Tutorial: Sewing Spools by Hand

Someone asked me recently how I constructed my spools quilt. When I commented that it was sewn entirely by hand, she immediately said, “Oh, I could never do that!” I assured her that it was really quite simple, and promised her a tutorial. It took a few weeks to get to it, but here it is!


First, I made two simple templates, shown below.

You can see the post where I drew the templates on graph paper here.    For each spool block, using a regular pencil with a sharp lead, I traced one center square and two trapezoids out of the same print fabric. I also traced two trapezoids out of a white or cream or tan fabric (we’ll call this the background fabric).

DSC04211Then I used a sharp scissors to cut out each shape, adding a generous quarter inch seam allowance as I cut.

I found it easier to prepare many blocks in one sitting, as I usually do my sewing while I’m enjoying a good television show or movie. These little pieces store easily in Ziploc bags and are quite portable in your purse!

Sewing a Spool

Thread your needle with a neutral color thread. I used cream for my choice, but a white or grey would work just as well.

Begin with the center square, one  print trapezoid, and one pin. Place right sides together, the short side of the trapezoid next to the square. Put a pin at one corner and your needle at the other as shown below. Note: the black background is my pant leg… if the trapezoid looks curved, it’s not. 

Use small stitches and sew along the pencil line from one side to the other, stopping at the corner. I repeat the last stitch or tie a small knot here but I do not cut my thread!

Next, take one of your print trapezoids and position it on the next side of the center square, as shown. Put your pin in the corner farthest from your needle. Pick up your needle and continue sewing from where you left off.

Repeat this process until all four trapezoids have been sewn to the center square, alternating background and print fabrics.





Sewing the corners: Very easy!

You won’t believe this until you do it yourself the first time, but the hardest part is behind you! The corners are easy!

Open your block so that you see it all in front of you. Take the two trapezoids where they meet at the corner and pivot them towards each other.


DSC04221Put a pin in the unsewn outside corner and your needle at the corner nearest the center square. Sew along the pencil line from the inside to the outside corner. Knot and clip your thread. Repeat three more times and you are finished sewing!

DSC04223In the picture here, two corners have been sewn, and two are yet to do.

I found that the more I did these blocks, the faster they came together. They really do become almost mindless sewing… and they are all straight seams!

DSC04224When the block is finished, I take a couple of seconds and trim my seam allowance on the block to a clean quarter inch. Press blocks so that you are pressing towards the printed fabric as shown.


See?  All pressed and ready to go!


Sewing the blocks together

Sew your spool blocks together alternating the light and dark trapezoids as shown, following the pencil lines you have already marked.

You can do this!


4 thoughts on “Tutorial: Sewing Spools by Hand

  1. That is a great tutorial. I love making the spool blocks, but I do use Cindy Blackberg's stamps for mine. I really love using her stamps for hand quilting:)


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