Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Intricate Stitches--Blue

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first block of the Intricate Stitches BOM!  This is going to be very exciting, so grab your fabrics and let's get started.  Here's our first block:

Isn't she a beauty?  This block is called Arrant Red Birds and is a Nancy Cabot block that dates to 1936.  I went searching for a pattern for this block and could only find ones that used templates, and the latest pattern I could find was from 1988.  Not to worry, though--no templates here!  There are some odd measurements, but I've done the math and it all works.  Just take your time and pay attention when cutting and you'll be fine.

Helpful tips:

Just a few things to note before we start sewing.  I'm going to assume that you all have some experience sewing and that you know how to make basic units like half-square triangles and the like, so I'll leave out those specific instructions.  If you need a tutorial for some units, I'll do my best to link to one.

*It's really helpful to read the whole tutorial before cutting anything.  

*I haven't ever pressed seams open, but this block has a lot of seams, so you may find that you get the flattest block by pressing your seams open.  Otherwise, press toward the darker fabric or toward the least-pieced units.

*It helps a LOT to square up as you go and make sure that each of the units is the correct size before proceeding.

*It also helps to use a slightly smaller stitch length since the pieces here are so small.

*Accurate 1/4 inch seams make life easier!


For this block, you can use just one color of blue with a background, but it looks best when you have two colors with some contrast.  I used a deep blue and a green with bits of blue and yellow in the dye. This block would also look great with a deep blue and a lighter blue, or even a deep blue and orange or yellow. I used Kona white for my background.

Tip: separate the pieces and label them as you cut to avoid confusion about the sizes later (ask me how I know that this is a good idea).

From the darker blue, cut:

1 4-1/4 inch square
2 3-7/8 inch squares
6 2-3/8 inch squares (for hsts, so can oversize to cut down later, if that's something you do)
2 2-3/4 inch squares (do not oversize)

FYI: This used up almost all of my fat eighth of fabric 

From the contrast color, cut:

1 3-1/2 inch square
6 2-3/8 inch squares (for hsts, so can oversize)
2 2-3/4 inch squares (do not oversize)

From the white, cut:

12 2-3/8 inch squares (for hsts, so can oversize)
12 2-3/8 inch squares  (do not oversize)
1 4-1/4 inch square

Take the two 2 3-7/8 inch blue squares and cut each in half diagonally to make 4 large triangles.  Do the same with 8 white 2-3/8 inch squares (use the ones that the instructions say not to oversize).


Constructing this block starts with making some basic units. First, use 6 of the 2-3/8 inch contrast squares paired with white squares to make 12 2-inch contrast/white half square triangles that will finish at 1-1/2 inches in the block.  Set these aside.

Do the same with 6 of the blue and white 2-3/8 inch squares to make 12 2-inch blue/white hsts that will finish at 1-1/2 inches in the quilt.  Set these all aside for later.

Next, take the blue 4-1/4 square and 4 white 2-3/8 inch squares to make 4 no-waste flying geese. (See this tutorial if you need instructions on this method.)  Make sure your geese measure 2 by 3-1/2 inches to finish at 1-1/2 by 3 in the block.

Take the white 4-1/4 inch square and the 4 remaining 2-3/8 inch blue squares and make 4 more no-waste geese, which will be the opposite colors of the ones you just made. Set all the geese aside for later.

Center unit:

Now that that's out of the way, let's make the center square unit.  Take the 2 2-3/4 inch contrast squares and the 2 2-3/4 inch blue squares and cut them each in half twice diagonally to make 4 triangles each.  Take 4 of the contrast and 4 of the blue and lay them out this way:

Stitch the center seam and press.

Take the other 4 of each color and lay them out like this:

Stitch the center seam and press.

Now take 8 of the white triangles that were cut from the 2-3/8 inch squares in the cutting step.  Pair these with the triangles you just made like so:

Stitch and press to make 4 of each of these units. These squares should measure 2 inches to finish at 1-1/2 inches in the block.

