Anatomy of a Quilt, Day One

I'm a purist. Words mean things. Don't call a quilt block a "square". It is a BLOCK. Don't call sashing a "border." It's not. As you can see by the quilt image below, parts are parts and they each have a name.

A lot more than blocks make up a quilt. All quilts are composed of many different elements that are all vital. Not all quilts contain the same elements but have a mix of the items I illustrate here. This has been published multiple times in Quilt Magazine over the years and was also in my first book, Bold, Black and Beautiful (AQS, 2004)

Appliqué block
A background piece of fabric with designs of smaller pieces of fabric stitched onto it by hand or machine sewing. These designs often have curved elements, such as flowers, leaves, or landscape.

A good example of this is my Memory Bouquet quilt. You can read my blog post from October here. All 20 of the blocks (which are rectangles, btw) are appliquéd. No piecing. This really is a beautiful quilt and one of my favorites. I still sell the pattern in my Etsy shop.
Memory Bouquet Quilt
And a single block from that quilt, which was a giveaway in my contest.
Lily of the Valley block
And here's a digital image from my 2006 Block a Day Calendar using 9 of the blocks:

9 Block Memory Bouquet Quilt
Another vintage appliqué block I redrafted for today's fabric is the Friendship Plume. This is a 16" block. First a pic of two vintage quilts from my magazine days:

Antique Friendship Plume quilts
And my single block on a flanged pillow:

Friendship Plume Pillow
Now let's talk about pieced blocks.

Pieced Block
Various shapes of fabric stitched together into a larger unit. These form a design and can also be stitched by hand or machine. Many non-quilters can't understand how we take a perfectly good piece of fabric and cut it up - only to stitch it back together! Makes perfect sense to me.

Here's some of that fabric that I'm about to cut up:

Sunburst fabrics in square motifs
Yes, I really did cut it up. It's going to be a Trip Around the World quilt.
Lotsa squares
It's going to be much more fun with the addition of those blenders/solids!
Sunburst Trip Around the World quilt
Now, that's not technically a pieced block, but a bunch of pieces make up the whole Trip Around the World. Let's look at a few other pieced blocks:

This is from my Galaxy of Stars Block of the Month in 2015. The center star is 24" square! This is made of squares, half square and quarter square triangles.

Woven Star: 24" square
Here's the entire quilt. All pieced (some are paper pieced). A LOT of fabric was cut up and stitched back together, but oh, what fun!

2015 Galaxy of Stars Block of the Month quilt

Here is one of my older quilts that uses TWO pieced blocks and a single piece of floral. The blocks are: Four Patch and Rail Fence. The blocks finish to 7-1/2".
Four Patch and Rail Fence Quilt
And a closeup of those blocks:

Two blocks and a single square fabric make up this quilt
And one last quilt shows BOTH pieced and appliquéd blocks in my Toast/Bread quilt. I gifted this to a friend several years ago. It was so fun to make. (The block with the squares is called a 25 Patch - no kidding!)

Toast Quilt
Now that we've nailed down what a quilt block is, I'll be sharing about more quilt parts in my next blog post. See you then!


  1. I made the Galaxy of stars quilt. Christmas gift for my brother a couple years ago.

    1. Hi, Susie. Yes, you sent me a pic of it and it's wonderful! So glad you were able to not only finish but gift it. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Always loved the Galaxy of Stars quilt. Meant to make it but havent' gotten there yet.

    1. Oh, well. I can't even tell you how many planned quilts I have that don't have a single fabric pulled for it yet. Ha, ha!

  3. I made the Galaxy of Stars at the time it was offered . . . and in 2019 I put it in a local quilt show and won an Honorable Mention! I generally followed Debby's color way and love it. Great quilt with lots of variety.

    1. Your name didn't come through, so I can't know who you are. But I'm so glad you made that quilt and so honored that it brought you a ribbon in your quilt show! Awesome!

  4. Hi Debby! Yes, I totally agree with you about calling the parts of a quilt using the correct name. Just as the parts of a automobile have different names - you wouldn't call a brake a motor! HAHA! ~smile~ Roseanne

  5. Yes, words mean things! You are so right.


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