Colors of the Rainbow Quilt




Introduction: Colors of the Rainbow Quilt

When I saw the Colors of the Rainbow Contest cover photo, I knew immediately that I had to make that explosion of rainbow-y goodness into a quilt. (Honestly though... what do I NOT think "how can I make that out of fabric?" about... Quilters and Sewers: amirite?). I pulled out the brightest of brightest batik fabrics and the outcome seriously makes my heart so happy!

This quilt is beginner to intermediate level; I walk you through the details on making this super easy quilt top, but you choose your own quilting and binding methods, which makes it intermediate. And I'm serious about it being easy; no special tools needed to make these triangles. This is the easiest method to making half-square triangles ever!

Size: ~56" x 56"

Step 1: Materials

*In this project, I used batiks (pronounced: buh-teeks) because they are bright, colorful, and are double-sided, so you don't have to worry about sewing "right sides together" (RST).

** You will need a dark-colored fabric to offset the bright/light colors and create the starburst explosion. I chose this navy batik from Joanns with all the colors swirling around in it to add to the explosion effect. Also, this fabric TOTALLY reminds me of 90's Lisa Frank - the queen of using colors of the rainbow, let's be real.

Quilt Top

  • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet batiks*
  • Dark blue or black batik**
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Rotary tool, ruler, mat
  • Clips or pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron

Quilting and Binding

  • Batting (60" x 60") - I used a thin natural cotton - not loft - because I wanted a table cloth
  • Backing (60" x 60") - I used a blue batik
  • Top and bottom quilting matching thread
  • Optional: Spray baste

Step 2: Prepare Squares

  1. Cut your fabrics to 10" x 10" squares. Because each color is not used equally, only cut the following amount of squares for each color:
    • Red: 1
    • Orange: 2
    • Yellow: 3
    • Green: 4
    • Blue: 3
    • Indigo: 2
    • Violet: 1
    • Dark Blue: 16
  2. Make triangle squares.
    • Place a light (colored) square on a dark blue square, right sides together (RST)
    • Sew 1/4" seam all the way around the block
    • Place ruler on block from corner to corner and cut
    • Turn ruler perpendicular and cut from corner to corner again. This will give you four triangles (squares)
    • Press open squares

Step 3: Build Block

  1. Lay your blocks down according to the pattern above
  2. Double check your work!
  3. Sew the rows together, RST. Press your seams in the opposite direction each row; ie. rows 1 & 3, press left, and rows 2 & 4, press right. This will ensure your seams can "nest"
  4. Sew the four (4) columns together, RST, and press
  5. Repeat three (3) more times. You should have four quadrants of blocks that are 25" x 25" in size

*Tip: When sewing points, make sure to "nest" the corners, as pictured. To ensure "perfect" points, clip all nested points in place before you sew.

Step 4: Build Top

  1. Turn the four quadrants so the violet point towards the center, as pictured. This is why this quilt top is so easy. You do the same thing four times and that's it!
  2. Sew your two columns together, press open
  3. Sew Rows,meaning the two blocks, together, press open

* I did not square off the quilt at this point (meaning make edges straight and super even) because with this pattern and all the points, squaring can cause you to lose your points later on when you add the border.

Step 5: Add Border

You can stop before adding a border and move on to quilting, but I wanted to continue the explosion beyond the 4 quadrant blocks. I also made the border wider than normal - 3 inches - because I will square it up/trim off roughly 1/4" after I am done quilting it. If you want to save a ton of fabric, you can sew strips' short ends together to get a straight edge, but I sewed my border fabrics together at an angle (described below) so they match the angled quadrant blocks better. You could also make your strips longer or shorter to get a different look, or just choose one border color. This is up to you; just make sure you have around 220" of border.

