Lighthouse Quilt Along Week 2: Test Block Assembly

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Welcome to Week 2 of the Lighthouse Quilt Along! Today we are going to make our first quilt block, which I usually think of as a test block. I always like to make 1 quilt block (or even just sew 1 of each template in a foundation paper piecing pattern) before ordering and cutting all my fabric.

Why? When paper piecing a block, people have different comfort levels with the amount of fabric needed. Those that are very experienced with paper piecing may need less fabric to achieve their finished block. Those that are new to the process might require a little more. I always try to write my patterns and tutorials with beginners in mind though, so hopefully these fabric cuts will work for everyone. But again, I like to make 1 block first before cutting into fabric for an entire quilt.

After we make our first block, we will talk about determining how much fabric you need for your quilt.

Let’s get started!


Lighthouse Quilt Block Tutorial

Please note, all seams are 1/4″; Final block size 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ unfinished
Reduce your stitch length so that the paper template will perforate easily. I used 1.4 stitch length.

Paper Piecing Templates
Print 4 of the Paper Piecing Template below. Be sure to print them at 100% or “Actual Size” and check the scale icon with a ruler before starting.

Lighthouse Foundation Paper Piecing Template

Prepare the templates. Cut out the templates around the seam allowance line.

Step 1. Cut your fabric. When cutting fabric for paper piecing, you will be cutting pieces that are slightly larger than needed. These are the cutting amounts for completing one Lighthouse Quilt Block.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Pattern Piece Fabric Color
A1 Cut 4 2 1/2” x 3” Green/Print
A2 Cut 4 4 1/2” x 4 1/2” White/Background
B1 Cut 4 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ Turquoise/Print
B2 Cut 4 2 1/2″ x 3″ White/Background

Tip: It can be helpful to write the fabric color name on the paper template pieces.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Step 2: Let’s start with Template A. Take your fabric cuts for Template A and place them right sides together. Center the 2 1/2” x 3” Green Fabric rectangle along the edge of the 4 1/2” x 4 1/2” White Fabric square, as shown.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Step 3: Place your fabric on the unprinted side of the paper piecing template, covering the entire space of A1 with your Green Fabric rectangle as shown.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Take your fabric and template and hold them up to the light. I like to use a nearby (um, very dirty) window. Make sure at least 1/4″ of the fabric overlaps into template space A2. This overhang will be your seam allowance. This will probably feel backwards and wrong the first few times you do it. Pin into place.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Step 4: Make sure your stitch length is now shortened to something around 1.4.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Sew along the seam line on the template between pieces A1 and A2. I also like to backstitch at the beginning and end. Remove your pin.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Your block should now look like this:

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Step 5: Turn your template over, open the fabric, and press your seam.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Step 6: Using a quilting ruler and rotary cutter, trim your block around the template. I like to line up the 1/4″ markings on my quilting ruler with the lines on the template as shown.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh LemonsQuilts

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Congratulations! You’ve just finished your first paper piecing template! Next we are going to follow the same process and paper piece Template B.

Step 7: Take your fabric cuts for Template B and place them right sides together. Center the 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ Turquoise Fabric rectangle along the edge of the 2 1/2” x 3” White Fabric rectangle, as shown.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Step 8: Place your fabric on the unprinted side of the paper piecing template, covering the entire space of B1 with your Turquoise Fabric rectangle as shown.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Take your fabric and template and hold them up to the light. Make sure at least 1/4″ of the fabric overlaps into template space B2. This overhang will be your seam allowance. Pin into place.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Step 9: Sew along the seam line on the template between pieces B1 and B2. Remove your pin.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Step 10: Press your fabric open and trim as you did with Template A.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Step 11: You now have completed Template A and Template B. Next we will sew these together to make 1 quadrant of the finished quilt block. Carefully remove the paper from the back of your paper pieced pieces.

Layout your components as shown.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Step 12: We are done paper piecing, so you can now change your stitch length back to it’s usual setting. Place the pieces right sides together. As you can see, when you fold down your fabric 1/4″, your seams will match. Pin in place.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Step 13: Stitch together and press.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Step 14: Congratulations, you’ve finished your first block quadrant! Repeat these steps to piece the other 3 block quadrants.

Step 15: Once you have all 4 block quadrants pieced, it’s time to sew them together. Please disregard the change of color in my fabrics. I took the photos for this step at a later point in making my finished quilt.

Layout your 4 block quadrants as shown.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Step 16: Place 2 block quadrants right sides together. Match your seams and pin. Stitch together and press. Repeat for remaining 2 quadrants.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

Step 17: Place 2 block halves right sides together. Match your seams and pin. Stitch together and press.

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts

You’re done! Admire your finished Lighthouse Quilt Block

Lighthouse Quilt Along by Fresh Lemons Quilts


Determining Fabric Required

Now that you’ve made your test block, you should know what size cut fabrics you need for your quilt. We will be determining the fabric requirements based on the tutorial above. Adjust accordingly if you found you needed larger cut sizes for your blocks.

