Friday, January 06, 2006

Playing With Birds In The Air Blocks

I decided to play around making some Birds In The Air blocks this morning - and here are my results - 16 perfect little 4.5" blocks, using just 3 strips of fabric! I know it looks a bit boring with just 2 colors, so please imagine a scrappy effect for the settings... I am waiting for the mailman to bring me another big package of fabric and then I will have some more options!

And, now for the photos just so you can see just how easy it is...

First you cut 3 strips of fabric - 2 dark and 1 light (I used blue and tan). 1 dark strip you cut into squares and then sub-cut into triangles and set aside. Strip piece 1 light strip and 1 dark strip together. Sub-cut. Piece into off-centered 4 patches. Easy so far, right?

OK - I purposly leave off exact measurements here because I am recommending anyone who is interested to actually go buy the book - Scraps To You, Too by Debbie Cafrey. I used this book for my Broken Dishes quilt top I shared a few posts back, and following the directions - it came out so nicely! The book has lots of different setting options, ideas, block sketches, great patterns, inspiration, sewing tips for getting perfect points, info on math, etc. Also - there are directions for bigger blocks too if the 4.5" size seems tiny to you! I am happy to recommend this great technique from a wonderful designer, but am not giving her secrets away - she has to make a living after all!

Here you see the off-centered 4 patches before I make the diagonal cut to create the little triangles...

Ready to slice - see how those little triangles are made? I have a small piece of masking tape on the ruler from making my Broken Dishes quilt top, in which the blocks were slightly larger. I find that putting a little piece of tape for a marker is a great time saver by giving me an instant visual reference!

One more thing - I FLIP my cutting mat over to cut when I don't need the cutting lines - keeps the mat in better shape for a longer period of time!

Sew your big triangle that you set aside earlier to the one you just sliced and there you have it - a perfect little 4.5" block - a Birds In The Air block. Actually 16 of them because remember - we were strip piecing them.

Believe it or not, this is almost the same block I used on my Broken Dishes top which looks totally different due to a clever sashing treatment. On the Broken Dishes top the blue square is a 4 patch unit so there are a few more pieces to it, but same idea. You can also use this block as a basis for many other blocks - similar to Churn Dash, Grandmother's Choice, etc. Many different options are diagramed out in the book. I think I am going to go ahead and set some of these blocks into new block lay-outs and will post those photos when I get them done.


Dawn said...

I"ve always loved this block and was so happy you mentioned the Debbie Caffery book a few posts ago! I have got to get taht book now!

I love your blocks!

Nancy said...

If you want to make it even a little easier, instead of cutting triangles, cut rectangle the same size as your off center 4 patch. When you lay your ruler on, instead of cutting, draw a line. Layer the 4patch and rectangle right sides together. Sew 1/4" from each side of the drawn line. Cut on the line and you have 2 blocks without having to sew the bias triangles on. These are called "Mary's Triangles" among other names I've heard. Yet another of my Ufos (that's pretty close to the top for finishing soon) is made this way.

And I think your 2 colors is pretty. Yes I'd like it better scrappy or at least scrappy within those 2 colors but sometimes it's easier to see the design when you're experimenting to use just the 2 fabrics.

Mary said...

I like the pinwheels in the top layout - it would look great in scraps.

Laurie said...

Interesting concept! I might have to get one of her books. I understand they are all great!

Love the blocks too!

JudyL said...

I like that method for making those too. I also have called them "Mary's Triangles" but of course, I make mine much larger than 4.5". :)

How long does it take for fabric to get from the U. S. or Canada to you?


Marilyn said...

Cool method! Thanks for sharing it. I think I will have to give that one a try.

Also, I don't think I've told you yet that I've actually been to your part of Austria and loved it there. Your pictures have brought wonderful memories!


Gina Halladay said...

Hi, Good job on your quilt. I am taking a class from Debbie Caffrey next week in California. I am excited. I write a blog about quilting too. check out if you have a minute or two.