Block of the Month 1800’s Quilt – June
Unfinished Blocks are 9.5”
This month I’m featuring a Barbara Brackman blog regarding the War of 1812. It is chock full of the history of the War of 1812 which lasted from 1812 to 1815. You can visit the blog at http://quilt1812warandpiecing.blogspot.com/. If you scroll down quite a ways on the right you will find the list of previous blog posts. If you have the time start at the beginning in September 2011 and read through all the posts. It is full of everyday life in the early United States.
This month’s block is our center piece – a tree of life block. Remember I suggested saving some half square triangles (HST)? It’s time to bring them out. I’ve broken the block into 5 - 3” finished blocks of “leaves” and a larger block made up mostly of a leaf hunk, background fabric and the tree trunk. Let’s start with the half square triangles that will make up the leaves.
You will need 30 1 ½” unfinished half square triangles (this does not include the “trunk” half square triangles.) I chose to use the same fabric for all of the “leaves” of my tree. Make your HSQs any way that gives you accurate 1 ½” unfinished HSTs. I tend to make mine 2 at a time by cutting oversized squares, drawing a line through the center and stitching ¼” on each side of the line. I then trim the piece to exactly 1 ½”. Here is some math to make it easier to determine what size squares you need to make 2 half square triangles. The measurement of the finished HST + ¼” seam allowance + 5/8” = the size of the block you need to cut to make the 2 HST.
1” + ¼” + 5/8” = 1 7/8”
Remember I said I like to make mine bigger and cut it to the correct size? In this instance I might cut 2 ¼” squares to make sure I have plenty of room to trim to an unfinished size of 1 ½”. This would be a great time to use thangles or triangles on a roll if you have the proper size. To make sure your block all fits together you need very accurate half square triangles and then you must sew them accurately.
Background and Leaves to make 30 half square triangles using your preferred method. If you already have some subtract that number from 30.
From Background Fabric:
3 squares 1 ½” each
1 square 4” each cut in half along the diagonal
1 square 5 ½”
2 rectangles 1 ½” x 4 ½”
1 square 2” ((mark center diagonally or choose your preferred method to make 2 half sq. triangles 1 ½” unfinished) to go with trunk fabric
1 square 1 1/2”
From Leaf Fabric:
3 squares 1 7/8” each, cut in half along the diagonal
1 square 4 7/8” cut in half along the diagonal
From Trunk Fabric:
1 square 2” (use with background to make 2 - ½ square triangles)
1 rectangle 1 7/8” x 5 ½” Mark a line ¼” in from the bottom of the rectangle
Lay out 6 half square triangles and 3 1 ½” background blocks as shown above. Stitch into rows. Iron the seams for the middle row to the left and the top and bottom row to the right. Nesting the seams, sew the rows together. Set aside. Wait to iron the seams until you put the whole block together so that you can nest as many seams as possible.
Lay out 9 half square triangles as shown above. Stitch into rows. Iron the seams for the middle row to the left and the top and bottom row to the right. Nesting the seams, sew the rows together. Set aside. Wait to iron the last seams until you put the whole block together so that you can nest as many seams as possible.
Unit 3 (Make 2 alike.)
Layout 3 half square triangles, 3 leaf triangles and 1 background triangle. Sew two triangles together as shown. Next, sew a small triangle to the 2 squares. Sew a small triangle to the one square. Sew the three rows together. Iron the seams to they next as much as possible. You will always sew one of the short sides of the leaf triangles to the half square triangle pieces. Sew the single triangle to the first two rows. Next fold the just sewn unit in half and mark the center with a small crease at the edge. Do the same for the larger background triangle. Match the centers and pin the pieces together. Sew the seam. Iron toward the background fabric. Set aside.
¼” from the leaf triangle. (Photo below shows the placement after I cut the excess off… sew first then cut!) Trim the excess then iron towards the leaf section tow.
Mark the bottom of the trunk ¼” from the short edge. Line the long side of the background triangle to the edge of the trunk rectangle with the end of the point at the ¼” mark of trunk. Sew, repeat with the other side. Notice that the trunk does not go the full length of the diagonal background units.
Fold in half along the trunk and mark with a crease. Do the same with one leaf triangle cut from the 4 7/8” square.
Match the two center points, right sides together. Pin. Stitch ¼” from the leaf triangle. (Photo below shows the placement after I cut the excess off… sew first then cut!) Trim the excess then iron towards the leaf section. I saved those 2 extra triangles just in case they might be used some where.
Line up your 5 ½” mark on your ruler with the point of the leaf. Trim the excess trunk and background off. Turn the ruler around, line up the just trimmed section on the 5 ½” mark and trim the rest of the background off. Although this may seem like a strange way to make this unit it does work.
Using the trunk picture below as a guide make the trunk side pieces. Sew a trunk/background half square triangle to the 1 ½” by 4 ½” background. Repeat. Attach one of the trunk/background pieces to the bottom of the trunk/leaf unit. Iron so that seams are the least bulky. Add a 1 ½” background square to the remaining trunk/leaf unit. Sew it to the other side of the trunk/leaf unit. Nest seams as much as possible. This unit should measure 6 ½”. Trim carefully if it is too big.
Putting it all together.
Lay out the units as shown below. Iron the seams so that they nest as much as possible.
Carefully trim the leaf units to 3 ½” square. Be careful not to cut off the points. If any of the blocks are way too big consider your seams – are the seams smaller than a quarter inch? Is the block too small – the seams might be too big. Restitch as needed and then trim your blocks. Your goal is to have all of these points showing – none of them chopped off.
Sew the two side units together, press and then sew to the trunk unit. Sew the three units together, nesting seams as you are able. 3 ½” strip of blocks to the trunk strip nesting the seams by ironing in opposite direction.Iron your finished block. Trim to 9 ½”. Congratulations. You’ve just finished the hardest block in the quilt. . . well, I’m pretty sure there won’t be any block harder than this one…. But, no promises. Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If any one has made any of these blocks I'd like to see pictures and share them on this blog. Happy Quilting All!