From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
Skill Level: Beginner
Grid: 4x4 (four patch)
The Colorado Beauty quilt block is a close relation to the Jack in the Box block—the only difference being the sashing between the units and a center square are removed.
The repeated unit is a combination of a Flying Geese and a rectangle with half square triangles. Both are simple to make using basic piecing techniques. Neither requires any special tools or rulers. (YEAH!)
On this page, you'll learn how to make the block using connectors corners (there is a link to learn how to paper piece the unit, too!)
The beauty of connector corners (sometimes called 'sew and flip' or 'stitch 'n flip') is that you start out essentially with a fabric foundation that is cut the exact size. It is a part of the block and there as a reference the whole time. Saaaa-Weet!
Towards the bottom of the page are other blocks that use the same units. If you like making a Colorado Beauty, you just might like making those, too!
Let's get started!
To press, first press the patches as they were stitched, right sides together (RST). Then open the pair and press flat. For the pinnacle in perfectly pressed patchwork, check out our Best Pressing Technique.
The charts below are for two different techniques—blue is if you want to paper piece, mauve is if you choose Connector Corners.
In the paper piecing chart, the patches are cut over-sized to make placement a breeze.
You can print the needed patterns from the chart (see row highlighted in yellow) after choosing the finished block size.
You'll need the most current version of Adobe installed on your computer to download the pattern.
On the Adobe Print Menu page, under 'Page Size and Handling' set 'Custom Scale' to 100% before printing for accurate results. Click here to see what it looks like on the Print Menu page.
After printing, use the 1" square on the printed copy to make sure the pattern is the correct size.
For connector corners, patches are cut exactly to size.
Cutting Chart for a~ Paper Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size||Sub|
|1||A||4||1⅝" x 2¾"||2⅛" x 3¾"||2⅝" x 4¾"||--|
|2, Sky||B||8||2⅜" x 2⅜"||2⅞" x 2⅞"||3⅜" x 3⅜"|
|Goose||A||1||3⅝" x 3⅝"||4⅝" x 4⅝"||5⅝" x 5⅝"|
|PRINT Jack in the Box units...||2"||3"||4"**||--|
|Unfinished unit measures...||2½" x 2½"||3½" x 3½"||4½" x 4½"||--|
| Unfinished Colorado Beauty|
quilt block measures...
|4½" x 4½"||6½" x 6½"||8½" x 8½"||--|
**Print 2 copies for a total of 4 units.
Cutting Chart for a~ Connector Corners ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|1, Goose||A||8||1½" x 2½"||2” x 3½"||2½" x 4½"|
|2, Sky||B||16||1½" x 1½"||2” x 2”||2½" x 2½"|
| Unfinished unit|
|2½" x 2½"||3½" x 3½"||4½" x 4½"”|
| Unfinished Colorado|
Beauty quilt block measures...
Then click the 'Back' button on your browser bar to return here.
Connector Corners Technique
On the backside of the sixteen #2/Sky squares draw a diagonal line, dark enough to see but light enough so that it doesn't show through to the front side. I like to use a mechanical pencil because the line is reliably thin.
With RST, align a #2/Sky RST on the righthand side as show below. Make sure the pencil marking bisects the lower right corner and the top center (arrow).
Stitch on the line. I use an anchor cloth (that's the nasty looking thing behind the presser foot with all the thread on it) so that my machine doesn't 'eat' the patches as they are fed into it.
Press flat to set the seam. Then press open so that there are three layers of fabric in the upper right hand corner. Make a total of 8 like this.
Decision Time for Trimming...or not!
At this point you need to decide about those extra fabric layers. If you're hand quilting, it goes without saying that you'll want those extra layers gone-gone-gone! It's not as important if you intend to machine quilt, BUT...
...those extra layers do add lumpy bulk to your seams.
You can either remove both of them leaving behind a 1/4" SA (top) or remove the extra layer of the #2/Sky (bottom).
If all the layers line up beautifully, then I remove both. If my sewing leaves a bit to be desired (and it happens to all of us at one time or another), I cut away just the one layer. Because the rectangle is cut to the exact size it allows us to fudge just a bit like this, if needed.
The choice is yours. With the Flying Geese units, if you are going to trim, you need to do it now, before the second Sky
is added to the goose. Once it's been added it's difficult go back and trim out layers.
To finish the geese...
To four partially pieced units, with RST, layer a #2 on the left
side, but this time with the pencil mark intersecting the lower left
corner and the center of the top as in the photo below (top).
To finish the pieced rectangles...
With RST, align another #2 on the left hand side of
remaining four. The diagonal marking intersects the upper left hand
corner and the center of the bottom side. Use the photo above (bottom) for
Press as before with the layers of the squares towards the corners.
Trim the extra layer(s) of fabric away just as you did for the first eight squares.
If you removed both of the extra layers, we can 're-press' one seam on the rectangle so that our seams will nest and making matching points easier.
As you look at its back side, we've pressed both SAs to the left. Use the photo below for reference.
With RST, layer a stitched rectangle and goose unit. The SAs on the outside edge of it will nest together. I use pins to hold everything in place for stitching because it's a bit lumpy right now.
Press with the seam allowances towards the goose. (This is where out Besting Pressing Technique is really helpful.)
Repeat for the three remaining pairs.
Use the 'Unfinished unit measures...' numbers from the charts to confirm that your patchwork is the correct size.
Lay the pieced patches out into rows. The goose points out of the center and is rotated a quarter turn as you move clockwise around your Colorado Beauty quilt block.
Stitch the patches into rows. Press the SA in the direction of the arrows.
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder. But you must admit!
This Colorado Beauty quilt block is da-bomb!
There are a few variations on this design, though all still emphasize the center pinwheel.
The rectangle has lost a HST.
Land of Lincoln
The pieced rectangle is flipped end to end and the goose has lost one of it's sky patches.
The Flying Goose is now two HSTs!
Jack in the Box
Rectangles (like a sashing) and a center are added to the original Colorado Beauty quilt block.
These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas.
Can you tell?
It's in color.
It's got a ton of blocks.
What's not to love?
Next on my 'must-have' list is Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
Unlike the Maggie Malone book, the blocks in this volume are hand-drawn and in black and white—no color—personally, I prefer colored drawings to work with.
This book is no longer in print.
If you can come by a copy expect it to be wickedly expensive. Once in awhile you can find it here on Amazon.com.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt, in cooperation with Barbara Brackman has announced they plan to republish the Encyclopedia sometime in 2020.
However, all is not lost if you can't find a hard copy.
BlockBase is the computerized version of the Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
It contains designs for over 4300 blocks—pretty much every block published from the 1830's through the 1970's.
It can be used with Electric Quilt and is a Windows based program.
In fact, there are instructions included so that you can pull up the digital patterns within Electric Quilt (PC version for now) without having to open up BB program.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt has announced that they will be rereleasing the standalone BlockBase software for BOTH PC and MAC in 2020.
This is terrific news.
Finally there's The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer.
Lots of detail and in color, it is a beautiful volume. That said, I check it out of my local library on a regular basis instead of purchasing it—can you see the library sticker on it's spine. Yep, it's from the Plainfield Public Library.
Simply because I own the previous three references and find this the least user-friendly of the group.
And it does make a fabulous coffee table book!