Yep, here comes the math. Brace yourself!

NOTE: My quilt math assumes a yard of fabric is 36″ x 42″ width of fabric (WOF)

Step 1. Determine the number of pieces you need to cut for your quilt. For each block, you need to cut (4) of each A1, A2, B1 and B2. To determine the number of pieces to cut for your quilt, use the following equation:

Number of Blocks x 4 = A1 Cuts
Number of Blocks x 4 = A2 Cuts
Number of Blocks x 4 = B1 Cuts
Number of Blocks x 4 = B2 Cuts

I’ve gone ahead and done the math for you for the sizes we discussed in last week’s quilt along post.

Baby Quilt / 25 blocks / 40″ x 40″ Finished / Print 100 Copies of Templates
A1 Cut 100 2 1/2” x 3” Focal Fabric
A2 Cut 100 4 1/2” x 4 1/2” Background Fabric
B1 Cut 100 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ Focal Fabric
B2 Cut 100 2 1/2″ x 3″ Background Fabric
 
Lap Quilt / 63 blocks / 56″ x 72″ Finished / Print 252 Copies of Templates
A1 Cut 252 2 1/2” x 3” Focal Fabric
A2 Cut 252 4 1/2” x 4 1/2” Background Fabric
B1 Cut 252 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ Focal Fabric
B2 Cut 252 2 1/2″ x 3″ Background Fabric
 
Twin Quilt / 88 blocks / 64″ x 88″ Finished / Print 352 Copies of Templates
A1 Cut 352 2 1/2” x 3” Focal Fabric
A2 Cut 352 4 1/2” x 4 1/2” Background Fabric
B1 Cut 352 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ Focal Fabric
B2 Cut 352 2 1/2″ x 3″ Background Fabric
 
Queen Quilt / 132 blocks / 88″ x 96″ Finished / Print 528 Copies of Templates
A1 Cut 528 2 1/2” x 3” Focal Fabric
A2 Cut 528 4 1/2” x 4 1/2” Background Fabric
B1 Cut 528 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ Focal Fabric
B2 Cut 528 2 1/2″ x 3″ Background Fabric
 
King Quilt / 156 blocks / 104″ x 96″ Finished / Print 624 Copies of Templates
A1 Cut 624 2 1/2” x 3” Focal Fabric
A2 Cut 624 4 1/2” x 4 1/2” Background Fabric
B1 Cut 624 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ Focal Fabric
B2 Cut 624 2 1/2″ x 3″ Background Fabric
 

Step 2. Next it’s time to calculate how much fabric we need for the focal and background of the quilt. This if where the width of fabric (WOF) measurement of 42″ comes in to play.

For each template piece (A1, A2, B1, B2), you need to calculate how many pieces you can cut per WOF strip.

For example, template piece A1 is cut 2 1/2” x 3”. To calculate how many can be cut per WOF strip, use the following equation:

WOF / Length of Template Piece = Number that Fit in WOF
42″ / 3″ = 14 pieces

Because I know I need 100 cuts of Template A1 for my baby quilt, I need to calculate how many 14 piece strips I need to cut.

100 / 14 = 7.14 (round up to 8)

Now I know I need to cut 8 strips that are each the width of Template Piece A1 (2 1/2″) to account for all 100 A1 cuts.

8 strips x 2 1/2″ = 20″

This means I need a total of 20″ x 42″ (WOF) to account for all A1 pieces in my Baby Sized quilt. If I am using a scrappy layout, or multiple colors, that is the amount of fabric I need in TOTAL.

Using these equations, I’ve determined the amount of TOTAL fabric needed for the basic sizes of quilts that we covered last week.

Baby Quilt / 25 blocks / 40″ x 40″ Finished / Print 100 Copies of Templates
A1 20″ x 42″ (WOF) Focal Fabric
A2 54″ x 42″ (WOF) Background Fabric
B1 30″ x 42″ (WOF) Focal Fabric
B2 20″ x 42″ (WOF) Background Fabric
 
Lap Quilt / 63 blocks / 56″ x 72″ Finished / Print 252 Copies of Templates
A1 45″ x 42″ (WOF) Focal Fabric
A2 126″ x 42″ (WOF) Background Fabric
B1 70″ x 42″ (WOF) Focal Fabric
B2 45″ x 42″ (WOF) Background Fabric
 
Twin Quilt / 88 blocks / 64″ x 88″ Finished / Print 352 Copies of Templates
A1 65″ x 42″ (WOF) Focal Fabric
A2 180″ x 42″ (WOF) Background Fabric
B1 100″ x 42″ (WOF) Focal Fabric
B2 65″ x 42″ (WOF) Background Fabric
 
Queen Quilt / 132 blocks / 88″ x 96″ Finished / Print 528 Copies of Templates
A1 92 1/2” x 42” (WOF) Focal Fabric
A2 265 1/2″ x 42″ (WOF) Background Fabric
B1 147 1/2″ x 42″ (WOF) Focal Fabric
B2 92 1/2” x 42” (WOF) Background Fabric
 
King Quilt / 156 blocks / 104″ x 96″ Finished / Print 624 Copies of Templates
A1 112 1/2” x 32” (WOF) Focal Fabric
A2 315” x 42” (WOF) Background Fabric
B1 175″ x 42″ (WOF) Focal Fabric
B2 112 1/2” x 32” (WOF) Background Fabric
 

To determine yardage for the above amounts, simply divide the first number by 36″. For example, if the required fabric amount is 20″ x 42″ (WOF):

20″ / 36″ = .555 yards

In which case, I would round up and buy 2/3 yard of fabric.

