Sunday, February 5, 2012

Giving Tube Quilting A Whirl

I recently saw a blog post about a technique called "tube quilting" and a video tutorial done by the Missouri Quilt Company to demonstrate how it's done. Being a new quilter, I'm all about "easier is better" so I watched the video and decided to give it a shot.

In a nutshell, the technique involves stitching together two narrow strips of fabric, adding a wide strip face-to-face with the panel of narrow strips, and stitching seams on both sides forming a tube. You then use a ruler to make 45-degree cuts along the tube, forming triangles that open up into pretty blocks.

The blocks can then be formed into a four-square in various ways, creating simple patterns like the double hourglass.

Sounds simple, right? Actually, it is!

My mom's birthday is coming up right after Valentine's Day so I decided to make a runner using this technique for the long counter she has in her bathroom. I selected three fabrics out of my stash, cut the strips needed, re-cut the wide strip because I measured wrong, then started stitching.

Once I watched the video again to be sure I understood how to use the square ruler to make the 45-degree cuts (remember, I'm a total newbie) , I laid out my fabric tube and started cutting, ending up with lots of blocks like these:

(Notice the color difference between the above pic and all the other pics? That's the difference between natural light and artificial light. Crazy, huh?)

Then I started piecing the four-square blocks, ending up with mismatched seams and wonky edges. I had decided that the runner would have three four-square blocks with a 3-inch border/sashing, so my three blocks were ripped apart and restitched with more careful seam-pinning.

Perfect! The blocks looked much better, and after some careful measuring and cutting, they were beautiful nine-inch blocks just ready for some border. I cut the strips for the border, neglecting to measure the overall length to be sure I had enough, and sure as shooting...I was short a few inches. Here's where I stand now:

So...what's a girl to do? After a lot of hair-pulling and head-scratching, I decided to put together a simple four-square for each corner of the border, eliminating the need for several inches of border fabric.

I've already tried making those four-squares several times using different measurements, but I think I have the math right now and am ready to tackle them again today (can you tell that math wasn't my best subject in school?). Wish me luck!

Note: I know that a year from now I'll cringe when I see this project, but it's a good exercise for me to attempt to create without a pattern. My mom will smile and say she loves it (even if she thinks it's butt-ugly) and my self-esteem will be restored. ;o)

If you're not familiar with tube quilting and would like to see the video, you can check it out here:



  1. Maybe if you drew it all out on the computer or paper...would help you to visualize, before cutting fabric. I do it for everything, when I'm not working from a pattern. It helps me to catch mistakes in measuring and then I follow my recipe :)
    Keep working at it...I'm cheering you!

  2. Hi Pam,
    "Snoodles" here...just hopped over to say hello and follow. I've not seen that technique before, so thank you for sharing. :) I agree with Susie above -- my sketch book and my eraser are my best friends when I'm not working off a "real" pattern. 'Course, I think my sketches are good patterns, but you know what I mean! LOL
    Keep hanging in looks really nice in the pictures - let us see it when it's done?

  3. Hey Pam!
    I've decided to do this one along with you. I think its just perfect for a kick start back into quilting...thanks!