Origami Crane Pattern and Tutorial

At long last I’ve managed to do a tutorial for my Origami Crane block (finishes at 12″).  I’m planning to request it as my block in an online quilt block swap, so it seemed only fair to provide some instructions to go with!  If you’re confident with foundation piecing, you can download the pattern here: Origami_Crane_pattern and get started (print the pattern with no scaling!), or see below for how I pieced this block.

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Preparation

Basic sewing and rotary cutter skills will be useful.

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You will need:

  • the pattern – printed with NO scaling!
  • three different fabrics (background fabric, fabric 1, fabric 2)
  • fabric scissors
  • paper scissors
  • a rotary cutter
  • a cutting mat
  • a quilting ruler with a 1/4″ mark
  • pins
  • neutral-coloured thread for piecing
  • a seam ripper (hopefully not necessary, but just in case!)
  • a sewing machine
  • iron and ironing board (steam setting OFF!)

The pattern is intended to print on A4 paper without scaling, though I have tried to ensure that it will print ok on US Letter paper.  There are six pages – five with different parts of the block and one with an overall joining scheme.  Each block part also has a list of fabrics that correspond to the labelled areas on the block part.

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On each block piece page, there is also a grey 1″ square for checking the scale – if this square is not 1″, the block will not be the right size!  I recommend printing just one part to begin with and checking the size of the grey square to make sure your printer settings are correct before wasting paper printing out all the pieces at the wrong scale!

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Once all the pages are printed, cut out each part carefully around the outermost lines and make sure to keep the piecing lists:

The outer line is the seam allowance for joining the block parts – don’t cut it off!

Lastly, make sure you have shortened the stitch length on your sewing machine.  About 1.5mm works well.

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Assembly

Here’s how I pieced part A – the other parts are all pieced in much the same way.

Important!  When cutting out fabric pieces, always make sure that the fabric is right-side facing down and the foundation paper is printed side facing up.  This will ensure that the fabric always ends up the right way round and less fabric is wasted due to miss-cuts.

In my example, I have chosen a cream music-score print as the background fabric, a big floral print as fabric 1 (the main parts of the crane) and a solid pink as fabric 2 (the smaller detail parts of the crane).

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The first piece (A1) of part A is background fabric.  I folded the paper along the stitch lines so that I could get a good idea of the shape of the piece, then cut out a piece of background fabric with a very generous seam allowance.  It’s a good idea to secure the first piece of fabric to the paper with a few pins to stop it wandering off where it shouldn’t.

I then repeated the process to cut out A2 (here, A2 is cut from fabric 2).

When held up to the light, you can see that the fabric comfortably covers area A2 with plenty of seam allowance.

Next comes the clever bit!  I stumbled across this trick on the internet, but can’t remember where, I will add a link if I find it again.  This is an easy way to join the two bits of fabric and make sure that they cover the right areas.  It seems fiddly initially, but it works brilliantly and soon becomes second nature.

First, make sure both pieces are covering their respective areas, then pin along the stitch line between the two areas, like so:

When the piece is flipped over, the pins create an anchor point for where the seam will be.  You can check whether the seam allowance is large enough, and trim it back a little if it’s very large.  (I recommend caution with trimming, though – if something goes wrong then that extra fabric might be useful for re-alignment.)

Next, fold down and pin the main flap of the second piece (A2 here) so that the fold runs snugly along the stitch-line pins, like so:

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Try not to distort the fabric, and make sure that the pin(s) does not catch any of the seam allowance underneath.  Flip back to the paper side and remove the pins along the stitch line.  This will allow the seam allowance of A2 to be unfolded:

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The fold in the fabric should line up nicely with the stitch line.  If it does, sew along the stitch line between A1 and A2:

Fold A2 back along the stitched line to make sure that it is still correctly covering the whole area:

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If all is well, the seam allowance can be trimmed to 1/4″ (with a rotary cutter – the scissors are just attention seekers!), set and pressed:

Repeat the process for A3 (fabric 3 here):

The last piece of part A is A4, another background piece, attached in the same way as before:

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Once the whole part is pieced, it can be trimmed to size along the outer edges by using a ruler and rotary cutter (there is no need to add an “extra” 1/4″ allowance, it is already included):

If you have cut out the paper parts carefully, the risk of cutting paper with the rotary cutter blade should be minimal – the 1/4″ seam allowance should line up with the 1/4″ mark of the ruler.

