Sunday, April 11, 2010

Map of the States - quick sticks - Tutorial

As mentioned here, Elizabeth from Oh Fransson designed this "Map of the States" block and she gave me permission to post my 'stack and slash' method of putting it together. So here goes. These instructions will give you 12, 10 1/2 blocks (including seam allowance).

Cut 12, 13" squares and stack them into 2 piles of 6. Iron them on top of each other, so they stay together when cut. Put aside one stack of 6 squares.

I've used Denyse Schmidts Hope Valley range and added a couple of solid fabric squares.

Using your rotary cutter and ruler, cut through the stack of fabric 3 times, so you have 4 strips. Cut on a slight angle - about 1/4 inch difference from top to bottom. You can vary the angle and the width of the strips.

Move the top fabric of the second strip to the bottom of its pile.
Move the top 2 fabrics from the third strip to the bottom of its pile.
Move the top 3 fabrics from the right hand strip to the bottom of its pile.

Sew the top strips together using a 1/4 inch seam. Press seams to one side (or open).

Then sew the next set of top strips together and so on until you have sewn 6 blocks of 4 strips.

Take your other stack of 6 square that you set aside earlier. Repeat the above instructions, except this time make FOUR slightly angled cuts, yeilding 5 strips.

Similarly, sew these together yeilding 6 blocks of 5 strips together.

You will now have12 blocks altogether. Divide your blocks into two piles. First, place a 5 strip block on each pile.

Then place a 4 strip block on each pile. These blocks will be slightly larger, but don't worry, you can trim them later. Just line the blocks up on three edges.

Now, place another 5 strip block on each pile, but this time ROTATE them 180 degrees. This will add interest to your finished block.

Place another 4 strip block on each pile and ROTATE them 180 degrees.

Place a 5 strip block on each pile (you don't need to rotate these ones).

Place a 4 strip block on each pile (you don't need to rotate these ones either). Your 6 blocks of fabric should be lying directly on top of one another. I folded these over so you could see the layers.

Now, take one of the piles of strip blocks (and put the other aside). Rotate it so the strips are lying horizontally and the top of the blocks line up.

Make 4 slightly wonky cuts to create 5 strips.

Move the top fabric from strip 2 to the bottom of its pile and so on (same method as you used for constructing the strip blocks).

Sew the top strips together to make 6 Map of the States blocks. Trim to 10 1/2 inches.

Repeat procedure with your other stack to yeild 12 blocks.

I've made 12 grey/blue/green blocks and 12 pink/orange/purple blocks. Now I just have to decide what I'm going to do with them. Make 2 baby sized quilts? One large quilt? Sashing, no sashing...?

Alternatively, you could make 10 blocks at a time. Just use 10 squares of fabric and instead of dividing them into piles of 6, divide them into piles of 5.

Thanks again Elizabeth, for your generosity in sharing your designs so freely and inspiring so many of us.

You can find a bunch of her patterns and tutorials here at Oh Fransson. You can also find her original Map of the States tutorial here.


  1. Gorgeous Kate! Thanks so much for sharing your tutorial; isn't Elizabeth just amazing? I love her blog so much - she's a real inspiration (and so are you)!

  2. this is sooo fabulous!! can't wait to try it out!! THANKS so much for sharing!!

  3. This is wonderful! thank you thank you thank you for sharing!

  4. Neat! Thank you for sharing! I kept looking at OF's blocks thinking there must be an easier way to do 'em. She was using scraps, so it makes sense ---- but I'm silly and like to cut up good yardage. *grin*

  5. Wow, thanks for a great tutorial! I have a quilt design bouncing around in my head but couldn't figure out how I was going to execute part of it... I think this 'stack and slash' will work perfectly (I trying to figure out a way to easily scatter similarly hued fabrics across a large area in design other than squares and without having to worry too much about every seam lining up perfectly).

    I do have a question for you...
    You started with 13" squares and ended up with 10.5" blocks. If I wanted to end up with 12" blocks, do you think I should start with 14.5" squares?

    Great tute, thanks again!

  6. And now I have another question... (I've never done the stack and slice method before, can you tell??)

    If I didn't want any fabric to repeat in each block, how would I do that? Instead of starting with a stack of 12, 13" squares, would I need a stack of 22? Just trying to wrap my mind around how to make this block... thanks! :)

  7. Hi Lulubloom,
    Thanks for the feedback. You need to take off 1/2 and inch for every slice you make, so if you keep the same number of slices as I did - 4, it will reduce the block size by 2 inches. I have then allowed another 1/2 inch for the slight angles since they reduce the block a bit more. So yes, if you start with a 14.5 inch block and make 4 cuts, you will end up with a 12 inch block edge to edge, or 11.5 finished.

    As for your next question, I've had a bit of think and I think this would work. You will need 25 different fabrics. Make 5 piles of 5 squares. Cut two of the piles three times (and sew them back together to yeild 4 strips per square) and the other three piles of squares you cut four times to yeild five strips per square. Then turn them on their side and take one from each each pile, so you have 5 in a stack. No fabric in this pile should be the same. Then make 4 cuts to yeild 5 strips per square. Continue stacking 5 at a time until you have 25 completed squares. Does this make sense?

    Let me know if you have any more questions.

  8. Kate, thank you so much for your help! I apologize for taking a bit to get back to you. I've been playing with my fabric... this block was hard for me to start because there's really no way to do a real test block without making a dozen or so blocks. Once you start cutting fabric, you must move forward!

    In the end, I needed 28 of these 'states' blocks, so I started with 28 14" squares (mix of 14 prints and 14 solids). The solids had to have some repeats since I couldn't find 14 different that would work. I am almost done with the 28 blocks now and learned that when you divide the stacks and slice the SECOND/LAST time (cutting one stack 4 times, the other stack 3), you really need to make sure your stacks have an even number of layers. If they don't, then when you move the top layer to the bottom you could be pairing up two similarly cut strips (matching a 4 pieced strip to a 4 pieced strip, instead of 5 pieced strip). I doubt that makes sense, but I can't think of how to word it.

    Anyway, I'll post a link to pictures once I get further along. Thanks again for the help!

  9. Hello,
    thank you for the tutorial! Now I'm off to find a suitable mix of fabrics.


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