Donut Block Tutorial

Well, hello! I meant to post this back when I first made it, for my month as Stash Bee Queen in the beginning of February, but late is better than never, right? We finally managed to invest in a laptop over here, so I can now blog from the comfort of my bed instead of having to sit up at the computer! I'm hoping to start catching up on the numerous, numerous things that I've shared bits of on Instagram but haven't gotten around to featuring here on my blog.

Scrappy Donut!

Anyway, I've edited the original Stash Bee post, since half of it was an interview and me talking about what I'd like my bee quilt to be like, so here is my little donut block tutorial! Hope you find it edifying or interesting :)

The block that I decided to make a tutorial for is a donut block - inspired by this gorgeous quilt by heyporkchop, and helped along greatly by the measurements provided in this tutorial. Since it's pretty much the only block I wanted to use that didn't return a bounty of resources from Google, I figured it'd be a good choice :)

The block from the tutorial I used was 12" finished (12.5" unfinished), but mine ended up at 11.75" unfinished - I'll explain why at the end, don't worry!

First off, decide if you'd like to make your donut scrappy or not! I make everything scrappy (why use one fabric when you can use eight???), so well, I made this scrappy, too :) Either way, you will need (8) 4.5" squares and (4) 1.5" squares for the donut, and (1) 4.5" square and (4) 3.5" squares for the background. 

Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner the wrong side of the (4) 1.5" squares and (4) 3.5" squares with a pencil or water soluble pen, then pin as shown. I like pinning them this way because you can sew right down the line without having to stop, plus I find it helps with that crossgrain shifting you get when sewing along diagonals. I usually don't pin the tiny squares, they're so small that they're more difficult to pin than to just hold in place! Note: If you're particular about your background being directionally the same, then pin two squares going vertical and two going horizontal - you should end up with them all the right direction! I don't mind either way, personally. Also, I find it helps to use a much smaller stitch length when stitching tiny pieces of machine has a big problem with pulling fabric down. 

Sew along your marked lines! Afterwards, do a quick check to be sure you've sewn them correctly (for some reason I always end up having to re-do at least one!). 

On the left, you can see that my sewn line strays a bit outward, while on the right it's perfectly straight. How can you tell if you're off by enough you should re-do it? I just fold back the corners really quick. 

If it looks like this, you'll probably want to re-do it!

If it looks like this, you're good! Hooray!

Once you're pretty sure you don't need to sew anything again, trim the corners. Line up the quarter inch mark on your ruler with the line you just sewed, and cut!

Hopefully ending up with something that looks like this! You basically just cut your seam allowance into existence. The best part is that you get leftovers! I always sew them into HST's, then shove them in a bag. One day they'll be a project, I swear! If you'd like to send them along (as scraps or HST's) please feel free! Maybe you'll want to start your own scrap project instead, who knows :)

Anyway, do this along each seam you've just sewn, then press your seam allowances.

Before Pressing

After pressing!
I like to press my seams open (garment industry background never dies), but you can press them however you like! 

Now, I noticed that when I measured my sewn squares, none of them were quite 4.5" square. I'm not sure if there's a good trick to getting these perfect, but I don't know it yet! Instead, I trimmed all my squares down to 4.25" square. Since this is a sampler quilt and the blocks don't have to be the same size, you have this luxury! It makes it so, so much easier when you have guaranteed that all the squares you're sewing together are the same size - and makes it much more likely for you to match your seams perfectly when sewing rows together. If your blocks are slightly varying sizes, I highly recommend this step! I skip it when I feel lazy/adventurous/like living on the edge, but I almost always end up having to re-do it. 

At least I like the little pile of scraps that results!
So, if you're awesome and all your squares are 4.5" square (or if you're still awesome, but you ended up with slightly smaller squares), you should be able to lay them out like so!

