Marking A Grid

I have had a few questions about How I mark a grid on quilts.  Here is How I do it.  Let me say first that the way I do it does not have to be the way you do it….there are as many different ways to do things as there are quilters.

For a whole cloth quilt I find it easier to mark the entire top with a grid and then do the feathers etc.  You can use the grid to help you layout the motifs.

The first step is to find the center of the top.  Fold it in half and press then fold the opposite direction and press.  Now you have a pressed x mark in the center.

grid-marking 002

I like the grid to be on the diagonal so I use a square ruler to mark the diagonals

grid-marking 003

Once the marks are on the corners you can draw in the lines

grid-marking 004

So you can see it in the picture I used a blue wash-away marker.  I normally use a mechanical pencil with HB lead and press lightly…it makes a faint mark and washes out but does not rub off like chalk while I am quilting.

I use a yardstick to mark the lines.  The yard stick is 1″ wide so it is perfect…no measuring, just line it up and draw lines.

grid-marking 005

I get the entire top marked and then hand quilted.


Then I go back and mark again to make the grid smaller.

It depends on how small you want the grid.  I divide the grid in 1/2, marking the center of each square

grid-marking 006

then connect the marks

grid-marking 007

for the quilt I am working on I divide those again

grid-marking 008

I do the dividing by eye…since the quilt is already been quilted it might be stretched and no longer as accurate so it drives me crazy to try to measure and see that it is not perfect.  If I just eyeball the center  and then use the ruler to connect the dots I don’t need to know if it is off.


One thing I realized today is that the grid I am doing now is 3/8″.  I had the first “big” grid marked at 1 1/2″ inches.  3/8 is still pretty small and I could easily have done it much larger and still had a very pretty quilt, but sometimes I just need to get crazy!


So that is how I mark a grid.  Hope that helps

Happy Quilting


47 thoughts on “Marking A Grid

  1. Kristen says:

    You are an amazing maniac Tim. The very thought of doing the second grid on the quilted material is making my eyes cross.

  2. Sara says:

    I would say you did go crazy on this one, but it will reap big things when you see all those ribbons and fanfare that goes with it!

  3. Judy says:

    Thanks for that Tim , I did the same for my Christmas Star quilt, marking it prior to doing any quilting so know I’m on the right track. 🙂

  4. Laura Gottlieb says:

    Thanks for your very clear explanation and gorgeous photos, Tim! I’m full of admiration!

  5. Vicki says:

    Gasp! This is just amazing! I stand in awe….thank you!

  6. audrey says:

    It’s incredible Tim. Great work.

  7. Sharon says:

    This is going to be amazing.Thanks for sharing your technique, I shall use that on a small(ish) piece some day. I’m glad you mentioned the 3/8th grid is a bit crazy. I”m doing one right now at 3/4″ and wondering about adding one line down the middle, I shall wonder no more. 🙂 Mine is an applique 100 x 100 and I sent it out to get marked. No room in my house for that type of work

  8. Hilda says:

    Thanks for showing your technique – excellent tutorial! Such a beautiful quilt.
    Hilda Every Stitch

  9. Dawn says:

    Thanks for the wonderful tutorial, Tim! Love following your progress on this gorgeous quilt.

  10. Amazing quilting! I’ve never heard of the fold and press method for starting a grid before, but will try it now. Thanks!

  11. Donna Speers says:

    Tim Do you mark the grid on all of the top and then mark the center on top of the grid?

  12. Markay says:

    OMG!! how beautiful, do you sell these? Very nice I love it.

  13. Carol J says:

    Wow! thank you for sharing your grid process. I hear a lot of quilters using the blue marking pen, maybe I should give it a try… I am just not so sure about washing the quilt once I get it done! Beautiful work by the way!!

  14. Lily Langtry says:

    Amazing, thank you for sharing, just about to try marking out a sample & having a go. Have you already shared how you did the other patterns on the quilt? I am a total novice to this art, so welcome all helpful tips.

    • timquilts says:

      I used templates that I made for the other parts….I did not show how I did that part on the blog….I will have to do that some day soon
      good luck with yours!

  15. gwendenluck says:

    I love the idea of doing the grid first. I love hand quilting and grids are my favourite. Loved the idea of marking the grid first so everything can be placed right. Thanks

  16. Marilyn says:

    Stunning !! Thank you for sharing

  17. Katie says:

    Very helpful, thank you for taking the time to share. Just curious why you wouldn’t mark the smaller grids at the time you mark the top (before quilting)?

    • timquilts says:

      Marking has a tendency to wear off as I work on the quilting, I work in a hoop and the quilt gets dragged around a lot on the floor and all the areas that hand over the edges get rubbed against frequently….I find it to be easier to mark it at a larger size and do all that quilting first and then go back and add the smaller grid marks, If I were quilting in a frame I would likely do all the marking at once….

  18. Deanna Ahern says:

    Tim…AWESOME, thank you. Do you quilt your grids i. The same direction, or do a line, and turn, going back?

  19. Dr. Sitara says:

    Its superb,
    I am learning hand quilting with Korean teachers and they ask us to start a line from center and leave thread as much as required for rest hand stitch so measure thread first with reference to line. In this way pukring will not appear. Is that a good Idea?

  20. Dr. Sitara says:

    One more thing to ask that when and how you draw center and side pattern of leaves?

    • timquilts says:

      I am not sure I understand the question. But I think you are asking when I add the design. I start with the grid and then use the grid as a guide to add the rest of the design…..helps keep it even to have the grid marking to follow

  21. Dr. Sitara says:

    please show how you add design in video if possible. Thanks again.

  22. Cindy says:

    Beautiful quilt! How long did it take you to quilt it?


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