine quilted, it's time to square the quilt. Click the link for a tutorial on How to Square Up your Quilt Top.
Squaring up a quilt top is the process of removing the extra batting and backing around the edges of the quilt and also making the quilt as "square" on the corners as possible.
Step 11: Binding the quilt
The last step in creating this quilt is to add a binding. My favorite binding is the Flange Binding and I used it on this quilt. This binding is sewn on completely by machine and requires no hand sewing. Click the link above for our tutorial on this method of binding.
The flange binding uses two fabrics and a bit of the "flange" shows on the front of the quilt.
The Quick Quilt Binding also requires no hand sewing and uses only one fabric. If you prefer a Traditional Quilt Binding, this is also an option and uses one fabric.
Use our binding calculator to figure out the number of strips to cut for creating the binding for this quilt.
Step 12: Add A Quilt Label
Don't forget to add a label to your quilt! Many quilts do not have labels and it's unfortunate because we do not know who made the quilt.
If you need ideas for how to label your quilt, visit our page Modern Quilt Labels and Tags.
I hope you enjoyed this panel quilt idea and free pattern. Below we have some other panel quilt ideas you may be interested in.
Printable PDF Version - If you would like to purchase an ad free printable version of this tutorial, please visit our
Etsy Shop listing for Pieced Border Panel Quilt with Free Pattern.
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.
Additional Panel Quilt Ideas