Tilt Blocks Tutorial and Free Pattern

Funny things are happening in the Hen House!
Fowl Play by Kanvas is a fun collection I used last year for Benartex and their blog. These fabrics are based on a real life urban chicken farm (the names of the chickens are real!), so that really gives personality to the whimsical prints of chicks, hens, chicken wire and even chicken scratching!

Here is the gist of the blog post and a great way to use a ruler that you probably have in a drawer somewhere in your sewing studio! (The Tri-Recs Tool by Darlene Zimmerman)

NOTE: While you may not be able to find this fabric in your local quilt shop, this pattern works with ANY 5-1/2" square: a beautiful flower, a novelty print, etc.

Q: Debby, why did you choose this particular collection to work with?
A: How could I not? I absolutely love bright prints with good contrast. And I so enjoy the challenge of working with panels and fussy cutting motifs so they get center stage. Those panels of chickens have actual names of real birds from a real farm. How could I resist?

Stack 'em up before I chop 'em up!
Q: How did you decide on a project? What is your process for making a set of blocks into a quilt or other project?
A: I always listen to the fabrics. Once they come into my home and I've folded and stacked them, they begin to get comfortable enough to start giving me ideas. Like I said, I always love the challenge of working with panel prints. I love to get them centered into a block, but not a boring block. The block I share today is my Tilt Block. I began making this around 2001 when I bought Darlene Zimmerman's Tri Recs tools. Rather than bore you with words, let my photos do the talking.

This is the block we are making today
Let's get started:
Why did I use the Tri Recs tool and not just cut over-sized squares or triangles? Because using this type of triangle, the outside edges of all four sides stay on the straight of grain. NO BIAS EDGES.

Not to worry if you don't have the Tri Recs tool. Here is the link to the pdf file for cutting triangles just like this: Hen House Template

The angle of the Tri Recs tool is about 57-1/2 degrees (I think), so I had to guess the height of the triangle to use to "tilt" my block. Not to worry; because we will eventually shave a little off the overhanging edges and this will be fine.

Cut a 5-1/2" x wof strip of the chicken scratch fabric (I had to do a little guessing here)
When the fabric is on the fold, you will get mirror image triangles.
I will use only the triangle on the left in the picture above. You can't mix these two mirror image triangles in one block.

I fussy cut the panels into 5-1/2" squares. Then I audition my triangles to make sure I've got them in the right position. You can use ANY 5-1/2" square - fussy cut a beautiful flower!

All four of these triangles tilt in the same direction
The two sets of triangles I will use for my two blocks.
For the red block to tilt in the opposite direction, I use triangles that are the mirror image of the yellow ones.
Time to pin and sew:
Pin a triangle to two opposing sides. Sew with 1/4" seam. Press AWAY from the center.
 Sew and trim; ALL the outside edges are on the straight of grain. NO BIAS!
Block with all 4 triangles sewn on; trim excess overhang, leaving 1/4" seam allowance
 And can we see several blocks together?
It's always good to lay out all your panels and the matching triangles
I sewed 3 yellow and 3 red blocks. I cut 1-1/2" x 7-1/4" sashing strips (a total of 17). And I cut 12 black chicken wire squares 1-1/2" x 1-1/2". Here are two blocks with sashing strips:

Press toward the sashings and the seams will nestle in opposite directions for a perfect match.
I cut up the border print and used the black background with the nosy hens and chicks as my top and bottom borders. A perfect fit! Here's my little Rocking Out in the Hen House table runner:

Here are the fabric requirements to make this simple runner. I let the fabric do all the work. That's what they told me they wanted to do and I just followed their directions.

Hen House Rock Table Runner
Block Size: 6-3/4" x 6-3/4"
Runner Size: 22" x 33"

One strip of 6 panels with white background (6205-09) OR 6 squares cut 5-1/2" x 5-1/2"
1/4 yard of red with yellow chicks (6204-10)
1/4 yard of yellow chicken scratch (6203-33)
1/4 yard of multi-colored geometric (6200-33)
Fat 1/8th of black/gray chicken wire (6202-12)
1/2 yard border print (6201-12)
1/4 yard red with white dots (6206-10)


  1. Debby, this is just the cutest!! I look to you for inspiration and motivation and am never disappointed. Thanks so much for sharing today.

  2. Great tutorial on tilted blocks - thanks. Love those chickens too...

  3. Nice, very happy. Thanks for sharing. You are and inspiration.

  4. Actually, I have some small donated blocks that this would be perfect for enlarging. Plus I have that ruler, too. And lots of others. LOL Thanks for the great idea!


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Thanks for stopping by Debby Kratovil Quilts! If you had a question and don't get an answer from me, please feel free to email me at: kratovil@his.com