Saturday, June 1, 2024

Hive 6 -June Tutorial - Swallows in the Window

 The Inspiration:

My grandmother is a badass lady. She raised four daughters as a single mom. Like most women in my family, was a prolific sewist. For many years, she made her living working at a furniture upholstery factory. She later went on to work for a country western wear designer. She made curtains for all her kids and many of her grandkids. She also used to crochet—she made everyone in our family a crocheted blanket in their favorite colors. Many of these skills were passed down in the family. As she got older and didn’t want to “put as much stress on her body” she started working as a corrections officer at a prison. She retired from the prison at age 75, but she continued to raise her granddaughter in her home until she graduated from high school. Now that she’s in her 80s and retired, she spends her time renovating houses. She also travels regularly to Yuma, Arizona—where she recently renovated a garage into a 1-bedroom apartment--to spend time with her older sister who lives there in a nursing home.  

Grandma and me at my recent graduation

Grandma lives in a small 1-bedroom house that she has been renovating for the last year and a half. She has several homemade quilts on her beds—antiques that are wearing out. Despite her skills for sewing, she has never been a quilter, only an avid fan of quilts. I want to make her a new bed quilt.

At one point, some 15 years ago, she bought these fat quarters. I think she said they are from Walmart. She wanted to learn how to quilt and make herself a nice bedspread. However, she gave them to me when I started quilting. She told me that she doesn’t sew anymore and did not want the fabrics to go to waste. I have had them for 4 years. This bundle is the inspiration for the fabrics!

The Pattern:

My mom inherited a collection of quilt square patterns that were cut out of the Kansas City Star newspaper in the 20s and 30s (even a few in the 10s). These squares are now out of copyright, so they are in the public domain! Yay! Last summer, we spent hours looking through this box of hundreds of antique quilt square patterns and admiring them—quilters used to trace templates onto tracing paper, cut out the individual shapes, and then stitch these diamond shapes together by hand! Ain’t nobody got time for that these days.

Swallows in the windows is one of my favorite squares from the collection. It was originally designed by Eveline Foland, and it was published in the Kansas City Star in 1930. Luckily, I found a video by Sunrise Quilt Studio that shows you how to make the square with modern sewing techniques. If you prefer a video tutorial over my written one, please see the link below. I used the video to make the tutorial. The measurements are the same.

Sunrise Quilt Studio Video: 


We are using a blue monochrome color scheme. If you have questions about “is this good?,” it’s probably great! I am not picky about fabrics.

  • One Feature Fabric: This is a large square in the center of the block. This great for showcasing fabric—pick a pretty pattern to show off. It can be any color as long as it contains blue somewhere in the pattern. Blue can be a dominant or an accent color. I do want this one to be a print, not a solid or blender. 
  • One White: (background): This can be solid white, white-on-white, grey on white, or blue on white. After making two test blocks, I might suggest selecting a white that is low-contrast/not busy.
  • Three Different Blues: Pick three blues. They can be dark, medium, or light blue. They can be solids blenders, or patterns. They can also contain other colors, as long as they read as blue.
Feature Fabrics




  • Feature Fabric (the window): cut one 8½  inch square (piece A).
  • Blue 1 (the window frame): Cut two 6 5/8 square, then cute them in half on the diagonal. My cutting mat and ruler does not have 1/8th makers, so I rounded up to 7inches You should have four triangle pieces (pieces B)
  • Blue 2 (the swallows): Cut four 3 inch squares. Cut 2 on the diagonal. Now, you have two 3” squares and four small triangle (pieces C)
  • Blue 2 (the swallows): Cut eight 2½ squares in the same color (pieces D)
  • Blue 3 (the swallows): Cut four 3 inch squares. Cut 2 on the diagonal. Now, you have two 3” squares and four small triangle (pieces E)
  • Blue 3 (the swallows): Cut eight 2½ squares in the same color (pieces F).
  • White (background): cut four 3 inch squares, then sub cut them on the diagonal. You now have eight triangles (pieces I). 
  • White (background): Cut eight 2 ½ x 4 ½ strips for flying geese (pieces G).
  • White (background): Cut four 2 ½ inch squares (pieces H)

