Traditional Tuesday - Block 47

Block 47 - Lantern
The traditionally pieced version of Lantern is actually kind of interesting to make. Yesterday I said I don't think I'd want to make a full quilt of this block, but today I changed my mind. The thing about it is that it has so much room for color combinations - you can experiment to your heart's content! Each strip of the lantern body can be different or controlled. You can work in contrasts or blend the fabrics. Each can be different, each can be in the same color family. A dark background and light lantern body would make it look like it's glowing! If you take off the bottom rectangle it could be a fishing bobber or a Christmas tree ornament!

I went with a batik for the background that I bought a few years ago to make a quilt I designed. Well, let's just say the quilt never happened, but the fabric remains! You'll need a light, medium and dark print for the body of the lantern to make yours in the same values as I did. But feel free to experiment!

From the background, cut:

  • 1 - 3" square, cut in half on the diagonal
  • 2 - 2" x 2 1/2" rectangles
  • 4 - 2" x 1 1/4" rectangles
  • 4 - 2" x 3 1/2" rectangles
From the light, cut 2 - 2" x 1 1/4" rectangles
From the medium, cut 2 - 2" x 5 1/2" rectangle
From the dark, cut 1 - 2" x 5 1/2" rectangles

Lay out the cut strips and rectangles roughly as they will look when pieced. I like batiks because of the wide variation you get from just one piece of fabric. This background is all from one piece of fabric. I usually like high contrast in my quilts, but this background blends together in an appealing way.

First, sew the small rectangles to their background ones. Press. Then sew the center rectangle to its background ones and press.

To finish piecing the lantern body strips, sew the side backgrounds rectangles on a 45-degree angle to each end, making sure to have the angles go in opposite directions. To do this, finger press the end of one rectangle on a 45-degree angle. Lay it on the end of the rectangle.

Sew from corner to corner on the crease.

Trim the back out leaving a 1/4" seam and press open. Repeat with the other side. Make 2.
Here they are. You can see that the angles go in the opposite direction to give the lantern an illusion that it is rounded.
Here is the original drawing of this block from EQ. (I love EQ! Go buy it now!) You can see that those angles on the strips we just pieced aren't 45 degrees. I modified this so that they are 45 degrees to make it so much easier. (You CAN modify commercial patterns to make them work for you! There is no quilt police!) I didn't want to mess with templates or paper piecing those two strip so I made it work for me!

Now sew the three center strips together to form the body of the lantern. Finger press to find the center of both the center and one of the outer strips. Make sure you're sewing the outer strip on correctly. You want the long side of the trapezoid touching the center strip.

It's important to pin so that the points of the trapezoid line up with the rectangle on the center strip properly. If you've never worked with piecing angles, this is a bit confusing at first. It will look like the two pieces won't line up, but once it is sewn, the seam allowance will take care of itself and it will work. This is pretty advanced precision piecing. After you've sewn, press open and see if you line up the way you want it to. You might need to rip out and resew if you're not happy. This will also teach you the importance of sewing with a 1/4" seam allowance if you're still not convinced on it's necessity!

Sew the other strip on and you'll have the body of the lantern done.

Then sew the triangle to one side of the small rectangle strip. Be sure to finger press to find the center. It's more important to line those up than with the Modern block yesterday. You want all the center rectangles of the lantern body to line up perfectly.

Next, sew the triangle units on, being sure to finger press to find the centers of both the triangle unit and the lantern body.

To finish, trim to 6 1/2" square.


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