Mayan Mosaic Quilt


This quilt began its life in the reject pile. But, in its defense, many things I appreciate in life started there, or at least, ended up there at one point or another.

To name a few...there’s the long-suffering and heartbreakingly loyal Velveteen Rabbit. And what a treasure he turned out to be!

Also, the beautiful Jennifer Hudson. Do you remember, was it Simon who told her she had no talent or did Paula land the death blow? Either way, American Idol gave her the big N-O.​

And let’s not forget ALL of the 80s fashion that has made an unexpected comeback: jean jackets, stirrup pants, Keds and believe it or not, scrunchies. I have seen a suspicious amount of scrunchies strutting about my neighborhood. And yes, Wicker Park is a bit of an unreliable fashion microcosm, but there have been MANY scrunchie sightings – which leads me to believe that it’s not just a blip.​

Mayan Mosaic was part of a batch of designs made for a client, and even though it was trying its best, sadly, did not make the cut. MM, it’s not because you weren’t good enough, it just wasn’t your time!

I wasn’t going to give up on this quilt, though. Like Jennifer Hudson, Mayan Mosaic and I were going to pull ourselves up from the reject pile and plough ahead. Come what may.

With my little sketch in tow, I reached out to Aaron at Me + You fabrics.​ I was itch’n to try some of the rad batiks they were making and crossed my fingers that he would like this quilt design as much as I did. Thankfully he jumped on board, and presto! A wonderful collaboration was born 🙂 


After wrestling with the math on my Warrior pattern, I was more than confident that figuring out round two of an aztec design was going to be a cakewalk. The great thing about this pattern is that once you master equilateral triangles, everything else is simple straight edges. Since triangles can be somewhat tricky, especially with a small border strip in between each shape, I went ahead and made a video tutorial.

However, right before I was able to jump in and make MM with all of the vigor and energy in my excitable heart, I was commissioned to make a quick turnaround appliqué quilt. I kept looking over my shoulder to see that sumptuous batik fabric stacked in a pile and caaaalling my name. “Suz! Suzy! Suzy! Suz! Suzza! Suzzay! Soozy! Snoozey! Snooze! Scooze! Scoob! Scuba! Scooby! Scooz! Suz! Suzy!”

After many hours of needle-turn appliqué, I had finished my secret sewing project and was freed up to work on this straightforward and bold design; a much needed reprieve.

Tribal Quilt

Machine Quilting vs. Hand Quilting

Over the last 15 years, I’ve changed a lot. When I first began my quilting endeavors, I exclusively used a longarm quilter. I actually didn’t even know there were other options until three years later when I went to college. As an overly confident fiber arts major (tooootal oxymoron. I I thought I was a pro at’s the trouble...I actually didn’t even know how to quilt. What I suddenly realized was that I was a “pro” at piecing. Quilting was a brand new thing.

After machine quilting entered my life, the speed at which I was able to crank out quilts was mind blowing! I could start a quilt and then finish that same quilt in a week with NO wait list time from my longarm quilter! What world was this?!? I new and brighter one!

Years later, feeling very much the “pro” at machine quilting, I was a little tired of just busting out quilts as fast as my walking foot could handle. My bright world was starting to dull around me and I was too focused on speed to realize it.

Enter Instagram.

Instagram, I like you so much. IG, darling, if I were being true to myself I’d admit that my proclaimed “like” has grown into love, but I still feel insecure about loving a social media platform, so publicly, I’ll keep referring to it as “like,” but just know that I lurve you, bae. xoxo

OK, what was I talking about? Oh yes, hand-quilting. 😉 About a year ago I saw on Instagram some modern quilters utilizing hand-stitching. My initial Speedy-Gonzales response was, “What am I missing? Don’t they know they can make 3 quilts in the same time it takes to make 1??”

I was intrigued, but wasn’t quite ready to give up the speed of my machine. I wanted to dip my toe in this mysterious hand-quilting pool, but only slightly. This sparked the design of my Mod Mountains quilt. It was mostly machine quilted with some hand-stitching added to create a bridge between the pieced fabric and the negative space.


Over the Hills (seen above) was my second attempt at hand-quilting. This baby quilt was fully hand quilted and fully worth the time it took. Finishing that quilt was when it finally dawned on me that hand-quilting was something special. Could this be the magical fairy dust I sprinkle on quilts for added beauticity!? The spice in my chili! The padding in my push-up bra! The bedazzled rhinestones on my jean jacket! To my delight, quilting became fresh and new again!

[I'm inserting this after many questions about hand quilting supplies, so here's the skinny: I use DMC Pearl Cotton No.8 thread, run-of-the-mill embroidery needles and THIS leather thimble (which really is amazing). Also, a needle threader will make your life a lot easier :)]


I knew Mayan Mosaic needed to be hand-quilted once I stepped back from my design wall and saw it as a whole. It was already written in the stars, or the fairy dust...or whatever analogy I was loosely using before.


I set up production on my dining room table and tried to coax anyone who entered my house to help. This guy was my favorite, though 🙂 (quick fact: also husband)


After all of the stitching, trimming and binding was complete I thought to myself, “That wasn’t so bad! Barely took any time at all!”

