Shoofly Quilt Block ~ Week #2 Spring Block of the Week

shoofly quilt block

Learn how to sew a Shoofly Quilt Block during week 2 of our Spring Block of the Week!  This easy block is perfect for a beginning quilter!! 

Also learn a technique for making half square triangles within the directions for this week’s block!!

half square triangle

During Week #1 of the Spring Block of the Week series when we learned to make a Plus Sign Quilt Block I discussed planning the colors for your quilt blocks.  If you aren’t sure what color to make your Shoofly Quilt Block take a peek at that previous post!

Shoofly Quilt Block Week 2 Block of the Week Pin

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Week 2 – Shoofly Quilt Block

The history of the Shoofly Quilt Block dates back to the mid-1800’s! 

This 9-patch block was named after a wild plant with rounded flowers called clover broom or shoofly.  Another name for this quilt block is “Hole in the Barn Door”. 

No matter the name, this cute little block is super duper easy and fun to make!!! 

The finished block will measure 12 ½” x 12 ½” square.

Cut the fabric for the block…

Cut four 4 ½” squares of light fabric and one 4 ½” square of medium or dark fabric.  I used dark! 

cut squares for the shoofly quilt block

Also cut two 5 ¼” squares of light fabric.  It can be the same as you used earlier or a different light fabric.  I used a coordinating light fabric.  This fabric will make the half square triangles.

Finally, cut another two 5 ¼” squares of medium or dark.  I used the same dark as earlier.  This fabric will also be used to make the half square triangles!

You can also flipflop these colors for a different contrast than mine!!

If you’re new to quilting or cutting squares for quilts, you can take a peek at my post on using a rotary cutter or the post on basic quilt supplies

Making the Half Square Triangles…

Using a pencil and a straight edge, draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each of the 5 ¼” squares.

using a straight edge to draw diagonal lines on the quilt block
diagonal lines drawn on fabric square

Place each of these right sides together with the other 5 ¼” squares and pin in place.

pin a light and dark square together to make the half square triangle

Stitch a scant ¼” on each side of the diagonal line you’ve drawn.  A scant means to stitch just a little bit under ¼”. Cut along the line to separate the two triangles.  When you’ve sewn both sets together and cut them apart, you’ll have four triangles.

Press the seam on the dark side of the triangle to set the stitches.  Then open the triangle up and press the seam towards that darker side. 

You’ll want to make sure to just press down on the seams, rather than iron them back and forth.  Ironing the seams back and forth will stretch the fabric all wonky!

Using your ruler trim the squares so they measure 4 ½”.  To do this find the 45-degree diagonal line on the ruler. 

Match up this line with the diagonal line on the half square triangle.  Make sure that the end of the diagonal is touching the 4 ½” intersection mark on the ruler.

measure the half square triangle to measure four and a half inches square

Slide the ruler toward the edge of the square so there is less than a 1/8” of fabric overhanging on each side.  Just enough overhang so you can trim it.  But make sure the other end is still reaching that 4 ½” intersection!!

Hold the ruler in place and trim the overhanging fabric.

Then flip the half square triangle around and line up the “squared” corner you just made to where the 4 ½” lines on the ruler intersect.  Also make sure the diagonal line on the half square triangle still matches up to the 45-degree diagonal line on the ruler. 

Carefully trim any overhanging fabric on these two outside edges of the half square triangle block. 

there is minimal scrap trimmed from the half square triangle trimmings

Voila!  You should now have a perfectly squared up 4 ½” half square triangle block!!!  Repeat for the other three half square triangle blocks you’ve sewn.

half square triangle quilt block measuring four and a half inches square

Plan the block layout…

Follow the image below to plan the layout of the half square triangle squares and the other 4 ½” squares:

shoofly quilt block square layout

It might sound very simplistic, but sometimes I actually take a picture of the planned-out blocks so I don’t mess up when I start sewing them together.  Then I can refer to the picture to help me get all the blocks in the right order!! 

In the past I may or may not have had to rip apart blocks that got sewn out of order, lol!!  Ok, I have!! =) 

Just remember… the seam ripper is your friend and there’s no judgement!!! I keep my seam ripper right next to my sewing machine and use it often!

Sew together the squares of each row…

Begin sewing the squares together row by row.  Use a 1/4″ seam allowance throughout.

I like to pin the first two blocks in each row before I start sewing them.  This way I can easily “chain piece” them together.  I’ll talk about chain piecing in just a minute!

Starting with row one, place the first two squares right sides together.  Place a pin in the beginning, middle, and on the end.

Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch the two squares together.  Don’t sew over the pins, remove them as you come up to them.

Rather than cutting the thread when you get to the end, you can continue to sew the first two squares in row two and row three together. 

This is called chain piecing, and it saves a little time and thread! 

chain piecing squares of the shoofly quilt block

When you have the first two blocks of all three rows sewn together, then snip them apart from each other. 

Line them up in their correct row placement again.  Place the last block right sides together to each of the middle squares and pin.  Stitch the last block onto row one.  Again, rather than snip when you get to the end, you can chain stitch the last square of each row onto the middle square of that row. 

Snip them apart when you have all the rows sewn.

I like to use this chain piecing technique to sew quilt squares together.  You don’t have to chain piece these squares, you can sew each of them individually if you prefer!!

Pressing the seams…

Press the seams of row one to the right.  Press the seams of row two to the left.  And press the seams of row three to the right again.  This way the seams will “nest” together nicely when you sew the rows to each other!

nested seams

Sewing the rows together…

With rows one and two right sides together, “nest” the seams together and place a pin in these lined up seams.  I also like to place a pin at the end of the rows, and a couple in the middle.

When you carefully match up seams to nest together, hold in place with pins, and carefully sew the rows together you will get nicely aligned corners! It’s very satisfying when your corners all match up pretty!!!

matching corners look pretty

Sew the rows to each other, removing the pins as you come up to them.  Be careful not to let the seam from the bottom row fold over the wrong way as you come up to it!  This happens sometimes.   

Press the seams of each row all in the same direction, either toward the top or toward the bottom.  This way your block will lay nice and flat.

Nicely pressed seams look so pretty!!!  And they help to create smooth quilting patterns later!

Finishing the block…

Using the measurements for the individuals squares that make up this block, the final quilt block should end up measure 12 ½” x 12 ½”.  Once you’ve pressed it, lay it out on your cutting mat and square the block to make sure it’s 12 ½” square.

I have a 12 ½” square Omnigrip plastic “ruler” that works great for squaring up large quilt blocks!

Twelve and a half inch square Omnigrip plastic ruler

Trim fabric that is outside of the 12 ½” measurement. You might not have any overhang at all, but if you do it should be trimmed so your final quilt will be square with pretty matching corners!

The finished Shoofly Quilt Block is so cute, isn’t it?!?!

Have fun making your Shoofly Quilt Block and…have a great week!!!


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