Monday, February 13, 2017

RSC butterfly block tutorial

Thank you for all the positive comments about my Rainbow Scrap Challenge butterfly blocks.  For those of you who asked, I took pictures while making last week's block so I could write a tutorial.

I'm going to share how to make the basic butterfly, without specifying how to make the wing markings.  I've just been playing around with my scraps, sewing scraps together then cutting down to the right size base sections J and I.  Go ahead and just play with your scraps and see what you end up with!

The block will measure 12" finished (12 1/2" unfinished).  For a single block you will need:

Background fabric:
  • 6 - 2 1/2" squares A
  • 2 - 4" squares B
  • 2 - 3 1/2" squares C
  • 2 - 2" squares D
  • 2 - 1 1/2" x 5 1/2" E
  • 1 - 1 1/2" x 4" F
  • 1 - 1 1/2" x 2" G
Brown (body):
  • 1 - 1 1/2" x 7 1/2" H
Wing base sections pieced from scraps:
  • 2 - 6" x 7 1/2"J
  • 2 - 5" x 5 1/2" I

Step 1: Draw a diagonal line, corner to corner, on the wrong side of each square.

Step 2: Sew F and G to the ends of H as shown below.

Step 3: Position squares A on the wing base sections J and I as shown below, right side down and with the drawn lines running across the corners. Notice that the right wing will be a mirror image of the left wing.  You'll need to keep track and make sure the squares are in the correct corners.  I didn't the first time and ended up wielding my trusty seam ripper.

Close-up view of A sewn to J

Step 4: Trim fabric from the corners, 1/4" away from the sewn diagonals.

Step 5: Press the background fabric into the corners.

Step 5: Position squares B and C on the wing base sections as shown below, right sides down and with the drawn lines running across the corners. Again, take care to make the wings on the right side a mirror image of the wings on the left side.  Sew along the drawn lines.  Now sew 1/2" away from the drawn line, on the corner side, to gain two bonus HST units.

Step 6: Trim away the corner fabric by cutting between the sewn lines.  The corner fabric will open up to a bonus HST square to use in another project.

Bonus HST units
Step 7: Press the background fabric into the corners.

Step 8:  Sew strips E to the sides of the lower wings.

Step 9: Sew each lower wing to the corresponding upper wing, as shown below.

Step 10:  Sew the wings to either side of the body to complete the block. 

This is the basic method for making my butterfly block.  You can choose to make the bases for the wing sections any way you choose.  

Just a few more thoughts about the two butterflies I've made so far.

Purple butterfly details

When I made the purple butterfly, I had a lot of assorted squares and strings.  I pieced squares in rows to make two sections a little larger than were needed  for the upper wing base sections, then trimmed them down to the required 6" x 7 1/2" size.  I sewed strings of assorted widths together to make base sections with the strings running vertically, and trimmed those down to the required size for the lower wing base sections. You'll notice I didn't pay attention to making the right side wings match the left side ones.

Aqua butterfly details

 For the aqua butterfly, I decided I wanted the wings to match.  This required piecing the base sections as mirror images of each other. The lower wing base sections were string pieced with the strings running diagonally, then trimmed to size.

I made the upper wings by sewing strips sets, subcutting them on an angle , shifting the sub-cut strips before sewing them back together then cutting my base section H out of that.  I actually had 5 colors in my strip set, but adding the background over the corners hid two of the colors.  From now on I will remember not to bother piecing anything interesting in 3 of the 4 corners, because they will just be cut off in the end!

Linking up with:
Linky Tuesday at Freemotion  by the River 
ScrapHappy Saturday at SoScrappy (a little late - sorry!)
Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts


  1. Thank you ever so much for the tutorial for your gorgeous butterflies. I am excited to make my own.

  2. Your instructions are always so clear and concise. I think even I could make a butterfly now.

  3. Thanks for the tutorial - makes a complex looking block less so. You could really have some fun with the wings.

  4. Thank you, you know I have eyeing these beauties-I am sure there will soon be some fluttering about my sewing room!!
    Happy Valentine's Day!

  5. Thank you for sharing this tutorial with us for creating those beautiful little butterflies. I can't wait to see how the rest of them come together for your quilt.

  6. What great blocks!!! Sew sweet of you to share this tutorial with us! I 'heart' butterflies!

  7. Great use of those scraps - these are very cute! And thanks for the tutorial

  8. Fantabulous tutorial! Thanks sew much! XO

  9. Thanks for posting a tutorial for your RSC Butterflies!!

  10. Beautiful blocks and a great tutorial!

  11. Such a beautiful block. Thanks so much for sharing. Is fabric A 2.5 inches?

    1. Well shoot! Yes, it is 2.5". Thanks for catching my typo. I've corrected the measurement in the post.

  12. Great tutorial! If I don't cave and make them this year.... they are on the list for next year's challenge!

  13. What a wonderful tutorial. Thank you for it.

  14. Your butterflies are both so pretty! Thanks so much for sharing the tutorial. I love the piecing method you used!

  15. I really like your butterflies. Thanks so much for the tutorial. It is clear enough that I think I can make one.

  16. Those butterflies are gorgeous. Thank you for sharing the tutorial. I see so many possibilities - scrappy, totally scrappy, controlled chaos. OK, I need to stop and take a deep breath. And now, I will wait for your finished quilt before I start chasing butterflies.

  17. This is great. I think I could use up my crumbs making these butterflies.

  18. got a link to you from Jo`s blog so looking forward to seeing all you do thanks for the tutorial will try and make one too

  19. Comment Re: Milky Way from Magnitudes quilt design.
    Thank you so very much for sharing how you put your background together from scraps. I see all of these 'scrappy' quilts and they have this altogether solid white (usually) background that I know had to have come from a single piece of fabric. I am always leery of trying a scrappy quilt unless it is ALL scrappy because I don't have enough experience to calculate the fabric requirements for backgrounds.

    This gives me hope that one day I'll be able to tackle something like this and actually succeed. And a second big thank you for showing how to do a scalloped edge. Kudos to you!! It's gorgeous!

    Tehachap (aka Carol Westover)

  20. Thanks! Pretty darned nifty idea.

  21. Love your butterfly. Thanks for sharing and inspiring! Great job.

  22. bookmarked!!, I love your blog!

  23. Thanks for the great tutorial. These will make a darling quilt for my new great granddaughter ☺️


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