Yayy! It's almost a donut!
My favorite step of the sewing process is when you can lay out all the units and see what the block will become :) It didn't take me too long to decide on a layout, I just tried to keep the lights, blues, and neutral pinks evenly distributed so it didn't look "uneven", so to speak. If you've decided to go with one fabric, your job here is much, much easier...

 I mentioned before that I was a glue-baster, and that I used a gluestick specifically. I think it's more common to use liquid glue (with a special tip to avoid getting globs of glue everywhere), but since I am a kindergartner in a lot of ways with craft supplies (you don't want to see me with a pair of scissors), I just don't think it would be a great fit for me! If you don't like/want to baste this way, feel free to use whatever method you're most comfortable with! I'm always astounded with how precise my seams can be when I do this, though. Note: Since writing this I have finally tried to be a grown up and use liquid glue! I liked it, and it was a bit easier to pull apart after the seam was sewn, although before heat setting, the hold seemed a bit more fragile. As long as I was careful, I made a tiny enough dot that I don't think I'd need a tip. It would probably speed things up a lot, though!

Your next step will be sewing your squares into three rows, then sewing the rows together! 

I start by lining up the squares together (right sides facing), then folding back the top square along where the seam will be. I used my purple gluestick because I thought it might photograph decently, but it's barely noticeable! You really don't need very much (in fact, too much and it seems like it never quite heatsets properly), which didn't help me. Anyway, I drew arrows to mark where I dabbed a bit - usually about an inch or so from the start and end of the seam, and then once in the middle. Try to stay within the .25" seam allowance along the edge, but it won't really harm anything if it extends a bit further (just pull the two squares apart after the seam is sewn and it will easily pull apart any glue sticking the right sides of the squares together). Gently fold the top square back into place, then give it a good finger press. When you've glue basted all your squares, take your iron and press each seam for about 3-5 seconds - this will heatset the glue so it won't be tacky and sticky anymore! All dry and ready to start stitching. If you're like me and obsessed with pressing your seams open, you can open up your seams by just pulling the two sides of the seam allowance apart gently. This is why I don't like to put any glue close to the beginning or end of the seam - it makes it very, very difficult to pull apart gently! If you like pressing seams to the side, you can skip this (slightly tedious) step :)

Yay! All sewn into rows! Now to glue baste the rows together. 

This part is slightly trickier since you have seams to align now as well. I do the same thing as with the squares, just lining them up right sides facing, this time being sure that the seams are aligned on both sides. I like to start from the center, using the same glue placement; one dab about an inch away from each seam and one in the center. 

Then do either end, with the same technique. Sew your seams together and then check to see your seam alignment! How'd you do?


If you pressed your seams open, this is what the back should look like. I think mine might need  more steam, haha!

Hooray! You did it! If you're going to make a donut block to send to me, you don't really have to bother squaring it up; but if you'd like to for some reason...

When I measured my block, I noticed it was just between 12" and 11.75" square. Just for the sake of tidying things up, I squared it up to 11.75" square; this, combined with squaring up my 4.5" squares to 4.25" squares, is why my block is 11.75" instead of 12.5"! Hey, I ended up with some awesome seams though, so I think it's worth it :) Plus, in a sampler quilt, the size of the individual blocks is pretty negligible! 

All finished!
Well, what do you think? Craving donuts now? I think I'm in love with making these, I could assembly line them pretty quickly, probably...hmm maybe I'll have to make more as a backing for my bee quilt!

Please let me know immediately if you have any questions or concerns or anything! This is my first tutorial, so I'm anxious for it to be helpful and easy to understand. And most of all, inspiring! Please let me know if you end up making some of these ♥♥ I'd love to see more cute donuts out there!


  1. You are so thorough. And yes, now I want a donut. That maybe be the wine talking, though! I have absolute confidence in my ability to make a donut after reading this. A fabric donut, anyway. You should totes post a tutorial for an edible donut! NOMNOMNOM

  2. Cute donut block! Nice tutorial. -Brittany