Piecing the Block

1.     Make the Economy Block:

a.     find the center of pieces A and B. Fold piece A in half and in half again. Finger press or lightly use your iron to leave a crease in the center of all four sides.

b.     Then fold piece B in half and crease to mark the center. Be careful not to stretch the fabric on the bias.

c.      Line up the center of piece B and the center of piece A. Sew right sides together. Start by sewing piece B to opposite sides of piece A. Then add remaining pieces B to the other two sides of A. Press toward pieces B.

d.     Square up the economy block by lining up the seam with your 45 degree angle on your ruler and cutting so that piece B is 1/4 inch wide at the centers of the sides. (This is hard to explain see the picture below) This ecomemy square is now 11 3/4 inches square. 

finding the centers

first sides sewn

four sides sewn

squaring up on the 45 degree mark

2.     Make Flying Geese Units:

a.     Pull out pieces G, F, and D.

b.     On the wrong sides of D and F, draw a line horizontally.

c.      Sew piece D onto the left corner of piece G along the line you drew with right sides together.

d.     Trim off the excess and press toward the dark side.

e.     Repeat for Piece F. Each Flying Geese block will be made with two colors and have the same orientation, D on the left and F on the right making a point at the top of the flying geese.

g.     Square these units to the original 2 ½ x 4 ½ size.

First line of the flying geese

second line of the flying geese

completed flying geese

3.     Make Half Square Triangles:

a.     Pull out the C and E squares.

c.      Matching right sides together, carefully line up piece C and E. Sew them together 1/4 from both sides of the drawn line.

d.     Cut them down the line you drew and press to the darker Fabric.

e.     Square these to 2 ½ inches

HSTs sewn and cut apart

HSTs squared

4.     Assemble the swallows unit

a.     Pull out C and E triangles. In this step, pay attention to the orientation of colors--this is where I messed up and had to rip seams.

b.     Sew triangle E to the each HST with right sides together. Sew the straight side (not bias) onto the side HST with the opposite color. Press toward the triangle pieces.

c.      Sew triangle C to the each HST with right sides together. Sew the straight side (not bias) onto the side HST with the opposite color. Press toward the triangle pieces. Each Swallow should be shaped like a bigger triangle with an HST in the middle. All of the swallows should be the same.

5.     Assemble the four corners of the block

a.     Lay out each of corners of your block. You will need one H square, two H triangles, two flying geese, and a swallows unit for each corner. You will place the H in the position that forms the right triangle. You will use the H triangles to flank each corner and form the two 45 degree angles.

b.     With right sides together, sew the H squares to the smaller side of one of your flying geese. Press toward the Flying geese unit.

d.     Sew the swallows unit to the flying geese unit without the corner square. Trim off the dog ears. TPress toward the flying gees unit.

e.     Nest the seams to sew the assembled triangle to the corner row with right sides together. Press however you’d prefer.

e.   Sew the straight sides of the H triangle onto the other side of the flying geese units.  Press toward the triangle

f.       Square up each corner by trimming 1/4  inch from the corners of the HST and flying geese (see image). You now have a window (economy block) and four corners with swallows.

6.     Assemble the block.

a.     Use a pin to link up the seam of the HST with the corner of your window.

b.     Sew the first two corners on opposites sides being careful not to stretch the bias edges. Press open or toward the window (whichever feels less bulky to you). Remember to be careful because the seams are on the bias.

c.      In the same manner, sew on the other two corners. Press toward the window.

d.     Don't worry about squaring up. The video said they would come out to 16.5 inches, but mine were 16.25. 

Finding the center of the corners

two corners sewn on

You did it!

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