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Birds in the Air

the birds in the air quilt block

This classic Quilt Block has many names, but one of the most commonly used is Birds in the Air.

While this is a relatively easy block to construct, there are a few new things to learn with this block.

Once again I've drawn the grids for you.  You can see the Half Square Triangles.

You can also see the that the Block is split in half diagonally.  There are a couple ways to make this block.  We will be using Rectangles and Squares.

Let's start with the bottom row.  We want to make as long a piece as possible without any seams.  We are going to make each grid finish at 2-inches.

There are 3 grids on the bottom piece, so you will cut the bottom rectangle  3x2 plus 1/2 inch for the seam allowances at the sides; or 6 1/2 inches.

Now cut a 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 square piece of light fabric .  You will draw a diagonal line on this piece, and pin it to the left end of the rectangle.  Attach it in the same manner as the Flying Geese.
the birds in the air quilt block grid

The two units on the right of the middle row are made the same way.  However, this time the rectangle is cut at 4 1/2 inches.

You need Half Square Triangles to finish off the block.  Cut them using 2 7/8 inch squares of the dark and light fabric.

Attach one of these to the left the just completed rectangle to complete that row.  (Be sure the light side is on the top)

The top row is just three Half Square Triangles joined together, with the light side on the top.

In my piece, I used a different fabric for the bottom half of the block, so my Half Square Triangle on the top right is different.   It is more common to see this block made with just one dark fabric.

constructing the birds in the air quilt block Here is how the piece looks with the bottom rectangle, middle rectangle, and just one half square triangle on the top. 

If you want to put it together this way , I don't want you to get confused.  It may seem odd that the diagonal line is not straight.  You need to remember that there is a seam allowance on the middle and top rows.  Take that away, and it will be straight.

When pressing,  make sure the joined half square triangles on the top are pressed one way, and the middle vertical seam the other way.  On the top row, I pressed the seams toward the dark fabric.

You can press the horizontal seams down, or you can press them open to reduce bulk.

There is one last challenge with this block, and that is matching the seams when you put the rows together.  It is harder with this block to make sure they are placed correctly.

There are two things you can do to help line them up properly.

The first is to take a pin, and stick it through the top at the match point, and the stick it through the bottom at the match point.  Pull the pin tight, so that the two pieces come together,  and then pin.

The second thing you can do when unsure of how your pieces will come together is to baste the pieces together at the matching points  before you sew them.  If you don't get it right, it is a lot easier to remove basting than regular sewing stitches.

I suggest doing both on this unit.

To finish, square up your block, making sure to leave 1/4 inch from the points to the edge of the fabric.

Finished size of block 6-inches

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