FREE Quilting Patterns, Tutorials, Magazine

Spectrum QAL 2020 Block 2: Riley Blake Designs Blue Stitch

Spectrum QAL 2020 Block 2: Riley Blake Designs Blue Stitch

by Elaine Theriault

Have you got your first block done? It’s so much fun to see the same blocks using different fabric collections. The calm and serene coloring of Claire’s batiks and the bright colors that Paul chose are stunning in Block 2.

And I get to play with the luscious Blue Stitch collection by Christopher Thompson for Riley Blake Designs, and what can I say – I love this one the most. There’s nothing more classic than a blue and white quilt.

A blue and white quilt block

Block 2 using the Blue Stitch collection by Riley Blake Designs

I’ve got more great pressing and sewing tips today, so let’s get started.

I chose a different method to make my flying geese units, and you’ll see why in a minute. I also cut the squares for the HSTs (HSTs) slightly larger so I could trim them down. I’ve identified which pieces are background, and for the rest of the fabrics, I picked fabrics that would provide contrast to the pieces beside each one.

center square

  • cut one (1) piece at 4½”

flying geese units

  • cut four (4) rectangles 2½” x 4½”

(2 sets of 4 are required)

  • cut eight (8) squares 2½”
  • cut four (4) rectangles 2½” x 4½” (background)
  • cut eight (8) squares at 2½”


  • cut four (4) squares of light at 3”
  • cut four (4) squares of dark at 3”

plain squares

  • cut four (4) squares at 2½” (background)
  • cut four (4) squares at 2½”

As usual, I lay out all the pieces on a small design board to ensure that I cut all the pieces and visualize how the block will look before I sew it together.

Pieces of blue and white fabric cut into squares and rectangles

The block components are cut and ready to sew together

I decided that the selvages were too pretty to sit around. As I’m working on the fabrics, I’m cutting off the selvages and thinking of a creative way to use them.

Blue and white fabric selvages

The selvages of Blue Stitch by Riley Blake Designs

I cut the squares for the HSTs at 3”. Sew a scant ¼” seam on both sides of the drawn line. Cut the units apart, press to the dark, and trim to 2½”. Actually, in hindsight, it would be better to press these to the light. I didn’t do that, but it’ll help to reduce some bulk.

Step one of creating two HST units; Block 2 in the Spectrum QAL 2020

A square of light fabric with two diagonal lines of stitching

The dark blue fabric I used for the flying geese units is directional, so I cut them as rectangles so all the writing will go in the same orientation. When sewing the squares to the rectangle, you want to sew just slightly outside the drawn line.

A square of blue fabric sewn to a rectangle of dark blue fabric

Step Two of creating the flying geese unit

That first set of flying geese was simple as the directional fabric was on a rectangle, making it easy to keep the orientation correct. However, in the next set of flying geese, the directional print, is a square. There are four ways to position the square, so it’s easy to position the print in the wrong direction.

A square of dark blue fabric and a rectangle of light fabric

A square of directional print to be sewn to the rectangle

Lay the square in the opposite direction to which you want the directional print to go. You can always test by flipping that square back BEFORE YOU SEW to make sure that it’s correct.

A fabric square positioned on a rectangle of fabric

Positioning the directional print square onto the rectangle

Yes, I trim those little corners off, and I KEEP THEM. I’ll be sewing them together and making small HSTs. I might find a use for them along with the selvages!

A triangle of fabric cut from the rectangle

Trimming the corners from the flying geese unit

Here are the two different flying geese units, and you can see the direction of the dark blue fabric is in the correct orientation for both. I need to make four of each of these sets.

A rectangle of light blue fabric with two triangles of dark blue fabric

Two different colored flying geese units

The block components are together, and the block is going to look fantastic! At this stage, the fun begins as I love to find the perfect pressing plan that allows me to twirl as many seams as possible (if applicable) and to have all the seams nesting. My goal is to reduce bulk. As I looked at this photo, I just realized that it would have made more sense to press the HSTs to the LIGHT. Perhaps, I needed to start the pressing plan a bit earlier!

A blue and white quilt block ready to sew

The block components are ready to sew together

Start by sewing the two flying geese units together. Press TWO of the units to the dark unit and two of them to the light unit. You’ll need to manipulate that center point with your finger before following up with some steam from your trusty iron. This finger pressing will get that center seam flat. YES – even if you’re pushing that point back onto itself. A little bit of finger pressing goes a LONG way in making this happen.

The point of a white triangle is being pressed with a finger

Finger pressing the point in place before pressing with the iron

The back of a quilt square

Two of the flying geese components pressed to the light unit

The back of a quilt square

Two of the flying geese components pressed to the light unit

Next up is the corner units. I sewed them together like a four-patch. Then I pressed two of the units, so the seams were going clockwise, and two units are going counterclockwise. I keep my four patches attached (with chain piecing) and then layout the two sections on the ironing surface, as shown below. Set the seams with the iron, gently flip the two parts, and press the seams from the front. The seams in this diagram will end up counterclockwise. To press clockwise, start with the pieces in the opposite direction.

Two squares of fabric on an ironing surface

Laying out the four-patch in preparation for pressing

Then sew that final seam. To get the seam to twirl on the back, use your seam ripper to RELEASE, not cut the stitches within the seam allowance.

A seam ripper and a seam

The stitches in the seam allowance are released

The back of a quilt block

A four-patch with the seams pressed clockwise

The back of a quilt block; Block 2 in the Spectrum QAL 2020

A four-patch with the seams pressed counterclockwise

Now I can sew the block together as if it were a nine-patch. The two four-patches pressed clockwise go in opposite corners, with the other two four-patches pressed counterclockwise go in the two remaining corners. Then choose the appropriately pressed flying geese units to fit between so that all seams nest.

A quilt block; Block 2 in the Spectrum QAL 2020

The block components laid out and ready to sew together

And here’s Block 2. It’s beautiful and flat with no bulk at any of the intersections. Just the way I like it!

A blue and white quilt block

Spectrum Quilt a Long Block Two

And should you want to peek at the back, here it is, and YES – all the seams twirl where possible, and all the seams nest to each other. I’m happy!

The back of a quilt block; Block 2 in the Spectrum QAL 2020

The back of a quilt block; Block 2 in the Spectrum QAL 2020

That’s it for me for Block 2. I’m getting ready to cut Block 3 and can’t wait to share that with you.

Have a great day, and don’t forget to share your photos of your blocks!



Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.