Layer cake quilt patterns you’ll love – 10 free!
First off, let’s be clear about what layer cake quilt patterns actually are. It’s a term I kept seeing around and about on Pinterest and I kind of assumed it was something to do with sandwiching fabrics together, not unlike a Victoria Sponge. Not so. Turns out that layer cake quilt patterns are something very specific and relate to the size and specification of the fabric used. Layer cake is the term used to describe 10-inch squares of fabric that are sold in packs of 42. Who knew? You probably did, knowing what nifty crafters so many of you are.
But I’m catching up. And, in the process of learning more about layer cake quilts and the different ways of making them, I’ve discovered so many lovely ideas and resources that I I’d love to share with you.
I am a sucker for a beautiful (and easy!) patchwork idea, so I thought I’d delve and see what I could find. (BTW the stunning quilt pictured above is ‘Embroidery Flower Vase’ from the brand new Solids collection by Tilda and the pattern is free – scroll down to the Tilda section below to download it). I do realise it’s not a layer cake pattern, but it does use lots of squares of fabric, and it is totally stunning, so I couldn’t resist including it here.
I’ve pulled together all the ideas that sparked something in me to share with you here. There are free patterns, (including free layer cake quilt patterns), baby quilt ideas, lap quilt ideas, fun quilt projects, beginner-friendly quilt ideas and lots more besides. Layer cake precuts are ideal for quilters of all levels – from beginners upwards – as they simplify the first part of any quilt project. Choosing, cutting out and deciding the positioning of fabrics you are going to use from your stash can be a creative joy, but it’s also very time-consuming. And beyond many of us (me certainly).
If you’re looking for ideas to make a beautiful quilt, hopefully you find inspiration here whatever size quilt you’re planning to make. I’m going to share my favourite free quilt patterns, fabric suggestions (including fat quarter shop resources, colour scheme ideas, half square triangles, layer cake squares, fabric collection ideas as well as different quilt patterns to suit all levels and tastes. If it’s your first time making a quilt, layer cake quilt patterns are a great choice!
A word of caution before you start, however. Layer cake fabric pieces, or any precut fabrics, should not be washed before sewing. If you wash pre-cuts like charm packs, layer cakes, jelly rolls, half-square triangles, fabric panels, etc, they are likely to unravel, shrink, and no longer be in the standard size. Which defeats the whole purpose of the exercise!
The key stages to making a quilt
Whatever pattern you choose, there are 7 key steps to making a patchwork quilt:
- Choose your pattern (browse below to see a few of my favourites, including some free beauties!)
- Choose your fabric. You can use up scraps of fabric you already have, but obviously it will add time to the project in terms of cutting out the pieces and deciding the best ways to make different shades and patterns of fabric work together. That’s where opting for pre-cut fabric (such as a layer cake) makes life much easier.
- Cut the fabric following the step-by-step instructions in your pattern (all a lot easier if you start off with a pre-cut pack)
- Piece together the top of the quilt. This is where you sew the different cut pieces together as detailed by your pattern.
- Assemble the 3 layers of your quilt. Once the top pieces are sewn together, it’s time to add the batting (the soft inner layer) as well as the quilt back.
- Quilt the layers together. If you don’t have a long arm quilting machine, the best way to do this on a standard sewing machine is with a walking foot or free motion quilting foot.
- Finish and trim your quilt. Trim the edges after you’ve finished quilting so they are neat and then sew on your chosen binding to trim and finish the quilt.
Free layer cake quilt patterns
This is a really striking design that uses 1 layer cake of Wildflowers by Moda, 1 cake mix Recipe 2 (foundation paper that fits perfectly onto a Moda Layer Cake or 10″ Stacker to make perfect half square triangles), 4 yards of background fabric and 5/8 yard of binding. The navy background is too dark for my taste – would be even more lovely on a soft, cornflower blue, don’t you think?
This is such a beautiful design and uses 1 layer cake (the Lulu layer cake). I love the way fabric colour is used to create the sense of movement that you see in a murmuration.
This design by Maureen McCormick for Moda is another beauty. It uses one layer cake for sashing (ie the strips of fabric between the quilt blocks) and one honey comb pack of 1 inch hexies
I love the pretty, light touch of this layer cake pattern by Chloe’s Attic for Moda. The pale background and the design really gives the pattern room to breathe.
This pattern uses one layer cake, 4 yards of background fabric, 5/8 yard of side border fabric, 5/8 yard of top and bottom border fabric, 5/8 yard of binding and 61/2 yards of backing fabric.
This pretty quilt pattern requires 2 layer cakes and one charm pack. I love the kitschy flower design which has an almost mid-century Orla Kiely vibe don’t you think? Can imagine it adding a handmade cosy touch to festival-going, camping trips, camper van decor or a teenage bedroom.
This cute pattern uses one layer cake and is based around a theme of steaming mugs of tea (or whatever your favourite hot drink happens to be, I guess!)
This young and fun pattern needs one layer cake as well as strips of fabrics to make the ‘X’s and the binding.
I know this one doesn’t specifically use a layer cake, but I had to include it here because it’s so beautiful. And it’s by Cabbages & Roses.
This modern quilt design by Alexia Marcelle Abegg uses half square triangles made using the ‘8 at a time’ method (having first separated out your layer cake pieces). Worth knowing that Love Crafts sells a range of layer cakes by Ruby Star Society. There’s a pleasing order to this that I really like. Love how the different colours/fabric patterns contrast and work with one another.