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Part A is finished!

Assemble parts B-E in the same way. and join them as described in the pattern.  Note that the seam for D6 can be trimmed to 1/8″ if necessary.

Joining the parts

For larger areas of fabric (particularly the background), it is helpful to pin it in place to the paper to stop it wriggling and wrinkling during the final assembly.

Part A is joined to part B:

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Use pins to line up the two parts so that the points match:

I put a pin straight through the all points I want to match and then use more pins to secure the two pieces together, then sew along the seam line:

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Then open it up and check that the points match!

Hooray!  🙂

At this point, I removed the paper that covers the seam allowance between the two parts (this saves a lot of hassle later!), making sure not to stretch the surrounding fabric too much, and press this seam open to reduce bulk:

Part C attaches to part D like so:

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Part E attaches to the top of CD:

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Last of all, AB is attached to CDE to make the finished block:

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If all has gone well, no unpicking will have been necessary and the block will be 12.5″ square (12″ finished):

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If the blocks aren’t going to be used for a while, it’s probably worth leaving the paper attached for support; it can be carefully removed if the blocks are to be used straightaway.  Be gentle when handling the blocks and removing the paper; due to the nature of foundation piecing, the fabric grains will be pointing in various directions and it will be very stretchy and easy to distort as a result!

Ooops…

Things don’t always go to plan:

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I wasn’t concentrating and attached a new piece before I’d pressed the previous one!  That seam ripper came in handy; luckily I could get away with a partial unpicking to release the pink triangle so it could be pressed properly.

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So don’t do that!  🙂

Over to you

I hope this tutorial is interesting and helpful.  If you make something with this block, please link back to me and show me what you’ve made, I would love to see it.  🙂  If you have any feedback or comments, I would also love to hear them – please let me know if there’s something that I’ve missed or if something isn’t clear!

Linking up with Monday Making, Sew Cute Tuesday and Let’s Bee Social when it goes live.

Marsala Spice – Block Tutorial

Here’s how I made my Marsala Spice blocks, with the added bonus of measurements for a couple of smaller versions.  And then I promise I’ll shut up about this until I’ve got it quilted!  (Or at least started the quilting.)

tutorial_1904_21Here’s the basic block.  You can see that it doesn’t make the whole “interlocked rings” pattern – it just makes 1/4 of it.  I think of these as “sub-blocks” versus the full block that makes a complete ring.  Throughout the tutorial I show the largest version, but the construction for the smaller versions is identical except for the size of the pieces.

Fabric Requirements

I refer to the marsala-ish fabric as the background, the pink print as the star, and the two gold-ish prints as ring 1 and 2.  The quantities given will make one full block, so multiply up to make the size of quilt you want.

Size 1

Sub-block 12″ finished, full block 24″ finished.

  • Background fabric: 8 x (3.5″ x 7.5″), 8 x (3.5″ x 4.5″), 4 x (2.5″ x 2.5″)*
  • Star fabric: 8 x (3.5″ x 3.5″), 16 x (1.5″ x 1.5″)
  • Ring 1: 4 x (2.5″ x 9.5″), 4 x (2.5″ x 3.5″), 12 x (2.5″ x 2.5″)*
  • Ring 2: 4 x (2.5″ x 9.5″), 4 x (2.5″ x 3.5″), 12 x (2.5″ x 2.5″)*

Size 2

Sub-block 6″ finished, full block 12″ finished.

  • Background fabric: 8 x (2″ x 4″), 8 x (2.5″ x 2″), 4 x (1.5″ x 1.5″)*
  • Star fabric: 8 x (2″ x 2″), 16 x (1″ x 1″)
  • Ring 1: 4 x (1.5″ x 5″), 4 x (1.5″ x 2″), 12 x (1.5″ x 1.5″)*
  • Ring 2: 4 x (1.5″ x 5″), 4 x (1.5″ x 2″), 12 x (1.5″ x 1.5″)*

Size 3 *** UNTESTED ***

Sub-block 9″ finished, full block 18″ finished.

