• Boston Bookmarks

    Boston Bookmarks
    Making Boston Blocks with the cut down method
    by Rhonda Woodsmall


    The Cut Down Method -- a shortcut to making "Blocks"

    Traditionally quilt blocks are made by cutting out fabric shapes - squares /triangles/etc. and then sewing them into quilt blocks which are then sewn into quilts. With my method you can make units I call "Blocks" This makes it easier to work with small pieces.


    I call this a "Boston Block" because it forms part of a quilt block called a Boston Star This unit or "Boston Block" can be made in quantity and in any color combination then used in any quilt blocks or project that has this shape. It can be used in any size to make quilt blocks as well as small projects.

    What you need for one bookmark:

    Basic sewing supplies, sewing machine, pins, scissors, etc., and
    • one 1 1/2" template
    • 12-14 dark scraps at least 2" x 3"
    • 12-14 medium scraps at least 1 1/2" x 2"
    • a swatch at least 3 1/2" x 8 1/2"
    • 12-14 light scraps at least 1 1/2" x 2"
    • mini cutting mat and rotary cutter
    • ruler -- preferably a small ruler -- I use a 2" x 9"

    E-mail me with your postal address if you need a template. I offer those templates for sale, but I'll send one for free to each newsletter subscriber who is interested. My e-mail is patchesbyr@yahoo.com (Rhonda)

    Now let's make a "Boston Block"


    Sew a medium and a light swatch together. Trim the long side with a ruler.

    Open and iron the seam open -- the fabric lays flatter if the seam is ironed open instead of to the dark side. That's more important in miniatures than big quilts. It's more noticeable.

    Put the dark fabric swatch face down onto the two joined swatches and sew them together.

    Iron the seam open Make sure you iron both the front and the back so it lays flat.

    Lay the joined swatches on the cutting mat.

    Place the template on the swatches so the corners lay on the seams.


    With a rotary cutter cut out the square. Don't let the template move while you cut. Turn the mini mat after each cut and don't let go of the template. Keep it firmly in place while you turn the mat.

    Check to see if your corners are clean. If you have a little more on one side than the other you can gently trim the fabric so the fabric is even at the corners. This will help you have good points.

    Choose which bookmark you want to make. Make the Boston Blocks with the colors you need for the bookmark you chose to make. Make sure your medium is on the correct side. If you want your bookmark a little longer -- add fabric to each end and trim to the size you want.


    These bookmarks will vary in size. I aim for a 2 1/2" by 7 1/2" but it can be whatever you want.

    Lay your "Blocks" in rows and sew them together. Iron every time you sew something and iron it open and as flat as you can. It will lay better. My seams don't always want to stay open but I prefer it because you get less bulk that way.

    Now let's put the bookmark together

    In these pictures you will see borders. I am using these pictures to show how to finish the bookmark but it is optional whether you use borders or not. These steps are the same whether you use borders or not. It depends on the size you want. If your bookmark is too short or too narrow then add borders.


    Lay your pieced top face down onto the back fabric. Pin it in place. Trim the back fabric to match the top. I do not use any batting.

    Fold back one long side so you can see the pieced top. Sew along the edge on one long side. (just the top not the back fabric)

    This is so it won't come apart when you turn it. The seams have a tendency to come apart if you don't baste them down.

    Straighten it back out and starting on the side that you basted sew around the edge of the bookmark. When you get back to where you started leave an opening of about 1 1/2" -- to turn the bookmark with.

    I stick my finger inside and with my other hand push one end through the opening. You will have to work it through. Then do the other end the same way. Poke the ends out with a turning tool. I use the tip of one blade of my small scissors but you have to be really careful you don't poke a hole through it as I have many times when I am not paying enough attention!


    In the picture on the right you can see how I sewed around the edge to give the bookmark a finished look. It makes it look more complete. It is actually a tailoring touch.

    Here is the layout of the bookmark I used in the directions:


    Now this bookmark was made with 1 1/4" blocks to get the 2 1/2" x 7 1/2" size I like. So you can make your bookmark with 1 1/2" blocks and use only 6 rows to get the 2 1/2" x 7" size. You can add fabric to the ends to get the 7 1/2" or you can use it as is. It's all up to you.

    Enjoy making the bookmarks! I think they are quick and easy.

    Hope to see pictures on the Quilting Board!!

    If you have any questions, you can email me at patchesbyr@yahoo.com (Rhonda).

    These are made with Boston Blocks. Extensive and thorough directions to make the Boston Blocks can be found in the Playing with Boston Blocks e-book.

    • • •


    About the author:

    Rhonda has been a quilter for 30 years. She writes tutorials for the Quilted Paradise Newsletter and is a member of the Quilting Message Board. She offers templates in hard-to-find sizes that will help you make beautiful miniatures or full-size quilt blocks. She authored the following e-books: Playing with Boston Blocks, Dresden Kaleidoscopes, Star Point Blocks, The Wings Block. Be sure to check them out, you won't be disappointed.
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