Block of the Month: Hand-pieced Sampler

If you've just discovered Carolyn Forster's Hand-pieced Sampler series, it's not too late to join in! Catch up with all the blocks in the series in our handy gallery. This post includes everything you need to know to get started.

Todays Quilter Hand-pieced quilt pattern

We revealed our Hand-pieced Sampler Block of the Month back in issue 42. In case you’ve just discovered the series, or missed an issue along the way, we’ve made this handy guide for you to check how much fabric you need to sew along. And to make life easier, we’ve also included the full set of Carolyn’s quilt block designs so far, including links to buy the issues if you need to catch up on a pattern that you’ve missed.

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“When I was offered the chance to make a quilt for Today’s Quilter’s Block of the Month, I shamefully went down the self-indulgent route,” explains Carolyn. I really like sampler quilts and I love the option of hand or machine piecing, and so  I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to mix the two in one. I’ve designed the pattern with a quilt-as-you-go method in mind, as I want to have the quilt almost complete by the time the last block is revealed in the magazine.”

I’ve picked 12 hand-pieced sampler blocks…

They all challenge me in some way, whether that be in design, fabric placement or piecing-wise.

Block of the month hand-pieced sampler

We will also be making 13 lattice “filler” blocks…

Each of which will sit in-between the sampler blocks. The lattice blocks, you might be relieved to know, can be hand or machine pieced and will fit with the sampler blocks however you choose to piece them.

I’ve created three different options for the lattice blocks, so you’ll be able to make the quilt your very own.

The quilt started with a sampler block (in issue 42 of Today’s Quilter), with the pattern for the first lattice block in issue 43. I wanted to alternate in this way so that each month you can stitch a sampler and lattice block, so there’s no excuse for falling behind.

We’ll make the sampler blocks in the order they appear in the quilt – so all of the blocks in the first row will be the first ones you stitch. So, if you quilt them as you go, you’ll be able to put the blocks together row-by-row and watch your quilt grow.

Once complete, your blocks will make a scrappy quilt, and each month Caroline shows you each block in three different colour styles: antique, turquoise and 1930s. Scroll down to see our colourways or choose your own tones from your favourite prints in your scraps – that’s the beauty of a scrappy quilt.

My quilt-as-you go method

I’ve taught this for a long time and it’s a technique that will hopefully make the hand-quilting process quicker, easier and more manageable. We’ve included information on this method with the lattice block instructions in issue 43 (look out for this in a boxout within the step-by-step instructions).

I love that each block can be quilted as soon as it’s stitched, meaning you won’t have a backlog of quilting to do once the piecing is complete. However, if you feel that the quilt-as-you-go and hand-quilting techniques are not your thing, then by all means stitch your blocks together and quilt the entire patchwork in one go. There are lots of options with this Block of the Month and hopefully there will be something to suit everyone!

The method for joining QAYG squares will be front to front, backing to backing – we’ll talk you through this in more detail in an upcoming issue.

Fabric requirements

You will need (to complete this quilt)…

  • Background fabric: 512yds in total (4yds for the lattice blocks plus the frames for all 25 blocks, 1½yds for the background of the 12 sampler blocks).
  • Print fabrics for blocks: Each month, there will be fabric amounts based on the fabric used in the scrappy antique colourway. For this, you will need to raid your stash – the more prints the merrier! You will see from the alternate colourways that the fabrics can be changed about and used in a more organised way, so if you’d like to use pre-cuts, most cutting can be done from a selection of Fat Eighths. Eight (8) different prints is a good place to start. You can add in more as you go, if you like.
  • Cornerstones for block frames: These frames all have 2½in cut squares in each corner. In total,  you will need one-hundred (100). Cut these from your stash, or pre-cuts, as discussed above.
    As a guide:
    One (1) Charm Square = four (4) 2½in squares.
    One (1) 10in Layer Cake = sixteen (16) 2½in squares.
    One (1) Jelly Roll strip = sixteen (16) 2½in squares.
  • Quilt backing fabric & batting: For the quilt-as-you go method, you need twenty-five (25) 18in squares of backing fabric and batting. If you’d prefer to piece the whole quilt and quilt in one go at the end, you will need 5yds of backing fabric and 90in square of batting.

