Hey, it’s National Candy Day! Well, really, it was yesterday. But there’s nothing wrong with continuing a celebration of the sugary stuff today—particularly if you give yourself the sweet treat of making a candy-inspired quilt.
“Wonky” may not be an orthodox term in the quilting world, but you know a wonky quilt when you see one. If you’ve ever wondered how to make a wonky quilt block, you’re in for a treat today. We’re talking with Melanie McFarland, co-author with Mary Lou Weidman of the book Out of the Box with Easy Blocks. Melanie’s lollipop quilt features just a touch of wonkiness in the border—look at these fun wrapped candies!
Below, Melanie shows you how to make the main block from her lollipop quilt. Then, she eases you into making those adorable candy blocks.
When you see how easy Melanie and Mary Lou’s freeform piecing can be, you’ll want to make even more whimsical quilts from Out of the Box with Easy Blocks (40% off this week only). So get ready for a new quilting adventure—fun fabric goodies await!
See all the blocks and quilts you can make from Out of the Box with Easy Blocks at the end of this post.
Make a Lollipop Quilt!
November 4th is National Candy Day, so why not celebrate by making a non-caloric giant lollipop, or a trio of pops? The wonky quilt pattern “Lollipops” from Out of the Box with Easy Blocks is perfect for customizing. You can turn it into a seasonal gift or table runner: think fall colors, Christmas or Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day pinks and reds, or spring pastels for a perfectly sweet color scheme.
In my opinion, the lollipop quilt is the easiest pattern in the book! In the example below, I’m using a fat-quarter bundle from the “Shadow Flower” collection by Windham Fabrics for the lollipop, and a light aqua background from my stash. You need to make only one lollipop for a darling mini quilt, and it’s fast, too.
Follow along to learn how easy it is to make a lollipop quilt!
Sewing the Lollipop
1. Download the triangle template and print it. Place a sheet of tracing paper over the pattern. Using a Sharpie or other permanent marker and a ruler, trace the pattern. I drew in the perpendicular grainline, through the center, and noted the height is 6⅜”.
I traced my pattern from the book.
2. Cut the triangle wedges for the lollipop. I love to use striped fabrics for this block. If you fussy cut strips on the horizontal, they create a fun pattern around the circular candy. First, cut a strip approximately 6⅜” wide across the fabric, from selvage to selvage. Then place the triangle template’s shortest side against the long cut edge of the fabric strip. Trace around the edges of the triangle and cut using a ruler and rotary cutter. To make best use of the fabric, flip the template so that the short edge is against the opposite side of the strip and one long edge is aligned with the angled edge you just cut. Pattern weights will help hold the template in place before you start cutting.
3. Cut a 1¾” x 15½” strip for the lollipop stick. Because I like the realistic look of wood, I used a brown wavy striped fabric for the stick. You could also use solids, in black or tan, or even a fabric color-cued to your quilt theme.
4. For the background, cut the following pieces:
- 2 squares, 5″ x 5″; cut in half diagonally to make 4 triangles
- 2 rectangles, 7½” x 15½” (left and right of stick)
- 1 strip, 3½” x 15½” (top of lollipop)
- 12 strips, 2½” x 11½” (left and right of lollipop)
- Approximately 16 squares, 2½” x 2½” (for the candy border)
5. Take the time to lay out the lollipop portion before sewing. Because you cut the triangles from opposite sides of the strip, you’ll want to check that the stripes alternate in every other wedge (or not, for extra crazy!). Sew the pieces together to make an octagon.
6. Attach the background triangles to every other striped triangle to make four corners. (Make sure you sew the long edge of the background triangle to the striped triangle.) I like to use pins now and again, to hold things together. Mary Lou doesn’t bother (I think it slows her down). Stitch the triangles to the lollipop portion, sewing to the end of the background piece.
7. Press the background pieces open and trim the excess background, aligning the ruler with the edges of the lollipop portion.
8. To complete the lollipop center of your quilt, sew the 2½” x 11½” background strips to opposite sides of your lollipop unit. Press the seam allowances toward the background fabric. Then sew the 3½” x 15½” background strip to the top of the lollipop and press. Sew the 7½” x 15½” background pieces to each side of the 1¾” x 15½” stick, and then join the stick unit to the bottom of the lollipop. Square up your block. Your lollipop block should end up anywhere from 14½” to 15″.
Sewing the Wrapped Candies
Here’s how we assemble the candy. Remember, we’re sewing them wonky so each one may be a bit different. Let go and have fun!
1. To make the candy border, strip-cut the fabric for the candy pieces. Cut a 2½” strip across the width of the fabric, selvage to selvage. Cut each strip into 2½” squares to make the individual portions of the candy.
2. Place your colorful candy portions (the 2½” squares) right-side-up, on your machine’s soleplate area. Place your background strip under the presser foot, wrong side up.
3. Notice that three units make up each finished candy block. In the two outer units (the twisted wrapper ends), the bright fabric is a triangle with two more triangles of background fabric at top and bottom. In the remaining unit (the candy in the middle), one piece of bright fabric is surrounded by small triangles of background fabric at each corner.
4. Insert the squares of candy fabric, one at a time, between the soleplate and the background strip. For each end unit, expose a long triangle of candy fabric beyond the background strip. For each middle unit, expose a smaller triangle. Begin stitching a ¼” seam, along the long edge of the background strip, catching the candy portions as you go.
5. Remove the sewn strip and it should look something like this, background on top and colorful pieces underneath, with right sides facing each other.
6. Flip the sewn pieces, so that they are both wrong side up as shown below, and press from this back side.
7. Still from the back, trim the pieced candy units along the edges of each 2½” square.
8. Repeat step 6, this time sewing a background strip to the other side of the candy pieces. Here’s what it looks like, after you repeat the step, showing more background and looking closer to the finished appearance of the block.
9. Keep stitching and trimming until your finished units look something like this, and then join the units to make a candy piece. (I could sew these candies all day!) In the quilt shown, I used 14 candies total: 2 each for the top and bottom borders and 5 for each side.
10. Sew a contrasting narrow inner border around your lollipop block (mine is about 1″ wide, finished).
11. For the top and bottom borders, join two candy units and three 2½” background squares, alternating the candies and background pieces. Measure your quilt top from side to side through the center, and then trim your border strips to that length—it’s okay to cut off part of the candy pieces; remember, this is wonky sewing! Then sew the border strips to the top and bottom of the quilt top.
12. For the side borders, join five candies and four 2½” background squares, alternating the candies and background pieces. Measure your quilt top from top to bottom through the center, including the just-added borders. Trim your border strips to that length and then sew the borders to the sides of the quilt top.
13. Layer, baste, and quilt your lollipop quilt, then bind the edges. (For help with quilt-finishing techniques, go here.)
All done. Hurrah—give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve learned a new technique and had fun doing it. Now you can make more of the quilts from the book Out of the Box with Easy Blocks!
Thanks for the sweet tutorial, Melanie!
Check all the step-by-step block patterns you can stitch from Out of the Box with Easy Blocks:
The book also includes instructions for piecing your own freeform letters, like these:
Finally, Melanie and Mary Lou offer directions for making freeform-pieced borders featuring Monkey Wrench blocks, Flying Geese, and all kinds of “hoochy” angles from fabric strips.
Are you ready to step out of the box—or are you already box-free? Tell us your story in the comments. Then pick up your copy of Out of the Box with Easy Blocks—40% off this week only—and instantly download the eBook for free!