The Adorable I Spy Jar Quilt


Hi I’m Jenny from the Missouri Star Quilt Company. When my children were small and we traveled, we didn’t have any of the electronics. No drop down things, no thumb things you do like this. We just sang in the car, we talked in the car, and we played “I Spy”. “I Spy” is one of the most fun games we played. We “I Spy”ed colors, we “I Spy”ed things. We just had a lot of fun with “I Spy”. So as they got a little older and I started quilting I wanted to make “I Spy” quilts. Now there are loads of different “I Spy” quilts that you can make but I love to make the jar block.

The hardest thing about making an “I Spy” quilt though, is collecting all the fabric. You have to go to this store and get a little piece, go to this store and get a little piece. So, you’re searching for it for a long time. So, we went to Benartex and talked to them about putting together an “I Spy” pack for us. They have lots of novelties and we just wanted them to go to all their different lines and grab their novelties, put them together in these packs and guess what. They did it!

So, we have two “I Spy” packs and I love them! One is a primary color, one is pastels and they’re just great! They have everything from grass, to fruit, to money, to cars! I mean just all kinds of things! You’ll be able to see those a little more as we talk about the quilts that I made.

So one of the reasons we had them put these together in a layer cake is because some of the prints are larger like this beachball, and you may want to fussy cut around it, instead of just cutting your jar out, you may want to fussy cut it. The other reason is that you can make different sized blocks or different sized jars.

So I want to show you this quilt right here. I have some large jars. These are my quart jars. There we go. Let me hold this up for you. These are the quart jars. You can use any kind of background for your jars and you can use any kind of color for your lids. You just want to be consistent so your jars cap off. The other thing I did with this quilt is I took some of the leftover pieces and I made a piano key border that goes all the way around it. So you can even play “I Spy” in the borders. Way fun! Oh, my grandchildren love these!

OK, so what you’re going to do to make your quart sized jar is you’re going to take your Layer Cake’s and you’re going to cut it in half. This is a 10” square so that will give you a 5”x10” strip. Let’s go ahead and do that. Look at this one is bread rolls, it’s so cute! Alright so let’s cut this in half right here. There we go and this gives you your quart jar. There we are, and the next thing we’re going to do is, you’re going to take a strip of 1 ½” wide fabric and that’s going to be your background fabric, mine is black, and we’re going to go ahead and cut some corners.

So, we’re going to cut 4-1 ½” squares off our strip, like this. Just a little square like that and then we’re going to put one of those squares on each corner. So, we either need to draw the line from corner to corner to sew on or we can press it. And I’m going to press it over here. So you just fold it in half diagonally match up your little corners and that will give me a line to sew on. So I’m going to go ahead and put this on here and I’m going to put one of these squares on each corner so let’s go over to the sewing machine and do that.

Now I’m using some gray thread on this so you can see how I’m sewing. I’m going to sew right on the crease, and you can see that right there and then we’re going to go ahead and sew all four corners. I have some blocks over here already cut. There we go, and I’m going to go ahead and put them on. When you do this this is called snowballing a block. Because you’re putting a little corner, a little square on each corner it’s going to give it more of a round appearance than a square appearance.

I just go ahead and leave my thread connected and pull it out a little bit and just add corner, to corner, to corner as I turn the block around in there. There we go.

Now we’re going to bring this over here and we’re going to trim off these corners. Let me clip these threads right here so it’ll lay nice and flat for us to do that. Alright, so, let’s go ahead and trim those corners. So, I’m going to lay my ruler right here. The ¼” line is on the stitch line and we’ll cut off that excess so we don’t have extra fabric when we fold that back, and this is what we get! We get a little block that has the little corners cut off.

Then we’re going to go ahead and iron those back. I like to just lay my iron, you’re going to set your seam and roll that corner back. So, just push the iron down on there. Set those seams. When you set a seam it just kind of embeds the thread into the fabric. Makes it lay nice and flat.

OK, so, basically this is your block right here. Now what it needs is a lid! So, to make the lid we use the same 1 ¼” squares on the corner and a 3” lid in the middle. But what we’re going to do to hurry up that process is we’re going to take two 1½” strips and our 3” strip for the middle and we’re going to sew them together in a long piece and then when we need a lid for our jar this piece is ready to go. We’re just cutting it 1 ½”. So, I hope that made sense to you take two 1 ½” strips and one 3” strip and sew them together the 1 ½” strips are on the outside of the 3” strips. Then you’re going to go ahead and measure in 1 ½” and that will give you your lid piece.

