Monday 28 September 2015

Odd Shaped Blocks in Blocks "Tutorial"

When I set about creating a modern I-Spy quilt for my youngest daughter, inspired by (okay, totally ripping off) this beautiful quilt by From the Blue Chair, I didn't much think about the construction. Then I tried to make the first block using a log cabin sort of approach and I had lots of waste. I cut a piece a bit bigger than the finished block size I wanted, cut two pieces for around the center block and...ack, now the other sides were too small.

When I googled how to do this I found some tutorials for inserting centers of the same size and in the same location but that is not what I wanted. I had fussy cut with abandon, and each of my centers was a totally different size AND I wanted them to be randomly placed within the larger block. After some more experimentation I came up with my solution, and while this may be obvious to everyone but me, I thought maybe you'd like to see how I did it.

To begin, I fussy cut all my centers, in all different sizes. I just wanted to capture the best image. Then I used 1" strips of varying colours (with some Kona White for a restful look and, again, because I was copying From the Blue Chair's quilt) to surround each fussy cut center.

Then I cut a 12"x12" block from the solid colour I wanted.
That is a 12x12" block of Celestial with a little fussy cut sloth from C+S beside it, wrapped in a 1" border of Pomegranate.
I measured the sloth,(he was 6 3/4") then placed the center approximately where I wanted it.
Approximate placement.
Then I cut the width of the sloth, 6 3/4" (with the borders) from the square, as show below. That center strip is the same width as the sloth.
The strips on either sides will become the vertical strips on my block.
Then I used my ruler and cut the center strip approximately where I wanted the sloth to be in this square.
3" up I cut the center strip. This two pieces will become my horizontal strips in my block.
Then a cat helps by inspecting the whole thing, sitting right in the middle of the block you are making and trying to photograph.
Is it acceptable?
I then sewed the top and bottom horizontal pieces to the sloth, as shown below.
Doesn't he look lovely?
And then I sewed the two vertical pieces on, being sure to line up the bottom edge of the vertical pieces with the bottom of my center strip.
Now it looks something like this.
A little trimming gets it to the size I actually want (I decided on 10 1/2") and places the sloth exactly where I want. Starting with a 12" square let me play with where exactly I wanted the sloth (or any center) to actually be on the final block,
Ta da! Sloth is ready to go!
I used washi tape or painter's tape to tape up all my blocks since I still don't have a design wall in my sewing room.
The sloth is ready to go.
And I kept the momentum going making more and more blocks. Note that the center appears in a different part of the block for each one.
It begins...
This is the current count. I have 25 blocks done and now I need to decide if I'm done and can start sashing (in Kona White) or if I want to make 5 more.
I hope this "tutorial" (I'm using the term loosely) was somewhat helpful. If nothing else it will help me remember the process I went through to get this result. In addition, I really need to edit the photos before I upload them so you don't have to see my legs. :)


  1. Your legs are lovely. And so are these blocks. This is a much more organized, precise method than I would have come up with!

  2. Your blocks are great. Can't wait to see it all come together.