Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Trip Around The World!

Trip Around The World 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, so many of us are digging in with our hands and sharing with our hearts by making quilts for the displaced survivors who have lost their homes, their family, their friends, their everything. I belong to several email lists who are encouraging each other to reach out and share love and hope. Many quilts have been called for, and we are answering that call! 

I received an email from a quilter who stumbled upon the Streak of Sunshine child's charity quilt that is on this site. She wrote that the Red Cross is asking for twin sized quilts and could she just make four of the streak of sunshine quilts and then put them together for a trip around the world? I did some math figuring and realized that the quilt would be way bigger than the needs, the quilt dimensions just didn't come out right for her to quadruple that quilt, but the idea was there.

I played with the math a bit, and found that if I made the strips a bit narrower in the panels, and made the panels with 9 strips instead of 8, that the quilt worked up just right with only having to make 4 panels and there was almost no waste! 

What little bit there was I trimmed and inserted in the backing. I'll get to that pic later when I actually post a pic of the finished quilt. I also wanted to be sure, in an effort to not duplicate someone else's instructions, that there was not already a strip pieced trip around the world quilt pattern out there on the net somewhere as it is. 

I know there are patterns in BOOKS.....they've been around for ages, but what about directions on the net? How funny to find when I put Trip Around The World Pattern" in the search engine that I came up with links to my own "Scrappy Trips" pattern and references other people had made to the same! 

I found ONE pattern that had you cut actual individual squares and stack them in piles to piece the trip around the world pattern (ACCCKKK!!) But NO trip around the world directions from strips to be found on the net. So now there is! 

The directions are for TWIN SIZE only, and I will not be working up and posting other sizes on this page.  

(8) 4" wide strips each of four different fabrics shown to the left ,cut selvage to selvage. 
(4) 4" strips of the 5th fabric shown on the right, cut selvage to selvage
OR: (4) 4" strips each of 9 different fabrics. I was shooting for a center that measured about 60X70 and this is how the math broke down.

Yardage conversion for those who need to know!

Five fabric version: 8 X 4 =32" I'd buy 1 yard each of the first 4 fabrics. (Some leftovers for the scraps is ALWAYS good!) The 5th fabric you only need 4 strips...4X4 = 16" or approx. 1/2 yard. You will need about 1/2 yard to do the 2" inner border and 1 1/4 yards to do the outer border. 



This version of the quilt will work with either 5 fabrics for the center.


Arrange your 4 strips in a manner you find pleasing. Stitch 8 identical panels this way. I save the pressing until after the next step.

I know the color looks off between these two photos, but the sun started to come through the window where I was laying them out! 

 If you look at the second picture, you will see I have inserted the 9th strip between two identical panels. You want to be sure the panels read in the same order left to right.... and that you don't have the same strip on the far left as on the far right.  

Nine fabric version: 1/2 yard of 9 different fabrics for quilt center, 1/2 yard for inner border. 1 1/4 yards for outer border.

If you are using the 9 different strips for your panels, just sew all 9 strips in an order that is pleasing to you. All four panels must be identical to each other whether you are using the 5 fabric version or the 9 fabric version.

Here I am pressing the seams. Every other strip will have the seams pressed towards the inside on both sides of the strip, the other strips will have the seams pressed away from them. This is crucial for the next sewing step, so the seams will butt up against each other instead of going in the same direction. I did find that using 9 strips in the panel (an odd number) does make you have to flip ONE seam when sewing sub cuts together, but....oh well.)

After pressing, take and fold your panels in half by bringing the two edge strips right sides together. Stitch down this side turning the panels into "tubes".


Take your panel-tubes to the cutting mat. Fold the tube carefully as shown, and trim one end. Cut the tube into 4" sub cuts. You should get 10 sub cuts per panel. For right now keep them in 4 piles of 8 units, and set the extras aside. They will be used later.

Take one of your pieced units (it will be all connected into a circle-loop). with your seam ripper, simply slip through about every 3rd stitch, and open up the circle into one length of pieced squares. 

Our first two pieced panels are going to be identical to each other, and they are both going to stair step DOWN. 


Take a second circle-loop, and to be sure you are opening it in the right place, arrange it so that you can tell it would lay identical to the one before it. 

When you find that the placement matches, stair step the top square down one, and open the loop between the new top square and what is now the bottom square. What was once the top of the first unit, is now the bottom of the second!

Stitch these two units together in a 1/4" seam. Press towards the second strip. Take another loop and lay it out next to the second strip, finding where it matches identically, and then stair step it "down" one. Repeat with all 8 units until you have one panel. Repeat for the second panel. These two panels are IDENTICAL to each other.  

Now you are going to repeat the process for the "uphill" panels, but first before we start, we need to know that they are exactly "mirror image" of the "downhill" panels.

To get my "uphill" panels started, I laid out one of the "downhill" panels on the floor, left a space (the final strips will go here in between the panels) and then opened one of the loops EXACTLY as the last strip I added to the down hill panels. See how it is exactly the same?

Then I took one of the pieced loops laid it against the first strip I had just opened, found where it matched exactly and then stair stepped UP one to find where I needed to unpick the seam. 

Once I had these two right, I knew I could continue for the rest of the uphill panel with no problems, and then finish the SECOND uphill panel identical to the first.

I want you to think of this quilt as two IDENTICAL HALVES. Bottom half and top half. If we make two identical bottom halves, and flip one over to be on the top, it will perfectly mirror image the bottom. So let's make the bottom half!

One downhill panel, and one uphill panel with a space in between. Remember those extra cuts we set aside? this is where they come in!

Take a loop, lay it in between the panels, aligning it with the last strip on the downhill panel. Find where it is exactly the same as the downhill panel. 

You are also going to stair step this one DOWN. Open the strip where you need to. You can see the diamond pattern now! 

