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Button Quilted Layer Cake Throw

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Thanks to the pre-cut 10" squares of a pretty layer cake bundle, we whipped-up this cute and cozy lap blanket in a single afternoon. If you are brand new to sewing or are teaching someone to sew and/or quilt, this is a very beginner-friendly project. The patchwork is about as basic as you can get, and the quilting is done with hand-sewn buttons. 

Our throw finishes at 57" x 57" and uses 42 layer cake squares. Layer cake bundles range, most often, from 24 - 42 squares, which means you might need more than one bundle to complete our throw. However, 42-piece bundles are by far the most common.

You could also fussy cut 10" x 10" squares from larger fabric scraps, centering a cute motif within each square.

Six of the 42 squares are used as an accent row along the back of the throw. This is optional, but does make the back of the throw more interesting, and as explained below, helps to disguise a seam that allows you to more efficiently cut the yardage for the backing fabric.

Rather than traditional quilting seams to hold together the layers, we opted to hand sew buttons at the main intersections of each square. Using a random selection of ⅜"-½" buttons is a great way to add some interesting color, embellishment, and texture to the top of the throw. And because the buttons are quite small, they're not a detriment to the overall softness. If you want to make the throw for a very young child, buttons are not your best option. Instead, consider hand-tying with yarn or floss at each corner point. 

Our original layer cake bundle was from Circa 1934, a vintage collection by Cosmo Cricket for Moda. It's no longer available, but nearly every quilting cotton collection that debuts offers a 10" x 10" layer cake bundle. Any collection, including the three bundles we're giving away, would give you equally lovely results. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Click to Enlarge

  • 42 Layer Cake pre-cuts for the printed squares on the front and back (we used all 42, 10" x 10" squares from a standard 42-piece layer cake bundle; if you choose not to use a Layer Cake, you'll need to cut 42, 10" x 10" squares)
  • 2¼ yards of 44"+ wide coordinating solid fabric
  • 25 mismatched buttons, each about ½" in diameter
  • 58" x 58" square of lightweight batting 
    NOTE: Batting comes in a multitude of sizes and shapes. We had a queen size roll (90" x 108") from which we cut our 58" square, leaving a nice remnant for another project. You could also buy a 60" wide piece off the bolt or a smaller packaged size.
  • All purpose color coordinating thread: we used natural
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Tape measure
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. Decide which 10" x 10" patterned squares you want where on the FRONT of the throw BEFORE you begin to sew. Do this by laying them out on a flat surface. We've found it's easiest to use the floor to do this; make sure it's clean. Mix and match until you have a layout you find pleasing. Remember, you have 36 squares to work with on this side. It's best to avoid placing similar colors side by side and it looks better when you alternate small and large motifs. You can follow a pattern similar to ours or design your own. There's no 'wrong' design; it's all based on what you like best.
  2. Using the same method, decide in what order you want the remaining SIX 10" x 10" patterened squares that will run down the BACK of the throw.
  3. From the fabric you are using for the solid quilt panels on the quilt back, cut the following:
    ONE 38½" wide x 57½" high rectangle
    TWO 10" wide x 29" high rectangles
    NOTE: If your fabric is wide enough, you could cut one 10" x 57½" strip rather than two at 10" x 29", but that is not the best use of fabric for the narrower widths. It's more efficient to cut two pieces and splice them together. This will create one additional seam on your quilt back (as shown in the drawing above), but will save you from buying a lot of extra fabric. If you line up this extra seam with one of the patchwork seams in the patterned strip on the quilt back, it will hardly be noticeable.
  4. From the batting, cut ONE 57½" x 57½" square

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Assemble the front of the throw

