Sunday, July 1, 2012

tile block tutorial...

Due to our inability to buy a house that does not need renovating, I own an enormous number of interior design source books. Years ago while restoring a Victorian fireplace, I became obsessed by elaborate tile patterns. Long after the hearth was finished these patterns remain my main inspiration for my quilting and knitting projects. Have had a few requests for the block that I'm using for the 15 Minutes Play color challenges. I drafted it from a Moroccan tile and thought I'd show you how it was done. I'll use this photo to illustrate the process.

To begin, isolate the repeat:

It is easier to draft the block in the absence of color so print the shot out in black and white:

Taking a ruler and pen mark all of the vertical and horizontal intersections to divide the image into easily sewn units to come up with the block. This method of marking the intersections works on a variety of tile patterns. Quite complex looking arrangements can be made by breaking them down into small units of squares, rectangles, flying geese, half and quarter square triangles.

Here is the result. You can choose to color the pieces differently, cut out spaces within the center, turn the block on point and/or eliminate seams... In this block the measurement of the corner piece times 6 will determine its end size. Don't forget to add seam allowances!

For the flying geese units I use my Accuquilt die cutter as I have a variety of triangle shapes in different sizes but you can use the "no waste" method of making flying geese. You can find a great printable pdf tutorial for this technique here.

15 minutes play block:

The measurement chart for different block sizes is below:

Am sure it is faster to do all this digitally but I still like to draw with pen and paper. 

my block for Victoria's signature quilt Spring '11...

ironwork from Malta...

wall pattern from the Taj Mahal...

Tile patterns are easy to sew and lend themselves brilliantly to the exploration of pattern and color in fabric. There are so many geometric tile patterns that would make fantastic quilts both pieced and appliqued. Books like the following ones are great for inspiration. Do a quick search for titles at Amazon or your local library and you'll find tons of mouth watering tile books out there. Keep an eye out for pattern if/when you travel but don't ignore your surroundings nearer home. Old banks and restaurants often have great potential patterns...

and this...


  1. Thanks for posting this. I've been admiring your blocks, and now I know how to do them.

  2. This is a great explanation of your design process and how to make the block. Thanks for sharing this with us. This one is going on my To Do list. I really love that block you made for Victoria's quilt. Fabulous colors and patterns.

  3. This is excellent. I love what you r doing for the 15 min blocks and appreciate this!!! Keep up the good work :)