The Shoo Fly quilt block is a traditional favorite and a fun, easy block to make. This tutorial shows you how to make a 13-1/2” version of the block out of 5” charm squares (precut friendly!) and a clever technique that makes four half-square triangle blocks at one time.
Fabric You Will Need
Making the Half-Square Triangles
You’ll need four half-square triangle blocks to make a Shoo Fly block, and you can make them all at once with this time-saving method.
- Lay the two 8” squares together with their right sides facing each other. Carefully align the corners and edges.
- Sew a seam around the outside of the squares, using a 1/4” seam allowance.
- Cut the squares diagonally in half twice.
- Carefully press the triangles open. The diagonal edges are cut on the fabric bias, which means they are very stretchy, so take care to press them with vertical movements and avoid moving your iron from side to side, which might stretch them out of shape.
Trimming the Triangle Blocks
- The triangle blocks need to be trimmed to 5” square before you sew them into the larger block. This is easiest to do with a square ruler that has a 45-degree line marked on it.
- Put the ruler on top of the block. Align the 45-degree line with the diagonal seam line at the center of the block. Align the 5” markings on the ruler at the bottom corner of the block. Make sure the 5” lines are completely on the fabric.
- Trim off any extra fabric on the top and right edges of the block.
- Rotate the block 180 degrees and trim the other two sides.
Now you’re ready to sew the block together.
Sewing the Block
- Lay out the squares and triangle blocks as shown here.
- Stitch the squares into three rows.
- Press the seams in each row so the seam allowances face in the opposite direction from the seam allowances in the next row. This will help you nest the seams so they look good when you sew the rows together.
- Sew the rows together. I always pin the rows together at the points where seams join.
- Press the block and square it up.
Your Shoo Fly block is now ready to sew into a quilt!
Variations on the Basic Shoo Fly Block
You can vary the look of your blocks by changing up the colors of the squares or triangles in the block. For instance, you can make the block look more like a Snowball block by changing the color of the triangle blocks at the outer corners. You could also make a scrappy block to use up extra charm squares from your stash.