So, then you’re just going to attach that lid piece right on the top of your jar. Right here and we’ll go ahead and sew that on right here over at the sewing machine. There we go.

Now if you’re using different sized blocks, then you just measure this part that’s in between here. The 1¼” snowball corners will stay the same. But if you make like a 7” block you’re still going to use 1¼” measurements on your corners but your lid might be a little bit wider. So, you just want to measure between the snowball corners. Let me see if I can show you this right here where your 1 ¼” squares come in you’re going to measure this part, add ½” on both sides for your seam and then your lid will be that long.

You can make the block any size you want for a jar, this jar block. You know you can make it any size you want. You just want to make sure you leave that extra ½” for your seam when you measure it.

So, here we have our jar block and I have several others made here, and I mean they’re just fun and cute. So, when you go to put it together in a quilt then you’re going to sash it on either side and put them together in rows. See I have 2 ½” sashing right here and then we sash on either side of the jars and then we put a sashing in between. So, remember you can buy a lot of these solid colors in Jelly Rolls already cut. The pre-cuts also come in solids. So, that’s kind of nice and it makes it easy because we’re not doing a lot of cutting.

OK, so when we sew our sashing in between, what we’re going to do is we’re going to measure this block to see how big it is and it looks like its 11”. So, I’m going to cut an 11” strip off of my sashing. I’m going to trim off that selvedge first. We don’t want those little selvedge holes in our quilt. So I trim that off first. Then I’m going to come down here and cut 11” and this gives me the side piece for my jar block here. So, let’s go sew that on.

Alright, when you sew your sashing on you always want to put it on top. That’s the same with borders or anything. You want to put that extra piece of fabric on the top and that’s because your feed dogs take in more fabric and you don’t want your sashing to be stretchy, or it’ll make your block get all wonky and odd shaped. Alright so now we’re just going to set the seam again and iron that back. So, what I do with my blocks when I do this is I generally go ahead and take all my blocks and run them. Cut all my sashing’s out and run them through one after another, so, they all have a sashing on one side. Then I can just start putting the blocks together to form the long row. It just speeds it up a little bit and helps that.

So, those of you who know me know I have a lot of grandchildren. So, for me to get more bang for my buck, I cut my layer cakes into fours. Which will give me four blocks and that will enable me to make these little pint jars. You know where I can get, these are the pint jars right here. So, I can get four quilts out of a pack instead of two quilts. Which, you know, I love and I need that with all of my grandchildren. So, I’m going to do the same thing. I think I have one over here already, yes. I have one over here done. So, I’m going to do the same thing, I’m going to go ahead and put my, it’s the same sized square. 1 ½” squares on the corners. I’m going to go ahead and put my squares all the way around my little jar here. And it’s the same size lid strip because we’re still dealing with 5” wide. So it’s 1 ½” strips on the sides a 3” piece in the middle sew that unit together and then you can just cut off lids as you need them.

For a quilt this size I believe it took three of these strip sets to do it. It’s about 2 yards for the background and when you buy a Jelly Roll remember there’s 42 strips so you’re going to get 2 ¾ yards in there. So, a Jelly Roll is plenty to make this quilt.

So, I want you to just take a look at some of these things in this “I Spy” quilt. There are fun things in here. There are everything from the candied apples to the Volkswagen busses. Who remembers those? Ice cream sandwiches, it’s just a really fun, fun little game to play with your grandchildren.

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial from the Missouri Star Quilt Company!

posted: Basic Skills & Techniques, Quilt Projects, Tips and Tricks, Trimming | tagged: ,
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  • Janet Gooding

    A couple of weeks after the tutorial came out your daily deal was a farmers market charm pack. I do a lot of canning so I couldn’t resist. Its at the quilters now. It came out adorable. Now with a pattern, I will be able to share with my guild.

    • Sarah

      Yay!! Thanks for letting us know!

    • lagunalady

      I bought that same charm pack and was thinking of using this pattern also. Great idea!! Did you use any borders?


  • Evita Piepho

    How wonderful this is. Now I’ll never forget how to make any of the quilts tutorials.
    Also I do not have to try to decipher what I wrote while watching the video and I know for sure now how many blocks up and down. This was one of my frequent questions to you. Now I know. Thank you, thank you and many more thank yous to you all. May G’d continue to bless you all not only in the business but also in each one of your private lives. A more than ever now loyal customer. Evita

  • Pam

    I am FINALLY getting to my I SPY quilt! I know you’ll say, “you can use however many you want in your quilt”, however, did you make your “pint” jars 8 in a row for 5 rows? This is absolutely too cute!!!!