  1. If you are brand new to quilting, even though this project is super simple, you may want to review our Quilting Basics Series, a five-part series with lots of great getting-started information.  
  2. This quilt uses a traditional ¼" quilting seam allowance throughout. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot to help maintain a perfectly straight line.
  3. There are a lot of pieces to keep track of, so work in a specific order, like a grid. We worked from top to bottom and left to right.
  4. Starting with the six squares in the first patterned row, pin the squares together into three pairs: one and two, three and four, five and six. Each of the pairs should be placed right sides together and pinned along one side. Keep track of any directional prints to make sure everything is going the right way. Our Circa 1934 collection had number and letter motifs, which we needed to keep careful track of.
  5. Stitch each of the pairs together, using a ¼" seam allowance. Press the seam allowances together and to the right.
  6. Pin the left and right pairs (one/two and five/six) to either side of the center pair (three/four) - still right sides together, still along just one side each.
    Click to Enlarge
  7. Stitch together, using a ¼" seam allowance, to create the first complete six-block row. Press the seam allowances together and to the right.
    Click to Enlarge
  8. Repeat to create the remaining FIVE rows, but alternate the direction you press the seam allowances. Press row two towards the left, row three towards the right, etc. This will help you nest your seams together and best match your corners. More on this below.
    NOTE: Because the patchworking on this throw is so basic, there are no intricate or tiny angles, you can also simply opt to press all the seam allowances open and flat, as shown in the photos below. This can be a faster and easier option if you're just beginning. 
  9. When your six rows are complete, you can stitch them together. Working from the top row down, pin the first two rows right sides together. The most important thing to remember is to keep your seams in line with one another. It helps to place a pin in the seams, then line up the pins to keep everything matched up.
    Click to Enlarge
  10. Using a ¼" seam allowance, sew the rows together. Press the seam allowances flat.
  11. Continue in the same manner until all six rows are sewn together from top to bottom.
    NOTE: When we assembled the rows, you'll remember we pressed the fabric in certain directions above. This now allows us to ‘nest' the seams of the pieces. One seam is pressed in one direction, the opposing seam is pressed in the opposite direction, and they lay easily against each other. In addition to the pinning technique mentioned above, this will help you to line up the corners so you get sharp intersections on the front, called ‘perfect points' in quilting.
    Click to Enlarge
  12. When all the rows are stitched in place, if necessary, trim any excess from all sides of the top so the raw edges are flush and square.

Assemble the back of the throw

  1. Following the same steps as above, pin the remaining six 10" by 10" printed squares right sides together along their bottom edges.
  2. Stitch together with a ¼" seam allowance. Press all of these seams open. You now have one vertical strip of six patterned squares.
  3. Sew this vertical accent strip to the large solid back panel (the 38½" x 57½" piece). To do this, place the two pieces right sides together along one 57½" side. Looking down at the back panel, it should be the left side of the accent strip and the right side of the solid piece that are being sewn together. Pin in place.
  4. Stitch together with a ¼" seam allowance. Press this seam allowance open and flat.
  5. Place the two 10" wide x 29" solid pieces together along one 10" side. Pin in place. Stitch together with a ¼" seam allowance. Press this seam allowance open and flat.
  6. Pin this completed solid strip (which is now 10" x 57½") to the remaining 57½" raw edge of the vertical accent. Carefully align the seam of the solid strip with the middle patchwork seam of the accent strip (see our diagram above). Pin in place.
  7. Stitch together with a ¼" seam allowance. Press this seam allowance open and flat.

Quilting the panels together

  1. Lay the completed back panel right side down and flat on your work surface.
  2. Place the 57½" x 57½" batting square on top of the back panel, lining up all four raw edges.
  3. Pin around all four edges, and machine baste the batting square to the quilt back, staying very close to the edge - ⅛" or less. Basting these two layers together helps keep them from shifting during the final layering.
    Click to Enlarge
  4. Roll up the back/batting panel and set it out of the way for a minute.
  5. Lay the completed front panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
  6. Un-roll the completed quilt back/batting panel and place it right side down on top of the front panel. They are now right sides together.
  7. Take the time to make sure the layers are flat and smooth. Also, line up the accent strip on the back with the corresponding strip on the front. If necessary, trim the edges of the back/batting panel so that it's are square and flush with the quilt top.
  8. Pin around all four edges, leaving an 8-10" opening along the bottom edge for turning.
  9. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch around all four sides, remembering to pivot at each corner and to leave that 8-10" opening for turning. Lock your stseamitch at either side of this opening.
  10. Clip all four corners at a diagonal, but be careful to not cut through your stitching.
    Click to Enlarge
  11. Turn the throw right side out through the opening.
  12. Push out all four corners with a long blunt object, such as a large knitting needle, chopstick or point turner.
  13. Press around all four edges of the quilt, so the corners are sharp and the layers are flat.
  14. Slip stitch the opening closed along the bottom edge.
  15. Lay the throw right side up and flat on your work surface. Again, smooth the top and bottom layers flat with your hands so there are no large folds or wrinkles.
    Click to Enlarge
  16. At each of the 25 four-corner intersections of the quilt front, pin through the front and back layers about ½" away from either side of the intersection point. You will be sewing a button to each of these intersection points and the pins will help prevent any shifting and insure the button sewing stitches on the back side are lined up and even.
    Click to Enlarge
  17. Hand sew a button at each of these 25 intersection points, leaving the pins through the top and bottom layers of the quilt until the button is sewn. Remove the pins after each button is sewn

