“Polka Tot” Variation


“Polka Tot” is published in the August/September issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts. On July 9 I am the guest blogger on the McCall’s blog, writing about my inspiration for the quilt. Click here to link to the McCall’s blog.

Bowties come in many sizes, and I thought you’d like to see a larger quilt made in manly fabrics. An overflowing container of homespun plaids as well as some stash fabrics that look like bowties served as the colored portions of the blocks. I auditioned several shirts (thrift shop finds) for light background. I was all set to use squares of the mostly white shirt you see in the center of the picture.


Prior to sewing, however, I realized that I needed a more subdued background to complement the muted homespuns. If I used white, the viewer’s eye would be overly attracted to the white rather than to the dark, rich plaids. Fortunately, another shirt in the bin suited (pictured lower center).

DSCN7459The traditional “Bowtie” block has a set-in center square. This is tricky for a beginning quilter and a bit time consuming for a speedy sewer like me. So I opted for a quick, uncomplicated method of construction. A small colored square is placed in one corner of each large background square and sewn together on the small square’s diagonal. The resulting triangle is flipped toward the corner and pressed. Excess seam allowance is trimmed away. The the background squares with “snowball corners” are joined with large colored squares to make “Four Patches,” i.e. “Bowties.”

If you would like to make a lap-sized version of “Polka Tots,” cut the larger background and colored squares 4 1/2″ and the small colored squares 2 1/2.” This yields 8″ finished blocks. I cut the red plaid inner border strips 2 1/2″ wide. I made 35 blocks, and the quilt measures 44″ x 60.”

When planning the quilt, I knew I wanted a red inner border; therefore, I did not make any red plaid bowties so the blocks would contrast with the border. Now that the quilt is complete, I realize that the red plaid border does not show up with as much contrast as the black polka dot border does on the baby quilt. Maybe I should have used a bright orange and green plaid instead of the red, or maybe the red plaid is just fine. It is subdued in hue like the rest of the rich, muted fabrics. What do you think?


Enter the drawing for an Aug./Sept. issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts by leaving a comment below. The top winner will receive 1/2 yd. of black and white polka dot fabric in addition to the magazine. The drawing will occur on 15 July.

10 thoughts on ““Polka Tot” Variation

  1. Congratulations on making the cover of Quick Quilts! I love your Polka Tot quilt. It is so bright and cheerful.

  2. I like the red! Although it doesn’t contrast like the black in the toddler quilt, I think it compliments wonderfully! I am totally intrigued by how you made a seemingly complicated block so simple!!! Amazing Aby!

  3. I like the red as is, but then again I’m partial to red! I love how different these quilts are with the same pattern.

  4. I think you have a low-key border on a low-key quilt. To me, that’s very pleasing and is in keeping with the personality of the quilt.

  5. I really like both colorways. I’m drawn to the brights, but if I were making it for my husband, he’d definitely want the browns plaids. Don’t you just love plaids?

  6. I like the red. Something bright would jump out from the rest of the quilt too much. Cute pattern, great way to use up scraps!

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