Monday, March 11, 2019

Hand Pieced QAL: The Bess Block (Block 8)

We are so very excited to share Bess - block 8 in our  Hand Pieced QAL.  Bess, named after a character in Friendship Album 1933, joins her quilting bee friends Dorothy, Florence and Eula.  (Emmeline will join them soon!)

(For more information about the QAL, links to all posts and tutorials, click here.)

Let's deconstruct the Bess block to better understand what units will need to be hand-pieced, namely Flying Geese blocks, Half-Square Triangles (HST) and a Square-in-Square in the center.

You'll notice that the required sub-units for Bess are exactly the same as for Eula - the fabric placement changes how the block looks.

Today's tutorial will revisit the 'stitch and flip' method to create our center unit - the Square-in-Square (SinS) as well as the Flying Geese block.  (Alternate cutting instructions will be given if you'd prefer to construct your center square from two flying geese.)

To get started with a SinS unit, you'll need a center square (white) and four smaller squares (blue).  On the wrong side of the smaller squares, draw your stitching line on the diagonal, making sure it starts and stops 1/4'' from the edge.    (See the tutorial on marking stitching lines.)
Align a single smaller square along one corner of the larger square and stitch along marked stitched lines.  Trim away the excess, leaving a 1/4'' seam  (see photo below), fold back corner and finger press.  Align a second smaller square along one corner of the larger square and stitch along marked lines.  Trim away the excess leaving a 1/4'' seam, fold back corner and finger press.  Repeat to attach all corners.

Pictured: Famore snips, OLFA rotary cutter, Clover clips 
The ledge created by the folded over corner will actually mark the starting (or stopping line) of your stitches.  Take care not to stitch into or through the seam allowance during construction of the unit.  The smaller squares can be attached in any order.  Your finished unit should match the dimensions of the larger square - trim carefully if needed. 

As needed, refer back to our tutorials (including video) on each of the hand piecing skills and basic blocks:
Fabric requirements are available as well as some suggestions of useful tools and notions and a coloring page.  (See overall QAL page for more information.)

Now let's make our block!

Block size: 6’' finished (6 ½’’ unfinished)

  • All seam allowances are 1/4''.
  • Stitching lines are drawn on wrong side of fabric and always start and end 
    ¼ '' from the edge
  • RST=Right sides together
  • HST - Half Square Triangle
  • SinS - Square in Square

Materials  (for Stitch & Flip construction method)

For HSTs:
  • Print fabric: (2) 2 3/8 " squares, cut in half on the diagonal to yield (4) triangles 
  • Background fabric: (2) 2 3/8 " squares, cut in half on the diagonal to yield (4) triangles 
For Stitch & Flip Flying Geese Construction Method*:
  • Print fabric: (8) " squares
  • Background fabric(4) 2 x 3 ½ '' rectangles  
For Stitch & Flip  Square-in-a-Square Construction Method:
  • Print fabric: (4) " squares 
  • Background fabric(1) 3 ½ '' square 

Creating the Bess block   
  1. Make (8) HST (follow this tutorial).  HST unit should measure 2 x 2''. 
  2. Make (4) Flying Geese using the stitch & flip method.  (Tutorial available.)   Flying Geese unit should measure 2 x 3 ½ ''.    
  3. Make SinS unit using stitch & flip method (above). SinS unit should measure 3 ½ x 3 ½ ''.
* Note: Flying Geese units can also be constructed from triangles - see Kristin's tutorial.  The center of the block can also be pieced from two Flying Geese.  For this construction method, in addition to the HST cutting instructions, you will also need:

  • Background fabric: (3) 3″ squares, carefully cut each square in half on the diagonal (yielding 6 triangles total)
  • Print fabric: (6) 2 3/8″ squares, carefully cut each square in half on the diagonal (yielding 12 triangles total)

Assemble the Block

  1. Lay the block out according to the diagram and stitch together in rows. The top and bottom row will each measure 2 x 6 ½ ''.  The middle row measures 3 ½ x 6 ½ ''.
  2. Press.

Thanks to Fat Quarter Shop and Famore for sponsoring the block tutorials!

The link-up for the Bess block - block 8 in our QAL - opens on Thursday, March 14!  Finished blocks can be shared in any weekly link-up, however, so don't worry if you get behind.

For more information on the QAL including catching up with any tutorials you've missed, please visit the main event page - Hand Pieced QAL.  

You can also join our Hand Pieced Quilt Along Facebook Group and / or subscribe to our newsletter so you'll be among the first to know about new block tutorials

Have a wonderful day! Patty


  1. I thought this looked familiar LOL I just finished #7 last night. Hoping to finish earlier this week.

  2. Another pretty block! I love it in blues.


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