ARLS: Block A

“All Roads Lead Somewhere” (ARLS) is a series of appliqué blocks inspired by a board game. The appliqués look like roads running through the blocks. Join the blocks together, and the roads take you on an interesting journey. I invite you to join me.

Download and print ARLS: Block A here. You’ll need it to follow along.

All ARLS blocks are 7 inches square. The blocks contain four shapes that connect at the same locations along the sides.

Since alignment is critical, it helps to make an Alignment Guide out of Block A:

Print Block A on cardstock, add seam allowances to all sides, and extend internal lines.

Seam allowance added, all lines extended
Seam allowance added, all lines extended

Glue the printed template to the back of a sheet of sandpaper. The sandpaper gives the template more support and keeps it from sliding around on fabric. Cut along the seam lines, removing the window inside.

Window cut out INSIDE seam allowances
Window cut out INSIDE seam allowances

Cut out additional windows outside the seam allowances. These help position the guide on background fabric.

Windows cut out OUTSIDE seam allowances
Windows cut out OUTSIDE seam allowances

I do raw-edge fusible appliqué; you are free to use the methods and techniques you’re comfortable with.

Prepare four four of Shape A (they are identical). I suggest extending the ends of the shapes a little beyond the seam allowances.

Position the Alignment Guide on background fabric.

Alignment guide positioned on background fabric
Alignment guide positioned on background fabric

Lay the Shape A pieces on the background fabric in counterclockwise order, starting with the left vertical Shape A. Fold back the upper half of the left vertical Shape A to lay on top of the upper horizontal Shape A. This maintains a consistent over-and-under throughout the blocks.

Block A pieces in position
Block A pieces in position

I fuse the center of the block, move the alignment guide out of the way, then fuse the rest of the block. After I stitch down the shapes, I trim the blocks.

The block has fourfold rotation: it looks the same no matter how you rotate it. Four blocks joined together aren’t very exciting:

Four Block A, joined
Four Block A, joined

Don’t worry: there’s more to come . . .

All Roads Lead Somewhere

I recently designed and made a throw from recycled blue jeans and silk neckties. I cut the jeans into squares and appliqued silk shapes on them before sewing the squares together. The designs were inspired by a board game.

First sample block
First sample block

I liked it so much, I made another.

Second sample block
Second sample block

I made four more patches.

More patches
More patches

I rotated the patches for the next block and came up with different possibilities.

Now that’s interesting, I thought. I applied the operations of symmetry to the patch and increased its potential.

I made more.

I put together what I had so far . . .

Progress
Progress

I couldn’t stop after that.

I call the piece “All Roads Lead Somewhere.”

All Roads Lead Somewhere

I have put together some of the basic templates in a document, All Roads Lead Somewhere, that you can download.

I will write about the templates in the coming weeks, and show you what I’m doing with them.

Monkey Wrenches and Snail’s Trails

Two patchwork blocks, Monkey Wrench and Snail’s Trail, share a construction method that alternates between the two.

Both begin with a 4-patch block:

4-patch block

A square cut diagonally produces two half-square triangles. Sew four half-square triangles to the sides of the 4-patch block. The 4-patch block rotates and stands on-point. This block is called Monkey Wrench:

Monkey Wrench
Monkey Wrench

Sew a round of half-square triangles to the sides of the Monkey Wrench block. The 4-patch block rotates and sits flat. This block is called Snail’s Trail:

Snail's Trail
Snail’s Trail

Sew a round of half-square triangles to the sides of the Snail’s Trail block and produce another Monkey Wrench block:

Monkey Wrench, level two
Monkey Wrench, level two

Sew a round of half-square triangles to the sides of the Monkey Wrench block and produce another Snail’s Trail block:

Snail's Trail, level two
Snail’s Trail, level two

The two blocks can build on each other indefinitely. They are limited only by the size of the initial 4-patch block (each round of half-square triangles requires a smaller 4-patch block than the block before).

Monkey Wrench, level three
Monkey Wrench, level three
Snail's Trail, level three
Snail’s Trail, level three
Monkey Wrench, level four
Monkey Wrench, level four
Snail's Trail, level four
Snail’s Trail, level four

Notice anything? For each round of half-square triangles, the arms spiral further inward.

When four of these blocks rotate around one corner they produce unique blocks that appear organic when placed next to each other.

Metamorphosis (alternating columns of Monkey Wrench and Snail's Trail blocks)
Metamorphosis (alternating columns of Monkey Wrench and Snail’s Trail blocks)

When four half-size blocks are superimposed on a full-size block, an interesting thing happens. The resulting blocks can be displayed three different ways: as a half-size pattern only; as a full-size pattern only; or as a combination of the two, with the smaller motif centered on the larger one (I omitted the smaller motif that centers where the larger ones come together).

Two scales, three patterns
Two scales, three patterns

I will do more with this . . .

Playing with light, part two

Consider a second pyramid.

Second pyramid
Second pyramid

There are twelve shadings of this pyramid.

Shading Thirteen
Shading Thirteen

Shading Fourteen
Shading Fourteen

Shading Fifteen
Shading Fifteen

Shading Sixteen
Shading Sixteen

Shading Seventeen
Shading Seventeen

Shading Eighteen
Shading Eighteen

Shading Nineteen
Shading Nineteen

Shading Twenty
Shading Twenty

Shading Twenty-one
Shading Twenty-one

Shading Twenty-two
Shading Twenty-two

Shading Twenty-three
Shading Twenty-three

Shading Twenty-four
Shading Twenty-four

Consider combining the two pyramids in a single square.

Two Pyramids
Two Pyramids

If there are twelve ways to shade each of these pyramids, there are 144 different ways to shade them both.