I’ve been absolutely giddy viewing everyone’s modern tree blocks on my flickr page. I am so proud of everyone for really making this quilt their own. Today, I will show how to put together the triangle shaped version of Modern Trees by adding in the background fabric. I added more background than I originally planned, but more on that later.
I’ll throw in a few hints for those making other versions, too. Hopefully you are all realizing that it’s not to scary to vary from the original design, right? Just lay out your trees and fill in the gaps.
Step 1 – Arrange Your Blocks and Cut Background Pieces (30 Minutes)
Lay out your tree blocks onto a large surface such as a design wall, table, or floor. Arrange them in a pleasing order and take a picture with your phone or digital camera so you can refer to it later.
My quilt consists of 15 tree blocks, set into 5 rows forming a pyramid. You may sew more blocks and add more rows if you’d like to make a larger quilt. Just remember to stagger the blocks to create a nice triangle shape.
- Cut (2) 8.5″ x 12.5″ rectangles for the top row.
- Cut (2) 8.5″ x 9.5″ rectangles for the second row.
- Cut (2) 8.5″ x 6.5″ rectangles for the third row.
- Cut (2) 8.5″ x 3.5″ rectangles for the fourth row.
- The bottom row does not have any gaps.
Hint: if your blocks shrunk up that’s ok; trim the height of the rectangles to match.
If you are using a different layout, the process is the same. Measure the spaces you are trying to fill in with background fabric and be sure to add seam allowances. Cut out rectangle or square shapes until you have filled in all the gaps.
If you want to add sashing such as in either of the layouts below, cut contrasting strips however wide you would like (2.5 inches is a nice size but they can be wider or narrower). Then trim the length of each sashing strip to the length or width of your block.
You will notice that the horizontal sashing pieces are shorter than the vertical sash pieces because the blocks are rectangles, rather than squares.
Fill in the gaps between sashing pieces with a small contrasting square the same width as your sashing strips (2.5″ in my example). This actually makes it a lot easier to line up the rows when sewing. You can add an additional sash row around all four edges if you’d like a border.
Step 2 – Sew the Rows (45 Minutes)
I usually assemble all of my quilt tops into rows first. The top row with one block is row 1. The bottom is row 5. Using 1/4 inch seams, sew blocks together and add side background rectangles to complete each row.
- Try to sew through the little x’s on the backside of your blocks wherever possible. This will help you sew nice crisp points on your trees.
- Use pins to match up the triangle tips evenly. Pull the pieces apart slightly and peek at them before pinning to make sure they match up. Adjust as needed.
- If your seams don’t abut properly, you can press them open or flip seams as needed so they nestle nicely. Remember, we don’t stress about these things – we just do what works!
Hint: I like to use Aurifil cotton thread, 50 weight when piecing my quilt tops. It’s a thin strong thread that helps ensure piecing accuracy. It also leaves very little lint in the bobbin area.
Step 3 – Complete the Top (45 Minutes)
I like to press my seams open so the rows will lie flat. Alternately, you can press the odd rows (1,3,5 to one side). Then press the even rows (2, 4) to the other side. The nice thing is that with this layout, you don’t have to match seams when sewing your rows together.
Sew all rows together to complete the top and give it a nice press. At this point, the quilt top measures approximately 30.5″ x 40.5″ unfinished.
Optional Step 4 – Adding Borders (45 Minutes)
I decided I wanted to make my quilt bigger by adding more background (negative space) around the trees. Fortunately I had cut out 2.5 yards of cream solid so there was enough left over to add borders.
I took my own advice to make it my own!
Option 1 Above: I cut out 4 strips to frame my trees. I cut the two side strips at 7.5″ x 40.5″ to match the length of my quilt top. Since I wanted to offset the trees a little I cut the bottom border only 3″ x 44.5″ wide and the top border 10″ x 44.5″ wide. I did have to piece the top/bottom borders to make them long enough.
Option 2 Below: For a centered quilt with borders that do not require extra piecing, cut out (4) 5.5″ x 42″ strips from 3/4 yard of fabric. Add the side borders first and trim if needed. Then sew the top/bottom borders to create a top that measures approximately 40.5″ x 50.5″
There now, wasn’t that easy? It took me a total of 2.75 hours to complete the quilt top for this tutorial. It was time well spent!
- Modern Trees Intro and Supply List
- Step 1 – Cutting and Sewing the Tree Blocks
- Step 2 – Assembling the Quilt Top
- Step 3 – Backing and Basting
- Step 4 – Machine Quilting Part 1
- Step 5 – Machine Quilting Part 2
- Step 6 – Binding to Finish
If you are quilting along with me, please be sure to share pictures of your progress on my Christa’s Quilt Along flickr group.
Grab my Quilt Along button and share the love!
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