No Piecing Quilt Tutorial — The Aunt Jan Quilt


Don’t even get me started on how awesome this quilt turned out. This was a gift for my fabulous Aunt Jan. It took me about 6 months, but if things like WORK would stop getting in the way, I could have whipped this up in about a month. When I was finally able to give it to her, she was so thrilled she wouldn’t let it out of her grasp even when my 2 year-old son/monkey/forest creature was dangerously marauding through the living room with Cheeto fingers. She went over every individual block  and even sent me a picture of it on her bed when she got home. I could write a whole book on how wonderful Aunt Jan is – but I will sum it up by saying she is THE BEST in so many ways.

But back to showing you how you can make your own version of my Aunt Jan Quilt. I’m going to say this is my original design, only because I’ve never seen another one like it. If I’m stepping on someone’s toes here, WELL I’M SORRY. Keep in mind I’m not that great a quilter. I wing it on a lot of stuff, like ironing and sewing straight seams. I dream up all kinds of crazy things to make. A lot of them do not turn out well. And then sometimes I hit the jackpot. This was one of those times.

Your block size for this quilt will be a finished 12X12, which means I think you cut it 12.5X12.5. Or you can do a finished 13X13. Whatever. If you’re like me and you always forget about the seam allowance until you’ve cut $100 worth of fabric, just make sure all the blocks are somehow the same size.

Looks so good you want to take a bite of it.

This is an applique quilt – which means no piecing required! You’ll be cutting lots and lots of different size circles, so I highly recommend a good circle cheater template and lots of extra rotary blades. Oh, how I love my circle cheater. Put a fresh blade in and let’s get started.

Each block will use approximately 8-10 circles of various sizes so get busy. You can use as many different fabric patterns as you like. You will be cutting circles from a 10 inch diameter down to 3 inch diameter, so get your scrap bag out. Myself, I’m not very matchy-matchy. Whatever you decide, this is a very colorful quilt and it’s going to look good no matter what you do.

The key to making this quilt a workable design is the use of my fave applique product, Heat Bond Lite. For each fabric circle you cut, cut the same size circle of Heat Bond Lite. This will keep the edges from fraying and give each circle stability.

So now you’ve got lots and lots of fabric circles and Heat Bond Lite circles, and you better have a good iron with a setting called “Blazing”. Iron the Heat Bond Lite to the back of each circle.

Now for the fun part. Fold your circle in half, then in half again, then in half again. Just like making paper snowflakes in kindergarten. Not too thick. Snip off the end of your folds – this will ensure that all of your circles are centered. Now you will be trimming up the other end which will ultimately be the design on the edge of the circle. Cut waves, zigzags, whatever. I will warn you that an intricate design will be difficult to achieve – keep your cuts big and bold.

Snowflake fold

Snip the tip

The most important ingredient in making my quilts (besides love, awwww) is the simplicity of the design. This is way easy, despite the number of steps involved.

Now you will begin the process of stacking the circles from biggest to smallest, one of top of the other. Since you already ironed each of your blocks in quarters to establish the center point (of course you have!), start with your biggest circle, centering the hole in the middle over the center of your block. You will  notice that the fold lines in your circle tend to line up with the quartered lines on your block as well.

I couldn't have picked a more blinding color combination if I'd tried.

Peel the backing off of each circle and iron it on top of the previous circle, again centering the hole in the middle. Stack them until you are satisfied with the design.

I usually cut out some kind of tiny applique piece as my last piece in order to cover up the hole in the middle. You can always just take it down to the smallest circle if you would like – just remember when you are cutting the design edge during the “snowflake” part, not to cut the tip off of the smallest circles.

Slice of cherry pie applique in middle. Adorable.

Once you feel like you’ve ironed  every piece of material you have ever owned, you may be done. Then you sew your blocks together with quarter inch seams and then send pics to your friends with a caption that says  “a little something I whipped up over the weekend”.  I took mine to the quilter and then did the binding by hand.

I really only put this picture in here because I'd just had a manicure.

One thing I did that I consider an extra step (now that I’m looking back on it), was go over every circle with my sewing machine before I sewed my blocks together, starting in the middle and spinning it around in a spiral. I was concerned about the edges lifting up and getting folded over by the quilting machine.

Once I took this to my quilter (after I had spiraled every single circle, of course,)  he told me in the future this would be unnecessary. The adhesive from the Heat Bond Lite would keep the edges down in order for the machine to quilt across them, and the many layers of adhesive did not cause any problems for the needles on the machine. He was able to quilt almost to the absolute center and certainly enough to quilt all my edges down.

Scrappy squares on back -- my new go-to design for the backs of all my quilts.

I hope that I have explained the construction of this design to you clearly – if not, just ask!

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11 thoughts on “No Piecing Quilt Tutorial — The Aunt Jan Quilt

  1. Love that design. Can’t see myself finding the patience to cut all those circles though. Kudos to you for both coming up with the design and seeing it through to completion.

    • The circle cutting doesn’t bother me at all, but the ironing . . . wow! lots of it! But definitely, absolutely, for sure worth it when I saw the final product! Thanks for your comment!

  2. How fun!!! LOVE it!! Aunt Jan is a lucky lady! Your colors are so bright and happy. Thanks for the inspiration!!! (and sharing your ideas!!)

  3. Darling! I love it too! I do have a question though, has it been washed, or could you wash it? Would it start to fray because it was not appliqued on? Does the light heatbond really hold it on that good? Thanks for answering!

    • thanks! I’m not sure what will happen when we wash it. I did make the spirals on this one, so I feel like if I missed an edge, the quilter might have picked it up. If not I think whatever fraying did occur would be minimal and hopefully add to the character of the quilt. I have some extra squares that I may do a test run on just so I can be sure before she throws the whole quilt in the washer.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

  4. Okay, I’m obsessed now. Can you tell me more about a “cheater circle template” and how you got the nice even points around some of your circles? Many thanks!

    • Sheri — see my comment that should have been a reply. No idea what I’m doing here . . . Thanks! and thanks for your comment! Elisa

  5. Well I love obsession at any level Sheri! This is a good design to get obsessed over! I’m trying to think of a way to describe the cheater . . . lemme see if I can find the official name, hang on . . . Okay, it’s called the Easy Circle Cut Mat, it’s about $12. You fold the fabric in half and then slip your rotary cutter in the groove for whatever size you want. It goes fast so be careful — I almost cut my other hand off every time. And as far as the points go, once I fold the fabric like the snowflake, I very precisely cut the zig zags. But the greatest thing about this quilt is even if they’re crooked, they will look great anyways! If you have any other questions, you can always email me at hoecakesandhemlines@yahoo.com. Can’t wait to see your block! Send me a pic and I will post it! Maybe we will start one of those Quilt-a-Long Block of the Month things. Perfect!

  6. Amazing, Elisa. Wow! Didn’t know you were a quilter. Esp. with your busy schedule.
    Thanks for sending. Love you.

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