Block of the Month 1800’s Quilt –
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.
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
Background and Leaves to
make 30 half square triangles using your preferred method. If you already have
some subtract that number from 30.
1 square 4” each cut in
half along the diagonal
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
3 squares 1 7/8” each, cut
in half along the diagonal
1 square 4 7/8” cut in
half along the diagonal
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.
Unit 2 (Make 2 alike.)
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Iron your finished block.
Trim to 9 ½”.
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
If any one has made any of these blocks I'd like to see pictures and share them on this blog. Happy Quilting All!