Make a Totally Rad ’80s Inspired Quilt with Fill-a-Yard

JUN 26, 2018 updated Jun 1, 2021

With modern quilters like Brittany Lloyd of Lo & Behold Stitchery, Caitlin Topham of Salty Oat and Kristy Lea of Quiet Play Designs paving the way for a new generation of quilters, it’s safe to say these are not your Grandmother’s quilts. Using features like the Fill-a-Yard™ cheater quilt template to jumpstart your quilting project or bold and bright designs from the Marketplace, it’s now easier than ever to completely customize your quilt.

Today, Swiss designer and quilt maker Yara Greuter will show you how to make a totally gnarly quilt using the 2 -yard cheater quilt Fill-a-Yard template. Pull up your leg warmers, tease out your hair and get ready for this beginner-friendly tutorial! 

Featured designs

Yara: Have you always wanted to make a quilt but the process seemed daunting? With Fill-a-Yard on Spoonflower, you can create a printed quilt top in your own design without having to piece everything together! A quilt consists of three layers: the top, the back and the batting in between. These layers are held together by the quilt stitches and to finish the quilt, you attach a binding. Today I’m going to show you how to make your own quilt using Fill-a-Yard. 

For this project you’ll need: 

  • Quilt Top
    • 1 – 2 yard Fill-a-Yard Cheater Quilt project 
  • Quilt Back
    • 1 – 2 yards, depending on your Cheater Quilt size
  • Batting
    • 1 – 2 yards, depending on your Cheater Quilt size 
  • Binding fabric
    • Jump ahead to see how to calculate the yardage needed for the binding.
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Ruler
  • Sewing machine thread
  • Fabric marker or painters tape
  • Rotary cutter, mat or sharp scissors

Design Your Quilt Top

To make a cheater quilt using Fill-a-Yard, you will fill the cheater quilt template with designs from Spoonflower. To fill a template with multiple designs, they must first be added to the same Collection. Create a collection of designs you love or start with one collected by the community. I’ve decided to go with an ‘80s and ‘90s inspired theme, which you can see here!

Next, choose one of the Cheater Quilt templates. You can make a small one yard quilt or go with the bigger two yard option. Depending on the template you choose, your available fabric options will be listed in the fabric dropdown menu. I chose the two yard 9” square template, which lets me play around with up to 48 different swatches and has a finished size of 54” by 72”. As for the fabric, I chose Organic Cotton Sateen, which is great for quilting.

On to the fun part! Start designing your quilt top by selecting a design from your collection and clicking into the swatch you want it to fill.

Pro tip: You can use the same design in consecutive squares to make larger quilt blocks like I did for the quilt backing.

For the quilt back, you can either make another cheater quilt or order 2 yards of another Spoonflower design. Just remember to choose the same fabric as your quilt top! 

Don’t forget to pick fabric for the binding! Jump ahead to see how to calculate the yardage needed for the binding.

Prewash all of your fabric before ironing it. You can find more information on how to care for Spoonflower fabrics here.


Before we can start quilting, there is one thing we need to do: basting! The three layers of the quilt need to be basted together, so that no shifting occurs when you’re quilting. I prefer to tape my backing fabric (wrong side up) to the floor to keep it from moving around.

Next, place your batting onto the pressed backing fabric and make sure you smooth everything out. Finally, place your quilt top (also pressed) on top of the backing, this time right side up. You will get the best result if the backing piece is bigger than the batting and if the top piece is smaller than the batting. Each layer should be 3-5” smaller than the one below it.  If your fabrics are the same size, make sure that your back and front are placed exactly on top of each other.  

A quick note about pinning: I prefer pins which are slightly bent. You can also thread-baste or use a fabric basting spray. Use what you have on hand. If you use pins, use plenty! The more the better – it prevents the quilt layers from shifting.


Now that your quilt is basted, we can start quilting! Most batting brands suggest a minimal quilting distance to make sure the batting is securely attached between the fabric. So think about how you want to quilt.

Do you want to follow the design of the Fill-a-Yard squares and go from there? Or do you want to follow the stitch over drawn out lines? If you prefer the later, you can use a water soluble fabric marker or painters tape to create a guideline.

My sewing machine has a lot of space next to the needle but I still prefer to roll my quilts up for better handling during the quilting. I also love using sewing clips to hold everything in place.

For the quilting, I use a stitch-length of 3.5 and sew a line every 1 1/2″. You can vary the amount of quilting as you like. The denser the quilting is, the longer it will take to complete. So make sure you sit comfortably in front of your sewing machine! 

When you’ve sewed your last quilting line (yay!), take your rotary cutter or scissor and neatly trim the edges. Make sure the corners are a sharp 90º – this will make sewing on the binding much easier.

