Modern Block of the Month (BOM) ~ July Sew Along with Alissa Haight Carlton

on July 17 | in Modern Block of the Month, Modern BOM, Modern BOM 1, Sew-Alongs, Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 62 Comments

In their book, Block Party: The Modern Quilting Bee: The Journey of 12 Women, 1 Blog & 12 Improvisational Projects, Alissa Haight Carlton and Kristen Lejnieks chronicled the experiences of 12 online friends who participated in a new twist on the quilting bee. First documented on the blog,, each participant selected designs and fabrics for the other group members to work with, leading to 12 quilts in 12 months. Each of these 12 “fun, funky, and improvisational projects” are now published in Block Party: The Modern Quilting Bee, complete with quilting techniques and advice so you can start your own “virtual” quilting bee.

We love Block Party–not only for the quilts, but the stories behind them and the commitment that each of the women made to each other and their craft. We’re inspired by the idea of sewing something similar yet different every month for a whole year while learning something new in the process. That’s why we’ve asked Block Party author, Modern Quilt Guild Co-Founder and former SMS board member, Alissa Haight Carlton, to join us here at Sew,Mama,Sew! for a Modern Block of the Month (BOM)! Every month Alissa will share a new quilt block, which you can make in whatever fabrics you choose and in your own time. We do hope you’ll sew along each month and share you questions and progress with us in the Modern BOM pool on Flickr. Help us spread the word! If you want a copy of the Modern BOM button for your blog you can find it here: If you’d like to learn more about Alissa, you can find her at her wonderful blog, Handmade by Alissa.

And now, without further ado, the first Modern Block of the Month!

Welcome to the Sew,Mama,Sew! Modern Block of the Month! From July 2011 to June 2012 we will be making a total of twelve 12 1/2” (12” finished) quilt blocks.

If you’ve never done any quilting before, this is the perfect opportunity to dive in and give it a shot! Any beginner can take on these blocks.

There’s a lot of talk about what makes something modern and I’m not going to try to answer that because, like all art, it’s subjective and something that can be discussed and debated at length. So rather than give a strict definition, I’m going to tell you the design traits that I love. Some or all of these traits will show up in many of the blocks that we’ll be making for the Modern BOM:

  • Use of solids
  • Whites and/or grays as neutrals and background/negative space
  • Asymmetry in the design, especially in terms of the negative space
  • Improvisational piecing

Fabric Requirements for One July Block:

  • Fabric A (Kona Cotton Bone) 1/8 of a yard
  • Fabric B (Shot Cotton – Galvanized) Scrap that is at least 9.5” x 3.5”
  • Fabric C (Kona Cotton Butterscotch) Scrap that is at least 10.5” x 2”
  • Fabric D (Crossweave Blue Blue) Scrap that is at least 9.5” x 3”

Block Numbers for Quilts:

  • Large Baby Quilt 48” x 60”: make 20 blocks, Arrange in a 4 x 5 block grid
  • Lap Quilt: 60” x 72” make 30 blocks, Arrange in a 5 x 6 block grid
  • Queen Sized Quilt: 96” x 96” make 64 blocks, Arrange in an 8 x 8 block grid

Cut out all of the pieces for your block. Take care to keep track of which piece is which as you do so. You can pin little paper labels on each piece as you cut them out or you can lay them out (I have a design wall that I do this on) as you go, arranging them as indicated in this diagram.

Assembling the Block:
When piecing together this block use a ¼” seam allowance and press after sewing each seam.
1. Begin by sewing A1, B1 and A2 together. Then sew A3 to the right side of your piecing.

2. Then sew C1 and A5 together as indicated. Sew A4 to the left side of your piecing.

3. Sew D1 to A6 and then A7 to the right side of your piecing.

4. Continue by sewing C2 to A9 and then A8 to the left side of your piecing.

5. Finally, sew B2 to A10 and then A11 to the right side of your piecing.

6. Finish up your block by assembling the five portions of the block, working top to bottom, in this order: A3 portion, A4 portion, A7 portion, A8 portion and A11 portion.

