Monday, July 9, 2012

tutorial: shoo fly using layer cakes

Shoo fly is one of my favorite blocks. I was thinking about creative ways to make them using precuts and came up with this idea using layer cakes. Since you will have one finished block per 10 inch square, you can make a lot of blocks from one stack of fabric.

For this tutorial, I'm using a couple squares I had left over from Isa's quilt.

You will need 2 - 10" of fabric. You should pick two that contrast with each other since they will work together to form two blocks. Here, I'm using an orange print and a pink floral print.

Take your two squares and stack them on top of each other so that the sides match up.
Using a rotary cutter and ruler, measure four inches in from the side and cut. Rotate the block a quarter turn and repeat three times. It is helpful to have a rotating mat for this!
When you finish, your block should look like this.
You will have four 4" squares in the corner, 4x2" rectangles, and a 2" square in the center.
Next, we'll make the corner units using a quick piecing method for half square triangles. Take one 4 inch square in each color and lay them with rights sides together. Mark lines for sewing on the back. Here, I have a tool that lets me draw a line 1/4" from the center diagonal. If you don't have a tool like this, you can simply draw a diagonal line down from corner to corner that you can follow using your presser foot. Repeat for all corner units.
Sew blocks. If you marked lines 1/4" from the center, sew on the line. If you drew a line on the center, use your presser foot to sew 1/4" to the side of the line. Sew lines on both sides of the center. Repeat for other three blocks.
Press the block (leaving it unopened). Using a ruler and rotary cutter, cut the block in two down the center of the block. Repeat for all squares and press open all of the units into half square triangles.
Now we can put the block together. Lay out both blocks to make things easier. I'm a visual person, so I always lay my blocks out before sewing to make sure they are correct. Use the other cut pieces to add a center to the block and to add the sashing between the triangle blocks as pictured. Your other block will look like this but the fabrics will be reversed.
Assemble the block. I usually piece rows together and then combine them to make the block.

Flip the right column onto the centers and pin. Note that there is extra fabric on the long rectangles in the center. This is because we didn't trim down for seam allowances - we'll do that later. For now, align the pieces to at the center of the block.
Sew together and press open. Here you can see the extra fabric hanging out at the top and bottom. Again, we'll cut this off later. Remember to match seams at the center.

Repeat with left side, aligning pieces towards the block center and pinning.
Your block is now in three pieces.

Now we need to put these together!
Flip the center over the bottom row. You will want to match seams at the center of the strip. Here, you can see them a little in the photo because I used green pins. The sides will hang off like before - don't worry about these.

Sew the center to the bottom row and press open.
Now the block is in two pieces. Repeat what you just did with the top row, remembering to match seams at the center of the block. Sew and press open.
Now you have a finished sewing your block. Now we have to trim those ends off.
Use your ruler and rotary cutter to trim the sides. Line your ruler up with the edge of the half square triangle blocks and cut the extra bit off. Repeat on all sides.
If you laid your second block out, you can repeat the steps to sew it. If you are like me, you might have sewn it as you went along. Either way, finish both blocks.

They are inverse images of each other. How cute!

Blocks finish at 8 1/4" (7 3/4" sewn in finished)

There are a lot of fun things you can make with these blocks. Have fun and send me pictures!

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