Thank you so much for being here!  After all, you have persisted and we are already to month four.  If you are just joining this quiltalong adventure, Welcome! You can check HERE for directions and more information.

Remember that this quiltalong is offered in three sizes. SMALL–a throw that uses 5 stars and four alternating blocks. Finished size about 48″ square; MEDIUM–This is the size I am making this time. It uses 13 stars and 12 alternating blocks. Finished size about 72″ square; LARGE: This is the size of the original Calico Rose. It uses 25 star and 24 alternating blocks. Finished size 96″ square.


This month we are building the alternating blocks.  These are not complicated but they do give the quilt the lacey look and also the illusion that the star blocks are larger and more complex than they really are.  More and more I like the part alternating blocks can play in a quilt.


1. For each block you need 32 colored 2″ squares.  So, if you are making a small you will need 128.  If a medium, 384.  And, for a large, 768.  Hopefully, you have many of these cut already, but, if not, that is your first job this month.

2015-02-07 16.09.18

2. From background fabric you will need the following, again, for each block:  8 2″ squares, 4 3-1/2″ x 5″ rectangles.  Just do the math.  For a small 32 2″ squares and 16 rectangles.  For a medium, 96 squares  and 48 rectangles.  For a large, 192 squares and 96 rectangles.  Go ahead and cut those now.


1. This alternating block consists of 4 nine patches, 1 four patch and 4 rectangles.  It assembles like a large, uneven, nine patch.

2. First, using 4 colored squares, create your center four patch.

3. Then, create four nine patches.  Notice that each of these uses 7 colored squares and two background squares.  The background squares are located in diagonal corners.



4. Lay out the large block using the four patch, nine patches and background rectangles as shown below.


5. Assemble into an alternating block.  Stand back and admire your progress.


6. Repeat as necessary depending on the size of quilt you have chosen. Ta-dah, you have completed 4, 12, or 24 blocks.  Good job!

As you finish your blocks you might want to explore layouts for the top.  You’d think that something scrappy would be completely random and it wouldn’t matter, but you know how quilters can be…maybe…just a little…obsessive!  Have fun admiring your blocks and seeking out the perfect arrangement.  Plus, it will help the time pass more quickly while you wait for the next installment.

Come back again July 10 for the borders…

15 thoughts on “CALICO ROSE QUILTALONG: Alternating Blocks

  1. I like this. It’s on the Irish Chain line. Oh, I just visited Sparkle Jane’s blog. She is doing well. I enjoyed reading her blogs. Went way back to 2013. She’s a very clever girl.

    1. OK–for 2-1/2″ squares you, naturally, need the same number but the background squares will also be 2-1/2″ and the rectangles will be, I believe, 4-1/2″ x 6-1/2″. You can verify this by checking the size of your completed star blocks. They should be 16-1/2″, right?

  2. Ha, ha, ready, yes, about that. I made all the points – the wrong size! I was thinking 12 inch blocks, which means I wasn’t thinking at all. So I have to redo those, but I’ll be making these as leader-enders on projects when I finish Film at Five. I’m afraid they’d get mixed in if I did them together!

  3. if my 9 patches are made from 2″ blocks, that makes them 5 1/2″ square right? Which I didn’t think of until after cutting all my 3 1/2″x5″ rectangles which are too small. Shouldn’t the rectangles be 3 1/2″ x 5 1’2″? Or do I need to trim my 9 patches to 5″? I think I’m confusing myself the more I think about this! Help!

    1. With a 1/4″ seam allowance, each 2″ square should finish to 1-1/2″. Multiply that by 3 (4-1/2″) and add back in the unfinished 1/4″ on each end, and the 9-patch blocks should be 3-1/2″ x 5″. The four patch center should be 3-1/2″ x 3-1/2″. However, not everyone stitches the same. You might want to measure and see what your blocks are finishing to and cut to match. Did you star blocks demonstrate the same discrepency? I wish we were close together so we could work on the problem in person…

  4. I am enjoying this quilt along, my first star quilt block measures 161/2 in one direction and one side is 151/2 I am still trying to figure it out because the center is 8 inches( I am doing the medium size). So I will be making more blocks. Could use the block for a pillow . Also I would like to share a tip I read somewhere maybe you all ready know, after you press your block set it on a flat surface than place a heavy flat book on top of it and it flattens the seams . Pretty cool . So enjoy this quilt along!

  5. Thank you Deanna. After I wrote my comment, I took pen and paper, and realized the math (your math) was (of course) correct, and it was my 9 patches that were wonky. My star blocks are the correct size (I think!) so if I trim my little 9 patches to 5″ square that should solve the problem? I’ve finished 3 of the blocks – can I just trim them equally on all sides to get them to the right size for the star blocks? I wish I were closer too! But this is great – I’m really enjoying the pace of this project – I don’t feel like it’s overwhelming at all and it’s so much fun! Thank you!

    1. A uniform trim all the way around will take more time, but it will give even results. Not that wonky is bad. You have to decide what you are going for. I am glad you are enjoying the quilt along and its restful pace.

  6. Hi, I have never put anything on a site ever, but here goes……I am loving this quilt along, started it on Monday, and of course I need it done quickly.i spend more time looking and procrastinating !!A challenge using greys , navy , white and taupe!! Far cry from my usual ” .pretty pastels” Absolutely LOVE to put the alternates together then add it to the completed stars.this afternoon I am guessing the border so will start to sew 2″ squares together as per picture.I have 25 blocks of 2″ squares for a postage stamp but may turn it into film at 5 ! Thank you for your knowledge, I enjoy your sight immensely…..wonderjen, australia

  7. Yeah , I just finished the alternating blocks. I will either try to layout and sew blocks together tonight or tomorrow when I will be off. Just a little note I used 2 1/2 blocks since I had a lot already cut out , so yes my quilt will be quite large I may not go across with five and than maybe I will be brave and go for it! I am just thinking about the quilting on my domestic juki. Hmmm
    Thanks for your help !

  8. Hi! I have completed 2 stars and 3 alternate blocks I am hoping to finish attaching all the star points this weekend and work on a few more alternate blocks…so far it all looks really great and though I loved the black I decided to go with the white this time. I can hardly wait to see the border! Thanks for a great tutorial which is pretty clear and easy to follow! Great weekend to everyone!!!

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