With a cropped photo of one finished block I created some digital quilts to show you how much changing the lay out of this block can impact the end result.

These layouts all require that you make 30 blocks and result in a 60” x 72” finished quilt top, a good-sized throw.

I also sewed the block up in a very different set of fabrics. This creates a completely different look for the block and quilts made with it.

The fabrics that I used are:

Have fun! Let us know if you’re sewing along!

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62 Responses to Modern Block of the Month (BOM) ~ July Sew Along with Alissa Haight Carlton

  1. Hi! Waiting expentantly for the August block. What are your plans for posting? Am I missing something??

  2. Sharon says:

    When are you going to post your August block? I am so excited to see what it is. Flickr said there were 100+ in the group but pictures on the site are the same 20+. Everything okay? Looking forward to this months block.

  3. crazypatch says:

    that’s a wonderful project, thanks ! I’ll try it !

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I love the idea of a Modern BOM and I’ll be sewing along. Thanks!
    – Liz

  5. Renata Guity says:

    You have a lot helpful ideas! Perhaps I should think of trying to do this myself.

  6. Sheri Whiteley says:

    I would like to do the BOM as well! So I in! Did I miss if we must post a picture each month? Just wondering

  7. katuasha says:

    Hello, I really liked your project. I am new to the quilt, I want to participate in the project.

  8. tui_24 says:

    Thanks for the inspiring tutorial and ideas about layout – I’m definitely in – wonder how many other kiwis will be quilting along?!

  9. Heather K says:

    I can’t wait to sew along with these! Would you be able to post a pdf of the pattern that would be easy to print out? It would help so much to have something to print and have on hand.

  10. L says:

    So glad to see this! Count me in!

  11. Rachel says:

    Really like this block! I made two identical blocks which I plan to incorporate into the back cushion for a chair that I have been wanting to re-cover for ages now. I love the way it turned out. If I can manage to find my digital camera will post a photo in the flikr group.

  12. liberty says:

    Alissa – I love the digital examples!
    they’re awesome at helping visualize the flexibility of this block.
    makes it even more tempting to try.

  13. Marcia W. says:

    Great idea

  14. sewkatiedid says:

    Oh I think I just found a use for my FMF!

  15. Marny says:

    Your diagrams and instructions are so detailed and helpful. Also love the visuals of the color choices you present. Great job!

  16. rosa says:

    This is wonderful.I love it

  17. Littlebook says:

    Heading to get some more white today and then I’m diving in!

  18. Redheadharper says:

    This is BY FAR one of the best tutorials that I have ever seen!! I love the complete and very detailed breakdown of the measurements and placement of each piece as well as the different finished layouts. Keep this up and I just might participate!

  19. Jodie Hickma says:

    I just finished my very first picnic blanket quilt today! I am fired up! I want to follow along too.

  20. leanne says:

    count me in – I just need to get some solids!

  21. PT in SC says:

    I’m in…Oh, darn, I’ve got to go shopping for more solids.

  22. Elizabeth G says:

    Great block. This is my first BOM project, can’t wait to get started.

  23. Ali says:

    Love this block. I’m off to hunt out some fabrics

  24. Stefanie says:

    So excited! I will be sewing along.

  25. happy zombie says:

    I can’t wait to jump in… I may even start today! I LOVE this BOM – thank you Alissa and Kristin!

  26. Mere says:

    Great! I will be sewing along!

  27. Mere says:

    Looks great! I will be sewing along!

  28. Kathleen says:

    I am so excited for this new monthly post! I love modern quilt blocks. This book has some great patterns!

  29. Carolyn E says:

    Oh I have the perfect fabrics for this quilt and can use these blocks as my relaxing sewing between projects for my daughter’s wedding next July.
    Now off to sew

  30. Deven says:

    Robin E.

    What great ideas!!!

  31. Melanie says:

    This is great! I’m finishing my first quilt now. It will be fun to make a variety of squares a long with others. Thanks!

  32. oooh lovely … I’m in!

