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Generic Leaf

Down load the pattern

Let's look at this pattern and see what we can learn from its design before we start sewing.
  • Edge-of-block corners are identified.
  • It is to be constructed in two sections that will then be sewn together. The section edges to be sewn together are identified with small symbols. (Note: These are just identifiers and are not intended to be used as exact match points.)
  • There are no parallel lines in the sections that shape the leaves. If you wish to modify the size/angle/shape of a leaf, avoid creating a parallel line if you can. Remember, you don't have to sew on my lines.
  • Possible "background" patches are shaded, but, as you know, leaves may be seen against either light or dark backgrounds and a light leaf may be seen against one that is shadowed, so the shading is simply a matter of identifying the way I originally visualized the coloring for this block. The color and values used for leaves and/or background may vary across a single block.
  • There is also no particular magic to the number and/or size of "leaves" in this block. You are now both artist and designer, so feel free to make any changes that you wish.
You can piece this pattern from the back in the usual paper piecing method, or you can use my sew-from-the-front approach. Either will work, but the directions assume you are working from the front (printed) side of the pattern.

For those of you who need them, the directions are essentially the same as for the random rose, but with one difference. To make these patterns fit on your 8 1/2" by 11" paper, I have drawn them with 1/4" seam allowances. On blocks like these however, I like to make it with at least a 1/2" seam allowance around the outside edges only. I usually add this extra 1/4" on the outer edges of the pattern as I cut the sections out before doing any piecing.

This allows for minor errors in piecing, but more importantly, for me, it means that when I am ready to trim this block to exactly 4 1/2" by 9 1/2", I can trim everything at a slight angle or nearer one edge than another if I wish. This allows me to take advantage of any neat pattern or color thing that happens near the edges (or eliminate something I don't care for). It also lets me vary the angle of the block slightly, which, I think, makes the overall pattern of a garden quilt more interesting.


So, just as you did with the random rose, start by covering Patch 1 (on the printed side of the pattern), leaving a generous seam allowance (half inch on outer edges.) Turn the paper over, fold back on the marked seam lines and trim the fabric to 1/4" along that line. Use your strip of fabric to add Patch 2 along the edge of Patch 1. Press, flip and press again.

Because of the angles at which the patches are added, you will need to be extra careful that the next patch will actually cover the area it is intended for and will have the necessary seam allowances. Until you have learned to estimate this, you can always check it by placing a pin in the seam line, then flipping the fabric into its position. You can hold it up to the light, if necessary, to be sure the seam allowance will be generous. It is always quicker--and easier--to check than to take out a seam.

Sewing the Sections Together

Repeat this process until both paper sections are covered. Trim the edges to 1/4" along the seam lines that will be sewn together. (Leave the outer edges uneven for now.) Place the sections with fabric right sides together. Use a pin to position each end of these seam lines (as marked on the pattern, that is, not the fabric edge) so they will match exactly. I usually stick a pin through patterns and fabric at the end points clear up to the head of the pin and let them dangle. When the sections have moved into position, I pull the pin out slightly and bring it back up farther along the seam line.

This is a fairly long seam, so you may wish to add another pin or two, again, checking to be sure that pins are exactly in the seam lines on both sides. Remove them as you sew. Press this seam.

Remove the paper from these two seam allowances only (easier now than later), and press this middle-of-the-block joining seam OPEN. This is optional, but I find it makes things easier and less bulky when you finally sew the blocks together and again when you quilt over them.

You can trim the block to final size matching your cut out pattern now or later. I usually wait and do a bunch at a time.

As you have time, make several of these blocks in light, medium, dark and/or value combination patterns. You will use these blocks as fillers. They can be trimmed to any height as needed for your quilt or used as is. Either way, they will blend into the background and will be barely noticed--unless of course, you have given them "star-quality" with brilliant or contrasty coloring.

If you are an impatient soul and want to make a quilt right now, you could do it with either of these two blocks. Someday I'm going to repeat this leaf block as a "crazy-pieced" background, perhaps made in just one very low contrast fabric, and then applique flowers or a silhouette over it.

In the next lesson, we will work with four more leaf blocks that are slightly more complex, but which, taken a section at a time, are just as easy to make. First, however, let's play a bit with inventing your own flower blocks.