Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Tumbler Tutorial or is it Tumblr

Tumblr Tutorial

When I first saw a tumblr quilt I fell in love with it and just had to try one.   Then one day I came across a pattern on ModaBake Shop.  Eureka!  I proceeded to make a quilt myself.

What you need:
tumblr template – make your own or buy (I used a 5" tumbler)


rotary cutter

fabric (of course)

Getting started

The most essential thing naturally enough is the template and it has to be accurate.  My neighbours daughter is an architect and she kindly drew one out and cut it for me so I was sure it was going to be accurate.  However check out this handy hint on how to make your own, alternatively you can buy them here.

My tumblr template is 5” wide at the top, but you can decide the size yourself, you could go larger or smaller.

Now that you have your tumblr template you are ready to start cutting.  Get your fabric and place your template on the fabric, draw around your template with pencil, take your time, be as accurate as you can.  I know there are so many time savers out there for cutting fabric, but I just cut one piece of fabric at a time for this particular pattern.

I cut out my tumblr from the fabric using my quilting ruler and rotary blade.  Cut out as many tumblrs as you require.  The requirement for this quilt was a small baby quilt so I cut out 64 tumblrs.  

Once you get a flow going it goes very smoothly and it’s a fun shape (a little different from the usual squares) to cut out.
Sewing tumblrs together

Take two of your tumblrs and place right sides together (RST).  Line them up just slightly off. See picture below.

To ensure accuracy I pin the two tumblrs where I think they will match up and then open it up (before sewing) to see that in fact they line up straight along the top of both blocks.  If not just play with it till you are happy that they will be straight (along the top).  Happy ?  Using a ¼” seam allowance sew the two tumblrs together.  Open it and you should see this.  Open

It won’t be long before you will be able to eyeball it, but I would still do a quick check before sewing a stitch.
Repeat until you have the required number of tumblrs sewn together.

For this quilt I needed 8 rows.
Pin row 2 to row 1 making sure that your seams match up, if you have cut and sewn accurately this should go like a dream.  I had to unpick a row on this quilt as for some reason I had cut a wider tumblr than my template, weird but at least I was able to rectify it and continue on, I’d rather too big than too small.  See why I need good light? Once the rows are joined open the seams and iron flat.

Assembling your quilt top
Once your top is assembled take your quilting ruler and trim off the edges of the tumblrs on both sides of your quilt so that you have straight edges.  Trim the top to ensure it is straight too.

Because this was a customised order I needed a border, but I would say that a tumblr without a border would be equally stunning!  This is entirely your own design choice.

Add your borders (if required) top and sides.

Using a small pair of sharp scissors trim off any threads, I usually pull the string along the blade as opposed to literally cutting because once I actually snipped a quilt (not this one!).  This is a safer way of cutting those rogue threads.

Basting and Quilting

Nearly there!!

Now that you have prepared your top, iron top you are ready to baste and quilt your quilt.
Lay your backing fabric on a clean wooden floor, secure it to the floor using masking tape.  I am pretty paranoid (nervous) about wrinkles on the back of my quilt so I probably over do it but I use masking tape pretty much around the whole backing sheet, nothing is going to move it off that floor!

Lay your batting on top of this, I use cotton batting from my local haberdashery shop.  Again ensure it is smooth and no wrinkles.  (Good arm exercises!)

Lay your quilt top on top of this and now you have your quilt sandwich, I usually use basting spray too to secure the quilt top to the wadding.  Then I start secure the three layers together with safety pins. 

Sometimes if it’s a bigger sized quilt I keep some clean white fabric so that if I need to lean on the quilt I can lean on that and avoid any dust, smudge general contact with the quilt top.

Your backing and wadding should be larger than your quilt top, by at least 2"

Once you have the three layers secured you can start

(If you are having a cuppa at this point make sure it's well away from the action, nothing worse than a spillage at this stage!)

Shameless self advertising Threads2000
You will need threads (ahem see piccy above), quilting foot, gloves with grips (I use cotton gardening gloves), a couple of filled bobbins.

I always use invisible thread for quilting, I think it's because I don't want anyone to see if my stitching has flaws, and for the thread on the back, I generally choose a co-ordinating colour i.e. pink backing, pink thread.

So now you can let yourself go and do some FMQ (free motion quilting).  There are plenty of tutorials on FMQ out there so I will leave that to you.  I know Cindy from FluffySheep Quilting was doing a series of posts on different types of quilting.
Now you are pretty much finished.  Trim off any excess threads, the invisible ones are sometimes tricky to catch just make sure you have good lighting.

Trim off the extra wadding and backing and proceed to bind your quilt.  Let me direct you to a handy binding tutorial here demonstrated by Diary of a Quilter.  I found this to be a great tutorial and when I was refreshing my binding skills.  There is another way of closing off the binding.  I did try this on one quilt ago, it's fiddly but the end result is great.  Check it out here at Lella Boutique.

Enjoy making your own tumblr and should you have any questions don't hesitate to contact me at


  1. Cara amiga,


    Maria Filomena

  2. Great tute Fi - I love tumblers - on my wish list if I ever win a Go Cutter!

  3. Thank you, also if it seems a little bit too difficult to me jet :D

  4. i think my next great grand will get one like that i also wont to make a shabby quilt for one


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