Broken Herringbone Quilt – Tips for Success!

Another season, another quilt project!

The Fall 2023 We Quilt This City large project is Violet Craft’s Broken Herringbone quilt. Many of Violet Craft’s quilt patterns are paper-pieced, but the Broken Herringbone is an ingenious strip-pieced design. We selected it for the fall project because it showcases the larger prints in this collection. And we think it looks like a giant hug!

Just right for fall

Our Broken Herringbone Quilt Kit includes the paper pattern, a quarter yard of each of the 16 fabrics featured in our Fall 2023 WQTC collection, and one yard of sashing fabric. You can also opt to add on backing and binding fabric!

The backing and binding fabrics used in our sample are the Autumn Wreaths QC in Cream, and the Spectrastatic QC in Squash, respectively. However, our choice for a cozy, backing alternative is the Speckled Shetland Flannel in Plum!

A Quilter's Journey

Violet’s instructions are clear, and the quilt goes together quickly. But Elizabeth, our amazing sample-maker, learned a few lessons while sewing the sample that she thought would be helpful to share.

1. Use a large cutting surface.

To make this quilt, you first create a giant herringbone using the full 44″ width of all 16 fabrics (plus the sashing), and then mark and cut the giant herringbone vertically in four different spots to create three columns. The broken herringbone design is created by swapping the two outside columns, lining everything up, and then cutting across the top horizontally. Elizabeth thought she would be better able to picture where to cut if she had had a larger cutting surface.

2. Some additional tools are necessary.

The magic of this quilt pattern is the swapping of the vertical columns and the moving of the horizontally cut pieces from the top to the bottom. In order to do that, you need to draw and cut accurately and keep everything straight for it all to fit together. To accomplish this, Elizabeth used a 6″ x 24″ ruler and a Sewline Air Erasable Fabric Pen, both of which worked well. However, If you don’t think you’ll finish the cutting and swapping process in one day, a Water Erasable Fabric Pen or Tailor’s Wax are better choices than the Air Erasable Marker.

3. Check twice, cut once!

Though Violet Craft’s instructions have helpful pictures, the cutting and swapping part of this quilt process is just a little confusing! Elizabeth accidentally cut one fabric in half that should have remained whole and it ended up creating a little jog in the quilt. While you you barely notice it, Elizabeth thinks that if she’d read the instructions through a few more times, and triple-checked before cutting, it could have been avoided.

You’ll notice the little ‘jog’ that was created when Elizabeth resewed this accidentally cut piece. I think a “mistake” like this produces a more unique handmade item anyway!

4. Be careful with the bias edge!

This quilt has four, over-70-inch edges that are cut on the bias! Violet Craft’s instructions say to carefully measure the length of the columns without stretching the fabric and THEN cut the sashing strips to match. This is very important. By carefully pinning the columns to the pre-cut sashing starting in the center, you be able to prevent the columns from stretching out during the sewing process. If you don’t precut the sashing, your sashed columns will end up being different lengths depending on how much each bias edge stretched.

Another tip is, as you pin the bias edges to the precut sashing, make sure the points on each side are lining up as you go!

5. There's an opportunity to fussy-cut.

This quilt is perfect for showing off mid-size prints, so make sure to think about how you want each one to look before cutting your strips. The Sweetened Jams QC in Berry features rows of 2″ jam jars, 3/4″ apart. It wasn’t until after cutting that Elizabeth realized she had missed an opportunity to fussy-cut! She could have cut her fabric strip so that 2 full rows of jam jars were positioned in the center.

Elizabeth realized she could have fussy-cut the jam jars. Hindsight is 20/20!

Pairing your fabrics

This quilt is assembled by first sewing eight, sashed pairs. Then the pairs are sewn together in the herringbone formation. The herringbone is then cut and rearranged, but you can still see this original layout in the center column of the quilt.


Fabric order is not necessarily important, especially if you want your quilt to look really scrappy! But our quilt features a pretty even mix of basics and prints, and we wanted them to be alternating. So, we began by splitting the 16 fabrics into 8 pairs. Then, emulating the herringbone pattern, we laid the pairs out in different ways until we found the arrangement we liked best. If you want your quilt to look like ours, use the pairings and layout below as a guide!


Make one for yourself!

I hope you have as much fun making this quilt as Elizabeth did. Our autumnal Broken Herringbone Quilt Kit is available for purchase here. (You can also purchase the pattern separately by clicking here.) As always subscribers, you can apply your coupon code (included in your swatch set) to get 10% off the kit!

Let us know if you have any questions, and send photos of your finished quilts!

Happy Quilting!


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3 thoughts on “Broken Herringbone Quilt – Tips for Success!

  1. Marilyn says:

    I LOVE this quilt, but I just don’t feel “Confident” enough to try it! Maybe someday! The colors of the fabrics are gorgeous and the uniqueness of the pattern is stunning.

    • Arlo Smytheman says:

      If you love it, go for it! 🙂 This pattern is a great beginner quilt – all of the large pieces come together quickly. If you follow the additional tips in this blog post, you’re set for success. If you love these fabrics specifically, maybe purchase now and sew later…quilting cottons sell out and often aren’t reprinted.

      And remember perfection is an illusion…and seam rippers were invented for a reason

      • Dianne M Caple says:

        Could not agree more! I bought this pattern and the quilt kit and the backing fabric. It is waiting for the cooler weather to set in for me to begin. I love the fabric. Finishing the tool kit roll from the Swatch Club with the same fabrics and am so pleased with how it is coming together. I am not a seasoned quilter, but am learning something all the time. Will be reading the pattern a few more times before I jump in and start for sure.

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