54-40 or Fight Freestyle Quilt Tutorial

Jenny Doan

54-40 or Fight Freestyle Quilt Tutorial

Quilt Size: 75" x 75"
Jenny demonstrates how to make a gorgeous freestyle Fifty-four Forty or Fight quilt using 10 inch squares of precut fabric (layer cakes). Jenny used a Grunge "Seeing Stars" Metallic Layer Cake by Basic Grey for Moda Fabrics.
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video transcript

Hi everybody, it’s Jenny from the MSQC. And I’ve got a fun project for you today. This is a project I have waited for sometime to do. It’s one of my favorite quilts. For awhile I was bringing home these antique quilts and I’d say to Natalie, we’ve got to do a tutorial on this. And she would say, Mom it’s the same thing. It’s 54-40 or Fight. And it’s just how the colors were different and the layout is different. So this is a quilt with a lot of options. So let’s take a look at this quilt behind me. So this, this looks so illusional. It looks like we’ve got curved piecing in here. The pattern is awesome. I just love how it comes together. And we’ve got an easy way for you to do it. So no stress. This is one of those quilts, one of those quilts where if it looks hard to you watch the tutorial because it’s way easier than you think. Alright.

So to make this quilt what you’re going to need is one packet of ten inch squares. And we have used The Grunge Seeing Stars by Basic Gray for Moda. You’re going to also need a packet of ten inch squares for all your background squares or you can use yardage. If you use yardage you’re going to use 3 ¼ yards. And that also includes this inner border right here. The outer border out here is a six inch border and you’re going to need a yard and a half for that. Now on the backing here again we’ve used this cute Seeing Stars Grunge fabric. And you’re going to need a yard or excuse me, 4 ¾ yards for that. So this quilt is called 54-40 or Fight. And that was a dispute in the 1800’s over borders between us and the British. And you can look up and read all about it on Wikipedia. It’s a really interesting concept how the quilters actually made quilts to support their cause. And it was called 54-40 or Fight. Alright so let’s talk about how to do this.

So this quilt is actually made with two blocks. We have this block here which is basically four patches and star legs. And then we have this plain block here which is a churn dash, a simple churn dash. And let me show you how it fits here. So here’s where this goes here. And so we’re going to start with this one. This one is really fun. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to take our, our piece of fabric right here. And we’re going to cut it into four, five inch squares because we need to make half square triangles out of them. So I’m going to take two of these because it only takes two to make four, if that makes any sense. I hope it does. It will by the time we’re done. Alright so what we’re going to do then is we’re going to take these squares and we are going to sew a line, or draw a line and sew on either side of them to make this. You can iron the line as well. It’s your preference. I’m just going to draw mine on there. And we’re going to sew on either side. One of the filmers just corrected me and said that this could be a shoefly block, not a churn dash block. It’s the same style of block kind of so I actually don’t think it matters really what it’s called. It’s a great block and it’s an easy block. So let me show you. We’ll just get onto to making it. So we’re just going to sew on either side of this line or both blocks. . So I sew down and then I just pull it around like this and sew down the other side. Alright there’s one and now here’s the next one. And down both sides of that line. And that’s going to make us two or four half square triangles. And so now we’re going to cut down the middle on our drawn line like this. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to lay my half square triangle here and I’m going to lay my, this is called the Clearly Perfect slotted trimmer. And I’m going to name it or lay it right here. The stitch line matches my stitch line. And this trims them, your half square triangles so easily. Alright so here we go, we’re over here. And we’re going to cut here. And then two more. And we’re trimming these to 4 ½. And last one here. Alright.

Alright so now let’s press these open. Alright so four of these. Now one of the things to remember is that when you’re making a block that has three rows of three. It’s a basic nine patch block. All your blocks have to be the same size so we have now made these half square triangles that are 4 ½ so all of our other blocks need to be 4 ½. So we’re going to get these all set with the dark colors coming in on the corner. And then our center block we’ve trimmed to 4 ½ already. And so it’s going to go here. And all the rest of these are white blocks. And they will need to be trimmed to 4 ½ as well. So let me grab, I need four of those. And basically what I’m going to do is show you how to make these two blocks. Because then when you put them together you just stagger it and it’s just quick and easy. So once you know how to make the blocks you’re going to be home free. Alright so this is a five inch block. I’m going to take a half an inch off two sides like this. And then we’re going to set these in here like this. And then we’ll just sew three rows of three together. See how that comes together, just like that. And so now all of these blocks are 4 ½ and let’s sew our rows together.

