Frontier women converted the ancient symbol of good luck into a quilt pattern made simply from two triangles.
Sometimes it is called Fly Foot. The swastika, an ancient symbol believed to represent the sun, was a popular device brought over from Germany.
The Whirling Swastika appeared on Pennsylvania-German barns. The locals referred to the design as Hexfiess, or witches’ feet, painted on barns to ward off evil spirits.
It is interesting to see how a symbol changes it meaning over history. Once a sign of good luck, the swastika became a sign with negative connotations later in history.
Basic Instructions to make this block
One of the very fun things about making a quilt is that sometimes you can run across a pattern that looks very complicated, and folks just look at it and try to figure out how you made it.
This is one of those patterns. It is very easy to make, yet it looks complicated and using the right color / value combinations, it can be very effective.
As you break down the block, there it is 4 patches wide and 4 patches high. Then, looking further, each patch is simply a pair of half square triangles placed in different directions.
To make this block, you would simply make 16 half square triangles. One side of each triangle would be made from a light fabric, and the other would be made from a dark fabric.
Using fabrics with a high contrasting value helps make this block effective. In the picture below, you can see what it would look like if you used two slightly different red fabrics.
Although you can still see the design, it is less obvious.
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Making the Block
First, decide how large your blocks will be. This may sound really obvious, and you are just ready to take off. Excellent!
Now, let’s look at how many patches there are in the block and whether you want your patches to be easy to cut and sew. If that isn’t a priority for you, then, by all means go ahead and make this block 9 inches square!
However, I like simple math. So the first thing I look at is how many patches there are. Then I think about how large or small I would like to make the patches.
If they are too small, they become difficult to handle. If the patches are too large, the quilt may require more quilting since the areas of fabric without a seam will be larger, and without quilting, they may gap.
I tend to work with either 2 inch patches or 3 inch patches. In the case of this block, using 2 inch patches would create an 8 inch block. And using 3 inch patches would create a 12 inch block.
Now I look at how large a quilt I would like to make and how many blocks I want to make.
If you are making a twin size quilt, you would want it to be at least 39 inches by 75 inches. If your blocks were 8 inches, you would need 4 across and 9 high (36 blocks), and then you would also add borders.
If you are making a queen size quilt, it should be around 60 inches by 80 inches, thereby requiring 7 blocks across and 10 blocks high (70 blocks), and you should add borders to that.
For 12 inch blocks (39 inches by 75 inches) on a twin size quilt, you would need 3 blocks across and 6 blocks high (18 blocks), and then add borders.
And for 12 inch blocks on a queen size quilt (60 inches by 80 inches), you would need 5 blocks across and 6 blocks high (30 blocks) — and then add borders.
Then it is just a math calculation to see how many patches to make. Each block requires 16 patches, all the same — half light and half dark.
Once you have sewn all of the half square triangles together, lay the patches out according to the design and then stitch them together. Once all of the blocks are finished, you are ready to sew the quilt together.
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