myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

Butterfly Block Tutorial

It’s time for a new tutorial!
How would you like to make a pretty butterfly block that’s quick and easy and requires NO foundation paper piecing?! That’s right no FPP! It’s not that I have anything against FPP but sometimes you want to just rotary cut and sew!
I’ve been playing with the gorgeous new Kaffe Fassett Spring Collective fabric from Free Spirit and I came up with this block that uses the snowball technique to make a butterfly. 

This is what you need –

Background fabric: (I used a white solid)
ten squares measuring 1½” each
two squares measuring 2″ each
two strips measuring 1½” x 4″
two strips measuring 2″ x 3½”
one strip measuring 1″ x 1½”
one strip measuring 1″ x 2″
two strips measuring 2″ x 10″

Butterfly fabric:
two squares measuring 3½” and two squares measuring 4″ from two different prints
one strip for the body measuring 1″ x 4½” (I used a charcoal solid)

You’ll also need a pencil or pen, a ruler, a rotary cutter and mat, and of course some Aurifil 50wt thread for piecing.

First of all draw a diagonal line, corner to corner, on the back of all your background 1½” and 2″ squares.

a 1½” background square to three of the corners of one of the 3½” butterfly squares,
RST, and so that your drawn line cuts across the corner. 

Sew along this line on each  background square.

Trim the outer corners leaving a ¼” seam. You should probably use a ruler but I like to cut freehand with my rotary cutter ?.

Press then repeat with the other 3½” square and three more 1½” background squares.

Repeat using a 4″ butterfly square, two 1½” background squares and one of the 2″ background squares. Make two of these.

It’s best if you lay them out before you sew them so you can get the triangles in the right corners. That photo above should actually be upside down, but anyway the 4″ squares need the 2″ triangles to mirror each other.

Next sew the 1½” x 4″ background strip on the outer sides of the 4″ butterfly blocks and  2″ x 3½” strips on the outer sides of the 3½” butterfly blocks.

Sew the two sizes of butterfly wing blocks together (so they mirror each other still). Sew the 1″ x 1½” background strip to one end of the body strip and the 1″ x 2″ background strip to the other end of the body strip.

Sew the body strip between the two wing halves. Then finally sew the 2″ x 10″ background strips to the top and bottom.

Ta dah!

So that is one butterfly block, but I decided I wanted to make nine blocks and use them for a cot quilt.

To save time I cut a 4½” x 9½”” butterfly body strip and sewed a 1½” x 9½”” background strip to one long side and a 2″ x 9½”” background strip to the other. Then I trimmed 1″ strips from this to use for the body.

Then I didn’t actually sew the 2″ background strips to the top and bottom, but instead pieced them in rows which I then staggered and added extra background to before sewing together. I pieced a single butterfly within a wide strip of background and sewed this to the bottom.
Here is the finished quilt!
I wanted to give the effect of a swarm of butterflies lifting off from a bush when disturbed. I also thought that the richly coloured fabrics would look so good against an expanse of white negative space.
It measure 33″ x 46″ (83 x 118cm), which could be a large cot quilt or even a lap quilt.

This is actually the first quilt I have finished this year so I gave it the full Shangri la Farm photo shoot treatment!

The back is an Amy Butler fabric. There wasn’t quite enough so I added a strip of Tula Pink ‘Eden’.

I quilted it with a loosely flowing feather and spiral pattern using the same #2000 Aurifil 50wt thread that I had pieced it with. I wanted to keep the purity of the white background and for the quilting to be dense and textural.

The quilt has been washed and tumble dried to give it this lovely crinkly texture (however you can’t see the quilting so well now!).

I used another of the Kaffe Fassett Spring Collective fabrics for the border, this one is ‘shark’s teeth’ by Brandon Mably and I think it’s perfect for a binding.

These sumptuous, jewel coloured fabrics work so well as butterflies. I have another quilt planned with them soon, and I have enjoyed using them so much (they feel as beautiful as they look!) that I am planning to order some for our store.

Plus check out the Free Spirit blog for news on a new Kaffe e-book available now!

I hope you get a chance to try out your own version of the butterfly block using this tutorial. Please make sure to play nice and always credit me and link back to this post if possible.

Plus I’d love to see them so tag me on social media too please!


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