Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dancing Plus Blocks Tutorial

This is a tutorial for bee blocks for members of Sew Bee It as well as for anyone else who is interested. Sew Bee It members, please see the notes for you below. Thank you for making blocks for me!
Dancing Plus Block Tutorial

© 2015 Jan Ochterbeck
Please link back to this post if you pin this tutorial.
Dancing Plus Blocks
Block size 6” finished; will be oversized at first.

Fabric selection:
·        Background: Use a variety of pale, neutral, subtle prints, tone-on-tones, or solids (low volume but not high contrast like black-on-white)
·        Plus Motif: Use bright or dark prints.
o   As you can see in the photo above, prints that read more one-color-ish than multi are more effective.
o   Medium, bright, or dark colors work better; light colors don’t contrast enough with the background.

Cutting, for each block
  • Background: Cut four 3" squares.  Cut four pieces 2" by 2-1/2". 
  • Plus Motif:  Cut one piece 4-1/2" x 2-1/2" and cut two pieces 1-1/2" by 2-1/2" (Good use for 2-1/2” scraps!)
    • Note, if cutting from a 5” charm, cut the charm in half (two 2-1/2" strips). Trim one of these pieces to 4-1/2" long.  Then from the other piece cut a strip 1-1/2" wide running the length of the charm (5") and sub-cut it into two 2-1/2" pieces. This will keep your print going all in the same direction, like my striped blocks above.
Cutting diagram if using a 5" charm for the colored plus
Block Assembly: All seams ¼”.
·   Sew a 2" by 2-1/2" background piece to each small colored piece and to each end of the larger colored piece. Press seam allowances toward the color.
  • Sew a 3" background square to each side of the small unit. Press seams toward the outside.
  • Sew rows together. Press seams toward the center.
Assembling the block

Trim:(Sew Bee It members, please do not trim.)
  • Unfinished block will measure about 7-1/2" square.
  • Use any 6-1/2" square ruler and place it any way you like on the block. Trim around all four sides to yield a 6-1/2" unfinished block.
  • Vary the angle of trimming for the "dancing" effect. The orange plus below will tilt to the right when the quilt is assembled.
  • FYI, when trimming, if the ruler tilts to the left as shown below, the plus will dance to the right. If the ruler tilts to the right, the plus will dance to the left.
Trimming the blocks to 6-1/2"
Block trimming options

Notes for Sew Bee It bee blocks:
1.   Please make two blocks, more if you like. These little guys are addictive, and since they’re little, it will take a lot of them for a quilt top! Background fabric is provided for one block.

2.   * Please DO NOT trim down your blocks, just return them to me oversized. I would like to plan the placement of colors and then determine which direction the plus motifs dance. Thank you!  

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts


  1. Thanks for sharing your wonderful tutorial, Jan. I love that you can use a charm square for the main print. I would love to make one out of batiks, so need to start collecting batiks again. Not that I need much of an excuse to collect batiks.

  2. These blocks are so pretty - and so sweet in that colorway. I also really like the flying geese you showed in your last post.

  3. This looks fun! Thank you for the tutorial about cutting! x Teje