Quilt Block of the Month - March 2018
Our block this month goes by a few names, depending on the placement of the light and dark fabrics as well as the orientation of the block. I chose my dark to be the center with light corners, so mine is a “Hugs and Kisses” block. (See here for an entire quilt made of these blocks!) If you put your light in the center and rotate two of the interior squares, you’ll have a “Floating Stars” block. (See here for an entire quilt made of these blocks!)
In this month’s block we’re breaking into new territory: Triangles! So far you have done squares and rectangles, which both behave pretty well. Triangles add another layer of complexity, but they open up a lot of quilt patterns!
The technique to make this block is the exact same technique as you’ll use in a large number of other popular blocks including: snowball (often used between more complex blocks to elegantly reduce busyness), flying geese (used everywhere, for everything), half-square triangles (used everywhere, for everything), and more.
- Again, you’ll want to fan the center seam to minimize bulk.
- On two of the quarters you’ll want to press towards the dark fabric, the other two press towards the light fabric. Be sure the top left and bottom right are pressed the same way and the top right and bottom left are pressed the opposite way. Kitty-corners should match, adjacent edges should be opposite. This way all your corners can nest nicely and you’ll end up with crisp corners!
- You will want pins for this block!
You can do this with two, four, eight, or twelve fabrics, depending on how you want the finished project to look. I chose to do eight to help make it clear where each piece is throughout. There’s no right or wrong, it’s purely preference! The important thing is to have a fairly significant difference in brightness between your “dark” fabrics and your “light” fabrics.
- Dark Fabrics
Cut four (4) squares total from your dark fabrics, each measuring 6.5” x 6.5”
- Light Fabrics
Cut eight (8) squares total from your light fabrics, each measuring 3.5” x 3.5”
- Step 1
Lay out your fabrics and make sure you like the lights with their assigned darks. Now is the time to fiddle and see how your block will look. Make sure the block is visually balanced, there’s enough variation to be interesting, and that you like it in general. Laying them out as above will give you a general feel for how the block will feel when complete.
Once you’re content with your pairings, move on to step 2!
- Step 2
Use your ruler to draw a straight line, corner to corner, across the back of each of your small light squares. I like using chalk. Disappearing or washable ink are also fine. I have even used pencil in a pinch, just be sure your line cannot be seen on the front of your light fabric.
Line up the corners of your light and dark fabrics, right sides together, with your line going from edge to edge of your dark fabric, not from the corner towards the middle.
Pin each of these squares in place. I recommend using at least two pins per small square. The centers of your small squares will overlap a bit. You will want your pins facing opposite directions as shown in the picture because you’ll be sewing a different direction on each seam.
- Step 3
Sew along your line. You want your stitches to be as straight as possible, and right on top of the line you drew. Chaining your pieces will make it a bit faster. Just sew one of the seams, then continue a few stitches past the end and feed the next one in. Cut the thread when you reach the end of the four seams, then continue sewing down the second seams. This creates a nice little quilt train which you can cut apart at the end. Just be sure you don’t accidentally sew the different pieces together by chaining too close!
- Step 4
Now you’ll trim off the extra corners, leaving yourself a ¼” seam. Make sure you cut on correct side of your seam! You want to cut off the tip of the corner, so your ruler should cover your block and your seam, leaving just the corner exposed.
Do this for each of your four interior blocks.
- Step 5
Now is the time to firm up how you want your block to look. Play around until you find one you like. Not included above is the orientation which would result in the Floating Stars quilt (Sorry! I was tired). To do that, take the X or the O, and rotate two of the kitty-corner pieces by 90 degrees so all of your darks are facing the same direction.
- Step 6
Place the right squares on top of the left and pin the edge they were touching along. Pay special attention to the two seams you’ve already sewn. They will nest nicely together if you pressed one towards the dark fabric and the other towards the light fabric. I put a pin on each side of this seam to keep it exactly where I want it.
Sew along those seams, the press one to the right, and the other to the left so you can nest the next set of seams.
- Step 7
This will be your pickiest seam! Don’t feel shy about pinning the heck out of this, you want it to lay as even and flat as you can while the corners also match up!
You’ll note I have a pin at both the beginning and end of the block. I also have two pins on each side of my matching diagonal seams, as well as my center seam. Then the light fabric with my reddish dark was a couple strands larger than the one below it, so I pinned it until it would lay mostly flat and keep the corner matching. This will give me a crisp corner and a pretty flat seam. If I hadn’t pinned along that segment there would have been one noticeably-large pucker at the seam, which is not ideal. If it had been much more pronounced of a difference in length, I would have picked out the seam, trimmed a couple strands off that interior edge, and re-sewn it. Play around until you find what works for you.
After you are happy with your pins, sew along this edge! Fan your center seam, press your seams, and you’re done! You now have… an X, or an O, or a floating star!