Random Sampler QAL – Tree of Life

October 18, 2012 § 8 Comments

Someone mentioned making a Tree of Life block. So here it is, the next block in the Random Sampler QAL.  There are lots of different ways to make this block!  I was inspired by this multi-colored one that I found on Flickr, but when it was done I didn’t like it with my basket blocks at all. So I took it apart (because I didn’t have enough of my scrap to cut more pieces) and made the background all the same color.  Some of the photos are before with my first choice and some are the after with my final choice of fabric. I hope it doesn’t confuse you too much!  I decided to just keep it real so that you can see that no one has it all together all of the time!

I’ve been so busy & distracted this week that I also walked into a wall and gave myself a black eye. Talk about being stupid!  But I have to laugh because my husband did nearly the same thing about a year ago.  That will teach me to not pay attention!

1. Choose 3 fabrics (not 4 like I have above, unless you want to mix it up a bit) that work together. One for the tree, one for the background and one for the trunk.

This block measures 12 1/2″ square, including seam allowances when it is finished.

From the main fabric (mine is the orange floral) cut:

  • 1 – 8 7/8″ square, cut in half diagonally once to yield 2 triangles. You will use only one for this block, unless you want to make 2 blocks.
  • 9 – 2 7/8″ squares
  • 2 – 2 1/2″ squares

From the background fabric (mine is the white & grey dot – I originally started with the green for the tree & the grey dot for the trunk but didn’t like the outcome) cut:

  • 9 – 2 7/8″ squares
  • 1 – 5  1/4″ square, cut in half diagonally to yield 2 triangles. Here a cheated a little bit. Theoretically you should cut quarter square triangles so that no bias edges end up on the outside of the block. But because I wanted to only make one block I broke this rule. If you want to make 2 blocks, then cut a 5 5/8″ block and cut it in half diagonally twice to make 4 triangles.

From the trunk fabric (mine is the brown polka dot) cut:

  • 1 – 3 1/4″ x 6 1/4″ rectangle

2. Using the 2 7/8″ squares from background & tree fabric make 18 half-square triangle units.  You can choose to cut them in half diagonally and then sew them together as shown on the left. Or you can mark the diagonal line on the back of the background square, sew a 1/4″ seam on each side of the line and then cut apart to create 2 half-square triangles.  Use your favorite method.

3. When I have a bunch of small half-square triangles to sew together I always like to press the seams open to reduce the bulk. That’s just my personal preference.

4. Arrange the half-square triangles and all the rest of the pieces to create the block.  There are 9 half-square triangles on each side of the tree, the 2 – 2 1/2″ squares at the top, the large 8 7/8″ triangle at the bottom, and the tree trunk with it’s background 5 1/4″ triangles.

5. Next, sew the a 5 1/4″ background triangle to each side of the tree trunk.  Then sew the trunk unit to the 8 7/8″ triangle for the bottom of the tree.  Trim the trunk edge to make the square measure 8 1/2″.

As a side note, most tree of life blocks give you templates when you get to this part and I just don’t enjoy the template process.

6.  Sew the 10 half-square triangles together on the left along with the 2 1/2″ squares to make the side unit. Then sew the remaining half-square triangles together on the top to create the top unit.

7.  Sew the top half-square triangle unit to the tree trunk unit.

8. And finally, sew the left half-square triangle unit to the right side to complete the block.

9. Here’s a picture of the back side so that you can see how I press the seams.  I sewed the half-square triangles into rows, press the seams in opposite directions. Then when I sewed the rows together, I pressed the seams open.  Again, this is just my personal preference.  I hate fighting with the seams and am always trying to find a way to make it easier to put them all together.

This was my first attempt.  I like the second attempt so much better!

And I’m sure that I will find a use for all those green triangle pieces!  They will make good filler half-square triangle blocks, don’t you think?

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§ 8 Responses to Random Sampler QAL – Tree of Life

  • diane says:

    Love the block! So excited to get started on mine today! Thanks for sharing…and sorry about your black eye, ouch.

  • I really like this block, Anita! I like both your versions, but I’m sure you had a vision. Thanks for the great instructions once again. I so appreciate your pressing preferences, rather than having to do my own trial and error. Nice to see how your fabric substitutions affected your block, too.
    So sorry about your eye :(

  • Sylvie says:

    Thank you for this block! It looks great, and I had fun making one.
    I was impatient to continue this QAL ;-)

  • Lotje says:

    Love to try this block! and I can see what you mean by leaving the greens out… So nice to read about choices and improvements and see how it comes together in the end. And still keeping an eye open to give the green triangles another place :)
    Best wishes for your black eye, hope it doesn’t hurt to much

  • Blue.Ridge.Girl says:

    I’ve never made this block before so I can’t wait to dig in…hooray for a fun choice! I agree with you about the background fabric…the greater contrast makes the block appear much more crisp.

    Now if you could have just held off on the black eye until a little closer to Halloween you may have been able to work it into your costume :o)

  • Sarah says:

    I’ve always wanted to make this block and have tons of 1/2 sq triangles my small group has exchanged. Guess I better get busy! Thanks for the great instructions, Anita and thanks for inspiring us!

  • Carla says:

    I have always loved loved this block but my piecing ability has always told me no. I like that are pressing the seam open, that makes sense, and I am going to try to make one of these today. Thank you so much for the inspriation.

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