Working Those Virginia Bound Blocks

I’ve had a few questions while I’ve been working on my Virginia Bound blocks.  I’m hoping I can tell a little more about them today.

First off, this is the quilt I am writing about.  The name is Virginia Bound and it’s in Bonnie Hunter’s book Scraps and Shirttails book One.  (I heard this one might not be reprinted so if you’re wanting to make this, grab a copy now).


The one in the book is made with up-cycled men’s shirts.  That’s what I’ve been doing as well.  If you plan to make other “shirt” quilts, cut them out first and you’ll have lots of left overs for this one.  I know attendees of our retreat will be making the quilt Moth in the Window.  If made from shirts, as the pattern suggests, you’ll have LOTS of leftovers to make this quilt.

I was asked questions about the foundation papers and why I was cutting them out first.  I’ll just show you how I made a block.  I started out with a paper copied from the book.  If you look close at my paper, you can see I let one of the childcare kiddos cut this one out.  Anyway, I need to fill in the middle spot with dark colored fabric strips.  I start and stop close to the line going just past it.

Eventually I have a block that is filled in like this…..See?

Well now comes the part that takes a little more thought.  I have the center filled.  I need to start the white outer parts of the block.  Normally I would lay it down and sew but this time, I can’t.  I have not sewing line.


What I need to do is lay the piece down in approximately the right place, and flip it over.  I traced the line onto the back side of the paper so it’s easy-peasy.  I am chain piecing so ignore the piece under the presser foot.  See that neutral piece under the paper piece?  That’s what I’m sewing in place.  I line it up so a 1/4″ or so is to the right of the line.   Then I start sewing.


It’s easy…I just sew on the line making sure the end of the neutral piece is also 1/4″ from the line.


Next I flip it over and check it.  Looking good…but now there is the excess “junk” from the center over lapping into my side space where the neutral fabrics are suppose to go.  Time to trim them up.

I pull them back ripping the fabric away from the paper.  Yep, the paper rips a little but that’s okay.


Then I fold the paper back.  See all the excess dark fabrics?Virginia-Bound-6

Now holding it over the garbage can, I trim them to 1/4″ of so.  You can see I’ve been doing lots of trimming.


Now I can press that first neutral piece back.


Now I am ready to add neutral pieces.

One side done.  Now tackle the other.


I do the same thing that I did to start the first neutral string.  (I’ve learned that it’s easiest to actually pull 1 1/2″ strips to use for the first neutral piece that gets sewn down.)


I repeat the ripping, folding and trimming process then I iron again and am ready to fill in the other side with neutrals.  Ta-da.  Finished…well not really.


Trimming comes next.  Again, I can’t see where to trim.  I simply flip the block over and there is my cutting guide.  I simply trim 1/4″ beyond the paper line.  Easy peasy….Flip it over and I have a finished block.


I need to do this 100 times and I’ll have enough for my quilt.  Yes, I’m making mine bigger that’s why I need the 100 blocks.  About this whole process, I’ll say this:  The first few blocks I’ve done, I felt very awkward and clumsy with the method.  Now that I’ve done about 30, it’s no big deal at all!  I’ve gotten into a rhythm that makes these just as easy as any other block.

I started this quilt on retreat in Moline, Illinois with the Mississippi Valley quilters.  I’m so glad I went to the class and started but it’s time to finish this up….I think it’s a 4+ year UFO.  Let’s go Jo and get this one finished I say!!

11 thoughts on “Working Those Virginia Bound Blocks”

  1. Great explanation, but I can see how learning it in a class would have been helpful. You’re going to have quite a show and share at your retreat if you do one!

  2. Jo, my method is similar to yours, but I fold the paper back and trim the darker prints first, then I line up my first neutral strip with the edge I just trimmed. That’s one of the things I love about quilting… we have such a variety of ways to get to the same place. I’m a huge advocate of finding what works for each of us. You’ve inspired me to get my tub of shirts out of the attic. :)

  3. You are so right – lots of different ways – I just fold on the “sew line”, finger crease, and then use that fold line to position my first neutral stripe. Just remember the fold line is the sew line, so position the stripe so you have a seam allowance !
    it’s gonna be great, Jo.

  4. I love this quilt and it’s on my to-do list. I’m glad that you mentioned that the first several blocks seemed awkward at first, but then they became easier and more comfortable to make. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Laurilli J Bazille

    I love your block and I have the book. I do denim quilts for all my graduates, do you think this block would work with a denim alternate block?

  6. Do you use 100% cotton shirts or do you also use blends? I’m trying to make a memory quilt and a lot of the shirts are cotton/poly blends.

  7. I have quilted for years but never tried paper piecing. You have inspired me to give it a try! Thanks for the tutorial.

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