  1. Cut four to five (4-5) 3" x 10" strips of each color
  2. Lay one strip perpendicular on the edge of another strip, right sides together. If you are going to follow the rainbow pattern (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet - ROYGBIV), make sure you start with two colors that are next to each other (ie. yellow and green)
  3. Clip together and sew a straight line from corner to corner, as pictured
  4. Trim off 1/4" to the right of the sew line
  5. Open and press
  6. Continue with the rest of the rainbow pattern, ROYGBIV
  7. Clip and sew the long edge of the border on one edge of the quilt, RST. Cut off excess on each end and press open
  8. Repeat on opposite side of the quilt and then on the last two sides

Step 6: Quilt

You are done with the quilt top! Now you are going to "quilt your quilt" (who thought of that?). This Instructables doesn't go into the details of how to quilt because there are so many ways to do it...and also because I cheated and used a longarm quilting machine. However, here is my recommendation on how to make your quilt sandwich and bind.

Quilt Sandwich Spray Baste Method: (if you want to see a short GIF on this process, check out step 9 on my Star Wars Pixel Quilt)

  1. Lay batting down and smooth
  2. Place backing on top, centered on batting. If you are using fabric with a wrong and right side, make sure backing fabric is right side up and facing you
  3. Roll back half the quilt and spray baste the wrong side of the backing, NOT the batting
  4. Slowly lay the backing back down on the batting - (**Pro Tip: Use a long tube, bar, or pipe to help guide the fabric evenly back down over the batting)
  5. Repeat on the opposite side of the backing
  6. Flip over the 2-piece sandwich so batting is on top
  7. Lay quilt top, right side up, on batting and center
  8. Repeat spray basting steps, again spraying on the fabric and not the batting
  9. Pin in place

For the actual quilting, I wanted my stitches to look like they were exploding from the center out, so I used a method I like to call "fire meandering". The stitches follow each other like a regular meander pattern, but they point at the end like fire. It can be done on a regular at home machine, but it's a lot of unnecessary twisting and turning. The second picture shows the quilting pattern I would use if I quilted on a regular sewing machine; I think it accentuates the rainbow explosion.

Step 7: Bind

The quilt top piecing and binding processes ends up making the unbound quilt a little wonky, so before you bind, you need to "square up" your quilt. I did this by lining up the 2.5" line on the ruler with the seam where the blocks and border meet. In some places I am losing a quarter inch, but it will look a lot tidier this way. Cut your bind fabric, which I used the navy color swirls, into 2" width strips and sew together to get around 230" total. I bound my quilt by folding and pressing the bind in half long ways, pinning and sewing the raw edge to the back of the quilt, and then flipping it over to the front to sew an 1/8" seam as pictured. (Yes, I machine quilt everything, including my binds. Almost nothing can get me to hand stitch!)

Step 8: Use It!

You can use this explosion of rainbow happiness as a small throw, a crib quilt, a wall hanging, or even as a table runner!

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    8 Discussions


    Question 3 months ago on Step 6

    If I wanted to make this rainbow quilt large enough for a twin size bed, what would be the additional fabric and cuts? I would love to do some machine embroidering in the quilt but not sure how to accomplish that with the design. It is for my granddaughter, need bright colors.


    2 years ago

    This is beautiful, I usually avoid triangles, but you make it look easy! Will have to try!

    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    2 years ago

    Very fun fabric choices! Makes for a beautiful quilt :)

    Whitney Fabre
    Whitney Fabre

    Reply 2 years ago

    Oh my gosh, so fun! I've never used all batiks and it just makes my heart tickled. Thanks!


    2 years ago

    Who doesn't love a quilt. Being a guy, I have never made one myself, but always thought I would try it one day. I like your project. It looks great and comforting all at the same time. Thanks!

    Whitney Fabre
    Whitney Fabre

    Reply 2 years ago

    That's so sweet, thanks! I know a few man quilters; try it. It's calming, and they are great presents! You will also never be cold.... :)

    Kink Jarfold
    Kink Jarfold

    2 years ago on Step 8

    I'd nevr do a quilt on my own, but as a creative person I'm drawn to their intricate beauty. Andy yours is definitely intricately beautiful. Wonderful job.

    Whitney Fabre
    Whitney Fabre

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you for saying that! I'm glad this simple-designed quilt looks intricate; my job is done here! ha. Also, I love cats so I appreciate those memes more than you know. ;)