Thursday, May 21, 2015

Churn Dash and Greek Cross Blocks

I just finished a quilt using two very traditional blocks; the Churn Dash and the Greek Cross:

The two blocks, though they look quite different, complement each other well. One of the reasons for this may be because they are the very same block!

To make this block in the size I did, you will need two 5" squares in a light print, and two 5" squares in a dark print for the half square triangles (HSTs) [If you make them as I did here]:  Half Square Triangles

You will need one 2.5" x 18" strip (a little longer than 18"to be on the safe side) of the darker fabric and the same of the lighter fabric.

Your center will be a 4.5" square.

Make 4 HSTs with the 5" squares.

Sew your 18" strips together along the long side. Press the seam toward the darker fabric, then subcut your strip into 4.5" pieces.

Cut your 4.5" square.

Here are the components of your block:

Because of the way I stacked these, it is hard to see that the center group of squares are made up of two rectangles. Look at the picture below to see them more clearly.

The color placement of these components will determine whether you are making a Churn Dash block or a Greek Cross block.

The Churn Dash:

The Greek Cross:

Note that the the only difference between these two blocks is the color placement of the HSTs.

Sew your squares together in rows: top, middle, bottom. A bit hard to see, but press your top and bottom row seams towards the center block and your center row seams away from the center, so your seams will nest and will meet neatly when you sew the rows together into your block.

Sew the rows together to make a nine patch block.

Here are the two blocks side by side: the red/cream is the Churn Dash and the blue/cream is the Greek Cross.

Two blocks that look very different, but they are made of exactly the same components!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Bowtie Block

A bowtie block is essentially a four patch.

To make a block the same size as my photos, you will need two 4” background squares (white in photo), two 4” print squares (puzzle print), and two 2” print squares (puzzle print). You can make them any size—just keep the ratios the same.

You are going to snowball one corner of each background square with one of the small print squares. To do this, you will draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of your 2” squares. This will be your stitching line. Line the small block up with a corner of the background block and stitch.

Your corner will now have three layers. You can trim off the bottom two layers to a 1/4" seam allowance, trim just the center layer, or you can leave them untrimmed. Leaving them untrimmed creates a bit of bulk, but I like the definition in the “knot” of the tie. However you decide to trim, press the triangle portion flat.

The end result looks like this. 

Note, I was making two blocks at the same time, so I have 4 snowballed squares.

The block will be assembled like any other four patch. Sew the top two squares together and press your seam towards the large print block. Repeat with the bottom two. Your seams will be going in opposite directions when you sew the pairs together into the four patch, so your seams will nest and your center seams will line up.

Note the direction of the placement of the snowballed squares--they come together to create the "knot."

Here is your finished block. It should measure 7 1/2". (It will be 7" when sewn into the quilt.)

There are many ways to arrange these. I’ll be putting mine together to form a quilt, and I’ll show some layouts then.

Working on a quilt today, and I had lots of help!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Making a Pinwheel Block

The pinwheel is a very popular block, and it makes a playful, fun quilt. A pinwheel is simply an arrangement of half-square triangles (HSTs), so you begin this block by making four HSTs.

The block can be made in any size—in this case, I have begun with 5" squares, and my block will finish at 8 1/2" (8" when sewn into the quilt).

Choose two pairs of squares. One pair needs to be lighter than the other—contrast is key.

On the wrong side of the lighter squares, draw a diagonal line. This will be a cutting line, so you can use a pencil or ballpoint pen.

With right sides together, stack the light (marked) square on the darker one of the pair, and line up all edges.

Sew 1/4" on each side of the marked line.

Using your ruler and rotary cutter (or scissors) cut along the marked line.

You now have two HSTs from each pair of fabrics (4 total). Press these open—pressing the seam towards the darker side.


At this point, I squared my HSTs to 4 1/2".

Pinwheel blocks can either go clockwise

Look at the darker triangles to determine this. The leading edge of a pinwheel is flat; the trailing edge is slanted.

Or counterclockwise 

See the difference between this one and the preceding one?

when assembled. Usually the direction doesn’t matter, though the pattern looks better to me when they all go the same way in a quilt. (Note: some quilts are very specific about direction, so be sure to read the instructions carefully.) Lay out your HSTs to decide your preference as to direction.

Sew together in pairs, and press towards the dark fabric.

Sew your pairs together to create the block.

If your seam allowances are consistent, your four points should meet in the middle. Don’t be discouraged if they aren’t perfect to begin with—it takes practice.

Square your block—I squared mine to 8 1/2"—and you’re done!

Pinwheel block quilts are fun on their own,

If you look carefully at these blocks, you will see I didn't have them all turning the same direction--this was one of my earlier quilts! :) Also note the pink square (2nd from the bottom on the far left)--not enough contrast; watch out for this.

or, they may add interest to a pattern when combined with other blocks. This quilt is Patches and Pinwheels--A Bonnie Hunter pattern:

(Every other block is a pinwheel--you may have to look closely to see them. This is a pattern that has specific instructions about pinwheel direction.)

Either way, they are both fun to make and fun to use!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Finals Week is Here

My private physician knows what I need to recover from a long, stressful semester: