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Sewing a shoo fly quilt block can be a fun and rewarding project for both experienced and beginner quilters. Here are the steps to make a shoo fly quilt block:
- Fabric squares in two contrasting colors (one for the background and one for the corners)
- Sewing machine
Cut two 4.5-inch squares of the background fabric and four 2.5-inch squares of the contrasting fabric.
Take two of the contrasting fabric squares and place them on top of each other with right sides together. Sew a 1/4 inch seam along one edge of the squares.
Press the seam open with an iron. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the other two contrasting squares.
Cut the resulting squares in half diagonally to make four half-square triangles.
Arrange the half-square triangles and the two background squares in the shape of a shoo fly block. The two background squares should be placed on opposite corners of the block.
Sew the half-square triangles to the background squares with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Press the seams towards the half-square triangles.
Sew the two remaining background squares together to form a small square.
Sew the small square to the center of the shoo fly block.
Press the seams towards the small square.
Trim the block to 4.5 inches square.
Repeat steps 1-11 to make additional shoo fly blocks.
Once you have made several shoo fly blocks, you can sew them together to create a larger quilt top. The possibilities for arranging the blocks are endless, so have fun experimenting with different layouts!
This is a great technique for making half square triangles that eliminates the need to directly manipulate the stretchy bias of the triangle. It utilizes two easy to cut squares producing two half square triangles.
On the back of the lighter fabric, draw a pencil line, diagonally from corner to corner.
Stack a pair of light and dark squares, right sides together. Sew a 1/4 inch seam allowance on each side of the line.
You will end up with something like this.
Now cut along the diagonal line.
Press the seam together to set the seam. Then press towards the darkest fabric.
To trim the block to the exact size line up the diagonal 45°angle with the ruler on your seam.
And then carefully trim your block with a rotary cutter.
The secret to the nine patch is all about ironing seams so that they butt when they are joined.
Cut 5 A squares and 4 B squares in the required size.
Chain piecing, join a B square to only 3 of the A squares, right sides together, with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. No need to press just yet.
The result will be:
Next, take the remaining A and B squares and, chain piecing, join them to these units, right sides together, with a one 1/4 inch seam allowance:
Your result will be:
To make this faster you can cut strips.
Cut A and B strips for the appropriate width, and join them into A/B/A and B/A/B units. Note you will need twice the length of B/A/B strips, as there are two of these units. Once your strips are joined, right sides together, with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press every seam towards the dark fabric.
Cut across your pre-joined strips to create the units needed for the nine patch:
You will achieve the same result as above, but this method is faster.
To make a standard 9 patch, the width of the unit cut from pre-joined strips is the same as the width of the original strips.
Press all the seams to the dark fabric so that all the seems butt up.
Join the B/A/B units to your A/B/A units with butted seams, right sides together, with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
The direction of the final, central seam is optional. But guided by the placement of the block in the larger scheme, and wherever possible, iron to facilitate budding the seam joints.
Just as the 4 patch, you can apply this methodology to all kinds of 9 patch blocks. As long as the patch has an underlying 3x3 grid, no matter how many pieces, the basic principle applies. It is repeated over and over, each 9 patch laying adjacent to the next 9 patch. As long as you keep pressing seams in pairs of opposite directions, piecing will be smooth sailing.
Try these out. Each block has an underlying 3x3 grid, and can be pieaced as a 9 patch.
Sometimes it is not obvious which direction is the dark with complicated blocks like those above. Just remember the basic ironing plan is:
How to Resize Quilt Blocks: