Burst Block Quilt Tutorial

burst blocks

The Burst Block Quilt: An Easy Quilt Tutorial with Rob Appell of Man Sewing. Rob shows us how to make an amazing Burst Block Quilt using Layer Cakes (10 inch squares of precut fabric), Peltex, and yardage.

Find all the details here: http://land.mansewing.com/burst-block-1/

We’ve created a diagram to show you the proportions for this block. This is NOT to scale, so keep that in mind if you try printing it. The raw block will be 10×10″, so you won’t be able to print a ‘to scale’ pattern.

Burst Block Diagram: http://mansewing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/burstblock.pdf

Transcript (Downloadable PDF Here):

Hey, welcome back everybody to Man Sewing. This is Rob. And today I’m going to show you how to do a burst block. And I know what you’re thinking, you’re saying, gosh, what’s a burst block? I’ve been through the library of a hundred different blocks out there and I haven’t seen burst block written down. Well the burst block for me started in this quilt here. And this is the quilt I designed to actually help raise money for Operation Homefront through Quilted and Honor and Island Batik. And I did want you to know all that because it’s a great veteran’s fundraising project that you can participate in out there.  But what I want you to see is the red and white stripes coming together in the background. That is the burst block. And for this particular one I was basically making one so it was easy enough to just measure and cut and trim and measure and cut and trim. But that’s way more complicated than what I want you to have to do. And we’re going to make lots of smaller blocks to make the very wonderful quilt that’s right behind me here.


So what you’re going to need to make this terrific quilt behind me today is basically one of the 10 inch squares or the layer cakes. This is the Moda Rustic Weave. And then I actually chose this lighter fabric and went and picked up a yard’s worth of that. And I pre-cut my yard down to 10 inch squares so this whole thing will work out of a layer cake. But I want you to have one fabric that remains consistent throughout all of the blocks. That’s going to be called your background fabric and it’s the white fabric you see behind me. I’d also like you to have a little bit of a heavy fusible stabilizer. This is called Peltex. We’re going to make our template out of this in just a moment. I’ll show you how to do that. But before we get started with that, I also need a nice fine-tip sharpie because we’re going to be drawing along the lines of the ruler. And a couple of nice long rulers, a hot iron, a cutting blade, sewing machine. All those basic things.


Ok, as we’re all getting started here, let me show you the base unit. This is one of the squares that comes together in the burst block. And so basically there’s your background fabric and then these are cut from one of the layer cake squares. And I’m going to now lay out this template for you. In making your template, basically I’ve used the Peltex. I’ve pre-pressed it or pre-ironed it already to a fabric so that when I’m using it against my template, or against my pieces, I know exactly what I’m looking at. I have gone ahead and I’ve drawn the math in for us. And I’m going to cut these out here in just a second. So follow along close. Up here and down here are your 90 degree corners for your block. Starting there, I’m going to come over three inches and I’m going to make a mark. And then I’m going to come up from the bottom corner one and a half and make a mark. I’m going to connect those two lines with my ruler like this. And then I’m going to draw the lines in first. This is one of those places where you want to measure twice, cut once. Here’s the rest of the math for you. So I have three and one and a half, here’s three again and one and quarter this time. Two and one and a quarter, one and a quarter and one. This last little piece here will not necessarily need to be cut for a template because it will trimmed into position with the last piece of the background fabric. If you’re thinking that you should go ahead and make your template, and then make all your pieces at once, stop there. Please follow along. I’m going to walk you through it. We’re just going to start with our piece number one. We’ll have two pieces numbered 2’d, numbered 2, two pieces numbered 3 and pieces numbered 4.


So I’m ready to cut this bad boy out now. I’m going to go ahead and grab my rotary cutter and my ruler and I’m going to drop that ruler right on my lines. And you want to be nice and accurate with this because this is going to control the rest of the project. Ok, we won’t need these. So now again, I’m going to set my fours aside. Those will be the last pieces we use. Then the threes, down to the twos, and now the ones.


So there’s a little bit more prep work we have to do for our fabric, right? So with that, I can stack maybe four or six layers depending on how sharp your blade is and how accurate of a cutter you are. Of my background or my white fabrics. The reason I put the fabric on one of the sides of my template is so I always knew which side of the template I was using. And technically now, I can just go ahead and lay my ruler right along that template edge and I’m going to go ahead and cut. So I’m just going to cut this here. And then I’m just going to cut on this side. I do consider this bad rotary cutting. Definitely not the way you’re supposed to use your rotary cutter at home but sometimes it’s just a little easier the way we’re set up here. Next step that’s really important, no matter how many layers you stack, let’s keep these together and just set them in two separate piles. We’re going to need these triangles later as we start adding on. So just remember for each independent block unit you have, you’re going to be able to use one of your colored squares and one of your background squares. And you’ll be able to get all of the math done. So here are a couple of those center pieces. I’m going to need one in a moment so I’ll set it over there. Set the other one aside. And then I’m also going to grab a couple of my layer cakes. I don’t know, let’s do three or so. And I want these fairly tidy. They don’t have to be perfect. And I’m going to take my rotary cutter and my ruler here one more time. And I’m going to cut the hypotenuse. What you say? I’m going to cut the diagonal line. That’s what the hypotenuse means. So I’m just cutting up a line there. And now I have two separate sets of triangles also. And I’m going to set these aside, keeping them in their own stacks. Because from that point on, it’s all about the sewing. So this is why we didn’t cut all the pieces at once.


I’m going to simply take one of my center background fabrics, and I’m going to join, and I’m going to sew both side and then press both sides. So as I take this piece here, I’m going to lay it down here. And you’ll notice, I’m just going to pull this back a little bit so you can see. I’ve got roughly an inch on either side. Because when we’re dealing with weird angles and weird corners, you want to make sure you’ve got what you need there. So I’ve got a little overlap. And then I’m just going to come to my sewing machine, and I’m going to make sure that I’m set up for a quarter inch seam allowance. And I’m going to begin to sew. This is real basic. Although you’re working on the bias so a little slower sewing machine is nice. If you have a walking foot or a dual feed system on your machine, it would be a great time to engage those things. Try not to push and pull on your fabric because when they’re on the bias, they stretch a little bit more. So you just want to be cautious with that. And now I’m going to grab my other square or my other triangle. It was a square at one point. Just like yay. And I’m going to go ahead and stitch this to the other side of that white piece or the piece I labeled number one in my template. Ok, just like that. Super easy. Let’s make a little bit of space for ourselves. I’m going to need this in a moment. I can set these out of our way. There, there, there and we’re going to need this.


Now I’m going to iron these both open. So I’m using the flat side of my iron when I come into that. Try not to press too much on the other side because I hadn’t really set that seam nice and tidy yet. Voila! just like that. Ok, so that part’s super easy, obviously. We’re going to need these white triangles here in a moment so I’m going to move those up here. I think I need to lose one of these rulers.


Now this is where the template pieces come into play. So I’m going to get my pieces that are labeled number two. And again I put my fabric on there so that I could tell which side was up. Let’s take a moment and slow down here and just point out that they’re not going to necessarily hit the edges because when I made my template, there was no quarter inch seam allowance. What I want you to have to your advantage is this line right here. I’m not concerned if these don’t touch. Because I’m going to do the cutting on that just like I did the cutting earlier where I lay my ruler safely on top of the template. And I’m going to cut down. Now what’s funny is, the way you manage your cutting of these parts is what gives you enough leftovers of your triangles to work with later. So you may want to, as you get into the smaller triangles I’ll show you, you’re going to want to trim first. It will make sense in a second, in the next round. So I cut the template line first on this round. The next round, I’m going to do this. I’m taking my ruler and I’m actually lining it up more so along that bottom edge there. So what I’ve got is a nice little straight edge across that bottom line and so that gives me the opportunity to cut this perpendicular here. And I’m going to start working my way all the way around the block, looking more at the corner of the white center piece than at the rest of the unit, until it starts to really form because that’s where the true line is. See how easy this is. It’s a snap. Of course I’m cutting now: See how easy this is, it’s a snap. Now I can look at you all, ok. So that’s the first piece going together. Super easy.