So basically what I”m going to do is sew half of the block at one time. So I’m going to take this first one right here, sew down the side like this. Now I’m going to grab the next two right here. And I’m going to chain piece these together. And then this block is going to come over here and lay on top of this one. And then these two I’m going to grab as well and sew a quarter of an inch right down the side right here. Alright so now what I’m going to do is I’m going to flip this row around and sew these other pieces to the other side of the row just like this. So it, this is a good time to remember that when you’re putting these half square triangle rows together the largest part of your color goes against that middle square. I have to always remember those things so that, otherwise I’ll end up with one that’s going one funny way. Alright, then the white goes on the other side of this one, or the background, whatever color you choose. And then this one comes over here and it’s going to go together this way. Alright so now what we’re going to do is we’re going to open this up and make sure that all of these are going the right way. And because I’ve chain pieced them like that the block is together. I don’t even have to pin. And I’m just going to lay these over and sew these rows together just like that. So we want to make sure that we match the junctions, you know the little, the little, where the seams come together. And so we’re going to just have one go one way and one go the other way and feel for that nesting. Alright so now we’re just going to sew a quarter of an inch right down the side and attach these rows together. Alright. Now we’re on to the top two rows and our block will be finished just like that. Alright so now you’re going to line up this next row. And we are going to nest our seams right up here. I’m feeling, making sure that they’re nice and tight. There we go. Alright. And block number one is done. And I’m just going to press that right here. Make it lay all nice. Alright so once you get this all pressed you’re just going to start making several of them. You’re going to actually make 12 for this quilt, for one this size. And 13 of the other block.

This is our other block right here. And we’re going to start with our corner blocks. They’re four patches. And so to make a four patch, what you want to do is you want start with a five inch square. And we’re going to cut ours, cut our piece in half right here because two five inch squares is going to make four four patches. So we’re going to cut this into two five inch squares. And then we’re going to make four patches out of them. So the way I like to make four patches for this one is I’m going to take my two background squares like this. And I’m going to sew down both sides, just the sides of these blocks. So let’s do that. So now when I finish this one I’m just going to go onto the next one. And then I can turn them both around and come up the other side. So we’re only sewing the sides. Alright. So now what we’re going to do is I’m going to cut these apart. Although you don’t have to but I do. I have to. And then we’re going to measure 2 ½ from the edge and cut these in half like this. And then one more here. There we go. And then we’re going to press these open and we are going to press to the dark side. So I”m going to set my seam. Can you still see everything here? I’m going to set my seam and roll these back like this. Make a little stack of them. And one more. Alright.

So now what we’re going to do is we’re going to put these together opposite sides. So the blue goes to the white and the white to the blue. And then we’re going to sew the sides again and cut them in half. So just make sure your colors are opposite. Let me iron that seam a little bit better. Give it a little shot of steam. And we’re going to sew a quarter of an inch just on the sides. Alright, now I take a few stitches and then I just make sure that’s nested up there real nice. And I”m just going to swing this around to the other side. I could have chain pieced it but I forgot my piece. So let’s make sure this fits together nice. And then grab this other one. Alright line it up. Sew a quarter of an inch down. And then I’m going to come around here and do this side as well and make sure it stays lined up. Sometimes they can get a little wonky on you. Alright now again we’re going to cut these in half and that will give us our four four patches for the corners. So 2 ½ from the edge and 2 ½ from the edge. Alright and there’s your four patches right there. So let’s press those open. And these four patches should be 4 ½ inches. That’s what we’re shooting for anyway. Alright so we’ve pressed, we’re going to press all of these open. Get them ready to go. And then we’re just going to set them aside. And now we’re going to do the star legs.

Now with the star legs you’ll notice that these, that the color is the background. And the legs are the white part. So this is where the freestyle part comes in. And I love being able to do this because generally you need, well you need templates to do this block. And I wanted to do it without templates. So this is where that fun comes in. So what we’re going to do is I’m going to take and I’m going to cut this into a five inch square right here like this. And this is my background. And I’m going to cut these in half so I have, I should have two 2 ½ by five inch rectangles for each block. Let me see how many I did here. One, two, three, four, so perfect. Now I need four of the background color so I’m going to choose another piece from here. And, and these blocks have to be 4 ½ because remember all our blocks have to be the same size. So these outer blocks have to be 4 ½ which means I’m going to cut these from the layer cake, 4 ½ like this. So 4 ½ and then another 4 ½ inch strip which gives me a little, just a tiny little strip leftover for some string piecing later. And then I’m going to cut these at 4 ½ as well. Alrighty. Wait a minute. Make sure it’s all lined up nice. Alright.

