Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Classic Stitches-- Blue

Hello all! Today starts the Classic Stitches block of the month row quilt. I'm very excited about this whole quilt, and I had a good time making this month's blocks. Thanks for coming along!

(For more information on the BOM, see the tab above.)

Broken Dishes!

January's color is blue, which is fitting because we are freezing here! Actually, we're well below freezing. I tried to go out walking today at -1 degree, but my hair and eyelashes froze from my breath, so I gave up after about 20 minutes. I was plenty warm because I dressed for the weather, but frozen at the same time.It was weird. (And don't get me started on people who don't shovel their sidewalks!)

The block for this month is Broken Dishes, a true classic that is simple to construct, giving us an easy start to the BOM. I chose to make my blocks for this quilt in the 6-inch size, so all of the cutting sizes and photos here are of that size. Cutting directions for 8 inch and 12 inch blocks and some other alternatives are at the end of this post.

A basic Broken Dishes block looks like this:

Yes, both fabrics are dragonflies! Serendipity!

I am calling that version 1. Here is version 2:

Both versions are constructed with half-square triangles (hsts). Version 1 uses 4 hsts that finish at 3 inches each, and version 2 uses 16 hsts that finish at 1 1/2 inches each. These hsts are then combined to make the Broken Dishes pattern.

There are a LOT of different ways to sew half-square triangles. One of my favorite ways to make them is triangle paper. Triangle paper is made by several different manufacturers and some are available free online. Choose the size of paper based on the finished size of the hsts you want to make. You can also draw your own triangle paper using this tutorial (or many others) if you are willing to do the math.

Triangle paper hsts.

There is also the Magic 8 method, which is very popular. There are also a number of methods that involve drawing lines on squares and stitching along those lines, or cutting triangles from squares and then stitching them. If you are new at this, try a number of methods and use the one you like best.

Since I am using scraps of all different sizes, some of which are odd shapes, I have been using the EZ Angle ruler to cut triangles from these scraps to use in the Broken Dishes blocks. This method lets me use every scrap and have a lot of variety in my blocks. You don't have to use this method, but I have found that it's easy and useful. I hate to throw out any useable fabric! (A short video showing how to use this ruler for cutting triangles from strips is HERE.)

Here's how it works: first, grab two scraps of a size that will be large enough for the hst you want to make:

The white one here is a piece I cut out of the back of an applique to avoid bulk. The blue is a cutout from the Drunkard's Path blocks I've been making. I got to use all of these pieces up by making hsts with this method.

Find a grainline in each scrap and straighten the scrap. This will be the bottom of the triangle. Put the two scraps right sides together on a cutting mat with the cut edges aligned. (Here it helps to have a smaller mat to lay on top of the larger one so that the piece is easily turned.)

To determine what size to cut the piece, take the finished measurement of the hst and add 1/2 inch. For the 6-inch Broken Dishes block, the triangles need to finish at 1 1/2 inches, so the cut size is 2 inches. Align the 2 inch mark on the ruler with the bottom of the pieces. Using a rotary cutter, cut along the diagonal edge. You can also cut across the top where the blackened triangle is to remove the dog ear before stitching.

Turn the piece (this is where the extra mat is very helpful) and finish the cut along the other side.

Stitch along the diagonal edge and voila--perfect hsts!

This method works for any scrap as long as the scrap is large enough and you are able to begin with a straight edge. I think it's important to find a grainline to straighten the edge, but many quilters do not. Do whatever makes you most comfortable.

For the 6-inch Broken Dishes blocks, there are two options. To make 6-inch version 1 blocks, make 4 half-square triangles that finish at 3 inches each (that means that they should measure 3 1/2 inches unfinished), then assemble as shown in the picture above. Two of the darker triangles should "kiss" in the center, with the other dark corners pointing outward.

Version 1: Basic 6-inch block with hsts that finish at 3 inches each.

To make 6-inch version 2 blocks, make 16 half-square triangles that finish at 1 1/2 inches (2 inches unfinished). Assemble these in 4 sets of 4 hsts, using the same layout as the version 1 blocks--'kissing' centers and outward corners. Join the 4 smaller blocks together to make one 6 inch block. Refer to the block photos to be sure the triangles all are oriented correctly.

Version 2 units before joining. Be sure to orient the triangles properly.
You should see some secondary patterns in the version 2 blocks, and those patterns get really interesting when the blocks are joined into rows. They really do call to mind a pile of broken china!

For a 60-inch row, make 10 6-inch blocks in either version 1 or version 2, or a mixture of both. Join together into a row that measures about 60 1/2 inches unfinished.


Make 1 1/2 inch finished hsts and assemble them as in version 1, but do not join them into larger blocks. These will make 3-inch blocks with the version 1 layout. Make 20 of these for a 60 inch row, or as many as necessary for the length of the row you intend to make.

Make 12-inch blocks using 16 half-square triangles that finish at 3 inches. Alternatively, make 4 of the 6-inch version 2 blocks above and join them together into a 12-inch block. This will require 64 1-1/2-inch finished hsts. Five 12-inch blocks will make a 60-inch row; 3 will make a 36-inch row.

Another alternative is to make 8-inch blocks using hsts that finish at 2 inches (2 1/2 inches unfinished). Use 16 hsts per block. Seven 8-inch blocks will make a 56-inch row. Cut two pieces each 2 1/2 by 8 1/2 and stitch one on each end of the row to complete a 60-inch row.

One last alternative is to use hsts that finish at 2 inches and assemble them as shown in version 1 above. This will yield 4-inch blocks. Make 15 for a 60-inch row.

For my quilt, I chose to make 10 6-inch blocks in version 2 above, mixing the triangles as randomly as I could:

Mix them up and stir!

I also made one 12-inch block:

This was a long post, but I hope it was educational! I hope you enjoy making these blocks and rows. The next block will be posted on February 3.

Happy sewing!

Linking to Linky Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday, and Let's Bee Social.  Be sure to stop by!


  1. It WAS an educational post, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! Thanks for all the great tips...and I love your blue and white broken dishes blocks!

  2. I'm sorry I didn't read the post, but I did enjoy your blocks. Very pretty.

  3. Love those blues!!! So very pretty! That's a lot of HSTs too... Lol. I don't know if I would have the patience for all that :-)

    ~ Jess ~
    Everything Is Coming Up Rosie

  4. Terrific post - had not thought about sewing odd size bits together and trimming into HST units later . . . cool!

  5. Love, love, love the blue and white combo! Your broken dishes are beautiful!

  6. Wonderful broken dishes. I really like the blues and white together.

  7. Great post. I think I've tried every method but forgotten about some - that magic 8. Love the dragonfly broken dishes block.

  8. Well I am impressed that you made it 20 mnutes on a walk that cold!!

    Great blocks

  9. Lovely blues! thanks for the many methods post, too... I really like that 12" block a lot...hugs, Julierose

  10. Yes. A most educational post! Thank you. Love your blue scraps and blocks.

  11. Lots of half square triangles but so worth it. I love the blue fabrics you used.

  12. I usually use the easyangle ruler with strips, but it was fun to see how it could be used with scraps as well. Lots of great broken dishes blocks. It is a great and versatile pattern. So much fun.

  13. Well, came upon this thru' Susan just now. Will go straight to my sewing machine and and make a 12in block
    In blues. Thanks. Then on to Feb block. Denise in Sydney


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