  • Background fabric: 8 x (2.5″ x 5.5″), 8 x (2.5″ x 3.5″), 4 x (1.5″ x 1.5″)*
  • Star fabric: 8 x (2.5″ x 2.5″), 16 x (1.5″ x 1.5″)
  • Ring 1: 4 x (2.5″ x 7.5″), 8 x (2″ x 2″), 4 x (2.5″ x 2.5″), 4 x (2.5″ x 1.5″)*
  • Ring 2: 4 x (2.5″ x 7.5″), 8 x (2″ x 2″), 4 x (2.5″ x 2.5″), 4 x (2.5″ x 1.5″)*

*: All of these background pieces and 4 of each of the ring pieces form the centre of the sub-block, and if you’re making a lot of blocks all with the same fabric then they’re easiest to piece by cutting suitably wide WoF strips (one each of background, ring 1 and ring 2), attaching the two ring strips to either side of the background strip and then cutting the pieced strip into sections of the desired width.

All seams are 1/4″, and are pressed open.

Construction

Because I was using the same fabrics for my blocks, the first thing I did was to construct the centre three squares as described above:

Then I took the remaining 2.5″ squares of the ring fabrics and drew diagonal lines in pencil on the reverse:

tutorial_1904_1(The “extra” line is so I could sew along it to make quick HST units from the scraps; you don’t have to do that if you don’t want.)  Once this was done, I applied all these pieces right sides together to their respective background units as shown:

All pieces of the same size need to be put together in the orientation shown, or the block won’t work!

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That one on the right is wrong, I had to unpick and re-do it.

Then the corners are trimmed:

For each sub-block, each size of background piece needs one ring 1 and one ring 2 corner unit.  I failed to adequately take photos, so here’s a clearer example; the bits outlined in red is what we’re making:background_units

The same process of adding corner units also needs to be done with the ring 1 & 2 pieces and the small star squares.  In this instance I didn’t bother to draw a line because the star corner units are so small that you’re across them a moment after you start sewing (this is even more true with the smaller block versions).  Again, all units need to be pieced as shown below, or the block doesn’t work.

Again, the seams are trimmed to 1/4″ and pressed open.  The sub-blocks can now be assembled!

First, join all short ring unit to the large star squares, like so:

Then join these new units to the longer of the background units, making sure to match the ring colours:

Set these pieces aside for now. We’ll need them again after the centre is complete.

The centre pieces and their arrangement.
The centre pieces and their arrangement.

To make the centre, take the strips of three squares (ring 1 – background – ring 2) and all the longer ring strips of the same colour (in my case I used all the light-coloured ring strips) and join them with a partial seam, as shown (up to the second seam works well):

The end of the long ring strip must be lined up with the square of the same colour, the star unit corner should end up pointing away from the middle three squares, and all units must be constructed identically.  Once the seams are sewn, the end of the seam can be pressed open.  Don’t press the whole seam yet, it makes life awkward later.  Up to the first perpendicular seam is fine.  (Note:  I’m assuming here that all seams are pressed as you go.)

Then, join the short background piece with the other ring corner unit to the end of the centre unit, as shown:

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Then take the second long ring strip, and join it all the way across the centre unit:

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The second short background piece can now be attached:

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And finally the partial seam can be completed to finish the middle unit!

Lastly, attach the side units that we made earlier to create the interlinked look:

Try to make sure the ring pieces of the same colour line up to enhance the illusion.

Tah-dah, you’ve completed a sub-block (or, hopefully, four sub-blocks)!  These can now be joined, matching seams where necessary, to create the final full block.  This pattern is pretty chain-piecing friendly, so although the middle section is a bit fiddly, it comes together surprisingly quickly once you get into a rhythm.

Other Thoughts

The largest version of this block (and I suppose the medium version, too) could be done with a jelly roll if it contained duplicates (e.g., 40 strips of 20 fabrics, 44″ long).  One 12″ sub-block requires approximately half a jelly roll strip (20.5″ in total) per ring colour, so making one complete ring would need two identical jelly roll strips (blue in the example), plus half of four other jelly roll strips (red, orange, yellow, purple in the example).

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I haven’t tested this myself as of yet, but am interested in seeing how it might work out!  Maybe I’ll try it once I’ve had a bit of a break from making these blocks (and when I have a suitable jelly roll to play with).  If you make something using this pattern, I would love to see it.  🙂