Hand-pieced sampler: the blocks so far

  • Block 1: Broken Dishes  – find this in issue 42.
  • Block 2: Pennsylvania – lattice block, 3 versions to choose from! Issue 43
  • Block 3: Grandmother’s Choice – find this pattern in issue 44
  • Block 4: Old fellow’s Cross – find this pattern in issue 45
  • Block 5: Gem Star – find this pattern in issue 46
  • Block 6: Circle of Life – find this pattern in issue 47
  • Block 7: Unfolding Star – find this pattern in issue 48
  • Block 8: Sunbeam – find this pattern in issue 49
  • Block 9: Lethra’s Electric Fan – find this pattern in issue 50
  • Block 10: Charm Star – find this pattern in issue 51
  • Block 11: Mother’s Choice – find this pattern in issue 52
  • Block 12: Setting Star – find this pattern in issue 53
  • Block 13: Magnolia Star – find this pattern in issue 54
Broken Dishes Block of the Month Hand-pieced sampler

Caroline launched the Hand-pieced Sampler BOM in November 2018 with our this broken dishes windmill design.

Pennslvania Quilt Block of the Month Hand-pieced sampler

Block 2: Pennsylvania – find this design in issue 43, along with 2 other variations

Grandmother's Choice Block of the Month Hand-pieced sampler

Block 3: Grandmother’s Choice – find out how to make it in issue 44

Old Fellows Cross Quilt Block of the Month Hand-pieced sampler

Block 4: Pops of colour transform the Old fellow’s Cross pattern into a vibrant stitched quilt block in issue 45.

Quilt Block 5 Block of the Month Hand-pieced sampler

Block 5: Let your stitching sparkle and stitch shards of fabric pieces to form a gemstone effect in issue 46.

Circle Quilt Block of the Month Hand-pieced samplera

Block 6: “Circle and wheel blocks have a nice balance to them,” muses Carolyn in issue 47 as she reveals our latest curved block. We couldn’t agree more!

Unfolding Star Quilt Block of the Month Hand-pieced sampler

Block 7: Carolyn’s Unfolding Star quilt block in issue 48 makes our hearts sing – it’ is such a subtle, eye-catching block to add to your quilt top and a complete joy to stitch!

Sunbeam Quilt Block of the Month Hand-pieced sampler

Block 8: Carolyn’s Sunbeam quilt block in issue 49 is inspired by the 1930 design studio of Ruby Short McKim.

Lethras Electric Fan Quilt Block of the Month Hand-pieced sampler

Block 9: We’re seriously smitten with Carolyn’s Lethra’s Electric Fan, which combines offset, hand-pieced Dresden Plate style blocks to create fan effect that’s bursting with movement. Find it in issue 50.

Charm Star Quilt Block

Block 10: We can’t wait to start piecing Carolyn’s Charm Star. Find this stunning quilt block in issue 51 of Today’s Quilter.

Mothers Chioce Quilt block

Block 11: Mother’s Choice – as featured in issue 52 of Today’s Quilter
This months’ block originated as a Kansas City Star block pattern in its long running newspaper column of the 1930s. This version appeared in 1941 and may have originally been called ‘Patriotic Polygon’. It was suggested that you piece it in red and blue, with white as the background and the centre, hence the patriotism. The subtitle was ‘Mother’s Choice’ as it was indicated that the pattern collector who had contributed this block pattern from her collection, shared that it was one of her mother’s favourites.

Setting Star Quilt Block Pattern

Block 12: Setting Star, as featured in Today’s Quilter issue 53. 
Usually, the blocks I choose have come with some history, as I love a bit of background research, however, this one has only got the history I’ve created for it! I cut this particular block out of a magazine to make it over twenty years ago (no rush then!) and kept it in a special folder, while throwing out the rest of the magazine.

Magnolia Blossom Quilt block pattern
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Magnolia Star Quilt Block: Sew the final piece of the puzzle for your sampler quilt in issue 54 of Today’s Quilter.