Thursday, September 22, 2011

12 - Improv House and Tree

Today is pure improvisation - no cutting directions, nothing.  Just some general guidelines to get you started towards making your own unique house and tree.   There are only two rules:  keep using at least a 1/4 inch seam and trim the finished block to 12.5 inches square so it will fit with the other blocks.   Let's go!

Start by picking a fabric for your door (red) and one for the siding (blue).  If you want to have windows in your house piece the blue pieces so they have a square in them where you feel a window should be.  Sew your siding onto either side of the door.

Cut a piece of fabric for the area of siding above the door.  Just rough cut these pieces - no real measuring needed.  Sew it to the top of the door piece.

Sew some of your background fabric to either side of the main house piece before you put on the roof if you would like eaves.

To figure out how large to cut my roof piece I placed the roof fabric above my house and rough cut a triangle.  Remember to cut it a little large to accommodate seam allowances.

To figure out what shape to cut the background fabric for each side of the roof, I placed a piece of the background fabric behind the roof piece.

 I cut along the roof line and continued off the edge of the fabric.

 Then I cut along the second side of the roof.

I remove the extra background triangle and sewed the roof to the background starting with the piece that was cut off second.

Next I trimmed the bottom of the roof and the top of the house flat and sewed them together.  Somehow I missed taking a picture of the sew together house with the smooth edges, but I am sure you can imagine it.  :)

With my house done I decided I wanted a tree.  First I measured my house and discovered that the tree would have to be pretty skinny for it to fit into a 12.5 inch block with the house.  So I cut a skinny triangle for the tree and a tall narrow piece for the background.

 I made cuts on either side of the tree just like I did for the house.

 And then sewed it back together again.

 Next I cut a skinny piece for the trunk of the tree and some background fabric for either side.  Word of advice here - trust me, I've messed it up - make your trunk and side pieces wider than you think you need them.  The seam allowances always shrink them more than I expect.

Sew the background to either side of the trunk.  Trim the top of the trunk and bottom of the off tree and sew together.

After I finished the tree, I squared up my house and the house side of the tree block and sewed them together.

 I trimmed the block so it was 12.5 inches wide, but it was still too short.

Instead of adding more background fabric to the bottom, I added a strip of "grass" and squared up the block to 12.5 x 12.5 inches.

But you don't have to make your block like this.  There are an infinite variety of houses and trees you could make.  I searched "house quilt blocks" in flickr and came up with a sampling of the most incredible blocks.  There is also a flickr group called New House on the Block that has some amazing houses.  Here are some of my favorites:

1. First House Quilt Block , 2. Joy Circle May House Block, 3. little houses - block #2, 4. House Block Bee block by Four Monkeys Quilts, 5. Cathy's Liberated House #2, 6. PnP - Amy, 7. Block for Heather in Sew Fun 2, 8. First Wednesday Bee Tiny House Block January, 9. DQS10 Block 4/6, 10. Caroline's Liberated House #2, 11. house block, 12. Megan's Block 1, 13. January Blocks for Megan, 14. Bee Improvisational - November 1, 15. Bee Modern July Block - House 1 Detail, 16. American Gothic, 17. November Bee Blocks - Houses, 18. mid-century modern house quilt block, 19. May 2010 STUD Sent to miniaturequilter, 20. January Swap Blocks for Megan, 21. Block Swap- February, 22. Birthday Blocks - House block, 23. Sew 2 Speak Bee - April Block 2, 24. H2B2 - April, 25. Dionnes block

I had a hard time narrowing it down.  :)

And of course there is more than one way to make trees.   Somehow trees are not as popular houses on fickr - weird - so you are stuck with mine.  :)

 You could just cut out a square and add a trunk to it.

 Or spice it up by stacking squares to make a tree shape.

For a more rounded look, use corner to corner sewing to add triangles of your background color to the corners of your square/rectangle.

These trees are made from tumbler shaped pieces.

This tree is made from a tumbler that was cut in thirds.  The middle section was turned upside down and all three pieces sewn back together again.

These poplars are just rectangles with the bottom corners cut off with some corner to corner sewing and a bit of their sides cut off at an angle.

This tree is made from "made" fabric.  To make the branch, cut out a rectangle and cut through it at an angle. Add in a strip of brown and then sew it to the side of your trunk before sewing the trunk to the top of the tree.

The top of this tree was made using this circle tutorial.

This tree is simply a line of flying geese sewn together.  The possibilities are endless....  There is no right or wrong way to make this block...just start cutting and sewing and see where it takes you.

I can't wait to see what you make!
Edited to add:  
You don't have to make a house and a tree, you could make birdhouses, dog houses, a city, a forest.  Just take these basic house and tree building skills and make this block your own!


  1. I think your block turned out cute!

  2. This looks way easier than last week's! I'm excited to try this...but I am super curious how I'm pulling off this my entire quilt is in red and white....

  3. No need to make a tree. You can have one house, two houses, bird houses, dog houses or skip the house and have a forest of trees. Anything goes.

  4. Thanks you inspired me to make some houses and trees this weekend. :)

  5. Wow. Cute. I can't wait to try! (Even if I'm totally scared! lol!)

  6. Leila,
    Your house and tree are lovely! I always wondered how this type of block is done.
    Thank you, again, for all of your hard work, and for sharing your talent with us!

  7. I love all your trees, I am going to try to make some time to get caught up again so I can make some too.

  8. Leila, I hope you don't mind, but I took a design from one of my books for this block. I just couldn't get my head around what you had done here; I kept going back to the applique method of making pictures! So I searched my books and found a block with a house and mountains, but no tree :-( Hope it fits the bill for this lesson.

  9. these are just what I was looking for. thank you!