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Orange Peel Quilt Tutorial


The past few days I have been working on an Orange Peel quilt.  I thought I might share my method.

There are 3 ways to make an orange peel quilt:

1. using needle turn applique

2. sewing curves

3. raw edge applique

Today we are going to explore method #3.  It is easy.  It is fast.  And it is lovely.

The above picture shows my chosen fabrics.  The three stacks on the left are going to be my background fabrics and the three stacks on the right are for the peels.


Fabric for background

fabric for orange peels

pellon interfacing – I like this 911FF kind.  It’s lightweight so you can easily quilt over it.  I buy it by the bolt because it’s not very expensive and I like always having it on hand when I need it.

a pen

an iron

sharp scissors

basic sewing supplies

a sewing machine that can zig zag stitch



Cutting and Pattern Details

The chart above shows the pattern details for 6 different size quilts.  All strips are cut by width of fabric.  So when something ask for a 3″ strip, it means 3″ x width of fabric.

I did want to mention that how many peels you can get per strip of fabric sometimes varies depending on how you are cutting your peels.  I’ll go into detail on that below.

But I like to go ahead and cut my background squares and set those aside.  Then I gather the fabrics I want to use for my peels, but I don’t cut them all at once.  I do this just in case I end up getting more peels per strip.  Instead I cut them as I go. (I just didn’t want you to cut all those strips for the peels and then not need them all)

Also, they don’t have to be exactly 3″ wide.  A little narrower is fine, and wider is fine too.  Just use what you have.  The 3″ is basically just a guideline.  I don’t usually cut these to size.  I just grab the strip and use it as is.

You will find the PDF template for the orange peel here.

Note that the box around the peel should measure approx. 6.5″.  As long as it’s close you should be fine.  If it’s not printing out to 6.5″, make sure that on your print page you uncheck the box that says “fit to page”.  That should make it print out correctly.

Cut out your orange peel template.

Interfacing your orange peel fabric strips

Before you begin cutting orange peels you will need to interface your fabric strip.

Interfacing only comes 20″ wide, so you will take your strip of fabric, still folded, and cut off the selvedge and cut off the fold, cutting through both layers of fabric both times.  You should now have two approx. 20″ long strips of fabric.  It doesn’t have to be exact.

Place one of the strips on top of the interfacing, right side up.  With your rotary cutter and a ruler, cut along the fabric edge, cutting your interfacing to the same size as your fabric strip.

Next, with your fabric strip still sitting on top of your interfacing (make sure interfacing is bumpy side to wrong side of fabric) and press.  Sometimes a little mist of water helps this part go quicker.

Note: don’t let your iron touch your interfacing directly.  This dirties up your iron and can make tiny spots on light color fabrics the next time  you press.

Do the same with that second fabric strip you cut.

Now stack them on top of each other, order doesn’t matter, but you should be staring at the right side of your fabric.

Fold them so that the short ends match up right sides together.  Now, you should be staring at the wrong side of your fabric or the interfacing.

You should be staring at the back of the interfacing and it be 4 layers thick (if you are uncomfortable cutting through 4 layers of fabric, then just skip the folding part).

Cutting Your Orange Peels

Now, place your orange peel template on top of your strip of fabric and trace it with a pen.  Make sure that you are tracing the peel on the interfacing and not your fabric.  See the picture above.

Cut these out by hand.

With the fabric folded the way I mentioned above, I can usually get 4 peels per fabric strip, sometimes 5.  It’s going to depend on how far away you are cutting from the edge.  I didn’t like to place my template too close to the edge, worrying some of my peels might get cut off.

It’s easier to judge without it being folded.  But the folding makes the whole process move along a little quicker, so I always fold.

Note: Instead of cutting all the 3″ strips like the chart above says.  I cut my peels from the strip (as many as I can) and keep a running total of how many I cut.  I do this just because some of the time I’m not working with a WOF strip.  I like to use scraps when I can and they are sometimes smaller.  And sometimes I just want lots of varying fabrics in the quilt.

Raw Edge Applique

On the larger quilts, I like to cut about 40 peels at a time and then go and applique those.  Then get up and cut some more.  I repeat this until I have them all done.  Sitting at the sewing machine and zig zag stitching 120 at a time can get a little grueling, so breaking these steps up always works for me.

So, you should have a peel that has been interfaced at this point.  You want to place it on one of your 6.5″ background squares like the picture below.

There are many stitches that will get this job done, so you should experiment.  The zig zag stitch and the blanket stitch are the most common.

For this quilt, I chose the zig zag stitch.

I set my stitch length between .5 – 1.5mm and my stitch width to 1 -1.5 mm.  You should experiment so that you are getting the look that you want.

Zig zag stitch all the way around your peel, lock your stitch at the end.

Once you have all of your peels on your background squares.  Chain stitch all your background squares to another background square.  See below for positioning.

Press all your seams to the left.

Make sure that you have all the peels going in the directions shown above.

Next you will sew one pair of peel squares to another pair of peel squares.  See the pic below.

All seams should nest.  I like to put a pin in them so that those seams stay matched up.

I also always chain piece this part.

Once all your blocks are done, lay them out on your design wall according to the chart above.

This is always a good picture moment.  Also, sometimes I can tell which blocks need to be moved better when looking at a picture instead of looking at them just on the design wall.  I’m not sure what that is about, but it works for me.

You will then piece each row together and then all that’s left is sewing the rows to each other.  I always start with the bottom row and work my way up.  It helps me to keep things organized a little better.

I think this might be my favorite orange peel quilt version that I’ve made to date?  But then again, I always say that.

Have you made this quilt?  Did you like it?

Thoughts on choosing colors

This is something I’ve been doing for awhile, particularly with my custom quilts that I’m making for others.

But I like to find an inspiration photo and pull the colors from there.  OR I like to go in to pinterest and pull up say “beach and sun color palette” and then choose a color palette that I like in the results.  The phrases you can put in there are endless.  I have searched “flamingo color palette” and “midnight color palette“, both of which are just lovely.

Another way to choose a color palette is by using your OWN picture of inspiration.  Say you have taken this great photo and you want to make a quilt based on that.  You can visit this site.  Upload your photo and they will give you the color palette.

Here is one below that I did from a pic I took last year in Biloxi.

I think that is another fun and creative way to choose colors.

Helpful Links

Inspiration for your orange peel quilt

My orange peel quilts to date

A cute story about where the orange peel quilt came from

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial!

XO, Melanie


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  1. Your quilt is so pretty! I have a question about the interfacing. Why is is required? Is it iron on?

    1. There’s a lot of options. You could get one with iron on. If you didn’t want to use it, you could do needle turn applique as well. 🙂

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