Dissecting a Block

When designing your own quilts, many struggle with enlarging or reducing a block, or an entire design, which often changes the border measurements, and figuring their yardage.  It involves a little math but it is very simple math — addition, multiplication and a bit of division.  Grab a calculator and stop groaning!  🙂  Seriously, if you’re wanting to do a bit of your own designing, you need to be confident in your fabric calculation skills.  I promise you that anyone reading this blog has the math skills to do what has to be done.  Find yourself a good calculator, buy several of the ones you like.  Keep one by your computer, one by your sewing machine and others anywhere you might use them.  There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to do math in your head or using the calculator in the cell phone and about the time you get it close to figured out, the phone rings and you totally lose track of where you were.  Keep a note pad (Post-It notes are great) near where you’re working.  Doodle, sketch — do whatever it takes to help you figure things out.

Let’s go through a little exercise here.  Suppose you want to make a quilt using this block:

The first thing I would do is look at the divisions of the block.  I see that this is a 6 grid block, meaning there are 6 horizontal and vertical divisions.

Here’s the line drawing from EQ showing the divisions.

Some of the lines are removed for easier piecing.  The lines are removed so that instead of making two half square triangles, we make flying geese.  Instead of having two blue squares on the outer corners, we have two blue rectangles and avoid piecing two squares together to make two rectangles.


With this being a 6 grid block, it would be easy to make this block 6″, though that would be some small piecing, or it could be 9″ or 12″.  If using 12″ blocks, this would be a fairly quick block to make.  Look at the pieces and see if you can determine how you would piece this block and the sizes you would cut for it to be a 12″ block.

Here’s what I would do.

  • The center square needs to be 4″ finished so I would cut it 4-1/2″.
  • The flying geese would be 2″ x 4″ finished.  There would be 4 with a blue goose and background wings and 4 with a background goose and blue wings.  I would cut the geese at 2-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ and cut 2-1/2″ squares for the wings, draw a diagonal line through the centers and sew on the center line and flip (but really, I would use Triangulations!)
  • The blue rectangles would be cut 2-1/2″ x 4-1/2″.
  • The squares would be cut 2-1/2″ — 4 blue and 4 background.

Pretty simple when you break it down like that, huh?

If I wanted this block to be 9″ finished, which I would probably do if I were using a two block design and hoping for a secondary design, I would cut the following sizes:

  • The center square needs to be 3″ finished so I would cut it 3-1/2″.
  • The flying geese would be 1-1/2″ x 3″ finished.  There would be 4 with a blue goose and background wings and 4 with a background goose and blue wings.  I would cut the geese at 2″ x 3-1/2″ and cut 2″ squares for the wings, draw a diagonal line through the centers and sew on the center line and flip (except you know that I would use Triangulations!)
  • The blue rectangles would be cut 2″ x 3-1/2″.
  • The squares would be cut 2″ — 4 blue and 4 background.

Tomorrow I will post about determining the total number of block pieces needed.

Comments

  1. 2

    Sandy says

    This is a great explanation of how to look at and dissect a block! If you can do this, you don’t need to depend on someone else’s instructions. It means freedom! And it’s lots of fun!

  2. 3

    Joanna says

    Hi Judy,

    You are so terrific to break this process down. You are an encouraging and patient teacher.

    So many times I think I should write and say THANKS and today I did!
    Joanna
    PS Glad your home will soon be settled so you can quilt, knit, and cook to your heart’s content. Now we just need a cure for those bridges!

  3. 5

    Bessie Hardison says

    I hate to nick pick but wouldn’t the flying geese be 2 x 4 or 1 1/2 x 3 FINISHED respectfully like the center square is 4 or 3 finished?