Project Design: Alicia Thommas    
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Gregory Dickson


Comments (186)

asimplehomestd said:
asimplehomestd's picture

I have a friend with cancer who is always cold; I would love to make her a throw!

kflora said:
kflora's picture

This is my first time on your website,  oh how I have enjoyed it.   This button quilted layer cake throw caught my attention very quickly.   I quickly joined up and will enjoy returning back often.   I would love to win, but I am already a winner for find joining!

dianemarie said:
dianemarie's picture

What's not to love about these beautiful layer cake collections!  I have a friend who's learning to quilt, and I think this would be a great project for she and I to work on together. 

Abençoado said:
Abençoado's picture

Oh, what perfect timing! Thank you Sew4Home for your inspiration and tutorials - and maybe fabric as well! I've been shy of attempting a quilt/ruining fabric, but this throw looks approachable. I'll make it as a comforting "made with love" throw for our son (about to move interstate). Poetry, Spectrum or Rainy Day would become touchstones for the decor in his first apartment. That leads me to my suggestion/request: a checklist and style tips for everything needed to create a co-ordinated new home on a budget... please. I become overwhelmed comparing the projects, fabrics and styles in the Sew4Home Index!

BeccaD said:
BeccaD's picture

My daughter wants a cat quilt... so I would use the layer cake for part of that!

theholmes said:
theholmes's picture

I would make a weighted lap blinket for my daughter or a snuggle blinket for one of my grand children. I love Moda fabrics and have always wanted to use 10" Layer cake. It will be fun to sew it together and make creative changes.

cjmont said:
cjmont's picture

i love making layer cake quilts using the cake mix recipe papers.  there are several i am wanting to make.

jguldy13 said:
jguldy13's picture

I would make a lap quilt with some of the squares and save some for applique - these are a great size for that!  Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

MarySueW said:
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I would make the throw as some of my blankets/throws have seen better days!

SewForth7 said:
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I just want to make something beautiful to hang in my shop window. Love this!


junebug25 said:
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Hopefully one of these would give me the inspiration to finally start a quilt!

hotrilin10 said:
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Love Moda designs. Since I'm still learning, seems like a good project to make.

jitterytoo said:

My grandson has informed me that he is too big for his birth rag quilt I made him and he needs a new, bigger one. It’s on my to-do list. He loves “all the colors “! That’s my heart, so winning would be wonderful.

houseofjewels said:
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I would love to make a quilt for my daughter who just moved out of state.  When she wraps it around her she can feel like I'm hugging her.

bairdmtn said:
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My Grandson is getting married in September and I think this throw would be a perfect "cuddle on the couch" wedding gift for them!!

Cushie803 said:

We just rescued a 1year old maltese mix puppy. I really really need to make a quick stitch lap quilt so our puppy can cuddle with my hubby without being too hot. The layer cake bundle would make them both so happy.

trishh75 said:
trishh75's picture

I have a friend who's just getting started on her sewing journey. What wonderful encouragement it would be to work with these gorgeous prints! She has young children, so she'd probably choose something for them. This cake layer throw might even be the choice for her!

MarySnyder said:
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I would make it for our daughter and grandchildren for picnicing.

Sewgal1615 said:
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I would love to make this throw for and with my granddaughter. It appears to be an EZ project  to inspire her with sewinga and quilting.

Chfarinholt said:
Chfarinholt's picture

Love all three bundles! Would love to work on quilt this summer! 

tabbybenji said:
tabbybenji's picture

I would love to make a quilt for a 90 year old friend who used to love sewing but sadly cannot now use her much loved machine. She used to do a lot of quilting and I know she would enjoy helping me improve my quilting projects. Thank you.

vasewist said:
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I would make star blocks using these squares and a background fabric to make 8 half square triangles at a time. Thanks for the giveaway. 

