Thursday, November 17, 2011

Turkey Trot Block Tutorial

Today I am sharing this block tutorial with you. I was inspired by several Dresden Plate type turkey blocks that I've seen, to make my own idea of one! Madame Samm, over on Sew WE Quilt has a whole bunch of guest block makers on her blog this week. Mine is there too! I hope you enjoy!

Have you gotten your turkey for Thanksgiving yet, or are you still working on those pumpkin leftovers from Halloween? (I assume all that candy is already gone!) Why not give this turkey block a try! It would make a great table runner or perhaps an assortment of place-mats! Of course you could use it in a quilt too.

This block uses a combination of a Dresden Plate design and an appliqued block. The background fabric should be white or a lighter color. The block should be 12 1/2" square when you are done making it. (12” finished) I suggest using a 13” square of fabric for your background to start with, as often this type of pattern can get wonky as you sew each layer on. When you are done making your block, press it and then cut it to size. (12 ½” square).


  • One - 13” square of background fabric (tan, white, or other lighter color)
  • One - 5” square for the body
  • One - 2 ½” square for the head and a scrap of batting about the same size. (Batting is used to puff out the head).
  • One - 1 ½” x 1” rectangle of red for the *wattle (optional) *The wattle is the red thingy that hangs down along side the beak.
  • One strip - 2 ½” wide by 20” long, for the shorter tail feathers, cut in to five equal pieces (about 4” each) OR five 2 ½”x 4" of different colors.
  • *One - 3” x 4 ½” for center large tail feather
  • *Two - 3” x 4 ½” for two large tail feathers
  • *Two - 3” x 4 ½” for outer large tail feathers

*The large feathers shown in my pattern, are of three different colors. You may make them all the same color if you wish. You can also make the small tail feathers all the same color. This is your block, do it your way!


Trace the templates onto freezer paper. NOTE: You need five of each size of feather. (click here to download a pdf file to print out templates)

The dotted line is the seam allowance. When you trace the pattern pieces onto your freezer paper, you do not need to trace the dotted lines. You do need to allow for a quarter inch seam allowance on your fabric.

Iron the freezer paper onto the wrong side of your fabrics. Remember the shiny side of the freezer paper is the side that gets ironed to the fabric!

Cut out your fabric pieces allowing for a quarter inch seam allowance.

Mark the center of your background square. I do this by folding into fourths and then pressing the center point. Then I open it back up and my center mark is creased in place.

Lay out your cut fabric pieces in the order you want them to appear on your finished block.

Sew together your tail feathers. This is like sewing together a Dresden plate. Match up the tops of the feathers and sew, right sides together, from the top, down, to make your tail feather sets.

Sew the tail feathers together into one set of five larger tail feathers and one set five of smaller tail feathers.

Notice that the bottom of the tail feather sets do not have to be even.

Press seams open.

Clip a thread stitch or two at the top of each joined feather:

Then press the top points over about a quarter inch.

Position the small tail feather set onto the large tail feather set and stitch in the ditch from the top of the small tail feathers, down. This anchors your tail feather sets together.

Press the edges over on the two sides of your feather set, overlapping the small feathers over the large ones. You may want to trim the bottom of your tail feather set, just a little bit, to neaten it up.

Press over the seam allowance on the body.

I leave the freezer paper in, then press, then remove the paper.

Check the layout of your pieces. You can slide the body up or down to get the edges to line up with the tail feather edges.

Pin your feathers and body in place on your background square. Use only one pin, in the upper center of the body. Fold the body up and back, and using chalk or an invisible marker, mark your turkey's toes.

Using a tight zig-zag stitch and embroider your toes.

NO, not YOUR toes, your turkey's toes, silly!!!

I like using a piece of tear-a-way stabilizer on the back of my block for this step, to keep it from puckering. Don't forget to tear off your stabilizer when you are done. You may choose, instead, to embroider the feet by hand, after your block is done, for this step.

Lay the body piece back down and use a few more pins to hold it in place. Now you can appliqué around the outer edges by machine or hand. I like using a blanket stitch for this project. My sewing machine has a pre-programed setting for this. But you can use any method you like. Be sure the edges all stay turned under. You also need to applique or sew across the small tail feather points in the middle. Note: You do not have to sew across the bottom of the tail feathers.

An optional step at this point is to cut away the fabric on the back to reduce bulk.

Be careful not to nick the front fabrics!!!

Next we will work on the head piece. Hand-baste around the edge of the fabric about 1/8th of an inch in. (leave the freezer paper in for now)

Pull the ends of the thread to gather the edges in, and press well.

Remove the freezer paper and place it onto a scrap of batting. I've used cotton batting here:

Touch this gently with your iron to have it 'stick' in place or you can pin it. Cut out the batting by cutting just inside the freezer paper, so your batting piece will end up smaller than your fabric head piece did.

Remove the freezer paper and put your batting piece inside the head piece, tucking it under the folded over seam allowance. If you left your basting thread in, it will help you to get batting tucked inside too. You can then re-press the edges and remove the basting thread.

Take another small bit of stabilizer and put it on the back of your turkey's head, against the batting. Now you can stitch the beak, wattle, or eyes, if you wish. You can also make these pieces in any other way you want to! Some people use a bit of red felt for the wattle. Remove the stabilizer before attaching the head to the block.

I chose to stitch the beak and wattle with my machine. I haven't decided how I will do the eyes for this project, yet. Some ideas for you are to use would be to use a French knot for the eyes and outline a beak. OR use a bit of fabric to appliqué a beak. OR use two little buttons for the eyes. Again, this is YOUR block to finish YOUR way!!!

Position the head in place, on your block, and pin in place. Appliqué it down using the same stitch that you used for the body and feathers.

There you have it! Press well. Do not slide your iron or you will distort your block.

I plan to make a table runner out of my turkeys. I made two blocks and will add a plain center block for length. I might put a full Dresden Plate in the center or I might just use a decorative quilting pattern, in a contrasting color, to dress up the center.

I hope you enjoyed making my block!

Thank you Madame Samm, for including me in your block tutorials this month! It was challenging for me AND fun!

1 comment:

Quilt Rat said...

What fun! Great job.....I'll bet there are lots of turkeys in progress this very moment!!!!