I Spy Quilt

Have you ever played the “I Spy” game? Did you play it as a child? Well, I was in the dark until I came across a quilt named I Spy. The more I looked at it, I realized it was a great teaching opportunity and at the same time a fun game!   “I spy something Red” or “I spy a bird”. The other person has to find that item.

ispy-finished-close-300k I started saving 10″ squares of child fabrics and storing them away for ‘whenever’.  Almost forgetting about them until our first grandchild was announced.

So, what design to use? There are a lot of I Spy designs. I considered simply sewing all the squares together with no sashing or alternate I Spy fabric with blocks of a solid color. When I saw this design I really liked it. (edit: I found the original design photo)

The sashing is only on two sides and the direction changes with each row and within the rows. (don’t worry, I’ll explain later.)

ispy-finished-full-142kTo help with teaching, I wanted to include words around the border that give hints for what to Spy.  I read an article from Sharon Fry about 10 years ago (in a magazine-remember them?). She had an great idea for writing words on strips for fabric. She used freezer paper to stablize the fabric.

Each I Spy fabric is cut 4.75″ x 4.75″. They are sewn onto long strips of white fabric cut at 1.75″ wide.


Cut the blocks apart, iron them open and stack them up.ispy-blocks-sashing2-cut-94kispy-blocks-sashing3-stacked-70kThen sew another side with sashing. Each block has sashing on only two sides.

ispy-blocks-sashing4-2sides-99kAt this point the blocks are 5.5″.


When you make the rows, each row will have blocks with sashing on the left or the right. In my quilt, the first row was a Left Row.  I made a drawing so you can visualize the movement. Then within the row, the blocks alternate too.

Row 1 is a Left row. The first block has sashing on the left & upper side, the next block on the left & lower side, etc. The next row is a Right row with blocks that have the sashing on the right & upper side, then on the right & lower side.  A total of 7 rows across by 8 rows down.


For the outside border with the words, I was concerned that if I made one long strip, I might not fit all the words or my spacing could get wonky.  So I decided to cut the strips into 5.5″ x 1.75″ pieces, which matched the seams of the blocks. I stabilized the strips by ironing them onto freezer paper. After writing the words, I ironed the heck out of them to set the ink. Sewed the short strips together, match up the seams to the blocks and attached the worded border. There are 95 words!

ipy-top-with-letters-150kWith the outer lettered boarder attached, the quilt top was now 41.5 across x 47 down.

For the binding, I found a great cheater binding tutorial at: http://www.made-by-rae.com/2010/10/rae-pretends-she-can-quilt-and-shares-a-quick-quilting-tutorial/  The only thing I did different was I starched & ironed the backing.

I loved how this turned out and I’m hoping “Little D” loves it too.


5 thoughts on “I Spy Quilt

  1. I am almost finished with mine but it’s too late for the hints on front. I am considering typing the hints on a T-shirt transfer and ironing them on a square in the back corner.

  2. Hi, thanks for your question. In all there were over a hundred words. I sat with the unfinished quilt and started to write what I saw in the squares. I used all the animal names in the quilt. Like monkey, fox, elephant, dog. All the objects, like jet, ball, cupcake, Saturn. All the colors, red, blue, green, etc. Then, shapes, like triangle, circle. Have fun finding all the things to spy in your quilt!

  3. I’d like to know the words you used … I love how this turned out and really like the idea to add words in the border

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