Thursday, October 15, 2015

Eye Spy #01: Four Patch & Cross/Plus Blocks



Cross Block

There is something organic that draws modern and traditional quilters alike to the simple cross block. Beginners are attracted because they see a block made entirely of straight seams, and advanced sewists because they know it also has great graphic impact. Craftsy has an article HERE on cross block patterns and variations. There are both free downloads, and others for purchase. Pinterest has many excellent boards, but here is one in particular I follow: PLUS/CROSS QUILTS


Crosses are all around us used as signs, symbols, and even flags.

 GrännaSweden; J. Stocker


The simplicity of crossing two lines dates back to pre-history. Here they are stylized as a symbol on a Viking rune.

J. Stocker


Crosses were used in Christianity as early as the 1st century A.D.


J. Stocker

Look around, and you will be amazed at how many ways we use simple crossed lines. Is it no wonder that Cross or Plus Quilts are mesmerizing? They can be centered in a medallion like "Splitting Hares", the first quilt I both designed, and tried my hand at FMQ on...


...or in a repeated block pattern like this quilt I made my dad.



There are so many extrordinary quilts developed around this motif. We might find one specific quilt that stops us dead--'LOVE IT!, but where's the pattern for it? Perhaps we need to size it up or down, or we just want to play with that block. Let's talk about how to break down this pattern, and make it your own.



I will admit that I rarely give a quilt more than a cursory glance before I'm visually dissecting it. How big is the block? How many sections are there? How many ways could I make that section work? Sure I enjoy them visually for color, scale, and emotional impact, but afterward the construction is the juicy bit I love!


Here are two cross blocks that look very similar, but are just slightly different. The one above has one arm measurement 1/2" longer than the other. It's not a significantly noticeable difference. It was a cutting error on my part, but wound up providing a little more horizontal emphasis turned one way, and also made it slightly more masculine looking. 



This red and white cross block has arms of equal length, and looks identical which ever way it's turned. Today we'll learn how figure dimensions without a pattern or software. In order to provide everyone with the same background information, we'll start off with a basic four patch. Although this first tutorial sounds very simple, it's the best place to start for a beginner, and easily confusing for us all. 


Basic Four Patch

We’ll use dimensions for an unfinished (UFB), and a finished block (FB) to help you understand the role of seam allowances.  An unfinished block means it is completely sewn together, but the 1/4" seam allowance on the outside edge is still included in this measurement. A finished block means it has been joined with other blocks within the project on all sides, and no seam allowances are included in this measurement.

Dimension
of each
equal piece
(Inches)

1.5
2
2.5
3
3.5
4
4.5
5
5.5
6
6.5
Unfinished
block
dimension
(Inches)
1.5
2.5
3.5
4.5
5.5
6.5
7.5
8.5
9.5
10.5
11.5
12.5
Finished
block
dimension
(Inches)
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
 










Now lets's do the cross block.


First I would focus on the finished center, then continue to break it down further. I see 3 horizontal rows within the center, and each is an equal size strip in length and width. The outer border is the same width as the central strips. I can tell all my strips will be cut the same width making this a fairly easy block to reproduce.

I can count 5 strip widths from left to right or top to bottom. Therefore the width of each strip is multiplied by 5 below to make 1 block.

Size of each cut strip in inches
1.5
2
2.5
3
3.5
4
4.5
Finished size
of each strip in inches
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
3.5
4
Size of each unfinished block in inches
5.5
9.5
10.5
12.5
15.5
17.5
20.5
Size of each finished block in inches
5
9
10
12
15
17
20


Let's imagine I need a 10" finished block. The smallest unit in my block is a square because my block is square. If I use a 2.5" strip, I would cut my smallest piece 2.5" x 2.5". There are 4 pieces that size in background fabric, and 2 in my cross/plus fabric.

The length of my long center piece is equal to 3 finished widths PLUS the seam allowances on each end. So, 2+2+2=6, plus 1/4"+1/4"=6 1/2".

The shortest red border is the same size as the long center piece. Both are 3 finished widths long plus seam allowances so 6 1/2".

The longest strips are the length of the unfinished block so 10 1/2".

I gave you the largest block dimension as 20". Four blocks together make a 40" square quilt, and would be large enough for an infant, or a 60" square for a smaller throw. 

Why Eye Spy Will Become a Regular Feature


I want to help you finish more quilts. 

We all agree finished quilts get all the ooh's and aah's, but there is nothing more frustrating than getting hung up on the math of your quilt project. I have had my fair share of errors in cutting and piecing, but have gotten better at seeing pitfalls before I make them. Dissecting blocks and drafting patterns myself has helped more than anything. Give it a try, and you'll only get better with time.

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.




Linking up with~
Oh Scrap!
Show Off Saturday
Podunk Pretties
Crazy Mom Quilts
Lizzie Lenard FM Mavericks
LAFF
Fabric Frenzy Friday
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
My Quilt Infatuation
Sew Fresh Quilts
Quilt Story

10 comments:

  1. thanks so much for explaining how you achieve all these sizes--this looks like a fun project--I LOVE LOVE crosses--
    this is No. 1 on my list for 2016....hugs, Julierose

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  2. P.S. I always feel totally math challenged in trying to figure out other sizes than in a pattern--so big hug along with thx...Julierose

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  3. Nice to have a little bit of background about the crosses. Yes, crosses are well-liked as a design alright - I finished a plus quilt earlier this year, especially cool design to use for a bloke's quilt.Thanks for the tutorial!

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  4. Thank you! I struggle with the math when I see a pattern I want to recreate.

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  5. Thank you! I struggle with the math when I see a pattern I want to recreate.

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  6. The cross quilts are interesting, but I've not yet put one on my to do list. it's nice to be able to redraft your blocks into another size. I love EQ because I can draw it out and see if it's working.

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  7. I've been cutting blue and whites all summer for an interlocking crosses quilt -- not enough to play with the layout yet and I think much of it will need to be laid out on the work wall before I begin stitching!

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  8. GRREAT info here Julie. Will be saving this. I have seen two cross block quilts, one a runner, just in the last half dozen blog posts, and it is on my WTD list (want-to-do!). Thanks for taking the time to put this all down for all to read and use. :-)

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  9. Wow, some great info! Love the cross block and am now inspired to make a quilt of crosses. Came by way of Oh Scrap link and am new to your blog. Will be sure to come back!

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  10. Hello Julie,

    I absolutely love Splitting Hares! It is a lovely calm and balanced design, and the quilting is wonderful.

    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks!

    Love, Muv

    ReplyDelete

It's always enlightening to hear your thoughts or suggestions. I try to respond in a timely manner, but admit life is very full here! I will return comments online if it's of general interest, but offline if a personal response is more appropriate. Give me a shout with anything urgent at julie@pinkdoxies.com, and I'll try to get right back with you. While I believe in free speech, spamming will not be tolerated, and as in all our interactions, speak kindly.

If you want to be certain of a personal reply, leave your email or email me privately. Many people are not even aware when they have become a no-reply blogger. Yes, I know it's frustrating for us all.

Julie