Plus and X Block Instructions
One thing we’ve talked about in Scrap Quilt Secrets is the Plus and X Block. It became popular a few years back when a Japanese quilter named Setsuko Inagawa entered a quilt with this block into the Tokyo show, and a quilter named Jan Burgwinkle took photos and posted them on flickr. People went wild and soon there were Plus and X quilts popping up everywhere.
I made mine in the first few years of the frenzy and I didn’t pay any attention to value. Here’s what I mean.
Sometimes the X shows up. Sometimes the plus shows up. Sometimes the background is light, or maybe it’s dark. I was all helter skelter with my choices.
You can do the same thing or you can be more deliberate about the values of light, medium and dark. You might get some cool effects because remember that value is relative. Whether a fabric is light, medium or dark depends somewhat on its neighbors.
Here’s one look you might get with a dark background (shown brown), light outer squares (shown aqua), and mediums for the X (shown hot pink) and the Plus (shown blue). But if you changed it up to be scrappy…
…the values might look more like what you see above. Let’s translate that into fabrics:
Isn’t this exciting?! Your scraps that might not seem to “go together” at all can turn into something amazing! It’s actually better if they don’t “match” at all!
“Matching” is for getting dressed,
not for making a scrap quilt!
Here’s another set of colors:
It’s really fine to put the values where YOU want them. And trying different mixtures and placement of light, medium and dark will be good exercise for your creative muscles.
Since we’ve been dealing with the family of 2″ and 4″ patches in Scrap Quilt Secrets, I’m going to stick with that. Here’s what you need:
CUTTING for 10″ BLOCK
Background, shown dark blue: 8 squares 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″
X, shown gold: 4 squares 4-1/2″ x 4-1/2″
Outer squares, shown green: 4 squares 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″
Plus, shown blue: 2 squares 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″
1 rectangle 2-1/2″ x 6-1/2″
Keep in mind that you can use “similar” fabrics for any of the patches if you don’t have enough scraps of the same fabric.
Make the X units: Use 1 square of X fabric 4-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ and 2 squares background fabric 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″.
Mark the diagonal center on the wrong side of each small square. Place right sides together on two opposite corners of large square. Sew on the marked line.
Trim seam allowance to 1/4″, open out the patch and press. Repeat with all of the X patches (large squares) and small squares to yield 4 total units. Press the seam allowances toward the large square (yellow).
Arrange the patches as shown below to help you visualize how the block will go together.
You can skip the step above once you’ve made a few blocks! Join the blue and green squares; press toward the green squares.
Join the blue rectangle to the green squares as shown; press in either direction.
Sew the patches in the top and bottom rows together.
Sew the rows together.
The block should be 10-1/2 x 10-1/2″ including seam allowances. It will finish at 10″ x 10″ when sewn into the quilt.
You will get a very different look if you place the values (dark, medium and light) randomly than if you keep them in the same position for all of your blocks. I placed mine randomly and the quilt is pretty chaotic. But I still kind of like it.
Interesting tidbit: Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns shows a design very similar to this block as #1969. It is credited to Old Chelsea Station but is unnamed. And it has pieced sashing along two sides! My edition of Brackman is the first one; it appeared in 1993. Now Electric Quilt Company has published an updated version of the encyclopedia and there’s even software called BlockBase+ to go with it! I don’t have it yet but it’s on my list!
When you throw everything together like I did, Plus and X becomes what I call a chaos quilt. There isn’t anything that ties the fabrics together and maybe there doesn’t need to be! It’s a scrap lover’s dream, or nightmare, depending how you look at it. Look what happens when I remove the color from the diagram above and you see just the values:
Fascinating, isn’t it?
My blocks were made at a smaller scale and they finish at 7-1/2″. If you want a smaller block like I made, use this tutorial by badskirt. It’s the same idea but the patches are smaller. I think either quilt is smashing!
I’ve shared the 10″ block instructions because they can be made from the 2 and 4 family we talked about in Scrap Quilt Secrets (2-1/2″ squares, 4-1/2″ squares, 2-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ rectangles). All you need to add is that 2-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ rectangle of your Plus fabric as listed above.
Tags: barbara brackman, electric quilt company, EQ8, free quilt block, free quilt pattern, make extraordinary scrap quilts, plus and X, scrap quilts
Yes, it is fascinating! I love that you showed your first version and then one where you coordinated color/value placement. You can really play with depth and layers with a design like this. A + and x quilt is in my future!
‘Matching is for getting dressed, not for making a scrap quilt!” I love this quote and appreciate your sharing your creativity.
Thanks for sharing this!
Fascinating, yes. I am glad you pointed out it is on a 5 grid and is easier in 7.5” or 10” etc., I was goofing with BlockBase and trying for a 6” or 8” block and didn’t know why I was getting so many eight inches. :-). I hope you will do the stash secrets again, I came in on the tail end. Thanks!