Thursday, July 5, 2012

Spiral Tutorial

I received a couple requests for a tutorial of my second block from the hop - the spiral block. It's not too complicated of a block, but I'll give you all of the measurements for things and how much to cut and how to sew it all together. I hope you all enjoy the tutorial, and if you're looking for my original post about the hop you can find that here.

Supplies needed:
* 8 different fabrics for the front - a fat quarter of each will yield several blocks
* backing fabric
* binding fabric
* items to cut your fabrics
* items to sew your fabrics together


Step 1: Selecting your fabric and planning your block
I wanted my block to feel like it was flowing smoothly between all of the colors. So, I wanted you to look at the red fabric and then have it slowly transition into the blue fabric and then slowly transition into the white fabric. If you look at this picture you'll see that I have a couple fabrics with all three colors (red, white and blue), I have a couple that are only red and white or only blue and white, and I have a couple that are just red or just blue. Then I laid them out so that they would be in this order:
                             1) white with red and blue accents
                             2) white with red accents
                             3) red with white accents
                             4) red
                             5) blue with red and white accents (I wanted this one to be evenly
                                 both red and blue with some white, but I couldn't find a fabric
                                 to get this perfectly)
                             6) blue
                             7) blue with white accents
                             8) white with blue accents

Step 2: Cutting
Once you've got you fabric pre-washed (if desired) and ironed, you're ready to cut! I figured out that I needed 9 triangles for each color. The finished half square triangles need to be 2.5" x 2.5" in order to get a 12.5" block. I am still a little bit afraid of putting HSTs together the wrong way or cutting things too small, etc, so I cut the fabric into 3 inch wide strips and then cut five 3-inch squares for each color. Once you have your squares, cut them all in half on the diagonal. This will give you 10 triangles of each color. (Save the extras, we'll use them on the back!)

Step 3: Lay out your block and start sewing
This is what your block will look like when you have all of the triangles laid out the way you want them.
Sew them together, square by square, on the stretchy diagonal side of the triangles, right sides together. They'll look like this once they are sewn together into squares. :)
At this point you should iron each square and then square them up to be 2.5"x2.5".

Step 4: Sew together the block
Sew each row together. I pinned each time I sewed a new pair together to try to keep things lined up. It means less seam ripping later - which is always good! Once you have all of the rows sewn together, you need to iron again. I ironed all of the seams to the right for the first row, then to the left for the second row, to the right for the third row - so on and so forth.

When you sew the rows together, you can line up the seams perfectly because you've ironed them in different directions. I pinned each seam before I sewed the rows together to make sure everything stayed in place. This helps all of your points turn out! :) I didn't get all of mine perfectly, but I came pretty close. When it's all sewn together, then you can square it up to 12.5"x12.5" and it will look something like this:

Step 5: Finishing the block
If you want to finish your block off the way I did, then keep following along. Otherwise, have fun turning your block into whatever you want it to be. :)

I used the left over triangles to mirror the very center of the front of the block and put them in the very center of the back of the block. I bordered this out in a festive fireworks print and squared it up to 13"x13". This gave me a little room in case things shifted while I was quilting them. The border is 5 3/4 inches on all sides of the middle block. When you sandwich the pieces together, you'll have to eyeball lining up the middle of the back with the middle of the front. If you use thin enough batting then you will probably be able to line them up by feeling where the seams are.

For the quilting, I used my walking foot and stitched 1/4 inch away from the edge of each spiral arm on all sides of the arm. I used white thread so it shows up in some blocks and doesn't in others. This stitching pattern then showed up on the back, so you could see the spiral motion on either side. :)

For the binding, I used a red, white and blue striped fabric. I cut the binding to 2.5" strips - I think it took 2 strips to go all the way around the block. Once I had that sewn together into a long strip, I folded it over on itself and ironed it down. Then i sewed it to the front of the block, (mitering the corners) turned it over and whip stitched it to the back. Voila! You're done! :)

So, let me know if you have questions, and I'll do my best to answer them. I haven't had much practice putting together tutorials that people can follow along, so I'm happy to clear up any misunderstandings or goofy wording. Happy crafting! :)


  1. Karen, you did an awesome job on your block. I will have to try these block. Thanks for sharing. Love your block....Judith, Texas

  2. Thank you SO much Karen for taking the time to do this for us. I LOVE this block and will be attempting it as soon as I get the other things staring at me completed.

  3. thanks for sharing that info. now I just need time to try it. lol

  4. Wunderschön, ich bin fasziniert, wenn ich das doch nur auch könnte

  5. I just love the look of the spiral block and made one today but I'm confused on the measurments you say a 2.5square in the directions but cut a 3inch strip so did you use a 3inch square instead of the 2 .5? I made mine 2.5 and the whole block came out at 11 inches instead of 12.5 D in snowy Pa

  6. I cut 3 inch squares from each fabric. Then I cut those on the diagonal to make triangles. After pairing those up correctly according to the spiral layout, I sewed the triangles together on the diagonal to make a half-square triangle. Then I squared the half-square triangles up to be 2.5 inches each. Those should give you a 12 inch finished block, or 12.5 inch unfinished.

  7. Just love the spiral block, and love the colours. You really inspired me to try to do one myself.


  8. Is it possible to print out the instructions?

    1. Yes, you can print out the whole blog post from your web browser. If you don't want the whole post you could copy and paste just the tutorial part into a word document and print that out. Unfortunately, I don't have a PDF for it.

    2. You could use print friendly. Google it and add it to your
      toolbar. It's very handy! :)


  9. Awesome tutorial Karen, I have to try one of these!

  10. hey hey hey. I finally finished my Christmas runner. i found that if i pressed the seams open it worked much better..wish I could send you a picture. I am proud of it...

  11. Hi there Karen, Just want to say I love this block! It has a spark and a movement! I will surely make this soon. Thank you for the clear tutorial.


I love your comments and questions. Feel free to drop me a line!!

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