Origami Animal Blocks

Earlier this year we set up a new loft bed for my 9-year-old daughter, Lola. Although we considered putting a desk under the full-size bed, she decided she wanted to create more of a den-like space with curtains, posters (cute animals at this point, thank goodness), and lots of pillows. She is a budding sewist, so we searched online for pillows we really loved and we came across these fantastic screen-printed designs. White isn’t really what I had in mind, and screen print isn’t what she had in mind, so we decided to do something similar in patchwork.

6 origami pillows

I was lucky enough to quickly stumble upon a free dingbat font (Origami Bats by Lauren Ashpole) that had 26 origami animals that Lola and I really loved. I thought we could probably sew them, but I wasn’t exactly sure how. After consultating with a few genius quilting friends, I set out  to learn how to recreate the designs in fabric using  a  paper piecing method.

origami dove

As I mentioned earlier this week, I was totally IN LOVE with the Ringo Pie blocks, but hadn’t done any paper piecing myself.  I started watching videos, reading blog posts and trying out a few tutorials. (I’ve compiled my favorites in a Paper Piecing Pinterest board.) It was a lot of trial and error. I played with foundation piecing, but couldn’t make every animal Lola chose work. I finally decided to use a template freezer paper method.

origami frog

The template freezer paper method is kind of like creating a puzzle. You disect your design on paper, cut it up, transfer it to fabric and sew it all back together. (As opposed to foundation piecing in which you put your design on a paper or muslin pattern, then sew through the pattern to construct your block.)

origami hummingbird

The hardest part for me was learning how to create a pattern. Almost everything I found online was an existing pattern with numbered procedures. It took me a long time to figure out how to make a pattern from scratch.

origami butterfly

After I was done with a few of the blocks I had developed a method for creating the patterns. At that point I realized it might be helpful to other people to learn a few tips for creating their own freezer paper patterns. We decided to create a video tutorial, which we’ve broken into three parts.

origami rabbit

It is my sincere hope that through these videos you can learn how to construct a block using the template freezer paper method and also learn a few tips for creating your own blocks. I don’t provide you with the patterns for the 26 animals, but instead give you some guidance for making your own.

origami fish

You can print this outline of the steps to accompany the videos. If you make any origami animal blocks of your own, we’d love to see them!

Freezer Paper-Pieced Origami Animal Block Part 1 ~ Sew,Mama,Sew!

Freezer Paper-Pieced Origami Animal Block Part 2 ~ Sew,Mama,Sew!

Freezer Paper-Pieced Origami Animal Block Part 3 ~ Sew,Mama,Sew!

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