Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Exploding Pineapple

A Tutorial

While working on my yellow and grey Exploding Pineapple, I've received questions about how the technique works and why I'm considering certain things for finishing.

So I've prepared a short tutorial for making pineapple blocks using the technique developed by Karin Hellaby and featured in her pattern booklet, Sew Simple Pineapple.

Be aware. this is NOT a traditional pineapple. In fact, the technique can be a little slapdash; in any case it's far from an exact science!  But it's a lot of fun to do and there is no special ruler required or paper to tear off at the end, either.

The booklet gives several sizes for starting squares -- I started with 2-3/4" -- but you could start with any size square. You might want to fussy cut motifs from a fabric or use small panel prints as your starting point.

I started with two 2-3/4" squares
Start with two squares of the same size.  Draw diagonal lines, corner to corner, on the square that will not be the center. (In fact, I drew lines on all the squares because I was not sure in the beginning which would end up being the center! Good kitchen counter activity while dinner is cooking.)

I fold the top square on one of the lines ...

and take a little snip along the other line.

Fold and snip
(The snip isn't covered in the booklet; however, I found it much easier to snip now than after it's stitched.  But, should you forget, simply pull the two layers apart and snip only the top one.)

Stitch 1/4" from the edge around all 4 sides.

It's probably not as accurate as running off the end of each side, but I like to leave my needle down at the line, raise the presser foot, and pivot the piece to line up the next edge with my foot. Remember, I said this is not an exact science!

Once you have stitched around all four sides, cut on the lines drawn ON THE TOP PIECE ONLY. Use sharp-pointed scissors that will cut all the way to the corner.  Don't worry if you happen to clip a stitch at the corner because you will be stitching across the corner when you add the next piece. (This is another good kitchen counter activity - I take a pile up with me and cut them all in one sitting.)

Peel back the four triangles ...

I finger press as I go and when I have accumulated a pile of blocks I take them to the ironing board for a good PRESS.  Don't overwork the iron at this point or you risk distorting the bias edges.

Peel back and press
It is not necessary to trim the dog-ears or square up at any point unless you have a problem with shadowing through a particular fabric.  Trimming can be done later if it's an issue.

The booklet tells you the size your next square should be, but if you are working from an odd-sized starting square, measure several at each stage to see how large the next square needs to be. (Sorry, I can't give you all the measurements without infringing on copyright.)

Mine came out roughly 3-1/8"  Yes, it's a weird, but necessary, measurement.  Draw diagonal lines on the next size square, snip as before, then place it on top of this square-in-a-square block, right sides together.

Use the top square as stitching guide
Do not stress over the fact that the edges don't exactly line up.  You will use the edge of the top square as your guide for sewing; the uneveness will disappear in the seam.

Cut on the diagonal lines of the top fabric only, and peel back the triangles as before.  Measure again, cut the next square and repeat the process untill your pineapple block is as big as you want it. Mine uses five different sized squares and will finish at 6-1/4".

Again, the pattern gives specific measurements for several different starting sizes. If you are working from a different starting point (or are not using the pattern as your guide), it's important that you measure at each stage and arrive at an average size to cut all the next size squares the same.

Frankly, there's a pretty good YouTube video demonstrating this process probably better than I can show you.  You can see it here.   

Someone asked how I could sew the blocks together without cutting off the points. I can't!! But, then, I've cut off all the other points within the block, so no big deal

Several people asked me why I plan to add sashing/lattice to my blocks.  First, even though the blocks look nice butted up to each other on the design wall, the casual construction technique results in points that do not all fall at the same place. I think I would drive myself crazy trying to match the points!

More importantly, however, is the consideration that all the outside edges are bias and I feel like sashing will add some overall stability.

So that's it!  I hope you will try it.  You might end up like Peggy in my Quilt Camp class who said it's so much fun she is going to make 1,000 blocks!


  1. The 'pre-snipping' is an excellent tip.
    Interesting technique! I've seen this put forward as a square-in-square technique, but you lose the points of the inner square. With a pineapple block, losing those points is perfectly satisfactory! So, just relax, stitch, and snip, and then try to find a way to stop making blocks...

  2. I really like this pattern. Your colors are gorgeous! It's amazing what people come up with when being creative. Thanks for the tutorial!

  3. I hadn't seen this before! Your blocks look great. They could also be set on point with HST to get finished blocks without the bias. I have bookmarked this, Thanks!

  4. Wonderful technique and colours too. Thanks for showing us.


Comments make me smile; I would love to hear from you! I respond almost exclusively by email, so be sure you are not a "no-reply" blogger. Or include your email address if you need an answer to a question.