Fun, kitsch and retro in design, this Flea Market pattern by Lori Holt of Bee in my Bonnet is another great find, don’t you think?
The design is lovely, but what really makes this quilt special is the Liberty fabrics used to make it from the Emporium Collection. I am very partial to a Liberty lawn.
Another lovely design by Liberty that mixes a contemporary geometric freshness with a traditional quilt feel. It uses the Carnaby Collection of fabric designs and I’ve found a fat quarter bundle of this fabric on Etsy.
If it’s something Christmassy you’re looking for, how about this festive beauty, also by Liberty? It’s suitable for beginners upwards, so it would make a great first patchwork project.
Beautiful layer cake quilt patterns to buy
This is a beauty by Janet Clare and the pattern is available to buy on Etsy. It’s made using two 10 inch layer cakes (each comprising 42 10 inch squares as we have already established, but no harm repeating) and the finished quilt measures 59 ½ x 90 inches. You can easily adapt the pattern to use different fabrics and layer cakes.
Janet also sells a range of lovely charm packs: love her 2.5 inch To The Sea mini charm pack Find gorgeous jelly roll packs, fat eighth bundle, honeybun packs and fat quarter bundles too.
this lovely pattern is available to buy on Etsy as a PDF instant download and there are three different size options: small throw, large throw or Twin.
I had to share this Jellyroll Dash patchwork pattern by Primrose Cottage too because it’s so pretty. Feels like something I hankered after as a girl, when I was seriously into all things Holly Hobbie and Little House on The Prairie.
This lovely pattern is super easy to make and uses only one Layer Cake for the Throw or Queen size (which has an alternate layout) The baby quilt option uses only 24 – 10″ Squares.
Confetti star quilt pattern
I just love this Confetti start quilt pattern by Lisa Norton of Material Girlfriens, available to buy as an instant download printable PDF pattern on Etsy.
The size is 48″ x 64″, and includes an easy formula to make it bigger.
No Y Seams and layer cake friendly! Seven lay-out options included as well as 7 pages of clear, colourful instructions and diagrams. The clear and detailed cutting and sewing diagrams make the block assembly a breeze.
24 Colour 10″ squares
24 White 10″ squares
The cover quilt used 12 different colours; two 10″ blocks of each colour.
If not using a pre-cut layer cake, select 12 fat quarters of different colours. You can get two 10″ blocks from a fat quarter. Fabric will be leftover from each fat quarter. Or: select six 1/3 yard cuts of different colors. Each 1/3 yard cut will yield four 10″ squares each.
A seventh 1/3 yard cut is recommended for design choices.
Another really pretty design available to buy as an instant download PDF pattern on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/480542599/digital-pattern-window-garden-layer-cake. The image shows the quilt made using Olive’s Flower Market by Lella Boutique for Moda Fabrics
Tilda quilts – free patterns
Tilda is always a great resource for beautiful – and free – patterns for modern quilters. Find lots of tips and ideas here: Patchwork quilt patterns – 10 free Tilda downloads.
There’s a new collection of mouthwateringly beautiful designs for Spring/Summer 2023 including this stunning Flower Vase quilt pattern. It’s free to download here: https://www.tildasworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Flower-Vase-Embroidery-Quilt2.pdf
If you’re looking for Beginner patterns, Tilda says this one is an easy quilt pattern (many of the other Tilda quilt patterns are only really suitable for advanced quilters), so it should be suited to new quilters. As I said at the outset of this post, I do realise that this beauty by Tilda isn’t a layer cake pattern as such, but it does use lots of equally sized squares. So I’m bending the rules and including it here because it is so, so lovely. There are lots more Tilda quilt pattern ideas here: Patchwork quilt patterns – 10 free Tilda downloads.
A really beautiful modern quilt design that uses needlepoint as its inspiration. Love it!
Layer cake quilt patterns for children
How lovely is this Effie’s Woods layer cake pack by Deb Strain for Moda Fabrics?
As well as being really pretty, this modern layer cake square quilt pattern is also quick and easy to make. The square quilt pattern is tailor made to suit new/beginner quilters. Using precut fabrics as well as lots of easy to follow details instructions make this pattern a very popular choice on Etsy.
Favourite layer cake fabric packs
Hometown layer cake fabric stack by Tilda (pictured above) https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/1361068047/tilda-hometown-design-stack-40pcbundle.
You can use these beautiful fabrics to make the Tilda Hometown Henhouse quilt (free to download here and pictured above).
Pictured above: Tilda Chic Escape fabrics.
Etsy is a great place to source Tilda fabrics, including this Chic Escape layer cake fabric from Strawberry Quiltcake.
Also check out:
Flower Power layer cake by Maureen McCormish for Moda from Etsy
Zinnia layer cake by April Rosenthal for Moda from Etsy
Cottage Linen Closet by Brenda Riddle for Moda from Etsy
Fresh Fig Favourites by Fig Tree & Co for Moda from Etsy
Painted Meadow by Robin Pickens for Moda from Etsy This is a charm pack rather than a layer cake but I couldn’t leave out this almost painterly collection of beautiful fabrics.
Liberty A Woodland Christmas layer cake pack – perfect for making a festive project.
How beautiful is this collection of Liberty Lawn mini charm squares?
This Mason Jar quilt is a cute and individual patchwork pattern that uses charm squares.
Pie in the Sky charm pack by Tilda (pictured below)
Fat Quarter bundles
Windy Days in reds and pinks by Tilda from Love Crafts
You will also definitely need a decent quilter ruler
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