I prefer to serge the edges of my quilts in preparation for the binding. You can use a serger if you have one at home or use a narrow zigzag stitch on your sewing machine. Just make sure that the stitch width is less than 1/4″, the seam allowance that we’re going to use when we sew on the binding.

Make the Binding

When it comes to binding, most quilters have their favorite binding width. For this project, I prefer to start off with a strip that measures 2 1/4”, but others swear by 2 1/2”. I suggest you use some scraps and test which width you like best.

Here’s how you calculate how much fabric and how many strips of fabric you need for the binding:

Perimeter of the Quilt / Width of Binding Fabric* = Number of Strips (rounded up to the nearest whole number)

In my case:

252″ / 42″ = 6 > 6 strips of 42″ wide fabric 

Number of Strips x Strip Width = Length of each Fabric Strip (rounded up to the nearest whole number)

6 x 2 1/4″ = 13 1/2″ > 14″ of fabric required to make (6) 42″ wide x 2 1/4″ tall strips

*I am using Kona® Cotton Ultra which is 42″ wide.

Cut as many strips as you need based on your measurements and remove the selvage. Next, sew them together, right sides facing, one by one on the narrow side until you have one very long strip (one that covers the whole perimeter of your quilt with some extra). Now, fold in half and press the strip lengthwise all the way and roll it up so it’s easier to handle.

Attach the Binding

Start in the middle of one of the edges of your quilt and leave around 8 -10″ of the binding loose before you start sewing. Use a seam allowance of 1/4″.

Important: the binding is sewn to the front of the quilt. The open edge of the binding stripe is facing the edge of the quilt.

Stop 1/4″ before the corner and secure your stitches. Lift the needle up and fold the stripe in a right angle away from the quilt.

Now fold the stripe back along the top edge of the quilt as pictured. Start 1/4″ from the edge, secure the stitches and continue sewing.

Continue all the way around the edge of the quilt and secure the thread about 10″ before the point where you started sewing. The beginning and the end of the strip should overlap generously.

Trim the strips so that one overlaps the other by 1/2”. This way, both sides get a seam allowance of 1/4” and the binding has the perfect length to fit nicely around the quilt. 

Open both stripes and pin them right sides together. To do this, the quilt needs to be scrunched a bit. Sew the ends together using a seam allowance of 1/4”.

Make a Totally Rad '80s Inspired Quilt with Fill-a-Yard | Spoonflower Blog

Press the seam open and fold the strip back together. It should now lay flat on the edge of your quilt and you can complete sewing the binding on to the front of the quilt.

Now, press the binding up towards the edge of the quilt – this helps pinning and sewing it in place on the back.

Make a Totally Rad '80s Inspired Quilt with Fill-a-Yard | Spoonflower Blog

You can now finish attaching the binding to the back of the quilt either by hand (using a slip stitch) or by machine. For this tutorial, I will use the machine as this way is more durable. This quilt will be used a lot this summer and will get some wear and tear.

Pin the binding down on the back of the quilt and start sewing closely to the edge of the binding strip. Check the front regularly to make sure you don’t catch the binding on this side. I love using wonder clips to hold down portions of the binding while sewing but you can use regular pins, too.

Make a Totally Rad '80s Inspired Quilt with Fill-a-Yard | Spoonflower Blog

Make a Totally Rad '80s Inspired Quilt with Fill-a-Yard | Spoonflower Blog

You made a quilt! Even after making countless quilts, I still love the feeling of that very last stitch.

Make a Totally Rad '80s Inspired Quilt with Fill-a-Yard | Spoonflower Blog

Make a Totally Rad '80s Inspired Quilt with Fill-a-Yard | Spoonflower Blog

Make a Totally Rad '80s Inspired Quilt with Fill-a-Yard | Spoonflower Blog

If you want to go that extra mile, especially if your quilt will be a special gift, why don’t you check out the tutorial on how to make your own labels with Spoonflower? You can find the tutorial here.

Make a Totally Rad '80s Inspired Quilt with Fill-a-Yard | Spoonflower Blog

Feeling inspired to make a totally rad quilt (and bust out those leg warmers!)? Get a headstart with the Memphis Design Challenge Top 25 Collection featuring designs influenced by the squiggly lines, graphic patterns and bold colors from the iconic ’80s movement. 

About the Guest Blogger

Meet the Guest Blogger | Spoonflower Blog Yara Greuter is a Swiss designer and quilt maker. She has always had a soft  spot for all things heirloom and beautiful hand-me-downs. Making quilts combines her love for meaningful and long-lasting everyday items, her interest in sewing and her love for design. Yara currently lives in Berlin, Germany with her partner, their tiny baby girl and a cute, smelly bulldog. Find her over on Instagram, where she claims to spend too much time. 

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