Quilting Blog

How to Make a French Braid Quilt: Two Ways!

Have you ever sewn a French braid quilt or quilt block? Also called friendship braids, French braid quilts are sewn from fabric strips in a pattern that gives the illusion of woven strands. This is a very beautiful block that looks great in prints or solids, and it's also easy enough for beginners!

French Braid Quilt Block

The block is assembled in very much the same way that you would French braid a person's hair. The construction is also similar to a log cabin quilt pattern, in that you'll be doing a lot of starting and stopping, pressing your block in between each strip. For this reason, you may wish to chain stitch three or four French braid rows at the same time, to save a little bit of time spend moving fabric on or off the machine.

french braid quilt tutorial

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Are you ready to learn how to make a French braid quilt?

I'm going to share two methods. The first method uses any ruler and the second method minimizes fabric waste with a special ruler. Let's get started!

Method 1: Use any ruler

Step 1: 

Cut 2½" x WOF strips of three or more fabrics.

How to cut strips to make a French braid quilt

You can also use pre-cut fabric strips like 2½" strips. Subcut the WOF strips into 7" strips. You should get six strips of each color. (If you'd like a wider block, you can cut your strips to 10", giving you four strips of each color.)

Step 2: 

braiding fabric

Lay out the strips as pictured, alternating them so no two strips of the same fabric touch. You can use as many strips as you'd like, depending on the height of your quilt. For this tutorial, I'm just demonstrating the technique using several strips.

Step 3:

french braid quilt braiding

Starting at the bottom of the block, flip the bottom left fabric (my dark one) over the tip of the bottom right fabric (my granny square fabric ). Pin in place and stitch where the strips intersect. Press the seam downward toward the bottom of the block and flip the strips back to their original position.

Step 4: 

pinning strips for french braid quilt

Choose the strip that's just above the seam you just sewed. In this case, it's the solid pink strip. Flip the strip down over top of the strips you just joined. Pin the strip in place and stitch ¼" from the edge. Press the seam down toward the bottom of the block.

Step 5:

joined strips

Continue this way, working your way to the top of the block to join all of the strips.

Step 6:

French Braid Quilt Block Trimming

When you are out of strips, it's time to trim! To trim the block, line up your ruler on the right side and cut off all of the points to form a straight edge. Flip your block and repeat on the other side. Square up the top and bottom of your block to form a rectangle.

French Braid Quilt Block

Method 2: Use the binding tool

If you liked the last French braid quilt tutorial, you're in for a treat. I'd like to now share a second method, which uses the binding tool ruler from TQM products.

I learned about this technique from Missouri Star Quilt Co., and I just had to give it a try! The benefit of using this ruler is that you can maximize your fabric while getting a block that's a bit wider.

Step 1:

Binding Tool French Braid

Place one 2½" x WOF strip in front of you. Line up the straight edge of the binding tool ruler with one short end of the fabric strip and cut at the angle. Now, rotate the ruler so the angle matches up with the angle of the fabric and cut again (this time, along the straight edge).

You should be able to cut five of these pieces from one WOF strip.

Step 2:

DSC_0320

Now, arrange your fabric pieces as pictured. You may have to play around to find a piece that's the right color and pointing in the same direction, since the fabric strips are cut at two different angles. Follow the French braid quilt tutorial above to join the strips. At the end, you will only trim the top and bottom of your block.

Examples of French braid quilts

Our free Batik Braid mug rug uses thin strips of batik fabric and then turns the small quilt top into a handy mug rug.

Get the Pattern

Jelly Roll French Braid quilt

Photo via Craftsy member Pure Joy Patterns

Some French braid quilts have small squares, or cornerstones, between the strips. In this variation, you can see that strips are directly across from a strip in a matching color.

Get the Pattern

Have you ever made a French braid quilt? What method would you choose?

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25 Comments

Cynthia Williams

I like this pattern

Reply
Cynthia Williams

I like this pattern

Reply
Cynthia Williams

I like this pattern

Reply
Terri Jack

How long did it take you to make it? It looks really cool.

Reply
Cynthia Williams

I like this pattern

Reply
Cynthia Williams

I like this pattern

Reply
Cynthia Williams

I like this pattern

Reply
Janet

Even better for French braids is the Westalle Braider tool.. Even easier love….

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Elaine

When using the binding tool to cut pieces, you have to remember to turn the tool over to the backside to cut half of your pieces or they will only fit down one side of your braid

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Barbara Evans

I made the Pure Joy quilt pattern recently and the instructions said to trim the angles after it was in a row. I think the quilting tool method would have been a much better option.

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Ruth

I’m going to make some charity quilts for children. This will be great, because the pattern would be easy for a quilt as you go quilt.

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Arlene

Janet, what is a “Westalle Braider tool”? I gooled it & came up with nothing. :(… thx Arlene 🙂

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Carol

I think she means Westalee Braid tool.

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Diana

I made one of these for a Christmas quilt. One word of caution, once you trim the sides of your braid, you have a whole lot of bias edges that just love to stretch! I ended up having to use a ruler to measure each bias edge and the sashing where the seam would be so that I could match the measurements and get an almost square quilt!

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Lindsay

Great tip!

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Amy Graham

To help with this problem, sew your border to the sides of the braid BEFORE you cut the sides off. That will save you a ton of work trying to get the bias edges from stretching.

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Pat Lewis

Enjoyed this tutorial. The quilts are beautiful. Will have to try this!

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Debora

I’m new to quilting and so I need to find ways of making things super easy and of avoiding stretchy bias edges. I think I might try this but will approach it differently …I’ll start with a square and add strips just to 2 sides being mindful of the length of those strips. Then I’ll turn the piece on point, mark my cut lines and stitch the sash (before cutting). If I cut off the strip sides after attaching the sash I can avoid sewing on the bias. Do you guys think this will work?

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Creative Kitty

I use a long straight edge and pencil in a line to match my sashing
edge. Match the sashing to the line and stitch. Then I let my serger cut off all the ends. Super simple and by serging you have all the long seams fray free.

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Elizabeth white

Looks amazing will have to try it

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nancy

Love this site

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Jolene

I am a beginner. I assume that WOF is the width of fabric. Yes?

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Dorothy Smith

Is it possible to buy this pattern. I would love to make this quilt

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Sava

I learned this many years ago. If you start with a triangle to sew your strips to, and sew on two small triangles at the top, you waste less material. We matched up the colors in the strips when creating, so that when sewed together we had “waves” going all the way across the quilt top. We sewed them before trimming, this alleviated lots of bias stretch issues.. Still love the pattern and plan to do again.

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Maria

The braid quilt was one of my first quilts. It was very easy and gets a lot of praise. It is a quilt that if you make it baby size or throw size you can easily quilt it yourself on your home machine.

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