Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Urban Chicken Block

This month I designed the block of the month for the Portland Modern Quilt Guild based on the logo I designed for our Pacific NW MQG Meet-up. I named it the 'Urban Chicken Block' (it's a Portland thing!) and a friend pointed out that means a finished top can be called a 'coup!'
Meet-up logo that inspired the block design
We made this block during our meet-up charity sewing event, sponsored by Quilters Dream Batting and held at Modern Domestic on Saturday, Aug 17th. There were about 40 people who dropped in and together we created four quilt tops for the ALS Hopes and Dreams Challenge.You can see some of our blocks and quilt tops on Instagram under #mqgmeetuppdx #urbanchicken. We hope to donate ten quilts to the challenge, so please join us in making these if you can! 
Finished Urban Chicken Block is 12"

Here are the instructions for making the Urban Chicken Block
*the photos I took for the tutorial are very dark, so I promise to add better ones to this post soon.

For each block:

Cut 1 each of 4 different shades of the same color solid or low contrast print 3 1/2" wide x 14" long 

Cut 1 WOF of white or off-white solid fabric at least 2 1/2" wide

*All seam allowances are a scant 1/4"

Make The Square Units

1. Cut one 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" square from each strip and set aside. *DON'T SKIP THIS STEP!

2. Sew the four 10 1/2" strips together using 1/4" seam allowance. Press the seams to one side in the same direction.

3. Sew the long ends together to form a 'tube'. Subcut the tube into three 3 1/2" wide units. 

4. Carefully use a seam ripper to open each unit at a different place. Arrange the three rows as you like, nesting the seam allowance and sew together. Press these seams open.

*note: you can also precut twelve 3 1/2" squares and arrange them into three rows of four squares and sew them together.

Make the 'Chickens'

1. Place the white fabric strip over a 3 1/2 x 3 1/2" square right sides together at a angle starting from the top - just past center, to the right side at the bottom or along the side. Stitch along the white fabric with 1/4" seam allowance. Repeat on the remaining three squares.

2. Press the white fabric open and trim the units apart. Square up the units to the original 3 1/2" size. Trim the excess colored solid or low contrast print square (do not trim the extra white off!) leaving 1/4" SA.

3. Repeat on the opposite side, overlapping the white strip at the top to create the top of your triangle. Press and trim

4. Arrange the Chicken units as you like and sew together to form the fourth strip. Stitch that to either side of your square units in what ever direction you chose.

*note: try drawing some 3 1/2" squares with asymmetrical triangles on freezer paper and using it as a base pattern. Add 1/4" seam allowance to your fabric before you cut it out.

Urban Chicken Blocks on the design wall at Modern Domestic.
If you would like to make a block to add to a quilt in our challenge please mail it to the 
Portland Modern Quilt Guild
P.O. Box 6431
Portland, OR 97228

We will accept block donations until December 31st, 2013. Thank you!


  1. I really love the block. I will try to work on one before our next meeting.

  2. These look so great!! Nice work.

    1. Thanks Susie! It was super fun to see these all come together during the Meet-up Charity sew!

  3. I love the block. I will try to get a couple done before September's meeting. The meet up was awesome. You gals did a great job lining everything up.

    1. Thanks Jennifer! Glad you had a good time. I was pretty tired at the end of the weekend but it was worth it!

  4. How fun!! living in Vancouver, across the river, I have five "urban chickens". I do not know when I will have time to sew this block since school started last week and there is not a vacation until November but this fun block is on my list now.

  5. Hi Joyce! I don't have any chickens, but I'd love to. I have a 3 year old yellow lab so that may have to wait for a while. I can't wait to see what you make!

  6. Love this Michelle! Can't wait to try it!