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Summer Sampler Series: Minnesota Block


Welcome to another block in the Summer Sampler Series! Today we’ll be making the Minnesota block. I just love the vintage charm of this block.

Minnesota is block #1979 in the Encyclopedia Of Pieced Quilt Patterns. It is in the “Unequal Nine Patch with Small Center Square” pattern category—a huge category with an amazing variety of designs represented. This block originally appeared in the magazine “Hearth and Home,” which was popular with women in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Hearth and Home published a series of 50 quilt block patterns, one for each state (there is a book that collects all 50 state block patterns, which you can buy here). I couldn’t find any information on whether there is design significance to each state’s block (I’m guessing there isn’t). But Wisconsin’s is pretty interesting too, so you might see that one from me one of these days! It might be kind of fun to make a “travel quilt” of blocks for all of the states that I’ve been to over the years.

Minnesota Block Tutorial

This is another block that combines traditional piecing and paper piecing. But if you’ve made it this far in the quilt-along, I promise you’ll think this one is a piece of cake. No, seriously!

1. Cutting:
• (4) 6.25″ print squares for hourglass units
• (4) 2.5″ x 5.5″ pieces for diamond units
• (1) 2.5″ square for center diamond
• (8) 3.5″ x 4.5″ pieces for background of diamond units
• (4) 2″ squares for background of center diamond

2. Let’s start with the paper-piecing this time. You can download the paper-piecing template here. (Please note: Printing directly from Google Docs can cause your template sizes to be inaccurate. To avoid this, download the PDF to your computer and print it from Acrobat—for information about how to do this, see this Flickr discussion.) You will need 4 copies of the rectangular template and 1 copy of the small square template.

3. Starting with the rectangular templates, adhere the 2.5″ x 5.5″ pieces to the back of the templates, right side facing out, so that your fabric is on one side and the printed template is on the other. I use double-sided tape to put my fabric onto the template, but you could also use a glue stick, fabric glue, or pins. Your fabric pieces should be the same size as the template and should completely cover the back of the template. In the photo above, mine are all adhered to the templates.

4. Take your 3.5″ x 4.5″ background pieces and cut them in half diagonally, so that you have 16 triangular pieces.

5. Position a background triangle onto the back of your template/fabric, right side facing, as shown.

6. Flip the entire thing over, so that you’re looking at the printed template. Hold it up to a light source to check that the triangular background piece is in the correct position. It’s hard to tell in this photo because my fabric is black, but at least 1/4″ of the triangular background piece should be above the line you’ll be sewing on, and the rest should be below the line.

7. Sew directly onto the line between Section 1 and Section 2, as shown. Be sure to use a shorter stitch length to make it easier to tear off the paper later. I’m using 1.4 on my machine.

8. Fold back the triangular piece and press into place, as shown. (My paper is curling in the photo above, due to the nine-thousand percent humidity we’re currently having.)

9. Sew the other three pieces into place in just the same way. When you’re done, you should have something that looks like this.

10. Using the paper template as a guide, trim off the excess fabric.

11. Tear off and discard the paper templates. Fold back the background triangles and carefully trim off the excess fabric underneath. (So I’m trimming off the black fabric from underneath the white fabric.)

12. You should now have a diamond unit that looks like this. Repeat the process to make a total of four diamond units.

13. Now follow the same process one more time to make the center diamond. Use the 2.5″ square paper template, your 2.5″ square of fabric and your 2″ square background pieces. After sewing and trimming, you should end up with a unit that looks like this.

14. Now that your paper-pieced diamond units are complete, we’ll use traditional piecing to make the four hourglass units that complete the block. Start by cutting the 6.25″ squares in half diagonally, and then in half diagonally in the other direction. You should now have a total of 16 triangles like the ones above.

15. Match up one triangle of each print and sew them together along a short edge. Don’t sew together the long edges—if you do that, you’ll end up with an HST, and we actually don’t want any of those this time! : ) I pressed my seam allowance to the side, toward the blue print.

16. Do the same thing with another pair of triangles, but this time, swap the sides the prints are on. Yes, it does matter which sides the prints are on, so pay attention to that. Again, I pressed my seam allowance toward the blue print.

17. Join the two triangles together for a completed hourglass unit. Pressing your seam allowances to the side should give you those “locking seams” that will help you nicely align your points. The completed hourglass unit should measure 5.5″ square. Repeat to make a total of four hourglass units.

