Scrappy half squares
This is a reconstructed post of one of my pieced backward designs. I originally worked this one out in probably 2000 or earlier? I can’t remember for sure. A few years later I was asked to explain to some internet friends how it was done. I wanted people to have a visual as well as a type-talked description. I posted the photos in my webshots albums for easy viewing. I’m lucky I did that because I was able to use the photos from webshots to reconstruct the instructions here.
For this block I start with 24 pieces of scrap fabric which made 24 finished scrappy half square blocks. Half of the fabrics were dark and half were light. You can use a variety of different fabrics such as brights and pastels or batiks and solids or whatever. Whichever combination you choose just be sure there is good contrast between them. If you want a really scrappy look it works best if no two fabrics are the same pattern. .
From the scrap fabrics I cut 24 ten inch squares. The size I used may not be the size you will choose. Any size square will work. I suggest you read through all the instructions before choosing your block size though. Each cut will take away 1/2 inch of fabric when you sew it back together. It’s not a good idea to start with 3 inch squares unless you want a finished block of 1 1/2 X 1 1/2 inches.
Next you will pair up a light and a dark square right sides together. Draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner. Sew a quarter inch seam on both sides of that line.
Cut the two halves apart….. right smack dab on that drawn line.
Open these up and press the seam going toward the dark fabric. Press it! Press it! Press it! I firmly believe in pressing (not ironing) a quilt block at each step. Pressing in the right direction is important for this block to work.
Now, dividing these half squares by three, cut it into 3 equal strips like this. Don’t use the original measurement for dividing because you have lost 1/2 inch of the size when sewing the first seam.
Take the first strip off the top of the left stack and put it on the bottom. Take two strips off the stack on the right and put those on the bottom. This is what will give a scrappy look to the finished block. Take the center stack and repress the seam going toward the light side. Yes, it does sort of sound like extra work but it’s worth it. This will help reduce bulk at the intersection as well as help lock the seams together for sewing.
Now pin the strips together and sew them back together. I usually work from left to right. Sew the first two sets together then add the last set. I chain piece for more speed in piecing.
When these are all sewn together they should look like this. No, it really is not supposed to be an even diagonal line. This offset is very important for the next step. The offset should be 1/2 inch. Press the seams you just sewed toward the center of the block.
Turn the blocks a quarter turn so you can cut through the center of the offsets. Again, you will be cutting three equal sized strips by making sure you are in the center of each offset. Can you see this in the photo? Now take one off the left stack and place it on the bottom. Remove two from the right stack and place those on the bottom.
Repress the seams of the center stack going toward the outside of the block. After pressing the blocks the seams should look like this. (I have these placed in the wrong order but the pressing is right)
Sew these back together and press the last two seams open or do a roseate press. This reduces bulk at the intersections. Machine quilters call the bulky intersections “fabric warts” when there is a great deal of fabric there. Fabric warts can break quilting machine needles and will cause holes in the quilt before the machine stops sewing. I pressed these seams open but I really prefer making the rosettes.
Your finished blocks should look like these and now you can play around with different placement patterns. Aren’t they sooo cute with all the small half squares? And you worked so hard at piecing all those really small triangles together didn’t you? Shhh…. you don’t need to tell anyone how easy it really was to make them.
Here’s another placement possibility.
How about this one? A scrappy flying geese design.
Hmm…. how about a scrappy Jacob’s ladder design?
This one looks like sail boats or flags. Once you get the squares pieced, there are many different setting possibilities.
I’ve made several of these since I made the first one. I can’t find all the photos but here is one I did with bright and cream color fabrics to show how one looks as finished. If I ever find the photos of the finished red one I’ll update this post.
My posts are printer friendly if you want to print these directions out and take them to your work area. Just click on the print friendly button. Let me know if something is not clear and I’ll try to explain it better.
UPDATE: I was at the nursing home visiting my mother yesterday and took this photo of the finished red quilt. It has been washed several times.