Saturday, October 12, 2013

Hummingbird Quilt Block Tutorial

As promised, a paper piecing instructions for a Hummingbird Quilt block.

 my online store here ($4.00):

This tutorial is quite lengthy however I have included photos of all steps required to successfully complete one Hummingbird block.  Do I think this quilt pattern is suitable for a beginner?  Probably not, however by simply trying this block you will learn so much!  One of my early quilts was a very involved foundation paper piecing quilt with lots of pieces, arcs and curves. I learned so much from simply tackling that project one step at a time.  You can do this.  Really, all you are doing is sewing on a marked line ...


Make one copy of the block foundation by printing the pdf file directly from your computer. One copy of the pattern is needed  for each block.  Print or copy as many foundations as blocks required.

Print the pdf pattern actual size - do not scale to fit.  

Cut the paper piecing foundation apart into the four separate foundations that make up the block. I like to allow another 1/4 inch or so around the outer edge of the pattern (in addition to the seam allowance) and use a rotary cutter and ruler to cut the paper foundation.  

TEMPLATES for cutting fabric - sacrifice one of your foundation paper patterns to make paper templates to cut fabric pieces. Mark an arrow on your template to indicate fabric grain. When cutting fabric pieces ensure that you place the arrow on the template on grain with the fabric.  In the top right hand corner (pictured above) are the templates that I have used to cut fabric for my quilt.

FABRIC REQUIREMENTS - for each Hummingbirds Block you will need:
  • BLUE:   3" x 5" cut TWO and use the diamond shaped template to cut the required shape.
  • PINK:   3" x 5" cut TWO and use the diamond shaped template to cut the required shape.
  • YELLOW*:  Cut a A 3.25" strip from the width of your background fabric and use the template to cut pieces, flipping the template as you go to minimize fabric waste. Cut 8 background triangles for each Hummingbird block.
* For the purposes of this tutorial I have substituted white solid fabric with a solid yellow fabric for ease of photographing.

I also found that with careful placement of the diamond template it is possible to use 5 inch charm squares - and cut 2 on grain diamond fabric pieces as is required.

Ready to go!
8 yellow background triangles
2 pink diamonds
2 blue diamonds
4 paper piecing foundations


1. Select a yellow background triangle and looking through the printed side of the foundation place the fabric behind the #1 area.  Check to make sure that the fabric extends at least a 1/4 inch beyond the #1 area.  Pin in place.  In case you are using a printed fabric ensure that the printed side (the right side) of the fabric is facing away from the foundation paper.

2.  Place the diamond shaped piece of fabric - right side down on top of the background fabric.  Align edges.  Pin if needed.

3.  Start at the red dot and sew on the line between #1 and #2.  You can extend your stitching into the seam allowance at the end of the stitching line (but do not stitch ahead of the red dot). Reduce the length of your stitches; this will make removal of the foundation papers a breeze and keeps your seams in tact after the paper has been removed.

4.  Check the width of your seam allowance:  with the lined side of your foundation paper facing up fold the foundation paper at the seam line you have just stitched.  Trim any fabric in excess of the 1/4 inch seam allowance. I have used an Add a Quarter Quilter's Ruler which has a specially designed 1/4 inch lip that conveniently aligns with the edge of the paper. Any ruler will however suffice.

5.   Press using a warm dry iron.

6.  With the lined side of the foundation paper facing up, place a sturdy card (postcard, stock card etc) on the line between area #2 and #3.  

7.  Fold the paper (on the line) over the edge of the card thereby exposing the excess fabric. 

8.  Again using a ruler and adding a quarter inch seam allowance - trim excess fabric.  You want to cut 1/4 inch away from the fold line.

9.  Place the second background triangle right side down on top of the diamond.  Align the edges.  Pin if required.

10. Turn over and with the lined side of the foundation up.  Start at the red dot and sew on the line between area #2 and #3. You can extend your stitching into the seam allowance at the end of the stitching line (but do not stitch ahead of the red dot).  Turnover and press the background triangle.

Again - as in step 4 - you may need to check the width of your seam allowance and trim if required. You will however find that as you have already trimmed the diamond shape to size in step 8 above that your seam allowance won't require further trimming.

11.  Using a rotary cutter and ruler trim both excess fabric and foundation paper.  Be sure to leave the 1/4 inch seam allowance all around.

12.  In exactly the same way - starting at area #1 and finishing with area #3 - paper piece the remaining foundations.  Four foundations are required to complete each Hummingbird block.


Join together a blue and pink foundation as pictured above.  You will notice that the seams of these two foundations nest together:

Carefully nest seams and sew as follows:

Start sewing at the red dot and sew on the line.  You can extend the stitching line into the seam allowance however do not stitch ahead of the red dot.

