This post is the first of many where I will make each of the national park blocks designed by Susan Davis of American Quilt Blocks. She designed blocks for the National Park Service Centennial in 2016. You can buy the blocks printed on a high quality fabric from her website http://americanquiltblocks.com/catalog/index.php in various sizes. I recommend everyone to check out her website and purchasing one of her great designs.
My series focuses on how to piece the blocks designed by Susan Davis with fabric of your choice. I will be making 60 blocks – 1 for each of the national parks and 1 designed for the national park service. When I finally have them all done I will be putting them all together for a large beautiful quilt. So let’s quilt to it. You can download my free pattern here. Channel Islands Block
To start off on this journey you will need some fabric of a variety of colors. I do not know how much you need as I am not yet finished. Once done I will share the totals for the quilt. I have prepared by purchasing solids charm packs of both Boundless and Kona cottons. This will give me a good variety in my blocks. I have also purchased some 1-2 yard cuts of green, some tans, and some blues. These are some recurring colors in the blocks that I figure I will use.
I am starting this project with the Channel Islands. My husband and I visited the islands on September 5, 2017 and they were amazing. They sit off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA and you can only get there by boat.
The colors chosen to make the block are very important for representing that national park. I tried to choose colors that matched the original design but also represented what I saw. The only change I really made was the center square I made orange instead of brown. I did this because the island had these adorable island foxes on them. They were so cute and to me it better represented what I saw there.
This block and all others will have a 9″ finish to them which means when you are done your block will be 9.5″ until it is in a completed project. This size block will make the math for a lot of blocks pretty easy.
To get started I sketched the block out to determine my dimensions and then I auditioned fabric for the block. You wont need to sketch the block because I made a PDF pattern of the block for your download. Please leave comments if you have any questions on the pattern. Channel Islands Block
This block has some half square triangles, flying geese, and square in a square units in it. I have chosen to assemble these via paper piecing. If you do not know how to paper piece then I do encourage you to try it. There are many great blog posts that show you how to do it. I may make one some day here too. The units in the block are some of the most basic units you can make with paper piecing and it is very easy. With this method your block will have perfect points and end up the right size.
Once the fabrics are selected it is time to cut. If you follow the pattern then you do not need to worry about adding additional fabric to your flying geese or square in a square units for trimming. I have already done that for you. You can see in my pictures that I did not cut exactly on this project. It may have been a little late and I cut my pieces a little haphazardly. This is a great thing about paper piecing though. The cuts do not need to be exact so long as they are oversized.
I started by making all eight of my flying geese units. My favorite part is when you trim the block and get that perfect shape. I then moved onto the square in a square unit followed by the half square triangles. See the attached pattern for detailed instruction on how to assemble.
Seams on this block and for all the future blocks I am seeing as a challenge. On this block I choose to press a few seams open that I would have normally pressed to the side. In the end, I would change how my seams were pressed during the assembly. Just something to work on with the next block.
Once the block is complete you can add a 3.5″ x 9.5″ piece below and applique the park name on it. I will be doing this for all of my blocks, but I just haven’t done that yet for this one. For now I am putting this block and the 3.5″x9.5″ piece of fabric labeled together in my project box. I will go back later to put my letters on.
I am so happy with how the block turned out. I think it is truly beautiful, just not as beautiful as the islands. I recommend anyone in the area should take the time to go visit Santa Cruz island and experience peaceful seclusion.
I hope you enjoyed the post. Please leave comments and go Quilt To It!