Setting Sail for Summer!

Sailboat Quilt Blocks are perfect for summer

With summer breezes come summer inspiration!

This nautically inspired quilt, called Rock the Boat by Karen Bialik from Easy Quilts Summer 2019, takes advantage of the motion in the ocean and set your sailboats rocking with jauntily tilted quilt blocks!

The playful tilt of the sailboat blocks perfectly captures the roll of the ocean waves!

The playful tilt of the sailboat blocks perfectly captures the roll of the ocean waves!

Making Tilted Blocks

The tilted angle of Karen’s sailboat quilt blocks is perfectly attuned to the design, making the boats seem like they’re rolling on the waves.

There are multiple ways to achieve a good tilt. You could frame the center sailboat with triangles cut precisely to set the block at an angle, but how to do that and preserve the layers of ocean and sky? Strip-piecing those triangles first?

Sure, that may waste less fabric, but frankly, introducing that much bias and needing such precise cuts is far less efficient and less accurate than simply trimming your block down to a tilt.

Here’s the simple way to make tilted blocks.

You start with a quilt block that’s square on. (You can see from the photo that Karen’s block is adorable, especially with the fishy fabric, but isn’t nearly as charming as the tilted version.) The instructions account for the extra fabric needed for this method.

Start square on!

Start square on!

Cut a piece of template plastic to the un-finished desired size. (If you have a large, square ruler, that may do the trick, too.) Place the template plastic on the block, adjusting your tilt as needed, and keeping your seam allowance in mind.

Using template plastic cut to the desired un-finished size, determine your tilt.

Using template plastic cut to the desired un-finished size, determine your tilt.

Eileen Fowler, the editor of Easy Quilts, chose to set her template so that the corners aligned with the seams. You could shift yours up for a shallower pitch, or deepen it to really set the boats a-rockin’. Eileen’s method of using the seamlines as a guide allows her to keep the angle uniform on each block, whether they rock to the right or rock to the left, which is an added bonus. Because the top and bottom strips on the quilt block measure the same, it creates a balance.

Eileen places her corners on the seamlines. Caribbean blue nail polish is not required, but it is appreciated!

Eileen places her corners on the seamlines. Caribbean blue nail polish is not required, but it is appreciated!

Trace your template onto the quilt block using a pencil, chalk, or fabric marker. (Here, we’re using permanent marker just to make it a little more visible for the camera.)

Trace the template.

Trace the template.

Next, cut along the traced line. If you are using a large square ruler, you could skip the tracing step, and just start cutting, but since we didn’t have a ruler the exact size needed, this method was simpler, requiring no calculations or re-adjusting the ruler’s placement.

Cut along the traced line.

Cut along the traced line.

The resulting block is just so dynamic and fun, and a beautiful example of how certain design choices—like tilting your blocks—can liven up a quilt.

Now that’s some motion on the ocean!

Now that’s some motion on the ocean!

You can tilt other blocks as well. Debra Finan’s Line Dance is another example of how tilting blocks can liven up a design. Her quilt blocks are just basic Nine-Patch quilt blocks, nothing extraordinary…until you set them dancing!

Debra Finan’s Line Dance shows how tilting you quilt blocks can make even the most basic design playful!

Debra Finan’s Line Dance shows how tilting you quilt blocks can make even the most basic design playful!

Elemental Quilting

Another way to introduce some dynamic motion to your sailboat quilt blocks is with quilting. Eileen’s example plays on the elements of wind and water.

In the water, she used a scallop template to mimic the currents, off-setting the lines of quilting so they weren’t quite so regular, but she could still use just one ruler.

the off-set scallop quilting

The off-set scallop quilting

 

As she completed the current-like quilting, Eileen realized that there could be some water lapping at the hull of the boat, and brought her blue threads up over the orange patch.

Splash a little water on the hull! Eileen extends her water quilting over the boat patches.

Splash a little water on the hull! Eileen extends her water quilting over the boat patches.

Eileen used a coordinating blue thread in the sky, creating wind-like trails. To give her sails a billowing effect, she used white threads in simple free-motion swooping curves in the sails.

Catch the wind in your sails with free-motion!

Catch the wind in your sails with free-motion!

Set sail for some charming summer quilts with a jaunty tilt or some elemental quilting!

Keep it easy this summer with Easy Quilts!


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