Sunday, July 24, 2016

DCMQG 2016 QAL - Block 19

Block 19

I'm back! This block is based off of a block called Alleyways by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr in Modern Blocks. I've made a few adjustments to it. This is our first block using improv piecing and also our first block using a foundation.

Cutting Instructions
Queen Sized:
Background: (1) 2.5" x 12.5"
Background: (2) 2.5" x 5.5"
Prints: strips at least .75" wide and 5.5" long (I used selvages from my fabrics, you'll want longer strips if you want to go across the diagonal)

The white is my background, the selvages are my Prints.

Baby Quilt:
Background: (1) 1.5" x 6.5"
Background: (2) 1.5" x 3"
Prints: strips at least .75" wide and 3" long

Piecing Instructions

You have several options here. I decided to work with selvages and I like paper piecing, so I cut out (4) 5.5" x 5.5" (3" x 3") squares out of paper to use as a foundation. If you're using selvages, I highly encourage you to use paper, since it will stabilize your selvages and not add bulk to an already bulky patchwork. You could also use pieces of light fabric, like muslin, as a foundation, or just improv piece fabrics to at least 5.5" (3") squares and trim down. The (4) 3" squares for the baby quilt will fit on one piece of paper, the (4) 5.5" squares for the queen sized quilt will require four pieces of paper (or if you're not as picky as I am, you can just cut the paper in half and then draw a line 5.5" up from the bottom, it'll be close enough and we'll be trimming later anyway).

I'll show you how I work with selvages and then I'll show you what I did for the baby quilt. For the selvages, I generally cut mine at about 2" from the edge when I start a new fabric and save it. Take one piece, and lay it so the selvage part is off the edge of your foundation paper or just use a scrap piece of fabric for the start.

Take the next piece and overlap the join of the selvage (where it meets the rest of the fabric) just a little bit with the piece underneath. Note: make sure your thread is something that matches your selvage, as you'll be able to see the seams. Also, set your stitch length to about 1 or 1.5 before you start sewing, this will make it easier to remove the paper afterwards. Now sew along the join and again about 1/8" from the outside edge of the selvage. The image below is just designed to show you roughly how much overlap you want for your second piece. You'll want to make sure that your selvage overlaps both ends of the paper before you sew. In my case, I moved it up just a little.

Continue doing this until your entire foundation is covered then trim roughly a 1/4" from the edge of your foundation. If you're using paper, now is the time to remove the paper from the back, give it a quick press and then trim from the front (if you want to make sure that all of your fussy cut selvages are nicely centered, otherwise you can trim from the back as well).

If you would like to use strips of scrap fabric instead of selvages, here's what I did for the baby quilt...

I decided I wanted the fabric to run on the diagonal, so I drew a line down the diagonal on all four foundation papers. This line is just there to remind you to keep the fabrics more or less going in that direction. Then starting at one corner, I took a piece of fabric to cover the end with a little bit of overlap.

Then I took a strip of fabric, put right sides together and sewed a seam a 1/4" from the edge (remember to set your stitch length to 1-1.5 if you're using paper). Your edge doesn't have to be perfect, but should be straight enough so you can use it as a guide for your seam.

Continue adding strips until you've covered the entire foundation, remove the paper, press, and trim to size.

Once you've got all four of your squares done, lay out your block.

Sew together the sides and then sew the sides to the center strip. In this case, I pressed towards the center cross, since the seams were so bulky, especially with the selvages.

Here is the finished queen sized block with selvages.

And here is the finished baby quilt block:

Completed block size:
Queen sized: 12.5" x 12.5"
Baby quilt: 6.5" x 6.5"

Several other options:
  • You could use irregularly sized pieces where the top or bottom is narrower than the other side for a more varied look, like this.
  • You could improv piece anything for the corners.
  • You could make four spiderweb blocks and run your background along the diagonals in between the sections.
  • You could improv a large piece (at least 11" square for the queen sized and at least 6" square for the baby quilt) and then slice and insert the background any which way.
Alleyways Quilt:


  1. Thanks Anna. Another well thought out and written block! I always love your examples and the selvages are brilliant touch.