Using the Sierra Reel Block in Quilts

The Sierra Reel block is a perfect example of a block that can be set side-by-side, but is enhanced by linking or overlapping units to create a new design. It is easier than it sounds, because you develop two basic units that are ideal for a three-fabric quilt. Let’s see how.

In Diagram A, four identical Sierra Reel blocks set side-by-side.

Sierra Reel Block - Diagram A

Take the same four blocks but overlap the corners so that the four patches match, Diagram B. Oops, there’s a hole in the middle! Add a Square 8 of fabric that matches the triangles it touches. You can put a square on point in the center of the new square if you choose, but we are showing it without.

Sierra Reel Block - Diagram B 

Are you beginning to see a new pattern? Let’s fill in the corners, Diagram C. This wonderful design can be broken down to these two sub-units that alternate both across and down the quilt:

 Sierra Reel Block - Subunits A and B

The balance of this design is always more pleasant if an extra row is added on one side and the bottom to complete the design.

Sierra Reel Block - Extra Row

The sub-units, of course, can be broken down to four squares. In a three-fabric quilt, it could be:

  1. a four patch block (two light and medium squares).
  2. pieced half-square light and dark triangles.
  3. a light square.
  4. a dark square within a light square.

Simplify the units even more and you can tell your friends you are studying tessellating quilt designs. Tessellating is the hot new buzz word among contemporary quilt artists. It refers to the interlocking of a repetitive shape—in this case, stars, Diagram D.

Sierra Reel Block - Diagram D

 

Download and print out the outline drawings below to color your own Sierra Reel variation.

Sierra Reel Block Grid 

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Sierra Reel Block Grid 2

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