Sunday, July 10, 2011

Carpenter's Frame

We have now completed the first year of Block of the Week, covering all the blocks in the original iPhone/iPod Touch version of BlockFab. If you've kept up, and made a sampler with all or with a subset of the blocks, send us a photo -- we'd all love to see it!

Meanwhile, the later iPad version of BlockFab (BlockFab-HD), which came out last November, added some more blocks. By now, you can probably figure out a lot of them on your own, but some warrant a little more explanation. In particular, one of our readers has requested some details on the Carpenter's Frame block.

The Carpenter's Frame block is really a variation/simplification of the Carpenter's Wheel block. With its large open center, the frame variation works very nicely for designing your own combination block. If you put a LeMoyne Star in the center, it becomes the traditional Carpenter's Wheel block.

Although there are a lot of pieces, there are only two basic units: the Square, and the Half Square Triangle (HST).

For a 16" block, you'll need 2 colors plus a background color. If you are going to put your own 8" block in the center, you can skip the 8 1/2" center background square.

(12) 2-7/8" squares Color 1 (for HSTs)
(12) 2-7/8" squares Color 2 (for HSTs)
(12) 2-7/8" squares Background (for HSTs)
(12) 2-1/2" squares Background
 (1) 8-1/2" square Background (for center of block)

On the wrong side of the Background  2-7/8" squares and the squares of Color 1, draw a diagonal line from corner to a corner with a pencil.

With right sides together, pair the following 2-7/8" squares:
(6) Color 1 and Color 2
(6) Color 1 and Background
(6) Color 2 and Background

Sew a scant 1/4" seam on both sides of the drawn diagonal line of each pair of squares.  Cut on the drawn line, fold back the darker of the fabric triangles and press open to make a square.

Alternatively, you can make the half-square triangle units using your favorite method, perhaps one of the methods mentioned in the BOW #1 post for the Bear's Paw.

At this point, you can lay out the squares, using the finished block as a guide for placement.  Alternatively, you can join the squares into larger units as follows, and then join these larger units like an uneven nine-patch, as described below.

Make four each of sub-unit 1 and sub-unit 2.  Carefully follow the colors layout and orientation.

Once you have the sub-units made, arrange them as shown:

I've always loved the look of the Carpenters Wheel, but been daunted by all those points coming together. I'm finally working on a quilt with some of these blocks, using Cindy Blackberg's stamps, and hand piecing.  It works great. But this version of the Carpenter's Frame block eliminates a lot of those y-seams and joining points.

This block does make a lot of interesting combinations.  Try it out on your iPad in BlockFab-HD with the Combination Layout feature using the Slideshow.  I'm working on making a video of such a slideshow, and I'll post it here.


  1. Thank you soo much, I totally get it now. You make it seem so easy! I can't wait to get started, I'm planning on using it for a Christmas quilt with the frame being the Christmas wreath and I'm going to embroider some Christmas pictures in the center block. It should be a really cute project :) Thanks so much for your help!!!

  2. You're very welcome -- you got me motivated to do this post. Your quilt sounds really cute and creative -- such a good idea! Be sure and send a photo -- if you have trouble getting it on the blog here, let me know, and you can send it to me and I'll post it. Can't wait to see it!