The Quilt with the BIG Center Block

As mentioned, I started a new medallion quilt. This one has a big, 50″ center block, and a total width of about 84″. It will be square.

At about 60% of the width, the center is larger, as a proportion, than I usually use. (See my three posts on proportion here.) The size makes the borders challenging. If they are narrow and fussy, they will be out of proportion with the large-scaled center. They need to have enough visual weight to hold their own, while also enhancing the center’s impact.

Here is my plan. I started with the center and then designed around it. So while this isn’t strictly “design as you go,” it was definitely designed one step at a time.

Isaacs Big Bed Quilt

The center is 50″. Notice it is built on a 5-grid, so each of the 25 segments (5 x 5) is a 10″ finished square. Each half of a flying geese unit is 5″. It doesn’t look complex, but there are 97 patches in the big block. The broken dishes blocks in the first pieced border are each 7″. While not scaled the same as the center (and they don’t need to be,) they are large and graphic, giving appropriate support for the whole design.

I have the center built, as well as some of the hundreds of half-square triangles for the two pieced borders. The outside edge of HST might have a different arrangement when all is said and done.

Here is the center of the center:


Can you see the delicious cats and mice fabric used as the light value? I’ve had that since my oldest grandson was born, almost 11 years ago. I used a little in his baby quilt, but have hoarded most of the rest since then.

I’m still working on the half-square triangle blocks. When they are all built, I’ll use 144 of them to make the 36 broken dishes blocks. Truthfully this part of the process is a little tedious, so I might not be speedy.


12 thoughts on “The Quilt with the BIG Center Block

  1. Shasta

    Looks great – and I love the variety of fabrics you have used. I too don’t like having to trim the triangles. Besides the fact that they waste fabric, that is an extra step that isn’t necessary if you cut them the right size to begin with.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I’ve tried several different methods. Generally I wouldn’t recommend any method that requires trimming each block after sewing (and there are a number of them.) For this quilt I’m using strips that are cut 1/2″ wider than the finished block (like a normal seam allowance cut) and then using a “half and quarter” ruler branded by Fons & Porter but made by Omnigrid. There are other brands available of the same idea. I know one woman who does not like this brand and recommends others, but I’ve not had trouble with it. When I don’t use this method, I cut 7/8″ greater squares than the finished block, and cut in half on diagonal. Then each pair of cut squares will make 2 blocks.

      I know a lot of people just round up an inch, and then trim their blocks after sewing. To me that seems like an extra step. I do check my sizing as I assemble blocks together and adjust my seam allowances when needed. To me that is easier than doing all the trimming.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Ha — I’ve had the postage stamp fabric almost as long as the cats and mice. I only bought something like 1/3 of a yard, and have NEVER used it before. It is kinda particular! 🙂


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