From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
Skill Level: Beginner
Our Weathervane quilt block is made with half square triangles (with a slick technique that creates 8 at a time), a few connector corners and the rest of the pieces are simply squares.
A great little block for a guild swap because it's easy enough for even your beginning members.
If you're a machine embroiderer, the center of the 12" block is 4" finished which makes it a candidate for showcasing embroidery collections.
For another variation on this Weathervane block, but one that includes some paper piecing for perfectly pointy-points, click here to see our Morning block.
There's nothing but fair weather ahead, let's begin!
Seam allowances (SA) are a 1/4" unless otherwise noted.
I use heavily starched fabric for piecing. I think it makes for more accurate rotary cutting and it allows you to fingerpress seams frequently, instead of hopping up and down to the iron all the time.
You'll see me switch between a standard-looking quarter inch foot (for sewing NEXT TO a line), an open toe applique foot (for stitching ON a line) and my favorite 1/4" foot with a guide for piecing the units together.
If you have these different feet, try them! Having the perfect tool for the job always makes it go faster.
Cutting is simple and quick because it's all squares—no triangles. Not.a.single.one!
That means when you see 1-1/2" in the chart, you are to cut a 1-1/2" square.
Since the triangle squares are made 8 at a time, you'll only need a total of 2 different squares to make them.
The #1 and #2 squares are oversized. The resulting HST will be cut to size after stitching.
Cutting Chart for a~ Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|Unfinished Block Size||6 1/2"||9 1/2"||12-1/2”|
|Grid Size||1 "||1 1/2"||2 "|
Half Square Triangles (HST)
We'll use the 8 at a time method for making our HST.
Draw two diagonal lines on the back of either the #1 or #2 patch. It'd be easier to see on the lighter fabric, but for some reason I made the marks on the darker one for this sample block. The marks are rather light in the photos. However, they were darker enough for me to see at my machine. That's what matters!
With right sides together (RST) layer the #1 and #2 together, marked side up.
Stitch a 1/4" away from both sides of both lines.
Give the patches a quick press as they were sewn to flatten them. Sometimes sewing along the bias will make them a bit 'wiggly'.
Refer to the chart below to find the midpoint measurement that corresponds to your finished Weathervane block size.
|Midpoint Measurement||Trim HST to...|
Position this line on your ruler on one of the cut edges of the #1/#2 patch (arrow) and cut with your rotary cutter. You are cutting this patch in half from top to bottom.
Without moving the fabric, align the same mark on your ruler with the adjacent cut edge (arrow) and cut again.
You've now cut the #1/#2 into four equal quarters.
Cut the squares in half along the drawn chalk line—scissor or rotary cutter is fine. Whichever works best for you!
Press these HSTs with the SA to the darker fabric. Trim them all down to the size that corresponds to the finished block size in the previous chart above.
Using the photo below as a reference, stitch half the HST to a the right side of a #3 and half to a #4. Note the orientation of each HST.
Press the SA toward the #3 and #4 squares to eliminate bulk.
With RST, stitch the pairs together, pinning if you need to.
I prefer to 'twirl' my seam allowances (circled) as shown in the lower right below.
Repeat for a total of 4 corners.
To complete the sides, we'll use connector corners. Since we'll be sewing ON the drawn line this time, I prefer to switch to my open toe applique foot—there's nothing between my eyes and the marking.
Mark the backside of each #6 with a diagonal line, just dark enough for you to see it.
Position a #6 in the corner of a larger #7 square, RST, so that the ends of the drawn line touch two adjacent sides.
Stitch on the line, repeating for all the #7s.
Now you have a choice to make. You can either trim away both layers of excess fabric a 1/4" outside your stitching and closest to the corner (below, left) or you can trim away just the excess from the smaller #6 square a quarter inch past the stitching (below, right).
While there's less bulk with the first option (above, left), I prefer the second method (above, right). I machine quilt my quilts and the extra bulk makes very little difference. If I sew a bit off the line, the #7 square acts as a guide when I stitch the units together in Step 3. [Click here to see what the units look like from the back side...]
Add the second #6 in an adjacent corner in the same manner. The corner of the second #6 will definitely overlap the first pressed #6. That is exactly how it should be.
Trim and press after stitching. Repeat for the three remaining #7s. When finished, they look like this.
Arrange the cut and pieced units to create the Weathervane block. All the points point to the outside edge.
Stitch the units in each row together. I've pressed the SA away from all the connector corner units to minimize bulk.
Stitch the rows together, pinning as needed. Press the final seams.
If you find the seam allowances a bit bulky, try my favorite pressing technique.
And you won't believe how flat your blocks come out with so little effort.
The Morning quilt block is a kissin' cousin of our Weathervane.
The piecing, however, is quite different. You can easily switch the fabric of the center square if you'd like to mimic the fabric placement of our Weathervane quilt block on this page.
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!