Tips for Making the Liberated Checkerboard

Posted by on July 5, 2011 in blocks | 4 comments

A few people have shared their observations about making this block.  Even though more than 100 blocks have already been made and posted, I’m guessing there will be many more to come.  So . . . if you haven’t yet tried the block, you may find these notes useful . . .  and if you have, you may want to add some tips of your own  as a comment and I’ll edit this post to include everyone’s suggestions.

From Linda (in Dallas):

  • For the first pair, use 2 fabrics that have a definite wrong and right side ; a white on white print and tone on tone bright.  That way if a cut piece goes walkabout a bit, it’s easier to match it’s shape into the liberated “grid. ” (I used a solid color and a w-o-w so had a slight panic when a piece stuck to another).
  • When matching seams, since seams aren’t perpendicular to cut edge, you should only match pin with seams at the 1/4″ spot from the edge.  The pin won’t match the seams further into the piece, and you’ll distort the fabric if you try to force a match.
Julie noted: 
  • The intersections of all the “squares” aren’t really supposed to match up, are they? Seems like if you’re cutting the blocks wonky, there’s no way for them to match when you sew them back together…  at least mine don’t!

About those intersections, both Linda and Julie are correct.  Depending upon the angle of your cuts, it may not be possible to match the seams.  Please make your best effort, but don’t panic if you don’t have matching seams.  These are liberated blocks and you don’t need to make perfect 16-patches.

Krista suggested that we take the same approach as in our Tic Tac Toe blocks:

  1. make 3 vertical cuts
  2. swap 2nd & 4th strips between blocks, and sew together to make two striped blocks. 
  3. Press the two blocks in opposite directions
  4. make 3 horizontal cuts
  5. swap the 2nd and fourth rows from one block to the other
  6. stitch and press

This would definitely work … and probably Krista or I will work up an example and Sara blogged some of her in-progress photos here. My intuition is that the intersections will be even less likely to match … but that’s really OK.

Does anyone else have a tip to share?


  1. As I said in my post, the "matching" of seams that we quilters are so bent on doing kinda goes out the window on this one, but your example made it clear that it was okay! Really, the pieces being left chained together made the block end well, and most do match enough to bring a smile at the completion! They ended pretty square, too. Great block Sophie!
    :-} pokey

  2. Why aren't we sewing these in strips, like the tic-tac-toe was done last year? I hadn't looked at the directions earlier, but it seems this would be easier, and would minimize the chance of mis-orienting one of the 16 little bits:

    – make 3 vertical cuts
    – swap 2nd & 4th strips between blocks, and sew together to make two striped blocks. Press the two blocks in opposite directions
    – make 3 horizontal cuts
    – swap the 2nd and fourth rows from one block to the other
    – stitch and press

    I may just have to make a couple of pairs this week, to try this out.

  3. my dear husband was kind enough to point out all the seams that didn't match, with the comment "quality control" (LOL) I guess I've trained him too well and am now living with the quilt police!

  4. DH as the quilt police — sounds like a horror story 😉

    I could tell Krista and all of you that I took this approach to making the blocks because I thought it would be good practice for sewing "liberated" squares and odd angles together, but the truth is … doh! I didn't think of doing it like the tic-tac-toe blocks 😉

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