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Navajo Quilt Block Pattern

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Navajo Quilt Block Pattern
Navajo Quilt Block Pattern

Navajo Quilt Block Pattern

Janet Wickell

Navajo Quilt Block Pattern

Navajo is a traditional patchwork quilt block pattern. The design isn't rotary cuttable at some common finished sizes, so I approached the block from a units standpoint (choosing a unit size first, and then multiplying it to calculate the block size). The result is a block that can be easily assembled using rotary cutting methods.

Finished Quilt Block: 10-3/4" x 10-3/4"

The Navajo quilt block is made by surrounding a large square with half square triangle units. Four small quarter square triangles sit at each corner of the large square. You'll notice that half squares and quarter squares look exactly alike, but their bone structures are very different:

  • Half square triangles (not the combo-units, just the individual triangles in them) have straight grain threads running parallel to their short edges; the stretchy bias runs along their long edge

  • Quarter square triangles are cut so that the fabric's straight grain runs parallel to each triangle's longest edge; the bias runs along short edges

The long edges of the small triangles that sit at the corner points of the Navajo's square lie along the outer edges of the quilt block -- a spot where straight grain helps stabilize the block.

Does grain really matter for the small edge length involved in the Navajo quilt block? Honestly, probably not, but it doesn't hurt to become accustomed to cutting patches in the technically correct way. No matter how you cut them, the handle these small triangles with care to avoid stretch.

Beginning quilters, be sure to read more about fabric grain and the techniques used to cut setting triangles before you begin.

We'll make half square triangle units using a quick sandwich method. It's an extra step, but I encourage you to cut the parent squares slightly larger than the size given on page 2, and then trim back the finished units after assembly so that their dimensions are perfect; you'll find trimming instructions in the half square triangle units tutorial.

The Navajo quilt block makes a wonderful scrap quilt. Choose turquoises, other blues and greens, sand-colored fabrics, purples -- those colors remind me of the western United States, which I associate with the block. Choose colors that speak to you, and don't be afraid to change the color value arrangement (see page 3 for an alternate layout).

Blocks can be sewn side by side -- the triangles that surround each center section make blocks appear to be on-point. Navajo blocks look wonderful as strippy quilts, where blocks are sewn into columns that are separated by more columns created with patchwork or long strips of fabric.

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