18. Arrange all 9 units as shown, join into three rows, and then join the rows together to complete the block.

See, that wasn’t too bad, right? And look what you’ve made (and learned!) in only three weeks! My blocks are above—I can’t wait to round them out with the final three blocks. I hope you guys are enjoying this as much as I am! Stop in at Swim, Bike, Quilt on Monday for Kate’s final block in the series, and don’t forget to upload photos of your progress to the Flickr group. I have been so impressed and amazed at the wonderful creations that have been showing up there! Happy sewing!

27 replies
  1. Barbara
    Barbara says:

    great tutorial. I really like how you show the pieces cut and the sizes and numbers and then such great step-by-steps. You make it look easy (which to me is the highest compliment I could give!)

    thanks for taking the time to show your process. I really appreciate it and can't wait to see this project finished. It's already so pretty!

  2. Lynne (Lily's Quilts)
    Lynne (Lily's Quilts) says:

    I know I keep saying this but this is the best QAL there has been on Flickr, I love how it jumps between blogs, how you're all making the blocks in your own fabrics and how you have a bit of block history as well as the instructions and how the blocks are getting harder – genius!

  3. Linz
    Linz says:

    Oh, and also – I have found that if you print from Google docs, if you select "None" in the Print Scaling section (right below # of copies) it prints up perfectly!

  4. Amy E.
    Amy E. says:

    as a native Minnesotan (even though i've been relocated to FL) i approve this block! and i can't wait to make it myself!

    thanks for the tutorial! i'm excited to try my first paper piecing!

  5. Becky
    Becky says:

    YOU TOTALLY ROCK! I've been wanting to learn paper piecing, but summer's so busy to join in with this QAL, but your directions are so incredibly good, sewing and computing, that I'm going to make one of these FOR SURE (especially since we were in MN last month)!!! THANKS!

  6. Gail's Card Cafe'
    Gail's Card Cafe' says:

    OK… I've peaked on your blog once before. Peaked again and you made me want to not only follow but try to made this quilt you're doing! I love this block and the choices of fabrics are so powerful together! Love your tutorials on all the blocks too!

  7. Ingrid
    Ingrid says:

    Ok this one challenged me…I don't know why but I did more Frog Sewing (ripping out) than I have in a very long time. LOL The block turned out and when I can I will post a pic. I fussy cut the paper pieced block section as I had an image that I wanted to play with fabric that I had bought 10+ years ago and just could never cut into. Thanks for the perfect block to do that.

    • Emily Pavich
      Emily Pavich says:

      I love this block, but when I print it out the pattern is not the correct size. The inch measurement is correct by the scale at the bottom, however the pattern is about 1/4 inch too small on each side. Anyone else have this problem???

    • Lee Heinrich
      Lee Heinrich says:

      Hi Emily,

      Sorry you're having problems! This block has been available for almost two years now and nobody else has said anything about it being the wrong size. By pattern, do you mean one of the templates, or the full block? When you print the templates, Template A should measure 2.5" x 5.5" with seam allowance, and Template B should measure 2.5" square with seam allowance. My templates are correct when I print it. So if the templates aren't printing at that size, you need to make sure you've downloaded the PDF to your computer (don't print from Google docs, it can screw up the size), and print with no scaling or at 100% size.

      If the templates are the correct size but your entire block is finishing too small, double-check that your hourglass units are the correct size (5.5" x 5.5" unfinished).

      Also, I wasn't able to email you the answer to your question because you are a no-reply blogger! If you'd like to learn how to change that setting, visit http://happyhourprojects.com/blog-tips-are-you-noreply-commentblogger-com/ and http://www.flusterbuster.com/2013/02/are-you-no-reply-blogger.html.

  8. Emily Pavich
    Emily Pavich says:

    I love this design. I just had one problem: when I print the template off, the inches measurement matches up right, but my actual pattern is smaller than 2.5 x 5.5 by about 1/4 inch by on both sides of the pattern.
    Anyone else have this problem???

    • Lee Heinrich
      Lee Heinrich says:

      Hi Amira,

      Sorry you're having trouble! The template does measure 2.5" x 5.5". Many dozens of people have made this block successfully over the 2.5 years it's been available. Please see my reply to the above comment to double-check your printer settings.


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