My Favourite Block Quiltalong- a strippy leaf block

Today is my turn to give you a block for the “My Favourite Block Quiltalong”, which is being hosted by Kim at Persimmon Dreams. Kim will have a little interview with me on her blog so hop over and have a look!
My block uses two techniques- scrappy stripping to make some fabric from your own scraps, as well as reverse applique, which I think gives a great effect with not too much effort.

This block can be made either as a 12 ½” block or at the 6 ½” size. Four of these smaller blocks look great sewn together as a four-patch and you can try a couple of different arrangements. The instructions below are for the larger block, the smaller block measurements are in (brackets).

Strips of colourful fabric
Pink spotted fabric for top – 12 ½” (6 ½”)square
Freezer paper
Spray starch and paintbrush
fabric glue (optional)

To create this block you will need to first make some strip-pieced fabric (or if you rather, it can be made using one fabric piece for the bottom layer).You can use strips cut from the fabrics in your stash and your scraps- they can be any width but will need to be about 13” long (or 7”). Use any colours- the better to give that scrappy look. Just pick up any two strips, of any width, and sew together with a ¼” seam. Keep adding another strip until you have a piece approximately 12” (6”) wide. This strip-pieced fabric will be the underneath piece in our two layers so that is why it doesn’t have to be exactly 12 ½” (6 ½”)– in fact it really only needs to be as big as the leaf shape that you are going to have, plus a little extra for the seam allowance around all sides. Press this stripped fabric so the seam allowances all go to one side, ensuring that you have pressed it as flat as possible and there are no little ‘pleats’ along the seam lines.
If not using strip-pieced fabric for the bottom layer, cut a 12 ½” (6 ½”) square from your chosen fabric.

Cut a 12 ½” (6 ½”)square of fabric that you wish to use as the top fabric for your block. I’m using a pink spotted fabric for this- it will have the leaf shape cut out of it to reveal the colourful stripped piece underneath.

Prepare the leaf template
1. You will need a 12 ½” (6 ½”) square piece of freezer paper. On the dull side of the paper, use a pencil to mark a point in one corner about 2” (1”) in from the side and 2” (1”) down from the top. Draw a corresponding point in the diagonally opposite corner. Using these as the points for each end of your leaf, freehand draw a large leaf shape diagonally across the square. If you wish, you can practise drawing it on a plain sheet of paper first and then trace it onto the freezer paper. To make it easier for turning later, you might want to round off the tips of the leaf instead of leaving them pointy – you choose what leaf shape you would like.

2. Using paper scissors, cut out the freezer-paper leaf directly on the line you have drawn and discard it. If you do this as neatly as possible, you will be able to keep that piece you cut out to use in another project.

3. Take the square piece of freezer paper which now has a leaf-shaped hole in it, and place it shiny-side down onto the wrong side of the square of the ‘top’ fabric, lining up the sides. Iron with a dry iron for a few seconds to make the freezer paper adhere to the fabric.

4. Take a marking pencil and mark ¼” on the wrong side of the ‘top’ fabric, inside the cut edge of the leaf shape. This doesn’t have to be exact – you can just ‘eye-ball’ it when cutting if you like.

You now can either use a small blade cutter or scissors to cut out a leaf-shaped piece from the top fabric, leaving a ¼” seam allowance that will be used to turn under.

If you have pointy ends on your leaf make a little nick right into within a couple of millimetres of the point, still allowing enough to just turn under.

Don’t cut right to the point as this may fray.

5. Spray a little starch into the lid of the can and use a clean paintbrush to dab the starch on to the seam allowance all around the cut-out shape.
Then quickly, before the starch dries, use the iron to turn the allowance over and press down. You might also want to use a stiletto or chopstick to help turn the edges over as you move the iron along.

This will make a crisp turned edge.

6. The freezer paper can stay on until you are ready to stitch the pieces together. When ready, peel it off and the edges of the cut out shape will stay turned under.

This freezer paper template can be re-used a number of times.
Assemble the block
1. Place the top fabric square on top of the stripped piece, or whichever fabric you are using for the bottom layer, lining up the edges if they are the same size, or otherwise ensuring the cut out shape is completely filled with the stripped fabric showing through from underneath.

2. Pin both pieces together, or use a few dots of fabric glue stick to keep both pieces together. You are now ready to hand sew around the turned-in edge of the leaf cutout. Use a fine needle and thread and take small slip stitches. Start along one of the sides so you aren’t stopping and starting at the points. At the leaf points you will have to use the needle to help turn the fabric under and take little stitches to keep in place.

The stripped fabric underneath can be trimmed from the wrong side, leaving about ½” allowance all round.
You can then do any embellishing on top of the block if you like, such as hand-stitching. You can also cut out a different shape instead of a leaf – there’s lots of scope to play with in this block!
Here are some variations that I have done: 4 single 6 ½” blocks….:

which can also be arranged like this….

Or this…

Or, instead of the pink spotted fabric…….

A downloadable copy of these instructions is available here.
I hope you like this block; don’t forget there will be another block given on Thursday by Shanna of Fiber of All Sorts. You can also post photos of your blocks to the Flickr site as well as have a look at everyone elses while you are there!
Kim has all of the info about the Quiltalong here.

7 thoughts on “My Favourite Block Quiltalong- a strippy leaf block

  1. are you able to machine sew reverse applique , I just dont have time to hand sew
    love the design

    • Hi Katy, you sure can machine sew it if you wish. Once you have the two pieces lined up, with the leaf shape cut out of the top piece, sew along the edge with either a small zig zag or even straight stitch. You can use a monofilament thread that can hardly be seen, or a colourful thread and make a feature of it. Have a look on the Flickr site as quite a few others have done this as well!

  2. Ohhh – I LOVE this block! Thanks so much for the great instructions! can’t wait to play 🙂 I’m wondering what the name of the fabric is with the black and white words?

    • Thankyou Sharon. Unfortunately I don’t know the name of that black and white fabric- it is a fat quarter I picked up one day from Spotlight!

  3. Well done Karen! I love your block, all those lovely colours in stripes, and your instructions are really clear

  4. Pingback: My Favorite Block Quilt Along Block 7 from Little Birdie Quilts | Persimon Dreams

Comments are closed.