Join the units in pairs like this and stitch to make 4 units:

Almost there!  Take the 3-1/2 inch contrast square and join one of the units you just made to each side as shown. Pay attention to which way the blue squares point. (You can see that I had to un-stitch mine because I wasn't paying attention!)

Take the other 2 units and 4 of the blue hsts and stitch them as shown to make 2 rows:

Add these rows to the top and bottom of the contrast square unit.

Press and the center unit is done!  This unit should measure 6-1/2 inches square to finish at 6 inches in the block.

Side pieces:

The units for the side pieces have all been made and only need to be stitched together.  Take 2 contrast hsts, 2 blue hsts, and 1 of each of the flying geese units and lay them out as shown:

Stitch into rows and then stitch the rows together.  Press.  Make 4 identical side pieces that measure 3-1/2 by 6-1/2 inches each.

Corner units:

The corner units are small Birds in the Air blocks.  Take one of the contrast hsts and 2 of the remaining white triangles. Join the triangles to the hst as shown:

Press. Take the large blue triangle from the cutting stage (which should be the last pieces left) and join it to the unit you just made to make a Birds in the Air block:

Press.  Make 4 of these units that measure 3-1/2 inches square.

Final assembly:

The parts of the block are all done!  Lay them out as shown:

Stitch the parts into rows and then join all of the rows into a final block.  Give it a good final press and stand back and admire your beautiful block!

Wow, a bunch of work, but totally worth it, I think!  Just take it a step at a time and it will turn out fine.  If you're making the quilt as I am, you may want to take the scraps left over from the fabrics for this block and save them for making the center block down the road.  Just stick them in a Ziploc and keep them with the block and they'll be all ready!

Good luck with your block, and be sure to come back for the next one on February 2. I'd love to see pictures!

Sharing at Linky Tuesday,  Let's Bee Social and soscrappy for RSC16.


Quilts By Laurel said...

This is a great block! I'm going to have to bookmark this one for future! :)

Bernie Kringel said...

This one turned out beautifully Mari. Very pretty. I just pulled scraps for January but haven't actually stitched anything yet.

Michelle said...

I saw this block on the Quilter Blogs site and was immediately drawn to it! I don't know if I'm going to join your BOM yet but the main page for this BOM has made it very tempting. Your last BOM looked beautiful too. Thanks for sharing!

Vicki in MN said...

Really cool block, but your color choices are just perfect!!!

JoanG said...

Terrific block. I think I'll be playing along with you this year. I love the idea of a single intricate block per month.

PaintedThread said...

I really like your choice of color for this block. So many pieces! whew.

andrea @ tideline quilts said...

Love your beachy, coastal colours! Thanks for a great, well-detailed tutorial!

ipatchandquilt said...

That block is just very very pretty! Thank you for sharing tutorial!
esthersipatchandquilt at yahoo dot com
ipatchandquilt dot wordpress dot com

Sharon - IN said...

That is a pretty block. Nice fabric too!

Kate said...

Beautiful block! Ingenious construction!

Anja @ Anja Quilts said...

This is a great block. The blue and green play well together.

JanineMarie said...

This is so pretty, Mari. And such an interesting construction to get those little squares in the center. I like how your instructions are so clear--and I can't wait to see what your other intricate blocks will be. It'S a great idea to concentrate on just one detailed block a month for a QAL.

Cathy said...

Your block is drop-dead gorgeous!!!

scraphappy said...

Absolutely beautiful block! This is going to be a stunning quilt at the end of the year.

Karen said...

Very pretty block. I am trying really hard not to start any unplanned quilts. I will be watching to see this completed.

Anonymous said...

What a nice block, it looks beautiful!

Cathy said...

Gorgeous block and very tempting!

gayle said...

Soooooo tempting...
I'm trying to resist (I'm already in over my head for the year, and it's only the first half of January!) but I may re-examine later in the year and play catch-up.
Like I said, sooooo tempting...

Deb A said...

Beautiful block! Love the green and blue together.

Lara B. said...

Mari, I'm so impressed at your ability to figure out all the math and create this beautiful block without templates. Beautiful colors too!

Sheila said...

What a beautiful block! Clear, most excellent instructions.