Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Butterfly Block Tutorial

By popular demand, and because after much messing about I eventually worked out my own rotary cutting and piecing instructions,  I have written a tutorial for a Butterfly Block.

You will need:
Rotary Cutter and Mat
60 Degree Triangle Ruler
Sewing Machine and ¼ inch presser foot
Iron (lots of steam preferred)

Fabric requirements for each block:

  • 2 Butterfly Wings (green printed fabric) each measuring 2 1/8 inches x 5 inches
  • 1 Butterfly Body (text fabric) - measuring 1 ¼ inches x 5 inches
  • 4 Background pieces (black fabric) cut as follows:

From the width of the background (black fabric) cut a strip - or multiple strips - 2 ¾ inches (2.75 inches) wide. With the 60 degree triangle ruler, and alternating with a standard straight ruler, cross-cut the strip as pictured at regular intervals.  Precision is not so important, although keep the angle correct.  I used 2 yards of Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton in Pepper for my Butterfly Quilt, more than I had first anticipated.

Let's get started:

Place the 60 degree Triangle Ruler so the bottom left and bottom right hand corners of the Butterfly Wing fabric are exactly on the outer edge of the triangle ruler (as pictured above). I have placed some tape on the down-side of my ruler to assist with quick placement; the top edge of the tape abuts the bottom edge of the fabric.

Trim with rotary cutter.

Using a ¼ inch seam allowance sew the background fabric to the Butterfly Wings

Press seams:

Trim these units as follows:

Place a standard ruler along the outer edge of the Butterfly Wing as pictured.  (Please bear with me here as I am left-handed, and use a left handed ruler - the numbers on your ruler probably run from right to left).  This unit needs to be trimmed to just 4 ½ inches wide; accurate piecing will result in 1/8th inch of background (black fabric) on BOTH SIDES of the outer edge of the Butterfly Wing unit):

Trim the side and top edge with rotary cutter:

Turn the Butterly Wing unit around and align the outer right edge (or the left if you are using a right handed ruler) of the unit at the 4 ½ inch mark of the ruler, and the bottom edge of the Butterfly Wing unit at the 2 1/8 inch line of the ruler (as pictured below):

Once you've pieced a few Butterfly Wings you will begin notice the consistent stop and start points of the background fabric:  see the top edge of the ruler at 1 3/8 inches and 3 1/8 inches, as indicated by the red arrows (above).

Using a scant ¼ inch seam allowance sew the body of the Butterfly (the text fabric) first to one wing.  Trim excess body fabric.  Then sew the body to the opposite wing.  Press seams together towards the body, away from the wings.

The butterfly Block measures 4 ½ inches x 4 ½ inches.  If you find that your block is on the small side, be sure to cut a little more generous (particularly the Butterfly Wings - cut a slightly generous 2 1/8 inch wide).

Repeat times 180!

Any questions?  Please leave your questions in the comments section and I will reply there as others may also benefit from further clarification.

Happy Stitching!

Relevant Links:
The Finished Butterfly Quilt
The Butterfly Quilt in Progress 
Text/Word fabrics ~ details and sources
Another variation of the Butterfly Block - larger block size (please do check it out as your might find this variation works better for you)   Tutorial by Mrs Schmenkman Quilts

60 degree Triangle Ruler available from:
The Fat Quarter Shop 
Fort Worth Fabric Studios

Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton in Pepper available from:
The Fat Quarter Shop

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  1. Thank you!!!!!! This looks fun!

  2. Thanks for the tutorial Rita - I can see how it is time consuming

  3. thanks! is a beautiful quilt to make

  4. Thanks for the tutorial. I love this quilt. The fabric colors and word prints are fantastic.

  5. Thanks SO much for sharing this! Your finished quilt is so beautiful and unique.

  6. Thank you for the tutorial!

  7. Oh you lovely woman! I was eyeing off your progress on this quilt and hoping that you would write a pattern and you have done more than that - a FREE tutorial with photos. Thank you so very much Rita.

  8. Brilliant tutorial - I had been considering doing this block as a hand sewing holiday project with my lovely new stack of New Kona solids colours - but have decided to try a more improv style sewing project instead, where accurate seams aren't such a big issue - this however will be stored for a future project - thanks

  9. thank you so much for this Rita - I was sure this block would have y-seams in it somewhere, so was very daunted. Am still very daunted, b/c of the need for very accurate cutting! But I am going to try, as I just love this block. Your quilt is gorgeous, I wish I had been quick enough to buy it! thanks again, Cat

  10. Great tutorial! very straight forward!
    Thanks, Take care, Leslie

  11. What I found fun about your tutorial was to find that we have one more thing in common. I like to cut a bit big and trim down too. I find it's faster to not worry about accuracy ALL the time. I'm also left-handed, like high contrast quilts with lots of different fabrics and, had I called my blog Rita Penner Quilts, we would also have the same acronym. Kind of amazing, no?

  12. Thank you for the tutorial. This quilt is amazing!

  13. My first time on your blog was last week and I've been dreaming about this quilt ever since. Thanks so much for the inspiration and taking the time to write the tutorial. I am leaving for a quilt retreat today and I suspect we will all be making butterflies by the end of the week!

  14. Thanks so much for the tutorial ~ I think this will be one of those 'must have's' ~ love your quilt!

  15. Thank you for so generously sharing your talent!

    Nancy in Denver

  16. Wonderful tutorial! Thank you so much. I've eyed that pattern before and now you've done all the work for us to be able to do it too. Much appreciation for your skills and your willingness to share. Your finished quilt is gorgeous.

  17. Thanks so much for the tutorial!!

  18. It truly is an amazing quilt Rita. You are gifted with talent. While I think the pattern is beyond my skills you are very generous to share. Thank you.

  19. Thank you for the tutorial! I really like how you cut to square up in later steps. This quilt is just wonderful.

  20. Thanks for the tutorial! =D

  21. Love the tutorial, Rita, but I think I'd have to increase the finished size of the block. I mean, how many did it take, a million-zillion? Nope, that's just too many. The quilt is stunning, though, and I love the measuring tape body on the butterfly!

  22. Thanks! I like your non-wonky butterfly wings, and I like that you didn't waste black fabric by cutting rectangles and trimming off a triangle after sewing.


  23. Another lovely quilt! Liked your choice of quilting, just perfect.
    Linda on

  24. Thanks for the great tutorial!

  25. Thanks a lot for the tutorial! I'll try this at once.

  26. Thank you so much for doing this. I feel like you did it just for me. Really. I have made a butterfly quilt but I really want to make another one and not the loosey goosey way I did the last time.

  27. Rita,

    Excellent tutorial! I am looking forward to try and make butterflies? Thanks again!

    Have a good day.


  28. Wow Thanks for the tutorial. Can't wait until I can try it out.

  29. Thanks for the link to this great tutorial, Rita! It's very well-written (said the retired English teacher)and makes me feel like I actually might be able to make these blocks. Yours are so stunning!

  30. Thanks for the tutorial. Your butterfly quilt is beautiful. I am a novice quilter, so I am saving this until I gain a bit more experience. :)

  31. Thank you for the tutorial. Your butterfly quilt is beautiful. I am a novice quilter, so I am saving this until I gain a bit more experience. :)

  32. Thanks for posting how to do this! Your butterflies are beautiful :D
    I look forward to trying this project in the spring!

  33. blavk background....really makes the colors pop!

  34. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


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