It’s now been a few days since I finished the quilt and I see clearly that I have a very serious case of quilter’s amnesia. That must be the reason I'm already hatching plans for more hand-quilting! I have completely forgotten how many hours it took me to make Mayan Mosaic and if you were to ask me, I couldn’t string together a quasi-accurate guess.​ 5 hours? 40 hours? Je ne sais pas . C'est la vie ! I don't even speak French!

Aztec-Quilt Pattern

Quilter’s Amnesia: remembering all of the fun piecing, but forgetting any and all boring bits once the quilt is finished and seen in all its glory. Strongly evoked at the sight of a finished Mayan Mosaic.

This pattern is available for purchase in my shop!​


24 thoughts on “Mayan Mosaic Quilt

  1. Veronique says:

    I love reading your posts, hilarious and interesting at the same time. What a beauty! I must admit I’m finishing more and more projects by hand. The finish is so impeccable. I always thought my hand stitching wouldn’t be as strong as the machine’s but it turns out sometimes it’s even stronger

    • Suzy says:

      That’s good to hear that the hand stitching remains sturdy over time. I’m still pretty new to hand quilting and was wondering the same thing.

  2. kathryn says:

    This is so beautiful! I love the effect of the hand-quilting. I’ve just started the quilting on my first Bow and Arrows quilt (the baby version) and I’m wishing I had time to hand quilt it as it would look so nice. It looks pretty amazing anyway though, I just love the pattern (and totally copied your blue & yellow colourway). So do you not use a hoop or frame when hand-quilting? Or is that on a frame? I’m still a total newbie to quilting and I’ve found your website so useful!

  3. kathryn says:

    This is so beautiful! I really love the look of hand-quilting and wish I had time to do some on the Bow and Arrows quilt I’m making (I totally copied your blue & yellow colour way!). Do you not use a hoop or frame when hand quilting? Or is there a frame there? I’m totally new to quilting and have been finding your website so useful!

  4. Erica S says:

    What do you do with the ends? I should just google this- but I hand stitched on my last quilt and didn’t like that there were all these nobs where I started and finished.

    • Suzy says:

      Great question! And the answer is a little scary, but works like a charm. Basically you make a small knot on the end of your thread and pull it completely through the top layer of fabric so it is hidden underneath the fabric and gets nestled into the batting. You think you’re going to rip the fabric or break the thread, but if you do it carefully, you won’t make either mistake. To finish the end of the thread you use the exact same technique – that way, you never see any of the starts or stops! Viola!

      I taught myself how to hand quilt using Google and YouTube. There are a couple videos online showing this starting and stopping technique. Good luck! xo

      • Erica S says:

        Woahh… okay that is super helpful! I really appreciate the reply. I’ve taught myself quilting from YouTube, so that’s perfect. LOVE your style, you definitely make quilting “Cool” 😉

  5. kathryn says:

    This is just so beautiful!! I’m currently making my first Bow & Arrows quilt and wishing I had the time to hand quilt it – next time! I’m really new to quilting and am getting so much inspiration and help from reading your blog. Do you use a hoop or frame when hand quilting?

    • Suzy says:

      I used a hoop when I hand-stitched my Over The Hills quilt because it was small and I liked being mobile. Due to it’s much larger size, however, I just draped my Mayan Mosaic quilt over my dining room table – which worked out great! I’m so glad you’re enjoying my blog and I can’t wait to see your finished Bow & Arrows quilt!

  6. Leah Weskamp says:

    I love reading your posts! Confession: I am at work right now and totally in a quilt time warp (like you imagining yourself with all the pyramid pillows). Anyways, what thread do you use to hand quilt? I love that it shows up so nicely!!

    • Suzy says:

      Hahaha quilt time warps just have to happen sometimes! 😉 I use DMC Perle Cotton #8 thread. It’s beautiful and CHEAP. Be sure to get a needle threader too. It will save your life.

  7. Kate says:

    I needed this equilateral triangle video! Thank you thank you! And I have been wanting to try hand quilting so your thoughts were gold!

  8. Amanda Gragg says:

    Do you have a tutorial on adjusting the equilateral triangle size for a larges quilt? I quilted as a young girl and would like to give this a try, but I need to wrap my mind around the math for a larger quilt. Any help or short cut would be appreciated. 🙂

    • Suzy says:

      If you want to make a quilt that is entirely made of equilateral triangles, I would suggest getting a ruler that is a relatively large size and then cutting them all the same size. I have an 8″ triangle ruler that works great. If you are looking for a triangle quilt tutorial, check out this post. Good luck! xo

  9. Andrea says:

    First I loved just looking at this gorgeous quilt but then I couldn’t stop reading this blog post. It’s brilliantly written with comparisons to Jennifer Hudson and such. So freakin hilarious! Quite talented, Suzy!

  10. Bunny says:

    I’ve been stalking your site for months now and have purchased several of your patterns, including Mayan Mosaic. Nearing completion of some other quilts I’d like to start on this one…. only I really want to make a queen size! I could extend the sides of MM but the length will be tricky and possibly mess with the balance you have so artfully created. Do you have any advice for increasing the size of this quilt while maintaining the design integrity?

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      The best way to create more length with this pattern is to repeat rows. I think if you repeat some rows right next to each other you will still get that stripe look, if that makes sense.

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