So now what we’re going to do to make the star legs, I’m just going to stack these over here. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to take our little rectangles 2 ½ by five. And we’re going to lay them like this. It doesn’t really matter where they end up. It matters that this part right here crosses over the middle. So if you’re worried about that make a little crease in the top. Look at that crease. I can actually make a line here. You could look at that little line and make sure that when you put your leg on there that it’s past that. And so I”m just going to sew that on like this. And then I’m going to press this back. So I’m just going to come over here and press this back. And then I’ll sew the other leg on. And the other leg also has to cross over like this, cross over the top. And then you just bring it down however long you want that leg to be. Because I’m a creature of habit mine tend to end up almost in the same place every time. But, then what we’re going to do is we’re going to sew this a quarter of an inch down and iron this back like this. And this is what it looks like finished. But we’re going to flip it over. We’re going to use this square as our template and we’re just going to cut those pieces off. So we’re going to trim this up like that, like this and cut this side off like this. So now this looks like star legs. So we’re going to go ahead and make four of those. And when I do this I chain piece them. I do all one side. And I cross them over and sew down all one side like this. One oop. And this becomes that fun kind of sewing that doesn’t have to be exact. You know I really like this kind of sewing where it’s like oh we’re making legs and it’s ok wherever they end up, you know. Alright so then what I do is I just kind of fingerpress these back while I’m sitting here. And I do this just because I’m the laziest sewer. I don’t want to get up and go to the iron. Actually when I make these in my studio I have a little nest. I have my ironing board right here. And I have my cutting mat right there. And then I don’t actually have to get up and move which probably isn’t the healthiest tip you’ve had today. Alright so let’s lay these across and sew up the other side. And we’ll do the same thing. You know what I’m going to take these apart because I’m getting confused where my angle is. Make sure you watch. Alright so here we go. A nice leg down there. And then this one. And we just again, we’re going to put our legs so it crosses over up here goes down as long as we want it. Alright now let’s press these open and trim these. Now somebody asked me once if you need to cut that background fabric off. You can if you want to. That’s entirely up to you. I know for a fact that a quilt machine can actually go through that, through that, through two layers of fabric. You know it’s gone through my finger before and it’s gone through a metal ruler before so I do know that it can, it can sew through so it’s kind of up to you. I leave it. This whole quilt was made I didn’t trim any of those background pieces. I think it looks fine. You know just don’t stress over some of those little details too much. Alright again what we’re doing is we’re flipping these over using the charm square as our pattern and trimming all three sides. This would be a great time to use a rotary mat you could zip that around. Alright one more.

So now you’ve got your blocks all ready to go and we’re ready to lay it out. Our star legs are going to go opposite of each other like this, all pointing in toward the middle. All those points come in to toward the middle. Our corner squares are our four patches and you’re going to want to put the dark color in, the dark color touches the white star legs. And that’s true on all four sides. So you want your dark color facing in on all four sides. And then your center square so let’s talk about that for a minute because this block here has a different center square. And when we were making this we did some design things because color makes a huge difference on this quilt. And we ended up going with, right here you can see. This is actually pretty close to the block I’m making. But we made our center square the same as our four patches which means our center square here has got to be blue like our four patches. And it brings the block together. We just felt that that helped it criss cross a little better. But that’s entirely up to you. Have fun with this and play with this and see what happens as you start putting things together.

So now we’re going to sew these rows together. And we’re going to do them just like we did our other ones. So I’m going to sew the sides of all of these like this as I go along. And this is the side of our middle row and this is the side of our bottom row. And it just helps me kind of keep it together when I do this. And then you’re going to flip these around and put your blocks on the other side as well. So just make sure that your dark color stays up close by the white leg. There we go. And this is our middle block and it has star legs pointing toward the center like this. And then this is our last one here. And again it’s got the four patch where the dark color goes, toward the middle. Now we’re ready to attach our rows. And we just want to open this up and make sure that everything is going the right direction. And it is. So we’ll lay that right on top of each other. And make sure our seams nest up. Now one of the things that’s nice about this is because on the star legs because we cut that block down to 4 ½ you’ve got plenty of room to sew your seam you won’t lose your point at all which I really like. So then we don’t, you know it’s nice when you can have good sharp points without any stress. And that’s what we have here, good sharp points with no stress. Alright now this second block is ready to go. And so let me iron that. And you’re going to need just one more of these, so 13 of these to make this size quilt. And these, they’re just beautiful aren’t they stunning.

So then you’re just going to set them together. And you’re going to start with your four patch and your shoefly block and your four patch block and your shoefly block. And let’s look at the quilt behind me. So right here we’ve started with this four patch block right here. You can see that. And then the shoefly block and then the four patch, the shoefly, and the four patch. So the next row you’re just going to stagger it. And so you start, or over here we’re going to start with the shoefly block and it just staggers them. And it makes these cool patterns that look like there’s curves and all kinds of fun things going on. And it just make such a great quilt. So I hope you have fun with this. And I hope you enjoy it. We’re calling it the 54-40 or Fight Freestyle block because we had some fun with those legs and did it with no templates. And we hope you enjoyed this tutorial from the MSQC.

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