The Bow Tie Quilt Block

Four bow tie patchwork block

The bow tie quilt block is a fairly old design dating back to the 1880"s. This design is also known by different names such as Colonial bow tie, peekhole and true lovers knot to name a few.

The nature of this block depicting a bow tie would suggest in the past that is was used in quilts for men and boys. Another different name for this block is a dumbbell so a quilt for a fitness fanatic would suit very well.

This block is sewn using a mixture of large and small squares and uses five different colours of fabric. One for the background and the ties stand out by using the four other fabrics. Many shopping outlets have fat quarters of lovely fabric that would be suitable.

This block is pieced together a little like the Dutchman's puzzle block in that when each tie square is made it is then joined onto another one to form a rectangle and then in turn two rectangles are joined to complete the block.

There are many other designs of patchwork blocks for example the Ohio Star, Log Cabin, Sail Boat and Roman Pin Wheel to name a few.

You can make your own designs as well using rectangles, squares, triangles, hexagons or pentagons. The fun of patchwork is that it can be basic or very complex it all depends on how adventurous you are.

Preparing the fabric before sewing.

For each patchwork block you will need to cut eight 3+1/2 ins (9cms) squares in the material chosen for the background.

From each of the other four colours, which are the colours of the individual bows,you will need to cut two 3+1/2 in (9cms) squares and one smaller 2ins (5.2cms) square.

Try to cut your patchwork pieces as accurately as possible to ensure the block fits together well.

Steps in Sewing the Bow Tie Quilt Block

Taking the smaller square of one of the bow colours fold it diagonally in half to make a crease either by finger or iron as this will the be sewing guide.

With right sides together place the small square in bow fabric into the top right corner  of a square in background material. Remember to match the corners.

Sew along the crease line diagonally.

Using sharp scissors, trim the top half of the small square but not the background material leaving a 1/4 inch seam. By keeping the background material in place this should make sure the square remains in shape.

Fold and press the other half of the smaller square over the background material to look as though the larger square has a different coloured corner.

Repeat with the other small squares in the other three different colours.

Using the same bow fabric as the corner fabric in the previous step, place the full square along the side of the background fabric with the different coloured corner, sew with right sides together so a rectangle is made. This rectangle has one half a full colour and the other half with two colours.

Repeat with another full coloured square and another two colour square making sure that the full coloured squares are diagonally opposite each other.

When these two rectangles are placed right sides together the corner squares and coloured squares are opposite each other. Thus giving the bow tie look.

Repeat for the other colours. There should then be four squares each containing a tie of a different colour, if a four square cushion or cover is being made. If it is a bow tie quilt then more will be needed.

Making sure the ties face the same way, sew two squares together to form a rectangle.

Repeat with the other two colours and press seams.

With seams matching place the two rectangles right sides together, sew and press seams.

The block is now complete and can be used on a cushion cover or as part of a more complicated quilt design

I really enjoyed making this block and hope you have as well.

Finishing off a patchwork cushion, quilt or picture

Bow Tie Cushion

The block can also be used in another project straight away or additional material strips called sashing can be sewn in between each block as if to frame each one. This will highlight the single patchwork block whether they are the same pattern or different ones.

In the bow tie picture above the white fabric is the sashing that frames the completed block and the navy fabric around the edge is the frame or border. This navy fabric matched the back of the quilt which was plain navy.

Abstract quilts can be made using different shapes and experimenting with different ideas can give stunning results. That is the one thing I love about sewing, it can always be unpicked if the look isn't what was wanted and I also have done a lot of that.

Enjoy making a bow tie quilt block....

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