Ali Wilkinson

Long Time Gone BOM Month #2 and Mini Tutorial


The second month of Jen Kingwell’s year-long BOM, Long Time Gone, arrived last week. I think NZ and Australia Post were trying to bug me as the shipping took ages and I was very much postman-stalking waiting this delivery!

This month is a traditional block of a square in square star, measuring 12″ finished, and once again I made a duplicate using my Liberty stash – BOM supplied fabrics on the right and Liberty on the left in the image above.

My go-to method for making square in square blocks economically whilst preventing bias edge distortion is to make them using foundation piecing, so I drew up foundation patterns as below and then photocopied the correct number.


It’s really easy to make these templates. The outside box is sized to be the unfinished size, so in this case 3.5″ (as the squares need to be 3″ finished). I then measured 1/2″ inside the outside box and made a mark at the mid-point on each side, then joined those marks together to make the inside square. This means the square points will touch the finished edge of the block. For the half square in square blocks I did a similar process making the outside rectangle 2″ x 3.5″, but this time as the final joining seams will do the job of creating points at each end of the long side of the triangle (or half square), I only needed to make the mark on one long side of the rectangle and join them to the actual outside corners of the rectangle on the opposite side.

Of course, I ought to have drawn another rectangle to make optimal use of photocopying, but hey ho, I didn’t so I now have a bunch of templates of the square in square ready for another project!

For the fabric cutting I was semi-economical. For the square in squares I cut centre square fabric a little over 1/2″ larger than the actual square, and for the corner triangles I wanted a bit of wriggle room so cut squares at 2.75″ and then in half into triangles. I used my lightbox to place the centre square over the correct part of the template and then placed each triangle in turn onto the square using the lines on the template to position them, and then sewed them in place.

needledownnz_long_time_gone_BOM_month_2_b_ 1

Don;t forget to use a short stitch length with paper templates, or you will weaken or destroy seams when you remove the papers later on. Once all four corner triangles were sewn on I was able to trim on the outside lines of the square using an old rotary cutter blade (I keep one specifically for cutting paper templates) with the end result of a perfect square in square block. Here’s before and after trimming:

needledownnz_long_time_gone_BOM_month_2_b_ 2

needledownnz_long_time_gone_BOM_month_2_b_ 3

This might seem a bit long winded and time consuming, but I find the end results are so much more accurate and there is no fighting bias seams or having to unpick and sew again when your corner triangle is not quite in the right place. There’s not a lot of wastage either even with the trimming down to size.

I made the flying geese half square in square blocks in a similar way. This time I used rectangles and sewed the triangles on top then trimmed the corners of the rectangle underneath at the end. That results in a bit more wastage. It is entirely possible to cut triangles instead of rectangles and follow the same process , but do make sure to cut the triangles a little larger than needed just to ensure super accuracy at the end.

In other news, my Hawthorne Threads order of Cloud 9 Cirrus Solids arrived on Friday and so I am now ready to work out what I am going to do with the centre of the medallion. I will report back next week (hopefully) on progress!