December block–bookshelf

I am so excited to have arrived at my turn!  I’m not actually Queen until December, but with that being such a busy month, I figured some might want to get done early.  No pressure, I’m not in a hurry.

As a librarian and a quilter, the moment I first saw a bookshelf quilt I knew I had to make one someday.  This is the block I asked for from Stash Bee in 2016 and I have decided to make a bed-size quilt for my guest room/sewing room so I need more bookshelf blocks! I am so excited that I will see a quilt every day that has a piece of each of you in it!

first block I made


Second block I made.  With a theme this time!

I do not have a preferred method for this block.  Your books can lean, stand upright, be stacked, or any combination.  I am going to show you how I did my first two blocks, but feel free to use whatever method you like.  My first two blocks are similar to this tutorial from the Craftsy blog. I also tried the mini bookshelf tutorial from Don’t Call Me Betsy.  If “cut random book-sized strips” is intimidating to you, check out her tutorial.  She gives specific dimensions for her books. But keep in mind that her finished block is larger than our guidelines, so you’ll want to use fewer books and trim it to 13″ high. I also found that cutting each book to a specific size took waaaaay longer, which is why my tutorial just has you use varying widths of no set size.

Third block I made. I’m pleased with the leaning book.

Basic Details
Size: please make your blocks 13″ high and between 13″ and 16 1/2″ wide.
***Updated to add: this is the unfinished measurement and the size it will be when you mail it to me.  Thanks, Sue, for the question!***
Background fabric: solid white or off-white. (I used Kona Snow) 
Book fabrics: anything goes!  Great use for scraps!  I love novelty fabrics so if you have scraps of those, great, but honestly, everything will work in this.

Optional Embellishments & Variations
I would love one or more of the following embellishments or variations in your block, but these are completely optional, as I know I will love all bookshelf blocks.

  • Choose a theme for your bookshelf!  You see I did one with all monkey fabrics.  Anything goes here; the sky is the limit! A single color family could also be a theme.
  • Add an object to your bookshelf. Anything you might put on a shelf.
  • Add titles to one or more of your books.  The book titles in my examples are printed because I use printing on fabrics for my quilt labels and I’ve been using any extra space left on the sheet lately to print out titles of some of my favorite books.  Handwritten titles with Micron or similar fabric-safe pens are fine, too. I’ve also seen selvages used for this and that works too.

And Now For the Tutorial!
Again, method is totally up to you, but here is one way to do it. This is for the most basic row of books.

Get your book spines ready. These will be strips of varying widths and heights. Lay these out in the order you like. I found it useful to take a picture at this point to refer to later.

line them up and when you like how they look, take a picture

Cut a long strip of your background fabric.  I cut mine 8″ x WOF; if you have shorter books this may be cutting it to close, in which case do 10″ wide.  You won’t need the entire width of fabric.

Take your book spines and your background fabric to the sewing machine.  Place each spine face down against the background piece, and sew the  short end to the background piece.  Leave about 1/4″ in between spines, and chain piece.

chain piece each book spine to the background fabric

This is what it will look like when you have sewn them all to the background:

all sewn together!

Now line up your ruler and trim each book and the background sewn to it.


Press each book piece.


Sew your books together, lining up from the bottom of the books.  This is where having a picture from before you started sewing helps!  Your backgrounds will not line up at this point.

books sewn together, before trimming

Trim your block to 13″ high.

finished block

That’s it!  Let me know if you have any questions.  Thanks so much, and I can’t wait to see what you make!

3 thoughts on “December block–bookshelf

  1. Pingback: Blocks for Emily and Sharon – Bee Inspired

  2. Pingback: Tu-Na Quilts: A Cookbook Shelf for Emily – Bee Inspired

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