a tale of two blocks

two versions of block 6

in my little “80’s quilt revival” I’ve had to ask myself how true to the original quilt I wanted to be. was I simply copying it to end up with a quilt that better suited my tastes or was I trying to go deeper and learn about traditional quilt construction from a group of women I’ll never get to meet. I know I’m already going to fail in that regard since I’m not hand-quilting it. I am taking inspiration from their fabric placement though. all my sketches have little notes marking which pieces were prints or solids and what the color values in each block were. but there’s something I’m just not loving, besides the hunter green, and that is appliqué. some of the blocks have center appliqué squares, that I don’t see myself replicating. right now, hexes seem very modern and it would be an interesting challenge to limit a hex design to a six inch square without relying on a “grandmother’s garden” flower. I just see myself ending up with a very messy block or a design I would constantly question. and I already question everything I do enough.

looking through my notes, there are two blocks in the first two rows with an appliqué center, a heart and a flower. I decided to play with fussy cutting, what seemed to me like another ‘modern’ option, to replace the heart. I also tried out a pinwheel to match two of the blocks in this row. I’m calling these “square in squares” and “pinwheels in a square” (which then leads me to call it “pinwheel in a box”, which leads to singing). that’s another thing I’ve noticed in this project, it’s really hard to find quilt block patterns if you don’t know their names. some blocks have more than one name and sometimes I’m not even sure how to go about finding them. it would be easier if I was just putting together random blocks for a sampler, I could just look through pictures and choose blocks that I like. but I’m trying to recreate a specific quilt, so there’s a little more research for me.

right now, the fussy cut with plaid block is winning my heart. the pinwheel block is pretty too, but all that white is bothering me. especially compared to the other blocks I’ve made. I wrote down how I made these blocks in the extended entry. it’s pretty picture heavy.

a quick tip before you start either block. mark the middle of the center block, be it the fussy cut square or the pinwheel. this will make it easier to align the triangles surrounding it.
square in squares
you will need:
center block (1) 6 1/2″ sq
fabric surrounding center (2) 5 1/8″ sq. each cut on the diagonal
second outer print (2) 6 7/8″ sq each cut on the diagonal

inner square

this block comes together pretty quickly. simply place the solid fabric around the center square. sew the two pieces that are across from each other, press seams, and then sew the other two. press seams again.

outer square

repeat again with outer fabric, sewing opposite sides as you go. you may have to square up your center piece first before adding the outer corners.

squares in squares

pinwheels in a square
this one is basically the same, you just have to make some hst for the center and change up the corners.

fabrics for pinwheels in square

you will need:
(4) solid 3 1/2″ squares for corners
(2) white print 6 7/8″ squares cut in diagonal
(2) orange print 5 1/8″ squares cut in diagonal
(2) white print 3 7/8″ squares for pinwheels
(2) turquoise print 3 7/8″ squares for pinwheels

first, the pinwheels

I started with the pinwheels. using the 3 7/8″ cuts, make four half square triangle blocks. sew together into two rows and press seams in opposite directions. sew the two rows together and press seam.

inner square

and now, like before, sew the triangles around the center pinwheel block. I found it easier to work from opposite sides.

outer square with corners

to make the corner units, first grab your 3 1/2″ squares and draw a line on the diagonal. take the triangles cut from the 6 7/8″ square and align a 3.5″ solid block at the 90 degree corner. see image for placement. sew on the drawn line. cut excess fabric and press solid fabric out.

outer squares

sew corner units to center square.

pinwheels in square

square up to 12″

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  • Monet March 25, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    I actually love the pinwheel block–it’s such a beautiful color combo. It is very white-dominant, but the eye still moves around because of the contrast between the orange and teal! Fantastic job.

  • Seanna Lea March 25, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    I love the plaid square, because in your original photo the values of the green in the plaid and the color in the center square make it look like you cut curves even though they are both triangles. Very cool.

  • lesley March 25, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    I love the square in squares. The plad at an angle like that makes the center square look like it is in the middle of a swirling vortex that leads you to a land of plad. LOVE it!

  • Amanda Elizabeth March 25, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    these look so good. the other option for those centers is that book I was telling you about, 501 rotary cut blocks, you can pick a 6.5 inch block from that book and stick it in the middle, then build the rest of the block around it. I don’t have the book hand but I’m pretty confident that either 6 or 6.5 is one of the options!

  • Diana March 25, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I like the plaid one too, but I am not sure what I think of the swirly-curvy effect. what does the original quilt look like – did you post about it?

  • Christine March 25, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Great blocks! I love the curvy look of the plaid. 🙂

  • Virginia March 25, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    “I already question everything I do enough.”
    AMEN, sistah!

  • Virginia March 25, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    ok, on to the quilting…
    Love love love the plaid and how it looks like it is curving in the square on square block. SO AWESOME.
    The white doesn’t bug me in the pinwheel one, I like the colors and I think they contrast nicely. At least in the photos. White always reads differently in person.

  • GinkgoKnits March 26, 2010 at 2:54 am

    I too love the plaid square. I know very little about quilting but I think that a quilt that alternated these swirly plaid squares with plain ones would be a great project. Though, I’m sure you have more than enough quilt ideas already.

  • Cheryl Arkison May 11, 2010 at 11:26 am

    This is a really interesting process, this quilt.