Mary on Lake Pulaski said:
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I would like to make the picnic blanket for my son and his family.

jan3cwc said:
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I could make something beautiful with this prize.  It would be my lucky day.

jan3cwc said:
jan3cwc's picture

I will make some beautiful things with this prize.  Would love to be the winner!

Linielyn63 said:
Linielyn63's picture

I love making quilts, but the layer cakes are also good to make microwavable bowl cozies to give to family and friends.

thehobbit said:
thehobbit's picture

I have just seen this new giveaway, just trying to catch up after being away on hol. You always do great giveaways and this one is no exception. I would love to be able to make a quilt out of these beautiful patterns. It is much easier when the collection is put together for you, because you know that the colours will aiways go together. Thank you sew4home for another great project.

Tkerlz said:
Tkerlz's picture

I'd love to make a nice lightweight quilted throw for those slightly chilly nights by the bonfire!

gkoston said:
gkoston's picture

I LOVE this Button Quilted Layer Cake Throw!  Thanks for sharing the tutorial!  If I were to win, I'd make a quilt with the Layer Cake.  I have a number of quilt patterns for the use of a layer cake, and I'd make any one of those.  It would depend on the layer cake though...some I don't mind cutting into, others I want to keep the squares complete to get a good view of the designs on the fabric.  It's hard to say what I'd do with it...I have a hard time giving up the quilts I make, but at the same time I find myself gifting them and donating to charities. 

pschmoll said:
pschmoll's picture

Love to win these three layer cake bundles for quilting projects, thanks.

sewseitz said:
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I will let my granddaughter use to learn to sew by making a quilt.

Patti A said:
Patti A's picture

WOW, with all these comments I probably don't have much of a chance but then again I have nothing to lose either. I would for sure make my granddaughter a new quilt.

KLO said:
KLO's picture

What interesting fabric! I just finished making a table runner and these fabrics might be good for that but I do think the button idea is great since I have lots of buttons. It would be a wonderful way to use some of the different ones and have them on display.  However, I would probably have to see them in person before I definitely decided what to make with them.

nononan said:
nononan's picture

I would use any of the 3 to create a lap quilt for our area cancer patients.  The kids from our church are raising money to put together baskets for these patients.  The other idea would be to include them in the bags our CAREFLIGHT team has to give to patients that are being transported out of their normal hospital area.  A blanket is always a great addition to the bags.

Landry.patty@gmail.com said:
Landry.patty@gmail.com's picture

I would love to make this quilt for my 95 year old mother. She made all our clothes growing up. Made all the household drapes, etc. she hand quilted each of us a quilt and cross-stitched more items than I could count. With her arthritis she is no longer able to do handwork but she likes to watch me work on projects. 

kalanna said:
kalanna's picture

I love layer cakes.  They are already coordinated so I don't have to pick fabrics or question my fabric choices.

Weathermama68 said:
Weathermama68's picture

I haven’t done any sewing for a long time.   Winning this bundle would motivate me to begin again with an easy project like the Button Quilt. 

JB1 said:
JB1's picture

When I had one of these bundles in hand, I would look at using it to make disappearing 9-patch blocks for a nice sized quilt.  I just saw a layout of these blocks on-point, and it was really nice.

DebV said:
DebV's picture

Love all three sets.  Would probably make the quilt shown.  It would be fun with any of the bundles.

alycat1944 said:

i would make a quilt similar to  yours for our guild's Community Quilt Project where we donate quilts to hospitals, hospice, and nursing homes.

Hockymom38 said:
Hockymom38's picture

 I will make a quilt like your instructions say. I’ve never used a layer cake before. It’s probably something I would use for myself.  All of these fabrics are really cute. 

June E said:
June E's picture

I would love to win this to make a lap quilt for my Mom who is turning 89. She is cold all the time.  Thank you

rosemaryschild said:
rosemaryschild's picture

I love the Button Quilted Throw! What wonderful fabric! A Disappearing Nine-patch would look wonderful in these oh, so pretty, bright colors! Thank you, Susan

sumac05301 said:
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Nice fabric collection.  I'm a big fan of bags and pouches, which is what I would make.