Now I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to get the white triangles that were leftover from when I cut and I’m going to sew these together. I’m going to look real close to make sure this rustic weave, it has this neat little texture, this little print in there, and I’m going to make sure that I have the right sides up. The other thing that I’m looking at is this corner here. If I start right at the edges, sometimes the seam allowance doesn’t allow me to open up and have quite enough so I always cheat just a little bit on both sides of the base fabric. A quarter inch seam allowances again. And I’m going to do the next side before I return to the ironing board. Double checking my work.


And like I said, you can create these blocks on your own by simply using mathematics and, and coming down. So basically as you notice, I was kind of making the math get smaller and smaller off the big top edge and then as I came down towards the bottom, it was getting smaller a little bit but not by much nearly as much proportionally. So that’s kind of how you get that burst block. But you wouldn’t want to have to measure, trim, cut for 16 different blocks. You’d much rather do this. Now I’m squaring it first because I’m going to maximize my triangle that’s leftover. Like that. Like that. Like that. And if you’re panicking at home, I am too right now because that doesn’t look right. But that’s ok because we’re going to lay this piece in here. Now I can breathe again. Because I was panicking. And once that gets laid on there, I happen to have just enough fabric. Look at that–beautiful. Ok, let’s finish this last one and get this block done so you can start making your own burst block quilts here. Ta dah! Ok, and now I’m returning back to those little white triangles I had. Grab those and make sure they’re going to fit in there as I want them too. And the white will be our finishing so just make sure it fits. Don’t have to be quite as worried any longer that you’re going to have enough cloth. Guess what, quarter inch seam allowances. At least do your best at a quarter inch seam allowance. If you’re going fast and talking, it might not work out perfect. That’s my excuse anyways.


Now the fun for me was not only creating the big quilt with the eagle on it. That quilt’s name is Coming Home, by the way. But what was super fun was putting all the colored blocks together that you do see behind me and watching the whole magic of the burst explode. And that was kind of the benefit of working with the team here and I should tell somebody, I don’t know if I can say this on camera or not, but this is part of MSQC as well and I’ve got that whole awesome group of people that I’m networking with and doing Man Sewing. And so behind that I come up with an idea and then they help me grow that idea. So I was just going to teach you how to do one block, and Natalie said, why don’t we do a bunch of blocks with all these colors and have it come together awesome. And that’s exactly what happened behind me and I’m so excited about that quilt too. But that’s, that is why we quilt together, right? The community and the networking. Are you excited? I am. This is it, this is the final cut and we are done. Do, dah doo, doo. And that looks like I have a little issue there from going fast and bragging about how it wouldn’t be a problem. Ha, ha! Beginner’s luck. Well we’ll make that go away in the next seam allowance.


And that next seam allowance is literally just going to come together here like this. And you’re going to make another quarter inch seam allowance by taking your right sides together. Stitch that quarter inch seam allowance there and when you open this back up, you’re going to have this fantastic bursting block like you see right here behind me. And that is it. It’s that simple. It’s that easy so go to your stash. Go to your local quilt shop. Get a bunch of fantastic stuff. Get yourself some layer cakes and make yourself some burst quilts. Send me your photographs. Send me your comments. We’re dying to hear from you here at Man Sewing. We’ll see you next time.


posted: Intermediate Quilting Tutorials, Layer Cakes, Quilts and Quilt Blocks | tagged: , , ,
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  • Charleen Haugen

    I love this pattern. It shows that we could create many different designs doing a template like you did. A fun and different quitting idea.

  • Jackie R

    any idea if pdf will follow ?