"Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" Quilt Tutorial

Categories: Gifts, Kid Friendly, Quilts

What you need to make this project

Nature-Fill Bamboo Blend Batting 60x60 inch package
Large Green Scraps totally 2 - 2 1/2 yards total, cotton quilting quality preferred
3/4 yard Black or grey fabric for roads
1/4 Yard "The Pigeon Cheater" Print
1/8 yard "The Pigeon Speak" Print
1/8 yard "The Pigeon Repeat" Print
1/8 - 1/4 Yard of Fabric with Houses and/or buildings
2 Yards Cuddle 3 Fabric in Ash from Shannon Fabrics or other backing
1 Small Pack Paper-Backed Fusible Web
Coordinating Thread
Sewing Machine
Basting Spray (optional)
A whole stack of The Pigeon books from your local library for inspiration (REQUIRED!)

Quick Shop


Step One

Start by gathering your fabrics.  If you’re purchasing new fabric, then you’ll want to choose 4 green fat quarters in different hues and patterns.

I prefer to use scraps for the quilt, because I like the irregular look it gives…plus its always nice to use scraps.  Large scraps are best just because the quilt sews up faster, but you can use smaller scraps too.

Besides greens, you could add in other natural textures if you want to like dirt, rocks, or water.  The grey fabric I used is a light denim, just because I had it on hand.


Step Two

Since you’re sewing with scraps, you’ll be sewing pieces that are different sizes together.  I just go ahead and sew the different sized pieces, iron the seam open, and then trim.


Step Three

For a finished quilt that is 45×60, sew your fabrics together into a rectangle roughly 36 x 45 inches.  There’s no reason you need to be really exact with this though.  Go with whatever dimensions make sense for your fabrics.


Step Four

Cut 6-8 strips of your grey fabric 3 1/2 inches wide.

015 Pigeon Driving Quilt

Step Five

Stitch your grey strips together end-to-end, to form one long strip.  Press seams open.

016 Pigeon Driving Quilt

017 Pigeon Driving Quilt

Step Six

Now we’ll start slicing up are large green piece and adding roads.  It can be difficult to cut straight lines through such a large piece of fabric, so I prefer to fold my fabric in half.

006 Pigeon Driving Quilt



Step Seven

Then I straighten my quilting ruler based off the center fold, and cut through the fabric.

007 Pigeon Driving Quilt


I started by folding the top and bottom of the quilt together and making a vertical cut, but it’s really up to you.  I like to make my first cuts off center.

Step Eight

Stitch your roads to one of your green pieces at the place you just cut.  Use 1/4 inch seam allowance and press open.  Trim the ends of the road even with your green piece of fabric.

008 Pigeon Driving Quilt

Step Nine

FLIP THE REMAINING PIECE OF GREEN FABRIC AROUND and sew it to the road with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  (Note how in the photo the green piece on the right has been rotated from it’s original position.  This will give more variety to your green spaces.)


Step Ten

Make cuts going the other direction through your quilt.  I chose to make two cuts at the same time.  I flipped one of the pieces because I want some of the roads to go straight across intersections and some to make a T in the road.  Insert your roads as before using a 1/4 inch seam.

010-Pigeon-Driving-Quilt   011 Pigeon Driving Quilt   012-Pigeon-Driving-Quilt

Step Eleven



Repeat cutting, rotating a piece (or not depending how how it’s shaping up), and sewing new road into place.  Be sure when you make your cuts that they just make intersections in the road…you don’t want to go cutting through the middle of a road doing the same direction.

Next I made 3 cuts, rotate 2 of the pieces, and inserted the roads.

013-Pigeon-Driving-Quilt  014-Pigeon-Driving-Quilt  018-Pigeon-Driving-Quilt

Then I added one final road at the bottom of the quilt.


Step Twelve

Now it’s time to create our appliques.  Iron some paper-backed fusible web onto the back of your chosen The Pigeon fabrics and fabric with houses.

023 Pigeon Driving Quilt  025 Pigeon Driving Quilt


Cut the shapes out that you want to use.  Leave a generous 1/8 inch extra fabric around appliques to give yourself room to sew.

011 Pigeon Pillows


Step Thirteen

Peel paper backing off your appliques and iron securely onto your quilt.  My daughter’s kindergarten class helped place all the pigeons and houses.

013 Pigeon Pillows  015 Pigeon Pillows


Houses are placed with the bottom of the house touching the edge of the street, so that when you look at the quilt as a whole, some of them will be upside down.

Pigeon Driving Quilt 073

Step Fourteen

Finally use a tight zigzag stitch to sew around all of your appliques.  I like to leave the thread tails long so I can pull them through to the back and tie a knot.

032 Pigeon Driving Quilt  060 Pigeon Driving Quilt

Step Fifteen

Now you’re finished with your quilt top and ready to layer, quilt, and bind your quilt.  There are many ways to finish a quilt.  You may want to use a quilting frame and tie it, machine quilt it, or hand quilt it.  I prefer to machine quilt and use basting spray.

Use basting spray to temporarily adhere each of your quilt layers together. Follow manufacturer’s instructions on the basting spray can or use an alternative method of basting such as safety pin, etc.

For best results use a walking foot or dual feed foot on your machine.

I sewed around all the edges of the roads about 1/4 inch into the green fabric.

Step Sixteen

I chose to used Cuddle 3 in Ash from Shannon Fabrics for the back of my quilt.  You could easily use regular quilting fabrics for the back of your quilt as well, but I really loved the Cuddle 3 because its SO soft and it shows the quilting lines really well, letting you see the road layout from the back too.

Pigeon Driving Quilt 137     Pigeon Driving Quilt 139

Step Seventeen

To Finish:

  1. Trim batting and backing.
  2. I used the same Cuddle 3 as the backing for my binding.  Cut 4 2-inch strips of the Cuddle and follow directions for binding from the Shannon Fabrics site.
  3. If you’re using regular quilting cottons for your binding you’ll need 1/2 yard of fabric.  Cut 6 3-inch strips and sew end to end.
  4. Line both raw edges of the binding up with the raw edge of the quilt. Sew with a 3/8” seam the binding to the top of the quilt, along the sides of your quilt, sewing through the binding and all three layers of the quilt and trim even with the top and bottom of your quilt.  Fold binding around to the back.    Stitch “in the ditch” from the top of the quilt through to catch the binding on the back.
  5. Repeat step 3 to sew the binding on the top and bottom sides of the quilt, except but the binding and extra ½ inch long on both ends, so you can fold under the raw edges before stitching.
  6. Wash to remove the basting spray.

Step Eighteen

Then grab a pile of your favorite Pigeon books by Mo Willems and a few toy cars and have fun!