If you haven’t made a schoolhouse quilt block before here’s a little tutorial with my top tips for construction. It’s not a particularly difficult block if you just follow the steps and use a few pins. I’ve made the block three times without any real problems.
The first time I grabbed a blue and white print fabric using the wrong side for the background and the right side for the color. It worked. The second time I used black and white (with a coffee spill on it) and I liked that a lot. The third time I went for more scraps. The batik was from a quilt-as-you-go log cabin quilt I made many years ago and the background was left over squares from a UFO that was never to be finished. Why do I tell you this? I think there’s a lesson here. If I had at least used coordinating fabrics for all these test blocks I could have finished them into something usable! What was i thinking??? I can’t even overdye these blocks enough to play well together. I’m going to plan things much better from now on as I make test blocks and hope you’ll learn from my mistake. Now on to the tutorial……
Gather your pattern and the two fabrics you’ll be using. Here’s that beautiful batik and golden yellow repro from the UFO.
Most of the pieces are rotary cut but there are some that use templates. I cut the templates from the pattern and used my ruler and rotary cutter to cut around them adding the 1/4″ seam allowance. I pinned them to the fabric using a flat head flower pin. If you print the template pages on freezer paper you can iron the template to the fabric to keep it in place as you cut around it.
On this very pointed end I used the ruler to cut away the excess beyond the 1/4″ seam allowance. It will make things easier when matching up seams later on. I cut both my A and D pieces at the same time by having two layers of the fabric right sides together A and D are mirror images of each other – one for each side of the block.
This is where we’ll begin the construction of the roof, the most challenging part of the block. Pin the background J piece to the schoolhouse gable K piece. Insert a pin at the beginning and end of the seam line from one piece to the other as shown.
Bring the two pieces together on the pins just like you want them to match up when you’re sewing the pieces together. Place a pin through both layers just before or after your matching pin. Remove the matching pins before sewing your seam.
Pin and sew the chimney section to the roof using the same pinning technique to match the seams. On this seam I suggest starting and stopping your stitching at the beginning and end of the seam line rather than sewing from edge to edge through the seam allowance.
Now it’s time to add the mirror image A and D background pieces. This is considered a “Y” seam. There is a tutorial HERE on sewing “Y” seams by hand. These can easily be sewn by machine too which is what I did.
With right sides together, pin an A aka D piece to the block matching the points at the beginning and end of the seam. This is where you’ll see how nice it is to have that long point on the A/D pieces cut off. The end matches up very nicely to the edge of your block. Sew the seam from the outside edge to the pivot point, stopping your stitching and the end of the seam line where you see the pin in the picture. Secure your thread if you’re hand stitching and back stitch a couple of stitches if you’re machine sewing. Pivot the piece to match up the second part of the seam, pin in place and stitch.
There’s our completed “pretty pastel” schoolhouse giving you a sneak peek of the block Brenda will be doing on the 15th!
When I showed my first block on February 1 Jacque commented on the extra white strip that divided the 6″ block from the schoolhouse. I made those blocks a long time ago and the house is a bit more challenging than our traditional schoolhouse block. For those of you who think you want that extra strip in your blocks we’ll have that pattern and a tutorial ready for you on the 15th too.