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 Free Pattern : A Road To California Block

This a straightforward block to piece, as it consists of squares and right triangles only. A wonderful design for making use of scrap fabrics, Road to California was most often constructed of prints against plain muslin.

Though elements of this block are deceptively simple, when several blocks are pieced together to form a quilt top, unique, eye-catching patterns result.

Road to California block

What size is it?

Road to California is a 12 inch block.

Instructions - How do I create this block?

Each Road to California block contains eight right triangles and 20 squares. It is typically made from a print set against white fabric.

To construct the block, 10 squares and 4 right triangles of fabric A are required. Another 10 squares and 4 right triangles of fabric B are also needed. Not counting seam allowances, each square is 2 x 2, and the right triangles are 4 inches long on either side of the 90° angle.

Road to California squares Road to California triangles

Because only basic shapes are involved, either templates or rotary cutting may be used for this block. For simplicity's sake, directions for rotary cutting will be given. Whichever method is selected, however, remember to include a quarter inch seam allowance for best results.

To create a 12-inch block, first cut 10 squares from a 2-1/2 inch wide strip of fabric A, and the same number of squares from a 2-1/2 inch wide strip of fabric B. Next, cut 4 right triangles from a 4-7/8 inch wide strip of fabric A, and repeat using the same width strip of fabric B.

Rotary cutting guide

Assembling this block is matter of first constructing five checkerboard squares and four triangle-pair squares followed by row assembly. Use the following steps to work up the initial sections :

Place one fabric A square on top of one fabric B square, right sides together, and stitch with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press. Repeat this for all squares.

Place on square pair on top of another, right sides together, making certain that the fabric A square of one pair faces a fabric B square of the other pair before sewing. Align seams and stitch with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press. Continue this process until five squares are made.

Place one fabric A triangle against one fabric B triangle, right sides together. Stitch in place to form a triangle-pair square, and press.

Repeat with remaining triangles to form four triangle-pairs total.

Checkerboard assembly

Triangle pair assembly

With the pieces assembled, it's time to form rows. Layout all your pieces and compare positioning against the images in this pattern before sewing. All the checkerboard squares are positioned in one direction throughout the block. The positioning of the triangle-pair squares, however, varies. Making sure everyting is oriented properly now avoids the necessity of a seam ripper later. For every row, use a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

First row - Stitch one checkerboard square to either side of a triangle-pair square.

Row one assembly

Second row - Stitch one triangle-pair square to either side of a checkerboard square.

NOTE - the orientation of the triangle-pair squares varies in this row.

Row two assembly

Third row - Repeat the first row, but reverse the position of the triangle-pair square.

Row three assembly

With this complete, the final step is joining the rows. As mentioned previously, check the positioning of each row before sewing. Place the first row on top of the second, right sides together, and line up the seams before stitching. Press seams and lay the third row over the second, again, keeping the right sides together. Stitch in place and press seams flat.

Many Uses For This Block

Keeping both color and positioning constant creates an intricate, almost checkerboard effect in a quilt design. Because there is so much "activity" in this layout, it is best to stick with a subdued print or solid fabric only.

Bordered Road to California quilt

Alternating Road to California and solid blocks provides greater space for use of quilted motifs or applique´. Surrounding the blocks with a coordinating, simple border continues the airy feel of this layout.

Alternating Road to California and solid blocks

Add Some Extra Creativity

The really interesting quality of Road to California is the number of larger patterns that may be created depending upon how the blocks are arranged. In this example, columns of gold/white blocks surround a center column of blue/white blocks to create an appealing mix of colors. To add further interest, the blocks are arranged in a manner to create a vertical zig-zag. The effect is both eye-catching and bold.

Zig zag layout

While this block is traditionally made with a print and white fabric, additional drama may be added by substituting a dark solid in place of white. In this example, black is used. This provides a striking contrast to the warm gold also present in each block. The unique layout heightens the drama. Rather than positioning every block in the same way, the layout on the left half of the quilt is "mirrored" on the right half, creating a pattern of upwardly moving arrows. The solid gold border frames the design simply without interfering with the block's impact.

Reverse layout with black contrast

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