A FREE Tutorial - The Downtown Quilt Pattern by Nina Dodge of SkyClad Quilts

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I have followed Nina, @skycladquilts on Instagram, for awhile now and believe her style of using color, pattern, and texture are very approachable. Nina, a full-time boy mom and commissioned quilter, was kind enough to share her improvisational Downtown quilt pattern with Fabricworm as a free tutorial! Nina has explained how to construct the basic city blocks, but the final product will require you to take the skills and ideas to make them your own. Have fun making your new Downtown Quilt!

PATTERN BY: Nina Dodge
FINISHED SIZE: Improve your own! (Sample is 44” x 48”)
FABRIC SHOWN: Mod Basic Solids

This quilt is perfect for a toddler bed, but best of all, you put it on the floor with some cars and
trucks and it’s a playmat! The quilt is based on a grid design of city blocks. The roads lead
horizontally and vertically, then cross at intersections. Between the roads are
your “city blocks” where you will be designing and piecing your buildings.
Plan your quilt
  • I think the best way to start this improvisational quilt is to draw out how you want your city to look. Graph paper works great, as does Adobe Illustrator. When using graph paper I set each square to be 2”x 2” and worry about the seam allowance after designing.
  • Draw your roads first and think about where you would want to place a green space like a park or a pond. Then start drawing squares and different geometric shapes for the buildings in each block.
Here is my final layout for the Downtown quilt which I started building from.

  • I used as many of the Birch Organic solid poplins I could on this quilt. You only need a small amount for each color you pick.
  • 2 yards of Birch Organic Solid Cream for the background color.
  • 1 yard of Birch Organic Solid Dark Shroom for the road color.
  • You also need 2 yards of Birch Organic, Mod Basics 3, Pop Dots Boy for backing and binding.

  • Once you have planned your roads you will figure out how big each of your city blocks are going to be. I set my roads at 2” wide so I cut strips of my “Dark Shroom road” fabric 2.5” wide. If you sketch on graph paper it is so easy to just count your squares in each city block and figure out how big they are, but remember you need to add a seam allowance so tack on an additional .5” both for height and width for a .25” seam allowance. You’ll notice the blocks should be the same height in rows and the same width in vertical columns. As I made each of the city blocks I used my sketch for guidance but you can always ad lib as you go, as long as the block size ends up being what your design dictates. Each block can be unique or you can repeat blocks.
  • When picking out your fabrics think about what color you want to represent each building.
Maybe your firehouse is red, or the art museum is blue.
  • The park block was the only one not pieced. I used fusible webbing and cut out a lake shape to applique on top of the green block. This is where one of the many opportunities for originality in design comes in. You can make a bridge over the lake, or you could even add a little rowboat. I toyed with the idea of adding applique bushes around the park and embroidered french knot flowers but decided to keep it simple.

  • Once you have all your blocks pieced and ready you can start assembling. I did my bottom two rows first by joining blocks horizontally with a 2.5” road strip in between them.
  • Then when both rows were done I joined them vertically, again with a long piece of road in between.
  • Then I attached the park block to the side of those.
  • Finally, I pieced the top two rows horizontally, and joined all the rows together for a finished city!
  • Quilt as desired or stitch in the ditch.
  • Bind your quilt and you’re done! Enjoy!

There are so many ways you can make this quilt your own. For example you can:
1. Label the roads with names
2. Add stop signs or train tracks
3. Add foliage or any other special feature

4. Create someone’s house or grandma’s sewing place

For suggestions, compliments, questions, and clarifications, please email the pattern designer at ninadodge@gmail.com.