X Blocks – a Tutorial

This spring/summer I participated in a round robin with 11 other Tarheel Quilters Guild members. The final round or border was due at our July guild meeting. By now, the quilt projects are sizable, and I hoped I could “just” add a plain outer border and call it done. However, one of the rules of our round robin is that only one plain border could be added to the quilt, and someone else had already taken the easy route on this quilt.

After studying the patchwork and colors for several weeks, I decided to add pieced X Blocks for an outer border. These blocks, I believed, would echo the shape of the central patchwork block as well as go together quickly. To that end, I pulled all the tonals and small prints from my stash that I felt would coordinate with the colors of the quilt.

Now to figure out what size to make the blocks. Get out the calculator! The quilt measured 44 1/2″ wide. I decided to add 2″ all around with a solid orange border. I cut the strips 2 1/2″ wide and sewed them to the quilt top.

After imagining what 4″ X Blocks would look like (too small), I opted for 6″ blocks. With the width of the quilt at 48 1/2,” I needed to make 8 blocks each for top and bottom of the quilt since 8 x 6 = 48. Since the quilt is rectangular, I made some blocks for the sides of the quilt, but the measurement did not yield a “whole number” of blocks. I added some 6″ wide white rectangles to cope on the side borders.

To make a 6 1/2″ (unfinished) X Block, you need the following: 1  5″ white square cut on both diagonals, 4  2 1/2″ x 4″ colorful rectangles, 1  2 1/2″ square of contrasting color.

Thinking of this block as a diagonal Nine Patch will help you construct it properly. Sew 2 of the rectangles between white triangles; these units are rows 1 and 3 of the “Nine Patch.” Press the seams toward the triangles. Now sew the 2 1/2″ square between the remaining 2 rectangles; this unit is row 2 of the “Nine Patch.” Press the seams toward the square.

Sew the 3 rows together to make the X Block. Press the seams toward the center row. Center a 6 1/2″ square ruler on top of the block and trim all four sides.

Tip: If you press the seams as written above, the seams of the blocks can nest when set side by side. A quarter turn of the block is all you may need to make the seams nest with the adjacent block.

I am very pleased with the X Block border I added to Irene’s round robin quilt. As I had hoped, the blocks repeat the design element introduced by the center block, tying the entire quilt together in a visually pleasing way.

Irene loves her quilt top and plans to add more borders, enlarging it to bed quilt size. I’ll show you my round robin in a subsequent post; it’s also gorgeous!


5 thoughts on “X Blocks – a Tutorial

  1. Pingback: Beth’s Round Robin Quilt | abyquilts

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