Friday, April 6, 2012

28 - Tumbler Block

12 inch tumbler block

I love tumbler quilts.  I think they are just the funnest thing ever and it turns out that they are really easy to make too.  Maybe after making this block you will decide a tumbler quilt is in your future.  :)

Make the Template:
Tumbler templates are quite simple to make.  There really is no right or wrong tumbler shape and you can use these basic steps to make a different sized templates for different projects.

1.  Cut a piece of paper or cardstock (I prefer cardstock) 3/4 inch taller than the height of the finished tumbler.  For this block cut the cardstock 3.75 inches tall.  The extra quarter inch is to give us some room to trim the rows to size.

2.  Fold the cardstock in half and cut at an angle.  I lined the top edge of the paper up with the 1 inch mark on my ruler and the bottom edge up with the 2 inch mark.

3.  Open it up and check out your tumbler shape.  If you don't like the shape, refold and trim the angled edges until you are pleased with the tumbler.    DO NOT TRIM ONE ANGLED EDGE AT A TIME!  The sides must have the same angle.  Always refold the template before trimming the sides.

My tumbler measured 2 inches wide on the top edge and 4 inches wide on the bottom.

Layer multiple layers of fabric (I layered 4) that are at least 3.75 inches wide.  You will want a fairly long length of fabric - I was able to get 4 tumblers out of an approx. 15 inch strip.

Cut the strip of fabric 3.75 inches wide.

Lay the template on top of the strip.  Line up the top and bottom of the template with the top and bottom of the strip.  Lay the ruler along the edge of the template and cut.

Move the ruler and cut along the other side of the template.

Flip the template over, line it up with the cut edge of the fabric and cut along the opposite side.

Continue this process until you run out of fabric in the strip.

A total of 20 tumblers are needed for this block.  Lay out the tumblers in the order you want them.  (I didn't do this and wish that I had - I had quite the time trying to make sure the same fabrics weren't touching when I sewed together the rows.)

Line the tumblers up as shown, then flip them right sides together.

Do not line up the tip of one tumbler with the corner of the other.  The tumblers should be offset just enough that they overlap 1/4 inch from the edge.  That way when the pieces are opened you have a straight row.

Sew 5 tumblers together into a row.  Press seams to the side.  Check to make sure that the row is at least 12.5 inches long at the narrowest point.  If it is not, add an extra tumbler.

Trim approx. 1/8 of an inch off the top and bottom of the tumbler row so that the row is exactly 3.5 inches tall.  I thought I had done pretty well keeping my rows even...that is until I put a ruler next to them.

Line up the rows as desired and sew them together.

The seams should nestle right up next to each other.  If the seam allowances are on the same side, press the seam allowances of one of the rows in the opposite direction.

Press and trim the sides of the block so that it is 12.5 inches wide.

You did it!

I hope this block will inspire you to make a whole tumbler quilt.  I don't know why I love them so much, but I had so much fun making this quilt for Baby Jane that I know another tumbler quilt is in my future.


  1. I wish I could say I was all caught up with the QAL but unfortunately I have fallen behind. This looks fun hope to get caught up this weekend.

  2. I love love the tumbler block, I have made a couple of quilts using it. It's just adorable! Fi

  3. Yea!! I am so excited to make this one!!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. I have been intrigued by this block but did not know how to start. I now have the instruction so will try it.

  5. Very cute. Today was a lovely sunny day here--I sewed a skirt for Easter for tomorrow and enjoyed the sunshine streaming in the whole afternoon. So when I see these sunshiny tumblers, all flip-flopping, stacking back and forth--it just jumps right out of the computer screen. Very cute--great tutorial and I love pressing seams to one side, too! It really helps in the putting the rows together.

    Anyway, a rambling comment to say thanks for the sunshiny tumblery fun!

  6. Thank you. That's another one I wanted to try.
    Happy Easter.

  7. I didn't know it was so easy to make your own template for this! It was so fun, fast and EASY! I love the tumbler block.

  8. Thank you for sharing this! Just wanted you to know how much I appreciate your post!

  9. Thank you! I've been thinking about this, but I wasn't sure how to line up the pieces. Perfect picture! I did a search for how to piece a tumbler quilt pattern and your blog was in the list.