  33. Lexi Lucas says:

    Robin E has a great idea to sew with her daughter, I just might have been encouraged to try with my sons….and yardage estimates would be great to have some cohesion. Thanks for the wonderful opportunity to quilt along with you. I’m excited that is a little bit at a slow pace, that way its managable and I can savour it!

  34. Beth T says:

    This is great. A block a month is about my speed. As much as I love the look of all the QALs going on on the internet these days, I know I wouldn’t be able to keep up. But I’m in for this one! Thanks.

  35. Dawn L says:

    Just love it! I can’t wait to see more.

  36. Katrina h says:

    Cool! I love the different colorways you showed!

  37. I’ll sew along! Loving the first block!

  38. Patty says:

    I’m sewing along! Thank you!

  39. Morgan says:

    Ooh yay! I won a bunch of Kona solids on here a few months ago and have been hemming and hawing to find the perfect project. I bet this modern BOM series will have it!

  40. Lisa says:

    Sounds great. I won’t be able to start right away, but I’m going to keep track of things and hopefully get caught up quickly.

  41. Lucinda says:

    It’s really helpful to see the same block in different color choices and layouts. Thanks!

  42. Christy says:

    I have the same request as Robin…but I fear that it may be difficult to figure out because each block may have a different number of colors within it. I may just buy a couple of yards each of a few coordinating fabrics and figure it out from there as we go along.

  43. Christine says:

    Looks like fun.

  44. Vanesa says:

    Alyssa, what a great idea for a modern BOM! I’m going to sew along!

  45. Robin E. says:

    I’m interested in making each of these blocks-of-the-month, but I would like to make them using all the same fabrics so that they all match up in the end and can be sashed together to make a twin size quilt. Is there any way you all can look forward over all of the blocks and give us an estimate of yardage we need of how many fabrics to make all the blocks? I don’t mind buying a little too much, but I would hate to not buy enough and find myself not finishing.

    I’m particularly interested in doing this together with my 12 year old daughter. She can make her own blocks and make a quilt for her own bed, and I can make other blocks to make a quilt for her 4 year old sister’s bed.

  46. Ramona says:

    This should be wonderful fun. I think I will combine all the blocks together for a sampler type quilt.

  47. Fran says:

    What a wonderful pattern……great
    that you showed what a difference in
    look fabric choice can make.
    Thanks for sharing !

  48. Seanna Lea says:

    That’s pretty cool, but I think I need to find myself a less cutting intensive first quilt block. I think I’d frustrate myself with 16 pieces for a single block.

  49. Michelle in NH says:

    Wonderful block! For me it’s an inspiration for linen & solid cottons…yum! Thank you.

  50. Jan says:

    Looks like a great quilting book! Thanks for the review.

  51. Sharon says:

    What a great opportunity to learn some new blocks. What wonderful directions you have written up. Thanks.

  52. elsa says:

    I really like this block! Love the simplicity of it ~ got to make some!
    thanks so much for sharing it!

  53. Kim says:

    love the look of this block and all the different versions that you show. i love this quilt along!

  54. Sequana says:

    By next year when we finish up, we’ll have our own book!

    Thx so much for all your work.

  55. Amber W says:

    What a great and versatile modern block! I love how you have should all the different layout possibilities! It is great to see what a whole quilt out of this one block would look like!

  56. Staci says:

    Yes!! Sewing along! Thank you very much!

  57. Nik Kamisah says:

    I love quilting too! But it is still in one of my list of projects..of course one day i will produce one like this..Tq for sharing.

  58. Joy S says:

    Even I can do this! Great idea and I plan to sew along the whole year!

  59. Cat says:

    wow ! that’s a wonderful project, thanks ! I’ll try it !

  60. What a great idea and a cool block! Love the layout options. Thanks!

  61. Jess says:

    Ooh, this is lovely!!!!! I really like it. I want to make a rainbow quilt; this one might be fun for that.

  62. Lynne in NC says:

    Cool! I am encouraged to try quilting.

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