At this point remove foundation papers. Press the seam in the direction of the arrow, as pictured.  Both of these half units are exactly the same.

Sew the two half units together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Press seams as indicated by the largest arrows - opening the center point seams as pictured:

You'll notice that all seams are now pressed in a clock-wise direction.

Trim off corners.  Your Hummingbird block now measures 5.5 inches x 5.5 inches.


Sew blocks into rows - and because you have not sewn into the seam allowance during block construction you will once again be able to "twist" open the seam where the points meet.

Sew rows together into a quilt top.  Press seams in either direction or press seams open if preferred.
The finished quilt is for sale and is listed in my Etsy Store:  Hummingbirds Quilt


ANY QUESTIONS?  Please leave a comment and I will answer by reply comment - thereby helping anyone else who may have a similar question.

Happy Stitching!

Hummingbird Quilt Block - foundation pattern 
Hummingbird Quilt - Work in Progress

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  1. Thanks so much! You're so generous. The quilt is beautiful.

  2. Wow, your quilt looks fantastic! Thank you very much for providing this comprehensive tutorial. It is going on my quilts to make list.

  3. Thank you for the tutorial, Rita!! So easy to understand with lots of pictures:D

  4. WoW, thank you for the tutoral!

  5. Thanks for sharing so many details - Have book marked for later reference :)

  6. Hmm - I printed my foundations out at 100% and my blocks have come out at 5 1/4 ?

    Might have to try that again.

    Thanks does look very pretty.


    1. Hi Helen - You had me concerned so I downloaded the file from Craftsy and printed it. It printed at 5 inches finished size for me - make sure your PRINT ACTUAL SIZE. My print settings also allow me to choose CUSTOM SCALE - I then printed again at CUSTOM SCALE 100% and again the block size is 5 inches (finished).

      Let me know how you go - Rita

  7. Great tutorial, really detailed and this is a perfect project for people to master sewing to the dot

  8. Thank you for the tutorial, Rita.. it's so lovely - I'm just beginner quilter ; but with your tutorial make quilt is more fun activity ever, Now I'm still working with an economic block , it's so great.. can't stop doing it.. for 2 days I finished 20 blocks already .. :)

  9. Such a great tutorial for another great quilt from you! Just curious (I'm trying to estimate how much fabric I'll need for a larger quilt), how many triangles of yellow/white did you get from each 3.5xWOF? Thanks!

    1. Hi Maggie - I can cut 17 triangles from each strip of background fabric - that is enough for 2 Hummingbird blocks with 1 triangle remaining. Cut your strip a scant 3 1/4 inches wide (not 3.5 inches).

      From each 1 yard of fabric you can theoretically cut 11 strips (but only just) so let's go with cut 10 strips each 3.25 inches wide from each yard.

      Therefore from each 1 yard of fabric you can cut 170 triangles which is enough for 21 Hummingbird blocks.

      In summary :: 1 yard of solid background fabric makes 21 Blocks.

  10. Oh man, now you did it! I love this quilt!~ :-) I will have to add it to my list, and maybe right at the top!! LOL Thanks for the great tutorial.

  11. Hi! I have been following your blog for just a few weeks and I find your quilts very inspirational and absolutely beautiful!! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Thanks, Rita .. this looks like a good place to start learning Paper Pieceing .. your instructions are very clear

  13. Thanks so very much for the templates and such a great tutorial!

  14. Thanks for the tutorial. :)

  15. This is a perfect tutorial! I was just getting ready to try my hand at this block (blindly) and your tutorial/template are a life saver!
    I just made my first test block and it all makes sense! Thank you so much!

  16. I just measured it...mine turned out to be 5" after assembly. I better try printing again.

  17. What amazing quilts. Hope to be at that level of quilting one day.

  18. Beautiful quilt! And such a great, well written and photographed tutorial! Thanks!

  19. Great tutorial with great pics. Thank you!

  20. Thanks for the tutorial - no excuses now, must try paper piecing.

  21. What beautiful instructions for paper piecing Rita and the photos are perfect. I have paper pieced in the past but still went through each step to see if you had any tips I was missing!

  22. Thank you Rita. Very beautiful! I'm trying my hand at paper piecing through the Craftsy BOM. I have avoided it for long enough. Janita

  23. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial and the great gift of the free template!! I love this quilt and I love paper piecing, so . . . :-))

  24. I've just cut out my first few blocks to sew tomorrow. The trial blocks were fine so fingers crossed...

  25. I love this! What a gorgeous quilt--and your tutorial is so clear and easy to follow. Thank you!


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