New to Quilting?

If you are brand new to quilting and don't know where to begin, start with the posts in September 2011 (look in the blog archive). The first four posts cover basics such as choosing equipment, choosing colors, how to sew 1/4" seams, how to use a rotary cutter, and how to press (not iron) your block during construction.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Shoo-fly Quilt Block Tutorial

Shoo-Fly Block

Here are the instructions for the Shoo-fly block that were given out at the class last month.
Click on the image to view it full size. Then print from your browser window.

Coloring blocks to go along with the instructions.
Click on the image to view full size. Then print from your browser window.

Instructions to follow the photo tutorial (if you want a printed copy)

I made my block a traditional Shoo-fly layout. Feel free to experiment with color combinations and different layouts. That's part of the fun of quilting!

This block was first published in 1898 by Ladies Art Company. There is a great little article about the Shoo-fly block at Suzy's Fancy.

Shoo-fly Photo Tutorial
The photos follow the Traditional Instructions above. The only difference between the first set of instructions and the traditional instructions is the color placement.

Step 1: Cut out your fabric

Fabric A: Cut four 4 1/2" squares.
                 Cut two 5" squares OR cut one 7" square
Fabric B: Cut two 5" squares OR cut one 7" square
Fabric C: (center square) Cut one 4 1/2" square

From left to right: Fabric A (four 4 1/2" squares), Fabric C (one 4 1/2" square), Fabric A and Fabric B (one each 7" square)

Step 2: Choose your favorite method to make four 4 1/2" half-square triangles. Remember to trim the half-square triangle sub-units to 4 1/2".

I am following Method 2 for making my half-square triangles. You can find a photo tutorial for two methods of making half-square triangles here in the last post.

Step 3: Arrange your sub-units into rows and columns in the order you will sew them.

I lay mine on a flannel board so I don't mix up my sub-units while I am sewing them. I've picked apart more blocks than I can count! 

Step 4: You can sew the rows and columns together in any way that is easiest for you. The photos are the way I sew this block together because this is the way that is easiest for me. I'm open to other ideas, so if you have an easier way of doing it, I'd love to know it!

I lay the center column of sub-units right sides together over the left column
of sub-units and pin.
Chain sew the blocks together. 
If you need a refresher on chain sewing, look here.

Step 5: Lay the right column of sub-units over the center sub-units and pin in place. Chain sew the new sub-units.

I pin because I often sew a block in the wrong spot or I sew it in the wrong direction.

Step 6: Press the seams of the rows with the half-square triangles towards the center and the center row (the one with only 4 1/" squares) towards the outside.

If you press in these directions your seams will have less bulk and it will be easier to get them to nest together.

 Step 7: Sew the three rows together.
This is the back of my block after it has been sewn together and pressed. I pressed the last two seams towards the center to reduce bulk.
 Just in case you are wondering, I don't clip my threads between the chain sewing unless I have to. Chain sewing and pinning help me to sew things in the correct order and in the correct direction. It is a bit tricky to press with the threads between the sub-units, but I would rather work around the threads than have to pick them out and sew the sub-units again!
All done and squared up!
It should measure 12 1/2".

Too small? 

Watch the video below for help :) Yes, I've done it and it works. 

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