Today’s instructions are for the last block of our 1800’s Quilt. Additionally, I’ve given instructions for how to make a coping, or spacing strip to make sure the on point section of the quilt fits with the outside blocks.
First, I want to recomment “Grandmothers Choice,” a blog by Barbara Brackman. She is featuring a block and historical information and pictures “to recall the fight for women’s rights” each week. It started on September 1. She had a few posts before Sept. 1 so scroll down the page and check the blog archive. The blocks are 8".
Let’s get on to our last block. Checking Barbara Brackman’s book The Encyclopaedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns I was able to find several names for the this block. It has been called School Girl’s Puzzle, Hour Glass and Old Maid’s Puzzle. Old Maid’s Puzzle is also the name of four of these blocks put together to form one block. Now we tend to name our blocks however in the 1800s block names were not as common.
A word about colors. This quilt came from the book Quilts from the Great Lakes. It looked to me that two fairly strong colors were used in the block. I thought my quilt needed a weightier block than one using my light background fabric. Thus, I chose red and orange. Please feel free to use the colors that will suit your other blocks the best. After taking a photo of the top with all the blocks, this might have been a bit too dark.
A 4 – 2 3/4” squares in medium
B 5 – 3 1/8” squares in medium cut in half diagonally to yield 10 triangles
C 1 – 5 3/8” square in dark cut in half diagonally to yield 2 triangles3
D 3 – 3 1/8” square in dark cut in half diagonally to yield 6 triangles
Using the letters as your guide, layout the block. Sew the triangles to create the half square triangles. Sew the A/B units into a four patch. For the “the wing” triangle first make a half square triangle. Then add the two side triangles, one at a time. Sew the resulting unit to the larger triangle.Sew the quarter sections together. Remember to iron the major seams so you have opposing seams to spread out the bulk.
The last thing we need to do is add the coping strip to make sure our tree of life block fits the rest of the blocks. First, check your blocks to make sure they are all about the same size if you haven’t been squaring them up as you go along. Once you find your smallest block, that size is what all of your blocks will need to be squared up to. If you have one block that is particularly small you might want to remake the small one. I started by laying out my blocks on the outside edges. I rearranged them until I was happy with the results. Then, I sewed the center two squares in the horizontal rows together. I also sewed the two center squares in the two vertical rows together.
Next, I measured the two blocks lengthwise and the center tree of life block that is now a square along the top. Here’s the formula you need to figure out the width of your coping strips:
Width = border blocks – center block ÷2 + ½”
ARGH… yes it is math. I hate math. I’m not good at math. But sometimes you just have to do it.
My center block was 13.5”.
So here’s what the math looked like:
18.5” – 13.5” = 5” ÷ 2 = 2.5” + .5” for seam allowance = 3”
I have to admit I made a set of strips without the extra ½” for the seam allowance and I was exactly ½” short. Hum. That’s when I added the ½” for the seam allowance and all came up correctly.
I then cut 2 13.5 x 3” pieces and added them to the top and bottom on the tree of life piece. I ironed the strips away from the tree of life block. First I tested the tree of life block (with the coping strips) against the sewn together blocks (see above.) Yes, they matched up perfectly. Then I measured the length of the block with the coping strips which was 18.5”. I cut two more coping strips and added them to the sides of the tree of life block. If when I go to sew all the outside edges together I find that the seams don’t match I will “fudge” the sewing to get them to match up. One way of easing in a small amount of excess space is to sew with the shorter length on top which allows the sewing machine’s feed dogs to help ease the difference. If you find a large difference you might want to check your seams and take a little larger seams where the blocks are sewn together.
So a few last words and comments. First, I think the last block might be a bit TOO strong in this quilt. I will debate with myself a little and see if I need to use my regular background fabric. (I hate redoing blocks but redoing this one might be a necessity.) Because this was a design as you go and I didn't draft the quilt setting out before I did it, I think the tree of life block is way too small. If I have enough of the red fabric left there is a good chance there will be a new tree of life block being made in my house. Bigger. Honestly, 5" of coping strips? Gee whiz. I should have figured this out first and then come up with the block size. I
am guessing know that a 12" block would have worked. (Yep, I spent some time doing some research.) Even if you use a 12" block you would still need to put on coping strips but they would have been much smaller.
Sometime next year my guild will do a reveal of finished BOM quilts. My goal is to have this quilt done long before whatever month that is scheduled for. I guess I better figure when that is!
Please feel free to drop me an email if you need any help on any of the blocks. (brsinstitches @ gmail. com just remove the spaces to use the address.) I may be rusty trying to figure out what needs to be done but at least I can try to help.
Happy Quilting All!