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Speed Quilting with Tumbler Blocks

by Vanessa Wilson of Diary of Crafty Gemini

Vanessa Wilson is the founder and proprietor of Crafty Gemini, a sewing, quilting, cooking and crafting video tutorial business that showcases her many talents via her YouTube channel. Read more about blogger…

With two kids under the age of three, I don’t have time to do any quilty prep work these days. Pressing, measuring and cutting are absolutely out of the question during the week in my house. When I heard of the AccuQuilt GO!® Fabric Cutter, I knew I just had to have it. I figured if I could cut out blocks in a fraction of the time then maybe I could find the time to make and complete new quilts. I tried out a few different dies and I made some gorgeous quilts in no time. When I tried out the GO! Tumbler-6 1/2" (55020), I had no idea that I was going to fall in love like I did.

The Tumbler block probably got its name from the common tumbler glass it looks like. AccuQuilt carries two different tumbler block dies: 3 1/2" and 6 1/2". My favorite of the two is the 6 1/2" Tumbler. I prefer this one because it’s larger. A bigger block means I can put a quilt together faster, which makes me one happy camper.

The Tumbler block is considered a traditional block and is usually cut out with all kinds of different sized templates and rulers. I don’t have time for all that so I love using my GO! Fabric Cutter instead. It’s so easy to crank out a gazillion blocks and just start sewing away. You may find this hard to believe, but I completed this entire quilt top in less than 1.5 hours while my son took a quick nap. This is amazing—a huge thanks to AccuQuilt!

Using the Tumbler Block-6 1/2" (55020) is really easy. Start with a 7 1/2" x WOF (width of fabric) strip and follow the basic cutting directions for your GO! Fabric Cutter.

You can get seven blocks from one 7 1/2" x WOF strip but you have to make sure you start cutting on the selvage (not the folded) end of your strip. This will allow you to cut that seventh block by opening that fold. Be sure to alternate the orientation of the die each time you cut to conserve fabric and get the most cuts out of that one strip of fabric.

Once you have a large stack of blocks, you can literally just sit at your machine and start sewing. Let me also point out that the folks at AccuQuilt created the tumbler block die with specially designed corners so that the dog ears are already cut off. These clipped corners line up easily and once that seam is sewn, you end up with perfectly even rows of blocks. The GO! Cutter makes cutting identical blocks a breeze but having those special corners is just icing on my quilty cake!

AccuQuilt makes it easy to pin
and sew the blocks together

The Tumbler Block-6 1/2" die (55020) is also the perfect size that you don’t even have to use pins as you sew your blocks together. They are not so big that they move around on you. So as long as you line up the clipped corners of each block and sew your consistent 1/4" seam allowance, you should be good to go. I do suggest using pins to sew your rows together just to ensure you match up all the block intersections.

There is no need to come up with a quilt design either. This block lends itself nicely to a decide-as-you-go type of quilt design. I’ve never really enjoyed following rules so this works great for me. Just sew the blocks together into rows and decide as you go if you want to add more blocks to the row or not. Just keep adding and auditioning fabrics and prints all over your design as you go and no matter what you decide, you will always come out with a fabulous quilt.

When using the Tumbler-6 1/2" (55020), there are no rules as to how many fabrics you use, color value, color contrast, etc. All those quilting rules can be tossed aside allowing you to cut tumbler blocks out of as many or as few fabric as you want. Here are some of my suggestions to consider:

  • Use just one directional fabric (like stripes) and arrange the blocks so the fabric print direction alternates across the quilt top. This will result in a bold and modern quilt design.
  • Use only two fabrics and arrange blocks to create cool tumbler stripes.
  • Use up the scraps in your stash and sew different blocks together with for a scrappy quilt.
  • Use one print fabric coupled with solid white muslin to create a memorable autograph quilt for a special event in your life such as a graduation, baby shower, or wedding. Have guests write in the white blocks with a permanent fabric pen. This makes an instant heirloom for years to come.

Heidi-Grace Tumbler

Tumbler Girl Quilt

Tribal Tumbler

Once you have the quilt top to your desired size, you have the option of keeping the zigzag edge or you can trim it off with a ruler to get more traditional straight sides. Regardless of what you decide, the quilt will be gorgeous because this block allows you total flexibility to let your creativity shine through. You also get to break the rules… and we all know how much fun that is.

If you ever have to make a last-minute quilt, I definitely suggest you keep you AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutter and the Tumbler-6 1/2" (55020) handy. This is a winning combination that will get you out of a bind in a cinch. Happy speed quilting!

Watch Video:
AccuQuilt GO!® Tumbler-6 1/2" Die
Introduced by Alex Anderson & Ricky Tims

Watch Video:
Introduction to the AccuQuilt
Studio™ Tumbler-6 1/2" Die

About Blogger:

Vanessa Wilson is the founder and proprietor of Crafty Gemini, a sewing, quilting, cooking and crafting video tutorial business that showcases her many talents via her YouTube channel – TheCraftyGemini. After graduating from law school and getting married in 2008, Vanessa (with the help of her husband) decided to turn her passion for creativity and teaching others into a business. She loves teaching practical and functional skills to anyone willing to learn. She is a published quilt pattern designer and long arm quilter. Vanessa has also been featured in the New York Times and on ABC's 20/20 for her crafting tutorials on YouTube. She credits her clear and concise style of instruction with her success. Vanessa lives with her husband, two children, two dogs, four chickens and two rabbits near Gainesville, FL.