Thursday, January 14, 2016

Easy house block from Missouri Star

Mini-house, pattern by Missouri Star Quilt Co. Runner created by L. Theil 2016.

I love the look of a house block, but most I've seen seem complex and more suited for paper piecing than traditional piecing, so I was intrigued by this simple little house block demonstrated by Jenny Doan on the Missouri Star Quilt Company channel on YouTube. Doan uses raw-edge applique for the door and windows and cuts the roof pieces using a half-hexigon template. The only tricky part of the piecing is matching the roof half hexigon to the roof-background half-hexigon. If your seams are not accurate, the roofs -- which are made in a long row separate from the houses -- may not fit their houses nicely. Using a quarter-inch seaming foot can help with this difficulty.
Learning to match those hexi angles neatly comes with experience.

Quarter-inch seam foot with guide edge for Janome sewing machines

Doan offers videos on how to make this simple house block in two different sizes: a large option using ten-inch precuts for the "Won't You Be My Neighbor House Quilt" and a tiny option using five-inch precuts for "Mini House Table Runner".

I thought the simplicity of the block lent itself to lots of creative options in terms of fabric choices, embellishment, and use in quilts, runners, hangings, totes, clothing, toys, etc.

For my version of Doan's mini-house runner, I used selections from "Sturbridge" layer cake by Kathy Schmitz for Moda, and "Kansas Winter" charm pack by Kansas Troubles for Moda. These precuts offer a lot of fabric options, but working from five-inch squares cut from a fabric stash would be just as much fun.

For a runner of two rows of six houses per row, you will need the following materials:

  • 12 five-inch squares of varied fabrics for houses
  • 6 five-inch squares of coordinating or contrasting fabric for roofs -- cut 12 roofs using five-inch, half-hexigon template. You may purchase a five-inch, half hexigon template, or use the pattern for template provided here. (Please see note at bottom of post.)
If background is to be all one color, you will need cut from that color:
  • 7 five-inch squares of background fabric, cut each square in half to make 14 2.5 x 5-inch spacers between houses
  • 6 five-inch squares of background fabric -- cut 12 roofs using five-inch, half-hexigon template. Cut two half-hexi roofs in half to make an end piece for each end of the two rows of roofs
  • one-eighth yard of background fabric 4.5 x 42 (or width of fabric yardage) for center of runner.
For doors and windows, you will need all one color or various colors as desired. For all one color doors and windows you will need:
  • 1/8 yard of fabric, fat quarter, or scraps as desired
  • 1/2 yard of 12-inch wide  Steam-a-Seam 2 double stick fusible web (or other widths to equal this amount of webbing).
To prepare your fabric, fuse Steam-a-Seam 2 to back of fabric that will be used for doors and windows. (To fuse, remove printed paper from web and place fusible side down on back of fabric. Iron. The unprinted paper backing will remain on the web.) Cut the following pieces from your fusible-backed fabric:
  • 24 1-1/4 inch squares for windows
  • 12 1-1/4 x 2.5 inch rectangles for doors
5/8 yard of backing fabric
5/8 yard of lightweight batting
3 yards of binding


Use 1/4-inch seam allowances throughout.

Lay out your houses with their roofs in two rows facing away from each other.

To construct a house row: Place one 2.5 x 5-inch background piece between each house in one row, beginning and ending the row with a background piece. 

Stitch one background piece to each house then stitch each house and background pair to the next pair, and continue to form a complete row. Press as you stitch the seams, pressing seams toward the background piece.

To construct a roof row: Place one background half-hexi upside-down between each roof piece. Stitch a roof piece to a background half hexi, then stitch the next roof piece, alternating roofs and background to the end of the row. Press seams toward roof pieces.

Cut one roof background half-hexi in half.

Sew one of these pieces to each end of the roof row. Note: if you want your ends to be as wide as the background between houses, cut two end pieces and trim off angle only, instead of cutting in half. This will give you a piece of background between roofs that is as wide as the end background between houses.

One roof row and one house row completed and ready to be stitched together.

Place roof row face down on right side of house row with right-sides together, pin or hand baste in place. Sometimes you have to repin and massage the roofs in place on top of the houses. Stitch the roof row to the house row; use a quilt (or doublefeed) foot on your machine.

House row with roof row attached.

Cut fusible-web backed fabric into door and windows.

Remove paper backing from back of each door and window as you prepare to place it on a house. (To remove paper, scratch lightly with a pin, or rub a corner with a thumbnail to release the paper from the webbing.) Place doors and windows on each house in a position you like. Iron into place. Note: Make sure bottom of door is at least 1/4-inch from bottom of house. (Photo shows paper backing removed from door and window pieces.)

With right sides together, sew the 4.5-inch-wide center strip to the roof/house strip, matching the tops of the roofs to the edge of the center strip.

Row of houses with their doors and windows fused in place, and median strip attached to roof edge of house row.

Repeat process to create the second row of houses and roofs. 

Sew the second roof/house strip to the other side of the median strip, matching the tops of the roofs to the edge of the median strip. Iron on windows and doors.

Enhance, if you wish, with paint, embroidery, beads, 3-D fabric embellishment or any choice of decoration.

Spray the lightweight batting lightly with spray-on adhesive such as Sullivan's Quilt Basting Spray. Place backing, right side up, on batting. Turn over and spray the other side of the batting with adhesive. Place house panel, right side up, on top of the batting. Pin, or hand baste to hold quilt sandwich in place. 

Free motion quilt, as desired.


Completed mini-house table runner.

Directions for making a single house block

Kit for single house block:
  • One five-inch square for house
  • One five-inch square of background fabric, cut in half to make two 2.5 x 5-inch rectangles of background on either side of house
  • One five-inch square of background fabric, cut in half using 5-inch half-hexigon template to make two background pieces for either side of the roof. 
  • One five-inch coordinating fabric for roof. Use half-hexi template to cut one roof. If you wish to also use this roof fabric for door and windows, cut one 2.5-inch square from leftover half of 5-inch square used for roof, and prepare the leftover 2.5-inch square by ironing Steam-a-Seam 2 double stick fusible web to the fabric before cutting the windows and door. If you choose a different fabric for doors and windows, prepare that fabric with fusible web before cutting.

To stitch block (using 1/4-inch seams):
  • Sew two background rectangles, one on each side of the house square.
  • Sew two background half-hexigons, one on each side of the roof half-hexigon.
  • Iron door and windows onto house square in positions you choose.
  • With right-sides-together, sew roof strip to house strip.
  • Trim angles from roof background, even with house background.

Sash, border, and/or seam as desired. Embellish as desired. Make quilt sandwich and quilt if desired. Use in totes, clothing, toys, quilts, runners, hangings or any use you choose.

NOTE: Hexigon templates:
Kati of "From the Blue Chair" weblog offers this page of hexigons to print. For your half-hexi template, choose the five-inch hexigon and cut it in half to use as a pattern for your half-hexigon template. Cut your template out of cardboard, template plastic, sandpaper, or whatever material you wish to use. Please see

No comments: