Teetering on the Edge? ~ Don't be!
Skill Level: Beginner
Grid: 4x4 (4-patch)
Learn how to make a Seesaw quilt block using one of two different techniques—paperpiecing or connector corners—in three different sizes.
Connector corners is a simple technique that creates half square triangle (HST) shapes without cutting a triangle...no bias beast to tame. And with the paper piecing method, you'll learn how to amend a pre-printed pattern so that you get more use out of the original design.
Let's get started!
When instructed to press, first press the pieced unit flat to set the seam. Then open the patch, pressing from the front.
If you choose to paperpiece, you may want to reduce or eliminate the use of steam for pressing these blocks. Steam tends to curl the paper.
Click here to review our 'primo' method for the flattest quilt blocks you'll ever see. It works even with the paper attached. It's so simple to do, you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.
Paperpiecing patches are cut generously so that placing them correctly is easy the first time. No ripping!
Within the paperpiecing chart, are the links to the free pattern download needed to make the block (the row is highlighted in yellow). We'll be using the Jack in the Box unit and making a slight change to it.
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.
These are the charts for the two different methods. Choose one and cut all the patches listed.
Cutting Chart for a~ Paper Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size||Sub|
|1||A||4||1-5/8” x 2-3/4”||2-1/8” x 3-3/4”||2-5/8” x 4-3/4”||--|
|2||B||2||2-3/8” x 2-3/8”||2-7/8” x 2-7/8”||3-3/8” x 3-3/8”|
|Goose||C||1||3-5/8” x 3-5/8”||4-5/8” x 4-5/8”||5-5/8” x 5-5/8”|
|Sky||D||4||2-3/8” x 2-3/8”||2-7/8” x 2-7/8”||3-3/8” x 3-3/8”|
|Print Jack in the Box units||2"||3"||4"**||--|
| Unfinished size of Jack|
in the Box unit
|2-1/2” sq||3-1/2” sq||4-1/2” sq||--|
|Unfinished size of Seesaw block||4-1/2” sq||6-1/2” sq||8-1/2” sq||--|
**Print two pages of the 4" unit.
My favorite paperpiecing papers are:
Patches used in connector corners are cut the exact size.
Cutting Chart for a~Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|1||A||4||1½" x 2½"||2" x 3½"||2½" x 4½"|
|2||B||4||1½" x 1½"||2" x 2"||2½" x 2½"|
|Goose||C||4||1½" x 2½"||2" x 3½"||2½" x 4½"|
|Sky||D||8||1½" x 1½"||2" x 2"||2½" x 2½"|
|Unfinished Jack in the Box unit||2½"||3½"||4½"|
|Unfinished Block Size||4½"||6½"||8½"|
Click here to skip down to the Connector Corners Technique.
Cut out the four units from the page(s) you downloaded. Just outside the dashed line is good, there's no reason to spend any time being exactly on the line.
If you look closely, you'll see that there is an extra stitching line on this pattern that doesn't appear in the Seesaw quilt block design above. We're going to take care of that right now.
Mark a big ol' "NO" across the solid line between 1 and 2 on the right side like this...
Do it for all four blocks. That's all there is to modifying the pattern. It might look backwards—like we marked the wrong side—and there's a reason for that. We are stitching from the back of this asymmetrical unit.
With a just a dab of Elmer's Glue Stick—the one that goes on purple and dries clear—position #1 on the unprinted side of your paper pattern as shown below. Use that partial dotted line to position it. (arrow)
With RST, align a #2 with #1, you should be able to see it shadow through the paper to help put it in place. Do not use the stitching line for a second #2 that we marked with the red 'NO'. We just don't need it for this design.
With RST, align the long edge of a goose with the previously sewn patches. Again, use the placement line (arrow) to position it properly.
(You may have noticed that there is no red 'NO' in the photo just above. On this unit, I crossed out the sewing line with pencil instead. How you mark your patterns is up to you...as long as it works for YOU! Personally, the red is MUCH harder to miss...and I did miss it once!)
Trim away any extra SA over a 1/4". I use a scissor and eyeball it, it's faster and accurate enough.
Press and add the sky triangles in the same manner as the #2s. Stitching, pressing and trimming for each.
Repeat the process for the 3 remaining units.
For more detailed instructions on using connector corners, click here. Hit the 'Back' button on your browser to return here to the Seesaw quilt block page.
Mark a diagonal line with pencil on the backside of the four #2 squares.
With RST align a #2 with the right hand side of a #1 rectangle. Stitch on the line.
Press. You can choose to trim the excess layer or layer(s) away to reduce bulk.
Make four units that look like this.
Mark a diagonal line on the backs of the eight sky squares.
With RST, align a sky patch with a goose rectangle. The line bisects the lower right corner and the center top.
Stitch, press and trim to reduce bulk.
Repeat for the left hand side. Stitch four units that look like this.
With RST and a 1/4" seam allowance, stitch the bottom of the goose unit to the top of the pieced rectangle. Make 4 of these units.
Lay out the patches into rows to create the Seesaw design.
The units are rotated a quarter turn as you move clockwise around it. Each goose points to the outside edge.
Stitch each pair together. Even if you paper pieced, the seams nest, making it so much easier to get a good match of the seam allowances in the center, white pinwheel. (I do use pins for this step.)
Press, with SAs in the direction of the arrows or towards #1.
And finally sew the rows together. This is the finished Seesaw quilt block.
I like to twirl the SAs to reduce bulk in the center of the block (it forms a cute little pinwheel on the back). Here, all the SAs that joined the units together are pressed counterclockwise here to do that.
You can also see where I've graded SAs so that the darker fabric doesn't shadow through to the front of the block. That trimming was done with scissors during construction.
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!