Friday, July 22, 2011

Block 5 - Arizona, We Can Do It! Skill Builder Sampler

This is the last week of honing our half square triangle skills.  Hopefully by the end of this block you will feel comfortable with triangles.  Last week for my birthday, my mom sent me The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer.  I Love It!  This week I chose a block from the book to make.  The block pattern was first published by the Ladies Art Company in 1897 and was called Robbing Peter to Pay Paul.   The same block was later called Arizona by Nancy Page in the Birmingham News, July 7, 1936.  We will call it Arizona since there is another popular block named Robbing Peter to Pay Paul.  (scroll down for instructions)

Edited (5/15):  The Skill Builder Sampler will is available for purchase in book form!  It has been renamed "You Can Quilt!  Building Skills for Beginners" but covers the same skills with the easy, medium and challenging blocks and is a million times better than the original quilt along.  It is perfect for the beginning quilter or the experienced quilter who wants to branch out and learn new skills.  Find more information and order a signed copy in my Etsy shop or order on Amazon.  


1 -  4.5x4.5 inch square (perhaps a larger print)
4 - 3x3 inch squares (out of a medium fabric, similar in color to the 4.5 inch square)
6 - 3x3 inch squares (out of your darkest fabric)

Out of your background fabric:

4 - 2.5x4.5 inch rectangles
4 - 2.5x2.5 inch squares
10 - 3x3 inch squares


Draw a diagonal line down the middle of each of the ten 3x3 background squares.  Match each background block with a 3x3 inch print.  Sew 1/4 inch away from the line on each side.

After you sew down one side of the squares, feed the squares through the machine again with out cutting them apart to speed your sewing.

I recently found this great tip:  before cutting the squares apart, set the seam by ironing  the blocks.  It really helps keep the seams nice when you press them open.

  • Cut the squares in half on the line.
  • Press the triangles open.
  • Trim the half square triangles to 2.5 inches square.  (I have got to learn how to sew an exact triangle.  I thought the trimming would never end.  Should I be admitting that?)
Once you have all of your blocks trimmed, arrange the block components as shown in the picture above.  

A Brief Aside - A few months ago I was thinking that I needed a portable design wall to lay my block pieces on so they wouldn't get messed up as I sewed - I hate it when I sew the wrong pieces together!  I remembered this small flannel board that I used when I taught Sunday School.  I can prop it up right next to my sewing machine, sew pieces together, iron them, and then lay them back out.  It makes it a lot easier to keep them in order.  You could make your own flannel board by duct taping some flannel, batting or felt over a piece of cardboard or thin wood.  Mine is 15x15 inches.  

Moving on...  there is no set way to sew the pieces together, but the following pictures illustrate the order I sewed them together in order to optimize my ability to chain piece.

You have a beautiful block!

Enjoy this last Half Square Triangle block.  We will be moving on to a new skill next week, but will continue to use HSTs in other blocks throughout the year.

Remember to stop by the Flickr group to see the blocks everyone has been making and to post your own.


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  1. oops, this looks a bit more scary, but beautiful, too.
    Still, having just sewn my bonus block I feel adventurous enough to try something even more complicated :)And thanks to your maths post I'm enjoying recalculating the measurements to fit the 9" blocks I'm sewing (hope you don't mind this).

  2. Isn't this block 5? This is a gorgeous block! I can't wait until the move is done so I can catch up! Thanks Leila!

  3. Very beautiful!! And lots of HSTs...

  4. I'm sitting down at my table now to cut...very pretty...but, by my count, this is block 5!! (or 6, if you count the bonus block.

  5. Me again, it is going together smoothly thanks to all of your very clear instructions and building my skills. BTY, thanks for your hints about fabric colors/background. It helps to guide my choices. Next I'll try to get pictures this weekend and post to show you my 6 blocks.

  6. Thanks for keeping me in line. :) It is indeed Block 5. I think I will number the Bonus Blocks separately. Bonus Block 1, 2, 3...

  7. I love your flannel board (and the block is pretty spiffy, too)!

  8. wow looks very complicated but you have explained it lovely!

  9. This block may look a bit more complicated, but it has the same number and size of half square triangles as the pinwheel block, they are just arranged differently. The only tricky bit (for me) is keeping them all in order so I don't sew the wrong ones together.

    You Can Do It! :)

  10. Leila, I've just finished it and you are absolutely right - it only looks complicated, but it's quite nice to sew. Thank you so much for sharing it, I would have never tried it without your Skill Builder Sampler.

  11. Totally agree with the trimming comment. But it turns out so nicely it's worth it, right? Love your block, thanks for another great tutorial!

  12. I do the flannel board thing too! I used to lay it out on the floor, then have to jump up and get pieces as I needed them. It was a pain, though good exercise. :-)

  13. Boy have I had fun (not!) doing this one! It has been a huge learning curve, but what valuable lessons! I've had to unpick a few of the squares after laying them all out and having hubby look at it and saying "it looks odd". He was right - I'd stitched some of the squares upside down! I finally decided to print out the instructions from your blog so I could compare the pictures with my layout. Duh! Why hadn't I done that before? It's all fixed now, and I'll post a pic as soon as I've pressed the block. In the meantime I've printed out your instructions for the Bow Tie block - looking forward to this one!

  14. Thanks for the flannel board idea. I have been meaning to make myself one for awhile, so thanks! Also, I finally got back on board with this project. I had a lot of catching up to do since returning from vacation one down... several to go. Bow tie is cut out so at least I am moving forward!

  15. hi leila i have just found you this week so have been doing one a day to catch up a bit want to say a big thank you for putting all this info on your blog easy to follow and it is what i needed as i am new to quilting this year.
    i have done the pieces for this one but could i see where the 2.5 squares were going to go duh :))till i put all the bits laid out i am happy now !!

  16. just found your blocks a new way of demonstrating. its refreshing and perfect to follow you made my morning.

  17. I just finished this one today and I love it! I was a bit worried about how all those triangles would line up because I struggle with them but the trim down thing did wonders for me!

  18. It was love at first sight for me with this beautiful block! I'm so glad
    that it is Friday, I can start tomorrow morning.

    Excellent Block, Thank for you Sharing!


    1. Wonderful tutorial and so easy! Dear me! I should be already in the cutting for my next one! Thank you for sharing such a nice pattern! Louise

  19. Love this block and thanks to you it doesn't seem so daunting anymore. HSTs are one of my favorite "tools" in creating, they are amazing when you turn them this way and that. Thank you for a great tutorial to make a gorgeous block.

  20. Hi, Leila! I didn’t know this was yours when I clicked on it thru FaveQuilts. Now that I live in Tucson, I’ll have to make this block. Love your fine work as always!