Welcome back to QM Bitty Blocks!
October is a month of changing leaves and Bitty Trees! This adorable 3″ Bitty Tree is a simple and beginner friendly foundation pieced pattern. Before you know it, you’ll have a whole forest!
This simple design has plenty of room to play with color and prints. You will need three contrasting fabrics:
- 1 fabric for the tree trunk
- 1 fabric for the tree top
- 1 fabric for the background
Make sure your patches are larger than the shape they must cover on the foundation, including the seam allowance. It helps to hold the fabric and foundation (printed side towards you) up to a light to see the fabric shadow behind the paper. I found using leftovers from my half-square triangle stash worked great in the background portion of this pattern.
Let’s get started:
Make paper copies of the foundation. You will sew the patches in numerical order.
Center the tree trunk fabric under #1 extending beyond the seam allowances, wrong side of the fabric to the unprinted side of the paper, and pin in place from the paper side.
Turn fabric side up. Using a patch of fabric sufficient to cover #2 and its seam allowances, position the #2 patch right sides together on patch #1 as shown, so that the fabric’s edge extends at least ¼” into the #2 area. Pin in place.
Set a very short stitch length on your sewing machine (18–20 stitches per inch or 1.5 mm). Turn the assembly paper side up. Stitch through the paper and the fabric layers along the printed seam line, beginning and ending ¼” beyond the ends of the line.
The Add-A-Quarter Plus ruler, designed by Carolyn McCormick, is a great tool for foundation piecing. The flattened edge is used to accurately fold back the paper along the sewn line. The ¼” edge is then nestled along the paper’s fold, to ensure you cut an accurate ¼” seam allowance every time.
Using an object with a firm surface and a straight edge also works great. Try an old gift card or a small school ruler. You can use a pair of scissors or a rotary cutter to trim the seam allowance to ¼”.
Turn assembly paper side up. Using a firm edged tool, fold the paper back along the stitched line.
Measure and trim the seam allowances to approximately ¼”.
Press the fabric open to cover #2 and seam allowances.
Repeat this process in numerical order to add the remaining patches. Use a rotary cutter and ruler to trim ¼” outside the seam line of the foundation, creating a seam allowance. Once all the seams around a foundation section have been sewn, remove the paper foundations.
You now have a super fun Bitty Tree Block!
Try experimenting with different colors and prints for the backgrounds—you don’t have to stick with the basic blue sky. I tried out warm colors, jewel tones and high contrast prints. I liked the warm colors the best.
Making this block also produced smaller scraps, mostly from the tree top portion.
I used these scraps to ‘make my own fabric’, which I then used for the tree top in this block.
Making your own fabrics results in a super scrappy effect. I really enjoyed this simple process and it added extra texture to this bitty block design.
To make your own fabric, start by using two scraps with similar edge lengths.
Place the scraps right side together, to create a stitch and flip unit, and sew a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Gently press the fabric open.
Continue to add more scraps to the other edges. As your fabric grows larger, you may need to trim sides to efficiently fit more pieces. Considering the tree top isn’t very large, you can make small fabric units or a large fabric piece to cut smaller units from.
Making fabric is a great way to add extra value, texture and interesting design elements to your bitty blocks.
After playing around with this Bitty Block design, I discovered the Bitty Trees could also double as Bitty Arrows! How fun is that? By coordinating the trunk and tree top fabrics to match, this creates enough contrast with the background fabrics to create the illusion of an arrow. To construct the arrow, follow the foundation in numerical order.
The Bitty Arrows would be a great addition to your Bitty Blocks collection as a border or even used on their own, in a mini quilt.
Changing the colors of the block can create fun secondary designs.
Try experimenting with your blocks to see what kind of fun designs you can come up with!
We hope you enjoy making this cute Bitty Tree and maybe even some Arrows! Please share pictures of your blocks with us by email at [email protected]
You’ll find all of the Bitty Blocks free quilt block patterns on our Bitty Blocks homepage, along with layouts for the row quilts in a variety of sizes.