How to Sew a Sheepfold Quilt Block
This “How to Sew a Sheepfold Quilt Block” tutorial is perfect for beginner quilters and even a manageable sewing project for non-quilters. Because this simple quilt block (also known as an Uneven Nine Patch block) only uses squares and rectangles, it is easy to make using strips of fabric and it comes together quickly. I’ll also share a few project ideas with this easy quilt block that you can whip up quickly for yourself or give as gifts.
The finished block will measure 12” x 12” when sewn together. (NOTE: it can become the first block in a Sampler Quilt where you get to show off several different quilt blocks in one quilt.)
Though I’m using two colors for this easy quilt block, there are other variations you can do. I will cover additional options at the end of this blog post.
For this blog post, I purchased a fat quarter bundle that has five coordinating fabrics. I will be using these fabrics for this block and additional blocks in the future. My hope is that I will make a small sampler quilt which I will share with you.
Let’s get started!
Supplies & Tools Needed to Make a Quilt Block
Instructions to Sew a Sheepfold Quilt Block
Step 1 - Prepare Your Fabric
Wash, dry, and press your fabric if you are using a normal cut of fabric. Prewashing helps get out the chemicals and excess dyes and allows the fabric to shrink now if it is going to shrink. (Note: If you are using a precut, like a fat quarter, pre-washing is normally not done because precut pieces tend to fray, distort, and shrink in odd ways if pre-washed.)
To finish preparing your fabric, cut off any selvages. The selvage is the thicker, tightly woven edge of the fabric. It often has little holes in it and on printed fabric it may even be a white strip with little color circles with numbers in them (these are fabric colors that will go well with your print) and can include a fabric line name. (NOTE: On a fat quarter, only one side of the fabric will have a selvage.)
Step 2 - Cut Your Pieces
(NOTE: The cutting instructions below are for fat quarters. If you are using larger pieces of fabric, then you may be able to cut fewer strips to get the same number of pieces. Make your adjustments accordingly.)
Cut one 3 ½” x 18 ½” strip from Fabric A. Make sure the short edge of this strip is straight, then cut this strip into four 3 ½” squares. These will be used for the pieces marked A1 in the above diagram.
Cut one 6 ½” square from Fabric A. I did this by cutting a 6 ½” x 18 ½” strip and then evening out the short edge before cutting my square. This square is the piece marked A2 in the above diagram.
Cut two 3 ½” x 18 1/2” strips from Fabric B. Straighten the short ends of these strips and then cut them into 3 ½” x 6 ½” rectangles. The rectangles are the pieces marked B1 in the above diagram.
Save the leftover fabric to use in future blocks especially if you are planning to make a sampler or scrap quilt.
I like to lay the cut pieces out before I start sewing. This is a good cross-check to make sure you cut out all of the pieces needed and that they are all the sizes you need.
Step 3 - Sewing The Block - Part 1
For this next section, I’ll be referring to the initial diagram with the colors and letters. It’s copied below so you don’t have to scroll back up.
You are going to chain piece one unit after the other to save on thread and time. For sewing, I used the ¼” Quilting Foot with Guide.
Sew pieces A1 + B1 with right sides together while using a ¼” seam allowance.
Next, sew pieces B1 + A2 with right sides together using a ¼” seam allowance. If you need to, use clips to hold these larger pieces together while sewing, being careful to remove the clips before they hit your foot.
Now sew another A1 + B2 with right sides together using a ¼” seam allowance.
Clip the threads between pieces and set them back next to your remaining cut pieces. The sewn units and unsewn pieces should look like the below.
Just as before, I recommend that you strip piece the following strips.
Take your A1 + B1 2pc unit and sew an A1 piece to the B1 side of the unit with right sides together using a ¼” seam allowance. We will call this finished 3pc strip → Strip 1.
Next, take your B1 + A2 2pc unit and sew a B1 piece to the A2 side of the unit with right sides together using a ¼” seam allowance. We will call this finished 3pc strip → Strip 2.
Then, take your remaining A1 + B1 2pc unit and sew an A1 piece to the B1 side of the unit. We will call the finished 3pc strip → Strip 3.
Cut the strips apart and lay them out. Here is what they should look like now.
Before we start to sew Strips 1, 2, and 3 together we need to press the seams.
First, close your strip units onto themselves so you see your stitches and seams on the wrong sides.
Press on these seams, with an iron, for a few seconds to “set” them.
Next, open the strips back up and press the seams toward the darker color. If the units that make up the strips are of near or equal value, like mine are, press Strips 1 and 3 (top & bottom) outward toward the edges and Strip 2 (middle strip) inward toward the middle. This way your seams will be facing in different directions and will make sewing the strips together much easier.
Step 4 - Sewing The Block - Part 2
Now you are ready to finish sewing your block together!
Take Strip 1 and flip it down over Strip 2 so the right sides are facing together. Line up and nest your seams together. (If you used a directional pattern in any of your prints, be mindful of which way you put your strips together.)
For this next step, I like to use pins next to each seam to keep the seam from moving during sewing. This helps get a more accurate seam in the end. Before you start sewing, double check that the seams didn’t shift while you were pinning. If they did, re-pin now so you don’t have to take out the seam with a seam ripper and re-do everything. (Trust me, I’ve skipped the double check step before and regretted it.)
