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Birds in the Air Quilt Block Pattern
   (Traditional Piecing)

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

Skill Level: Confident Beginner

Grid: 2x2

A Birds in the Air quilt block pattern can be easily pieced using rotary cut patches.

On this page are instructions to do so for four different block sizes.

You'll also find a list of blocks with the same name but look different.

Let's get started!

Prefer to paper piece this block? Click here to go to paper piecing instructions for the Birds in the Air quilt block pattern.

Construction Instructions

Birds in the Air quilt block drawing

Block Size: 4"(4-1/2" unfinished)

Grid size: 2"

All seam allowances (SA) are 1/4".

When you are instructed to press, first press the pieced unit flat to set the seam. Then open the patch, pressing from the front to prevent any tucks from occurring in the seam.

Especially when I'm working with bias edges, as in this quilt block pattern, I like to starch my fabrics...heavily.

The starch provides stability and reduces the possibility of stretching those bias cut edges as I work with the block.

Step 1: Cut your fabric patches

Rotary cutting instructions

The chart below provides cutting dimensions in four sizes. For this sample block we're cutting the patches highlighted in yellow to make a 4" finished block.

All the dimensions below are for squares, i.e. for a 2" finished block, Patch 1 cut one 1-7/8" x 1-7/8" square. Then sub cut it once on the diagonal.

Finished Block Size
Fabric Patch # Qty 2” 2-1/2” 3” 4” Sub Cut
A 1 1 1-7/8” 2-1/8” 2-3/8” 2-7/8” Symbol for a half square triangle
B 2, 3, 4 2 1-7/8” 2-1/8” 2-3/8” 2-7/8” Symbol for a half square triangle
A 5 1 2-7/8” 3-3/8” 3-7/8” 4-7/8” Symbol for a half square triangle
Grid Size 1” 1-1/4” 1-1/2” 2” na

These are the cut patches. One pink and both a large and small green triangle will be left over at the end.

Your cut patches for the Birds in the Air quilt block

Step 2: Assemble the block

With RST, sew a #1(green) and #2(pink) triangle together along the long bias edge to create a half square triangle unit. (Upper left in the photo below.)

Press, with the SA to the darker fabric(green). The HST measures 2-1/2" edge to edge. Trim it to size if needed.

Lay out your patches to see how the triangles fit together.

Lay out the patches for your block

With RST, match the short side of a #3(pink) triangle to the #1 patch(green). Stitch as shown below.

Stitch #3 to the HST unit, the arrow points to my anchor cloth

Press with the seam allowance away from the HST unit and towards the #3 triangle.

The triangle you just added overhangs the HST unit by a smidge(at the red arrow). This is correct. That excess disappears after the next line of stitching.

A little bit of overhang is correct!

Repeat to add the #4 triangle. Press, with the SA toward the #4 triangle.

Trim the dog ears clean away (red arrow) with your scissor.

Trim away this dog ear to clean up this edge

With RST, align the long edge of #5(green) with the long edge of the pieced unit and stitch.

Press, with the SA towards the dark fabric.

Trim away any remaining dog ears or thread tails.

Measure to make sure that your block measures 4-1/2" from edge to edge.

This is your finished Birds in the Air quilt block pattern (l) with leftover patches (r).

Finished Birds in the Air block on the left, extra patches on the right

To learn how to paper piece a Birds in the Air quilt block pattern, click here.

Same name, different block...

It happens.

Blocks designed in different places may use the same geometric shapes and have different names. Or different shapes but the same name. These are all known as a Birds in the Air quilt block.

Birds in the Air quilt block variation

The patches are the same, but a third fabric is added.

Birds in the Air quilt block variation

Same basic idea now drawn on a 3x3 grid. 3 HSTs instead of one.

Birds in the Air quilt block variation - Flight of Swallows

Simply a group of 4 of the previous design.

Its other names include: Flying Birds, Flock of Geese and Flight of Swallows.

Birds in the Air quilt block variation

This variation looks more like a portion of the Bear Paw quilt block.

Birds in the Air quilt block variation - Ocean Waves

A completely different looking block and significantly more complex to piece.

It is also called an Ocean Waves.

There's flocks of blocks...

...just waiting for you in our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library.

For design inspiration, check out Quilting Design 101 for layout ideas for your patchwork designs.

Link to Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

Return to the top of this Birds in the Air quilt block pattern tutorial

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