The Spool Block
The Spool Block is good
beginner block. It is an old pattern, and looks particularly
good with small scale prints with a vintage feel.
It is not usually used as a
building block, but used by itself, and turned in different
There are a couple things to
practice and learn with this block.
The above block was made in
sections that finish at 2 1/2 inches. It is made from squares
and half square triangles. It is a 9-patch block. 4 half
square triangles, and 5 squares are put together to make this block.
first thing to practice is cutting 2 1/2 inch squares. If you
are using 4-inch squares, practice cutting them down to 2 1/2
Next, you need to make some
half square triangles.
In this exercise, we are not
going to use the quick piecing method for triangles.
Lesson you learned the importance of 7/8 of an inch when cutting
squares to make half triangles.
If you want you triangles to
finish at 2 1/2 inches, you need to cut a square 2 1/2 inches
plus 7/8 of an inch, or 3 3/8 inches. In order to practice
cutting down, (which is another way to be more accurate) cut your
squares at 3 1/2 inches and then trim them down, as shown in the
(Remember that first you cut
your squares, then you cut them on the diagonal, and then you sew
them together, usually using a dark and a light).
You will find that when you lay out the pieces,
you may get a little confused which way to turn the half square
It is very easy to turn one of
them the wrong way. Stand back and squint to make sure they
form a spool.
What I want you to practice
next is sewing the first 2 blocks in each row together, without
cutting the threads.
In the picture, if you look
carefully, you can see that there are threads connecting the first
row with the second row; and the second row with the third row.
When I sewed this block, I
flipped the middle column top piece over on the left column upper
piece (right sides together).
After I sewed those two blocks
together, I did the same with the second row, and the third row. I
did not cut the threads between sewing the blocks together.
This is called "chain piecing".
If you have a lot of seams to sew together, you can just keep
feeding them under the presser foot, one after the other, and they
will all be connected by your sewing thread.
This is a speed sewing
technique, but also comes in very handy when you don't want to lose
the placement of your pieces.
Now all that is left to do is
to sew the rows together. There is no way to get confused now.
However, I do find that after I put a few pins at the ends of the
row, I need to clip the threads so I can align the seams properly.
Others are able to flip the rows together, and just feel the seams
nesting below and get it right.
One last note: If you
decide to cut off the little "ears" from the triangles before you
cut them down, use your large scissors. You may think that
cutting off such a small amount of fabric only requires your small
scissors, but it will be much easier with your large scissors. You
also have the option to nip them off with your rotary cutter.
Here is a typical arrangement
of the Spool Blocks. This quilt is best as a "scrappy quilt",
which means that you use lots and lots of different prints, in this
case for the spools.