Sew these strips together with a ¼” seam allowance. You should get matching seams when you are done.
Finally, take Strip 3 and flip it up onto the bottom of Strip 2 so the right sides are together. Match up and nest your seams. Pin and then sew using a ¼” seam allowance.
Step 5 - Press and True-Up the Block
Just like earlier, close your strips over themselves so you can see the stitching on the wrong sides and press, holding your iron in place for a few seconds to “set” the seams. Then, open your block and press your seams to one side, preferably toward the darker fabric if there is one. If the fabrics are of equal or near equal values like mine are, then press out toward the edges of the block.
Your finished block might not be quite 12” x 12” at this point so you may need to true your block up. Straightening any crooked sides and making sure your block is evenly 12” x 12” square. Be careful not to over-cut here. I use my self-healing cutting mat, cutting ruler, and rotary cutter for this part.
You did it, you have a finished Sheepfold (aka: Uneven Nine Patch) Block, It’s that easy!
Prefer to see it all in action? Watch the YouTube Video: Sheepfold Quilt Block Tutorial
Projects You Can Make with the Sheepfold Block
One Block Pillow Cover
Just add a 2” border (using 2 ½” strips) to all four sides of the block. The border can be one of the fabrics you already used in the block or it can be a complementary fabric. You can even make this block with the center-piece of a third fabric and then make your border with that same fabric!
Sandwich batting between the quilt block and a piece of muslin and quilt as desired. Add your back (an overlapping pocket back works great here) and you have a pillow cover for a 16” square pillow form.
One Block Place Mat
Determine how wide you want your placemat to be and then subtract 12 from that number and divide by two and then add ½” for your seam allowances. This gives you the measurement of your side strips. (Example: If you want a placemat that will be about 18” wide: 18-12 = 6 and 6 divided by 2 = 3. So your cut strips will need to be 3 ½” wide x 12 ½” long.) Add a strip to the right and to the left of your block. Then add batting and backing. You can also add binding.
Again, just like in the pillow project you can use one of the fabrics from the block for these strips, a complimentary fabric or you can also use three fabrics for your Uneven Nine Patch block with the middle and the strips being that third fabric. Let your creativity soar!
Make three or four Sheepfold blocks and sew them together side-by-side. Add batting, backing and binding. Quilt as desired. See the layouts below for setting details.
For three Sheepfold blocks you’ll need at least ⅜ yard of the blue fabric and at least ¼ yard of the white fabric. I like to buy a bit extra in case of cutting or other issues. I can always find something to do with the leftover fabric.
For four Sheepfold blocks you’ll need at least ⅜ yard of each color of fabric.
The fabric measurements for the table runners above do not include the backing or binding fabric needed to complete the projects.
Make five, red & white, Sheepfold quilt blocks and then cut four white 12 ½” x 12 ½” squares. Make three rows of three blocks each by alternating the Sheepfold blocks and Square units to create the quilt top. Add a border, batting, backing and binding. Quilt as desired. See the layout below.
For this wall hanging project, you’ll need at least ⅞ yards of the red fabric (this include the fabric needed to make a 2” wide border) and at least one (1) yard of the white fabric. These measurements do not include the fabric needed to add a binding or backing.
For this quilt project you need 15, green & white, Uneven Nine-Patch blocks and 15, 12 ½” x 12 ½” white squares. You will make 6 rows of 5 blocks each by alternating Uneven Nine Patch Blocks and Square units to create the quilt top. Add a border, batting, backing, and binding. Quilt as desired. See the layout below.
For this lap/nap quilt project, you’ll need at least 1 ⅞ yards of the green fabric (assuming you are strip piecing your 2” border) and 3 yards of the white fabric. These measurements do not include the fabric needed to add a binding or backing.
Need Another Size of This Block for Your Project Idea?
This block is surprisingly easy to size up or down. Here’s how that works.
For the block we made in this blog, the middle square ends up 6” square and the smaller corner squares end up 3” square once sewn into the block. The rectangles end up being a combination of the two, in other words… 3” x 6” when sewn. (NOTE: These measurements don’t include the seam allowance that we need. You will need to add ½” to the length and ½” to the width to end up with the block size you want in the end.)
So, what does that mean? Easy, the little squares are always half the size of the finished big square and the rectangles are a combination of both.
Let’s see how that works…
If the final size of the middle square is 12” then the final size of the smaller squares will be 6”. That means the final size of the rectangles will be 6” x 12”.
Add your seam allowance measurements… You’ll cut your larger square at 12 ½”, smaller squares at 6 ½” and the rectangles at 6 ½” x 12 ½”.
Your finished square when put into a project will end up being 24” x 24”. A good size for a table centerpiece maybe?
Today, you learned how to make a simple quilt block that you can easily make using strips of fabric and two or three fabrics.
If you want to get really colorful and slash your fabric stash, use fabric scraps to make each block then play around with how you put multiple blocks together to make a one of a kind scrap quilt!
Make your finished projects whatever size suits your needs or whims.
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