Now chances are, you are not using the same focal fabric throughout your entire quilt for A1 and B1. That’s ok. Now that you know the TOTAL amount needed, you can buy fat quarters, fat eights, etc. Just make sure it adds up to the TOTAL amount of fabric required for each template piece.

You probably are just as exhausted as me after all that math! Don’t worry if it takes a bit of time to let it all absorb. Spend the next week determining how much fabric you need for your planned quilt. Go shopping! (Or hunt in your stash). Feel free to get going on the blocks for your quilt top and we will check back in next week.

Happy Sewing Everyone!

Comments

  1. 3

    Lynn b says

    Wowzer! Thanks for sharing. Glad you figured all of that out :0) I love paper piecing but haven’t done much of it so I am excited to get started!

  2. 4

    Jill says

    Very smart construction on this cool pattern. I missed Week 1 last time and haven’t decided on fabric so I have some catch up but am in for the fun.

  3. 5

    Lucy Daniel says

    Wow — it’s an AWESOME & DETAILED for beginners like me!!!! Ready to start & learn paper piecing. Is this on a PDF format?

  4. 11

    says

    I am dyslexic, and have always had a tough time doing paper piecing. Paper piecing is a great method, and a few of my ventures came out ok.

    I am using template plastic, will trace over the paper templates you given above, and will cut out the shapes on the fabric using them. That said, do I add a 1/4 on each middle line of the A1, and A2 line and the B1 and B2 line? Will that throw off the measurements? Or do you have all four pieces separate on a piece of paper, including the 1/4 seam allowance that I can use, under the template plastic? This is the way I’ve had to learn to do it. Thanks so much, Faith.

    Anne

    • 12

      says

      Hi Anne – if you are going to create templates, yes, you will need to add a 1/4″ seam allowance between A1 and A2, B1 and B2. I always struggle a bit with getting perfect pieces when I use templates, but if you are used to it I’m sure you’ll be fine. You’ll never know until you try, so give it a shot. :) I do not have any additional templates with the seam allowance already between those pieces, so you will need to create those yourself.

      • 13

        says

        I am going to try it both ways. Whichever looks best I will go with. Either way, challenged or not, I’m going to finish it!! It may take a little longer….but that’s ok. Thanks.

  5. 15

    Susan says

    Love the details that you give and the math makes my head spin….but there is one thing I don’t know how to do…is get a picture to you or how to link pics to your site….not very computer savvy …any help appreciated….this is my first quilt along

  6. 17

    says

    I made my practice block today. I’m very much a beginning quilter and have never paper pieced. I’ve actually never sewn triangles before either. Everything was super detailed, clear, and easy to follow. Things went smoothly until the very last seam. I couldn’t figure out how to match the middle points very well, and then when I was sewing had some issues with the bulkiness of the seam allowances in the very center of the block. I pressed all my seams to one side, since you didn’t specify a direction to press them (all toward the A pieces). Should I be pressing the seams open instead? Any other tips to help match the center points better?

    • 18

      says

      Hi Whitney – that’s awesome that you did your first paper piecing!! That’s a huge accomplishment.

      When I sewed my 2 quadrants together (Step 16), I tried pressing my seams both ways (open and to the side). Normally I press to the side so everything “locks” into place when I’m sewing the final seam, but I also struggled with the bulk. I ended up pressing mine open when I sewed the quadrants together. (See the picture in Step 17). Then when I pinned the halves together, I pinned starting in the middle making sure those points matched up and then pinned down the sides. Just my personal preference but I found the most success doing it that way. I hope that helps! You will notice that just lots of practice helps. And don’t feel frustrated if you need to unpick those 2 halves and scoot things around and restitch them. I had to do that a couple times too.

  7. 19

    says

    Well I just sewed up my test block and I am quite happy with it, I posted a preview on instagram with #lighthouseqal and #freshlemonsquilt. But I will share more on my blog soon! Excited to get started! And like everyone else, so glad you did the math for us, yikes!

  8. 20

    says

    Question: I am doing the baby quilt. I calculated the amount of background fabric I need, and by my calculations, I need a little over a yard of fabric. I think you mentioned in an earlier post that for the baby size, I would need 2 1/2 yds. Did I not calculate this correctly? Thanks.

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