Airplane Block Tutorial28
Enough with the bad puns. Since it was well received, I've made a step by step tutorial for creating freeform airplane quilt blocks. This tutorial creates planes of random sizes rather than rigid repeatable planes. I think would be great collected in a quilt or as a pillow. This idea might be a good one for a quilt bee group, because the blocks are easy to create and would look good collected together.
Hopefully this will inspire a few beginners to break out of their square and log cabin rut. If you have questions, corrections or suggestions for this tutorial, do let me know.
Cutting the Plane Shape
Begin with a large scrap of fabric for your airplane body. Mine was roughly 3.5" x 12". Iron and press your fabric so it's tidy, just like I've done. Please use your imagination throughout this tutorial and pretend that I'm an ironing queen with tidy, pressed prints thoughout!
Loosely fold in half along the longer side of your scrap. It does not matter if you do this with right sides facing or not. Do not press this fold.
First we're going to cut the nose of the plane. Midway down the strip, cut an angle. A sharper angle makes a pointier nose, a small angle makes for a flat nose. Mine angle was roughly 45 degrees and my fabric including the nose was roughly 5"
Now cut off the nose by cutting off a triangle from the strip. To do this, cut perpendicular to the fold (90 degrees) intersecting the corner made in the last step.
This first bit will be the nose of your plane. Open up and save for later.
Next we want to cut the plane body. We want a trapezoid for the plane body, so this time we are going to cut from the corner of one side to the midpoint of the opposite side. When you open this up, you should have a trapezoid. No picture taken at this stage. Sorry. Hopefully by looking through rest of tutorial you will understand the desired shape.
Using the remainder of your original scrap, cut two rectangles for the wing and tail of the plane. My wing was roughly twice the width and length of the tail. My wing was roughly 7" long.
These pieces will make up the plane in your quilt block.
Attaching Background Fabric
When attaching background fabric, I like to try to maintain the grain and direction of the print. This means I have a lot more scraps and wastage as I work, but I think it helps with the look and overall integrity of the block.
Begin by cutting a strip of fabric for the background around the plane body. It should be slightly larger than the trapezoid.
Next place your plane fabric on top of the body fabric making sure the grain and direction of the print is aligned as you want it in the finished block. Cut the background fabric at this angle.
With right sides facing, attach the trapezoid to the background using a 1/4" seam. You may feel like you are sewing things at a wonky angle. When folded open, the grain will be straight.
Press open. Pressing will help you. I'm setting such a bad example!
Repeat with the other side.
Trim the top and bottom of the strip to create straight edges. This is your plane body strip.
Next we are going to attach the wing. Center the wing above your plane body strip. Do not worry if your wing is too long or too short to cover the block. We will trim the block later and can even it up then.
After vaguely centering the wing, attach the pieces using a 1/4" seam.
The tail strip of the plane is made by attaching background fabric to either side of the tail fabric. My tail uses right angles, but you could modify it to have a point shape by using a trapezoid. If your strip is uneven, be sure to even up the top edge.
After creating the tail strip, connect it to the body. You should try really really hard to center this as it won't be corrected later when squaring.
To create the nose strip, begin with background fabric roughly 3/4" bigger than your plane nose triangle. As we did with the body, cut the strip at an angle that matches the angle of the plane nose.
Next attach the plane nose to the background fabric using a 1/4" seam. Important! It is best to place the nose near the bottom of your strip and keep extra fabric near the top. You'll need this extra fabric in later steps.
Trim away the background fabric to create a straight edge even with plane nose. You really should press at each stage. I went quickly with this example for the tutorial.
Next attach the background strip to the opposite side of the nose. After cutting the correct angle, sew using a 1/4" seam. You will want to sew all the way past the background fabric on the other side so there is an overlap of background fabric. This is very important in later steps.
Trim the bottom of the fabric to create a straight edge. Center the nose strip to the rest of the plane body. Attach using a 1/4" seam.
Even up the sides and bottom of the block. The top will be evened in the next step. Do not trim it yet. If your wing wasn't centered, make sure you measure it at this time to get the sides even.
To even up the top, we want to make sure we leave 1/4" fabric beyond the nose of the plane. This is for seam allowance. If you do not leave 1/4", you're plane will have a flat nose instead of a pointy one. Carefully measure 1/4" and trim the block.
You are now ready to to finish your block. You can decide if you want to add more background fabric to square it up or leave it as is and connect other blocks.
Possible variations include:
- using different wing and tail fabrics to the body
- change the shape of the nose or tail
- applique stars on the wings for fighter planes
- use your imagination
Hopefully this inspires you. If you try it, we'd love to see links to your blocks here!