Stitch the center strip to the downhill panel and press towards the strip. Then stitch the uphill panel to the other side. Press. Repeat this so you have TWO quilt halves, just like this - identical!

Here are the two halves mirror imaging each other. I don't have the center strip sewn into the top half yet, I was too eager to see how it was going to look so I laid it out first!

Here we go! Looking great! Now, you are going to take TWO of the left over pieced strips and working from left to right, find where this strip needs to open up. This one will take you all the way to the center square. Open it up and lay it there. 

Take the second strip. This one is going to go in reverse order mirror imaging the first trip you laid out. It is going to be one square longer than you need it to be, so you will remove one square at the very end. Stitch these two opened loops into one length. Stitch them between the quilt halves. Press the top well! YOU DID IT!! 

I got to this point and still had 4 circle-loop-strips left! The quilt center was only 66" long at this point, so I thought I could open the loops, and add one more row to the top and the bottom. In the picture above you can see how I opened the strips, stair-stepping them the way they needed just as I did the center strip that joined the halves. 

On the far right of the pic you can see the extra squares that I removed. Stitch the strip halves together, and add one to the top of the quilt, and one to the bottom! The top center now measures about 59.5" X 73".

I added a 2" cut inner border and a 5" cut outer border making the quilt top finish at 72"X85" 

I admit that I am deeply drawn to yardage conservation, and this left me with only the tail ends of the panels...they were too narrow to cut to 4"...so I trimmed them 3.5" and stitched them into one long length and inserted it into the backing! This made the backing just long enough for pinning into the quilting machine, leaving room for the side clamps. Makes the back interesting too!

My next goal is to make one using NINE different fabrics! I hope this encourages you to make a Trip Around the World quilt if you haven't in the past, and make one to donate too. 


  1. Thanks for the tutorial! I have always wanted to make 'trip around the world' quilt, still want to, but don't know when that'll be - too many other projects to finish - first!
    Have a nice day!

  2. Anonymous2:31 PM EST

    I sure would like to make one too, that has been on my list for a very long time, but have a very hard time picking out materials. , want it to look older and country colors. Don't quite understand how to arrange the colors to make them pop out either.Norma

  3. Anonymous7:04 PM EST

    I took your instructions and expanded it to 11 fabrics to make a king size quilt. So far so good. Top is half finished and coming right along. Thanks for your excellent instructions and examples.
    (strips were cut 3" instead of 4" which gives a width of 107.5")

  4. Anonymous9:00 PM EDT

    Used flannel to make a queen size quilt for a grandson. Used dark green, beige, tans, pine cones, etc. Making a twin for a friend's grandson! Thanks for the ideas!

  5. I love this one and it ties into a current project of mine :).

  6. Anonymous3:01 PM EDT

    I remember several years making trips around the world in a more difficult technique. These were made square, then cut round for Christmas tree skirts and the bonus to this was you could also get four stockings from the corners. You simply had to unstitch a couple blocks and restitch them together to make 4 stockings. They made really nice gifts. I made three and sold all three!!

  7. Thankyou for such a fabulous tutorial. I have a friend who desperately wants to start quilting. She wants to make a trip around the world quilt. I am going to have a go at making one totry out your technique. Much better than sewing umpteen squares together. I love your tutorials Bonnie. I also love that you promote using shirts etc and using your stash rather than " In fabrics". Fabric ranges in the uk from 6- 15 english pounds a metre now. You are my quilting eco guru Bonnie.

  8. Thanks Bonnie. I have a friend who wants to start quilting and she wants to do a trip around the world quilt. I am going to have make one to try this technique which has been as usual beautifully explained by you.

  9. Thanks Bonnie. I have a friend who wants to start quilting and she wants to do a trip around the world quilt. I am going to have make one to try this technique which has been as usual beautifully explained by you.

  10. Thank you for the instructions. I have been wanting to make this pattern for a long time. I will study it and see if I can do it.. Love your blog and so happy I found you..

  11. I used your great tutorial and made a rag quilt version out of denim. Thanks a million!

  12. Thank you for the great tutorial! I just finished up a flannel, 9 fabric version for my 4 year old. Here is a link to my blog with pictures:


  13. Anonymous7:31 PM EST

    Only made one quilt in my life and am wanting to make this quilt into a king size. is it easy to do.??

  14. SoI just have a quick question. ..I see you cut the fabrics into 4 inch strips. Does this make your squats 3.5 or 4 inches? I am planning on doing this as my first quilt but I want to have the squares be 4 inches.

    Thank you!

  15. Lorraine3:22 PM EDT

    This is a great pattern and have made 14 over the past 21 years. Have made bigger and squared all very easy to apply to pattern. Great pattern to use for gifts and those quilts that friends who don't quilt think you can just whip up over a weekend for their relative who needs a quilt for whatever reason. And of course this pattern does the best eye catching result. Thanks for sharing.

  16. I just love this tutorial. It's so simple to follow. I'm a complete novice and thought I'd try this but didn't think I could do it. How wrong was I? The finished quilt is gorgeous. I made mine bigger by making extra strip sets so fits a king size bed with easy. Only took me a week to make the top then around two days to quilt it. I used a simple 'stitch in the ditch' quilting, am rubbish at free motion. Would love to see a YouTube tutorial though. I think it would be a tremendous help

  17. Great instructions.Thanks for sharing your expertise and knowledge with us.Fun and exciting putting this one together.Had searched for instructions for exactly this pattern and this one is excellent.

  18. 2020 and we are still using your pattern! Congratulations for a great tutorial. Made 2 now, goofed once but did a "alternate version" - no mistakes in quilting right?
    Making this one for new baby on the block, so many different nationalities here, perfect, "Trip around the World" and don't even need a car. Thanks again. j


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