Good Day Sunshine: A Scrappy Quilt Tutorial

on March 15 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 1 Comment

Sewist and quilter Michelle Cain has a Good Day Sunshine quilt pattern for you that does double-duty! It chips away at your scraps while shaking off the last weeks of winter, in a palette that promises spring is on its way.

For more tutorials and a look at Michelle’s current projects on her From Bolt to Beauty blog, or follow her on Instagram @frombolttobeauty. You can also learn more about Michelle in her introduction here.

Organize Those Scraps:
For me, the best way to realize the potential in my scraps is to get them under control. I don’t keep anything smaller than a 2 ½” square. Those fabrics that make the cut get sorted by color and stored in plastic bags. It’s not a sophisticated system, but it makes the mess more manageable. Before embarking on my Good Day Sunshine Quilt, I could tell that my bag of blues was bursting, so that’s where I focused my energy first.

Let Your Scraps Determine Your Palette:
Those beautiful fabrics on the left of the picture from Josephine Kimberling’s Turkish Delight line– and the foundation for one of my Sew Together Bags— established the palette for the pixelated chevrons in five colors: true blue, grassy green, gold, gray and navy. Since I was using white as a background color, I tried to use it sparingly in the chevrons to achieve good contrast between them and the background.

When I had culled through my scrap bags in search of those five colors and had cut all the 2 ½” squares I could, I had 284 squares— less than half of what I needed! So I went back to my scraps and found the gray floral (left in picture). It featured some of the colors I was already using and incorporated orange, which expanded my chevron palette to six colors. I took a second pass through my scrap bags with my revised plan and found almost all of the 580 squares this quilt calls for.

Cut From Yardage (If You Have To):
For me, developing a cohesive palette is key when sewing a scrappy quilt, but even my overflowing scrap bin has its limits. I decided to trim a few 2 ½” strips from yardage so I could better balance the colors for this quilt. A width-of-fabric strip yields 16 squares, adding good variety to the quilt while still leaving a chunk of yardage in the stash for future projects.


  • 580 patterned 2½” squares for the chevrons (just over 2 ½ yards of fabric)
  • 1 2/3 yards of solid fabric or 24 solid jelly roll strips for the background
  • ½ yard of fabric for the binding
  • 3 ½ yards of fabric for the backing
  • 64” x 76” piece of batting (this provides approximately 3” of overhang on each side)
  • Thread to match

Finished size: approximately 58” x 70”. All seams are ¼”.

Note: Cutting instructions presume 42” of usable fabric after selvages are removed.

– If you’re using yardage for the background, cut (24) 2 ½” width-of-fabric (WOF) strips. Then subcut those 24 strips or your 24 solid jelly roll strips into rectangles. (You will have leftover fabric for the two smaller sizes of rectangles.)

– Cut 19 WOF strips into 8” x 2 ½” rectangles. Each strip yields 5 rectangles, for a total of 95.

– Cut 2 WOF strips into 6” x 2 ½” rectangles. Each strip yields 7 rectangles, for a total of 14.

– Cut 2 WOF strips into 4” x 2 ½” rectangles. You need 14.

– Cut 1 WOF strip into 2” x 2 ½” rectangles. You need 14.

Sewing the Base Strips:
Sew the 580 patterned squares into strips of five, for a total of 116 scrappy 10 ½” x 2 ½” strips. There’s no need to overthink the fabrics you use in a particular strip, but try to distribute colors evenly. I avoided using one color more than twice in a strip.

I recommend finger-pressing your seams and ironing later, after you’ve determined the layout.

Sew 87 of the 95 solid 8” x 2 ½” rectangles with the 116 scrappy 10 ½” x 2 ½” strips to create 29 strips that look like the picture below. Again, finger-press seams.

Laying Out + Completing the Strips:
Determine the order in which you want to lay out these strips, trying to distribute the colors evenly throughout the quilt top. Sew the remaining rectangles as illustrated below. Iron all the seams to one side, alternating the direction between columns.
A: 8” x 2 ½” solid rectangle on the top; none on the bottom

B: 6” x 2 ½” solid rectangle on the top; 2” x 2 ½” solid rectangle on the bottom

C: 4” x 2 ½” solid rectangle on the top; 4” x 2 ½” solid rectangle on the bottom

D: 2” x 2 ½” solid rectangle on the top; 6” x 2 ½” solid rectangle on the bottom

E: none on the top; 8” x 2 ½” solid rectangle on the bottom

Sew the completed columns together, pressing the seams as you prefer. It’s important to note, however, that the bottom of each A column and the top of each E column are ½” longer than the other columns. Wait until you’ve matched seams and sewn the columns together before trimming off that excess.

Finishing the Quilt:
To make the backing, cut your 3 ½ yards of backing fabric into two rectangles: 63” x WOF. Sew them along the long side. Quilt and bind your project.

For more projects from Michelle, see the tutorials page at From Bolt to Beauty!

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One Response to Good Day Sunshine: A Scrappy Quilt Tutorial

  1. Maria says:

    Thanks for this tutorial. I often just skim the blog entries looking more at pictures, but I really enjoyed reading through your entire entry. I particularly liked how you described how you selected the scraps and color palette. Thanks!

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