I Spy Quilt!!

Yes, you read that right, this post is about the I Spy Quilt – wahoo!

I signed up for a couple of swaps.  I probably wouldn’t have done anything with the squares – you know, waited a few years while they sat starring at me, but when Kimbo sent the squares back she sent a letter saying everyone could showcase their quilts by Nov 1st.  The nerve of her, expecting me to actually follow through to the end with a craft project…..

But look – I actually finished it!  I thought it would be perfect for taking to all those outdoor things – mainly, my son’s flag football games, so the other kids could have a place to sit and be entertained all at once.  We’re well into the season, so I almost didn’t make it, but I can still tote it along to the final 2 games.

how to make an i spy quilt

So a quick rundown – – if you are a real quilter, you might want to avert your eyes……

First off, I participated in 2 different swaps.  I cut a bunch of the same fabric into squares, then mailed them off and the swap host puts everyones fabric into a big pile then divys it out, so I got back a bunch of different fabric squares.  Perfect – except for that the 2 swaps I signed up for were different sized squares – whoops.

So what I did was laid out the squares into larger square pods.  Each larger square had 2 big squares and 6 small squares inside of it.  I sewed those 8 squares together into their pod.  Some I Spy quilts have plain fabric between each square, but I liked the look of them all touching, jumbled together (make it tougher on those kiddos!) I placed everything out, but of course lost track while I was moving piles from one place to another, so the quilt looks nothing like this pre-layout:

Since I wanted an outdoor blanket, I knew I was backing it with denium.  For durability, and because I have a huge pile of discarded overalls from my uncle (he knew I couldn’t say no to trash clothing).  Since I wanted to back it with denium, I didn’t think I could quilt it very well – sounded too thick to swirl around, etc.  So I just took my pod things, put a piece of batting under them, and quilted them individually.  There’s a name for this type of quilting, without the back on – I don’t know what it is.

My pile of progress:

Then I took those quilted squares (well, they’re kind of rectangle-ish) and sewed them together – – see the back, you can tell what I’m talking about:

Then I sewed a bunch of jeans together haphazardly for the back.  To hold the front to the back, I sewed down a few rows, just straight.  Here’s sewing the rows:

Did you notice that I tacked up Kimbo’s letter right by my sewing machine – it’s been there a couple of months – it’s like she’s heckling  me every time I sew something other than my I Spy quilt :)
A view of the wonky back – I just claim that “wonky” was the look I was going for:
The original plan was to embroider a whole list of all the things to find on the quilt – sounded very long and involved and I just wasn’t looking forward to it.  Then Kim said she was going to make cards for hers – I thought that was genius and quickly stole the idea.  I cut off the front pocket from the overalls and just zig zagged it right on the back of the quilt – it has snaps and everything, so it’s perfect to hold the cards in.
I borrowed  a laminator from a friend to make the cards durable – and it was awesome.  I think I need that machine!
A view of most of the front (quilts are so hard to take pictures of!):

In this picture you can see I sewed in a couple of ties when I put the binding on:

That way when I’m traipsing onto the football field with 3 kids in tow and dragging various chairs, jackets, etc, it’ll be easily transportable – I can hand it to a kid to carry and if they drop it, it won’t come unfolded or anything.  All tied up:

And of course, the fun of playing with it – – it’s been a huge hit so far.  The younger kids can point out things and name what they see, etc.  The older kids can read the cards and hunt around.

I love my I Spy Quilt – – you should make one!  Underneath it all, it’s just sewing straight lines – you can do it!

Along those lines, I have extra squares  I’ll sell for $20, including shipping, if anyone wants them – just email me, mandybeez at gmail.  They are the ones I didn’t use because they weren’t my taste, they were duplicates (whether exactly or in theme, like there were several owl fabrics), or I just ran out of room – I didn’t want a huge quilt.
My quilt: 40 large squares (6 inches) and 120 small squares (4 inches)
The leftovers for sale: 59 large squares and 82 small squares (if I counted right!)

Thanks for checking out this post from www.SugarBeeCrafts.com – – click on over to read it in its entirety – you’ll love it!

Thanks for Reading


  1. says

    Love your quilt Mandy, it’s fabulous!!! :) Doing an exchange for the fabric squares is such a smart idea! Makes me want to do one… Anyone else???

    If you’re interested email me at mommydiaries at hotmail dot com.

  2. says

    That is absolutely perfect! I love the pocket with the tags also. Where did you find those swaps? I’ve been wanting to do that ever since I saw one of these last year. What fun for the kids. This is a family heirloom for sure!

  3. says

    Very cute! May make one for a now-toddler who didn’t receive a baby gift from me. (oops) Since she can’t read yet, I may put pictures AND words on the cards before I laminate. Thanks for sharing!

  4. says

    it’s fan freakin tastic! and holy. a ton of work. i was totally just going to print up whole list….not individual words. you always have to one up me! lol. love the jeans..wonky back especially! and the pocket! sorry to make you have a time limit..i totally even forgot what it was! lol. i’m about a month and half overdue on mine.

  5. says

    This looks awesome! I love the look of the big and little squares. The pocket and ties is pretty genius too! All your quilts have inspired me to make a quilt. Maybe I’ll try out an I-spy one. I think I’m capable of sewing straight lines….

  6. says

    Fantastic! I haven’t done anything with mine yet, but you’ve given me some great ideas! I love seeing the fabrics I swapped in your quilt!

  7. says

    I love it! I was part of that swap and I can see some of the squares I sent!! That’s so cool. =)

    I love the idea of putting a pocket on the back. I may have to use that! I haven’t finished mine yet. Good job getting it on time!


  8. says

    This is great, kinda like Where’s Waldo but better because you made it, and it’s a quilt! I’m going to start saving my scraps to do this someday, or maybe I’ll try to track down a swap… Anyway, thanks for this idea!

  9. says

    I just LOVE this!!! … the colours, the tie, the denim, the pocket, the I Spy…. BRILLIANT!!! Hope you don’t mind, but I’m pinning this. It won’t happen any time soon, but I’m going to make one. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Virginia says

    My thought was, why not put a big border around the eye spy part so the kids can sit on the quilt while ‘spying’.

  11. says

    Love this quilt! Especially love the idea of having the categories on laminated strips! Can you tell me how you formatted those colorful borders around the text of the strips? It’s such a great addition to the quilt for playing games with it!!! And I’m assuming you have a laminator, which I don’t, but one of the reviews on Amazon for the laminating pouches stated that she used an iron to laminate rather than the machine.
    Thanks for your help!!!

  12. Pauline Perry says

    Thanks so much for this terrific tutorial on your fabulous I Spy Quilt – I have long thought I’d like to make one and your ideas are perfect. I am tempted to purchase your leftover squares but I am thinking that collecting them will be half of the fun since I do have 5 grandchildren and A LOT of fabric I should be able to find a lot of things to spy. Thanks again for the inspiration and great ideas like – the cards laminated and kept in a pocket!! – backing with jeans!! – prequilting the front squares with no backing!! (whatever that is called) – and the all important ties to secure the rolled up quilt!! – great ideas and I didn’t have to hurt my brain thinking of them. Ha ha


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