Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Strippin' Dot Blocks

I've been very busy procrastinating the quilting of my wonky log cabins, so I've got another piecing project in the works, besides the fabric I showed a sneak peek of on Friday.

About six years ago, I bought a fat quarter bundle of tonal dotted prints at Quilt Festival in Chicago. I've used about half of them in various projects, but still had about 10 to choose from, and I knew I wanted to use a bunch of them in one project. Then last week, while reading up on straight line quilting, an idea for a super simple quilt block popped into my head. Combine those two ideas, and voila! strippin' dot blocks* were born.
Here is a sampling of the blocks I have finished so far:

And here's how to make them:

I cut each fat quarter (I'm using 6) into twenty 4" x 4-1/4" pieces. I chose this size because the 4" square maximized the fat quarter fabric. More about the extra 1/4" later.
 I cut white solid into 1" x 5" pieces. 

To make a block, position a square so the 4-1/4" measurements are on the left and right sides. Position a ruler across the square as shown, on any angle you like. Cut the square into two pieces.

Lay a 1" x 5" white piece along one diagonal edge and stitch. Press open.

Position the diagonal edge of the other "half" of the square along the remaining white edge. Always double check that you have this second piece oriented correctly to make a "square" when it is stitched and pressed. Try to position this second piece so that it is relatively in line with the first piece, but eyeballing is fine. You'll be trimming anyway. Stitch and press open.

Using a square, trim the block on all four sides. I trimmed mine to measure 3-3/4" square. So here's where the explanation of the extra 1/4" in the original square comes in--because you're adding 1/2" of white fabric to the width of your block, you're making it wider. So by cutting a taller square to begin, you're finished, pieced shape is more square-like, giving you greater flexibility for trimming. But, if you choose to just go with 4" squares for simplicity's sake, or if like me, you screw up and cut some of yours in the wrong direction, it doesn't really matter. That's the beauty of trimming!

And here's a finished block:

These blocks have only two seams, so they sew up quickly! I have 108 total to make, and I have 20 done in about an hour's time. I even started chain piecing them, though if you do so, I recommend chain piecing just one of each color at a time. That way you won't have to worry about if you are matching up the same angled piece to finish your block!

Here is what I'm thinking as far as a rough layout goes, using white sashing and turning some of the blocks, but it'll be fun to play with it for real once I have all the blocks complete and can put it up on my design wall.
Bright and summery, isn't it?

I'm also posting this today over at Quilt Story for their Fabric Tuesday.

*I also have it in my head that these look like nautical flags, but google didn't agree. The red one definitely looks like a scuba flag and that's about it, but I can't get the nautical flag thought out of my head!


  1. Oh man, I have some polka dot fabrics and this is a great idea. I'm going to give this a try. I love your bright and cheery blocks!

  2. Very fun! That is going to look great!

  3. This is going to be a great quilt! Terrific it goes quickly too because it looks complicated. Twenty down! Great job!

  4. I agree, it *is* very bright and summery. And fresh and cheerful, especially when it rains (like today!) I think the layout you show will have a lot of impact! :-) Thank you for sharing how you made them. I feel I may have to try a few blocks myself, but not before I finish up a few more UQOs (Unfinished Quilty prOjects!)

  5. Aren't there flags that represent each letter of the alphabet? Are those what nautical flags are? They definitely remind me of those. This is going to be a great quilt.