Monday, February 2, 2015

So You Want To Make a 'Tree of Life' Block Like Mine...

A few people have asked about the pattern for the Tree of Life blocks I've been making. I would love to point to you straight to a book, but no... I had to fiddle around and draw up my own. Mostly because I wanted a different style of tree trunk than I was finding!
13 1/2" Finished Tree of Life block
I drew up a larger style block as making hundreds of tiny half square triangles did not appeal. The picture below has the cutting instructions for making the bulk of the tree (units 1, 2 and 3), which include all of the leaves on the tree. If you want to use a mixed fabrics for the leaves as I did, then it's best to cut 12 squares instead of 11, mixing up your fabrics to reach that total. Or you can cut the 11 squares and then add in an extra triangle or two if you have orphan ones in your scrap bin.
Cutting Instructions for Units 1-3
I sewed all of the half square triangles with one of these methods. If you wish to achieve greater accuracy with your hst's then I suggest you cut your squares slightly larger and then trim down after sewing and ironing.

The picture below has the cutting and sewing instructions that I came up with for the tree trunk (unit 4). Mine actually finished up slightly larger than expected and so I just trimmed down after sewing. There was plenty of room at the edge to not worry about cutting off points.
Cutting/Sewing Instructions for Unit 4
After sewing a couple of these tree trunks, I determined that a certain sequence of sewing turned out a better looking unit. If you look at the picture above, I've tried to show you that particular sequence in a picture diagram there at the bottom of the graph paper. Following steps #1 through to #4 {and ironing after every step} produced the very best results for me. Sorry for  the cutting 'abc's' being out of order. The notes to myself were written like this and I chose not to rewrite later after I realized the weird order. Honestly, my handwriting tends to get worse the neater I endeavor to be. A second attempt would could have been fatal!
A closer look at the tree trunk...
As you can see, I chose to make every tree with at least two different leaf fabrics and sometimes three. Most of the trees seemed to look better with an odd number of different looking leaves, but this, of course, will be up to you.
Mixing up the leaves
Even after making all of these Tree of Life blocks, I find that my hst's are still quite the work in progress. When sewing the four units together, I ended up having to use a pin at every single seam and other places as well. Did my blocks all end up at a proper 14" minus seam allowances? Well, no. But they are definitely in the ball park and that's really all I expect {or need}. Trimming down over-large hst's just for accuracies sake is not something I enjoy these days so a less than perfect block is not going to be an issue I stress about.

Oh, and for those that wonder about ironing? I ended up ironing my hst's as usual, but then I didn't iron again on units 1, 2 and 3 until I had the entire Tree of Life block together. It's very important that you iron the Tree Trunk pieces as you sew, but the rest is just pointless. Leaves going every which direction makes for bulky seams no matter what. Just sew your small rows together in a consistent manner, unit by unit, and it all irons out nicely at the end.

My advice is to make one test block before getting in too deep. Best of luck!


  1. Thanks for sharing your method on making these pretty blocks!

  2. gracias por compartir!!!
    preciosos tus bloques
    buena semana

  3. these are beautiful--lotta pieces!! ;--0000 hugs, Julierose

  4. You are just so clever. Not me - I just want a pattern where someone else has done all the figuring..

  5. I really like the shape of your trees, Audrey! Some ToLs can look droopy, but yours are nice and full. And the trunk is just right. I hope you'll see some others popping up now!

  6. I like your attitude about perfection (or lacck od ) Audrey. And i love your blocks. Very "fall" looking.

  7. Oops that was supposed to say "lack of" its very challenging typing on this mini ipad! Please excuse any and further typos.

  8. Your trees of life are beautiful, Audrey! Thanks so much for sharing your method!

  9. Beautiful trees... and many small pieces!

  10. I love these blocks - and have filed the idea away for a possible future project . Love the idea of a test block !

  11. What a refreshing perspective on piecing and accuracy -- thank you!

  12. Great to see your process for making these blocks - thanks for sharing!

  13. Thanks I almost asked last time if you would share. So glad that you did! I just love your trees!

  14. It's great to hear your tricks, tips and suggestions for making trees grow. I do so love your colourful forest.

  15. Hmmm...I told myself that this year I had to finish 5 quilts before I could try something new. One more finish and I already have decided what my next "something new" is going to be. But...nothing was lined up for "something new" after the next five finishes. Now I think there is. I have been admiring your trees every time you post about them. Thanks for sharing your process. So after 6 more finishes some trees may be growing at my house.


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