Traditional Quilt Block - Turkey's Dilemma

Posted by Elaine Huff on

Let's look at this traditional quilt block called Turkey's Dilemma today. Love the name and I wish I knew where that came from - I'm sure there's a story behind it. The block was designed by Ruth M. Swasey and I think it was published in the Stitch 'n Sew Quilts book or magazine in 1982. It's a beautiful block and I'm so happy with how it turned out but there are quite a few steps so let's get started!

Fabric Requirements for a 12" Finished Turkey's Dilemma Quilt Block:

  • Light/Ivory: 4 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles, 4 - 3" squares, and 16 - 2.5" squares (totally missed 8 of those squares which explains the second picture)
  • Medium/Gold: 4 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles, 2 - 3" squares, and 4 - 2.5" squares
  • Medium/Red: 2 - 3" squares, and 4 - 2.5" squares
  • Dark/Black: 1 - 4.5" square, and 4 - 3" squares

fabric requirements

fabric requirements 2

Sewing Directions:

Half-Square Triangle (HST) Units:

Step 1:

Make eight Half-Square Triangle (HST) units using the Dark/Black 3" squares and the Light/Ivory 3" squares. You can find my tutorial for making HSTs at: https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-to-sew-a-basic-half-square-triangle-block

turkeys dilemma 1

Step 2:

Using the Medium/Red 3" squares and the Medium/Gold 3" squares, sew together 4 Half-Square Triangle units as shown in the picture below.

turkeys dilemma 2

Step 3:

Draw a diagonal line on the back of the Step 2 HSTs perpendicular to the seam line as shown in the picture below.

turkeys dilemma 3

Flying Geese Units:

Step 4:

So we'll be sewing three different Flying Geese units for this Turkey's Dilemma block. First up - Make four Flying Geese units using the Medium/Gold 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles and eight of the Light/Ivory 2.5" squares as shown in the picture below. You can find my tutorial for making Flying Geese blocks at: https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-to-sew-a-basic-flying-geese-block

turkeys dilemma 4

Step 5:

Next up, you will need to sew two Flying Geese units using two of the Light/Ivory 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles and the Medium/Red 2.5" squares as shown below.

turkeys dilemma 5

Step 6:

And lastly, you need to make two Flying Geese units using two of the Light/Ivory 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles and the Medium/Gold 2.5" squares as shown in the picture below.

turkeys dilemma 6

Step 7:

Sew together a Step 4 Flying Geese unit and a Step 6 Flying Geese unit and press the seam allowance toward the Step 6 unit as shown in the picture below.

turkeys dilemma 7

Step 8:

Sew together a Step 4 Flying Geese unit and a Step 5 Flying Geese unit and press the seam allowance toward the Step 5 unit as shown in the picture below.

turkeys dilemma 8

Center Unit:

Step 9:

The Center unit is basically a Square in a Square block but we'll be using the Step 2 Half-Square Triangle units instead of plain 2.5" squares. Place two of the Step 2 HST units on opposite corners of the Dark/Black 4.5" square, taking care to get the orientation of the colors right. Stitch close to the marked lines as shown in the picture below. (Don't look too close at my un-straight sewing!)

turkeys dilemma 9

Step 10:

Match the corners together and press as shown below.

turkeys dilemma 10

Step 11:

Unfold the corners and trim off the seam allowance as shown in the picture below.

turkeys dilemma 11

Step 12:

Refold what's left of the HST as shown below.

turkeys dilemma 12

Step 13:

Repeat Steps 9 through 12 with the other two Step 2 Half-Square Triangle units in the other two corners as shown in the pictures below. Be mindful of the orientation of the HSTs.

turkeys dilemma 13-1

turkeys dilemma 13-2

turkeys dilemma 13-3

turkeys dilemma 13-4

Corner Units:

Step 14:

The Corner unit sews together like a basic Four Patch block. Lay out two of the Step 1 Half-Square Triangle units and two of the Light/Ivory 2.5" squares as shown in the picture below. 

turkeys dilemma 14

Step 15:

Sew the patches together into two rows and press the seam allowances away from the Light/Ivory square as shown in the picture below.

turkeys dilemma 15

Step 16:

Now you can sew the two rows together and press the seam allowance to one side as shown in the picture below. I don't recommend doing the tweak/twirl/furl method of pressing the seam allowance for this Turkey's Dilemma block. Repeat Steps 14 through 16 for a total of four Corner units.

turkeys dilemma 16

Putting It All Together:

Step 17:

From here on out, the block goes together just like a basic Nine-Patch block. Lay out the Center unit, the Flying Geese units, and the Corner units as shown in the picture below.

turkeys dilemma 17

Step 18:

Sew the units together into three rows as show below, and...

turkeys dilemma 18

Step 19:

Press the seam allowances away from the Flying Geese units as shown in the picture below.

turkeys dilemma 19

Step 20:

To finish up, just sew the three rows together as shown below and...

turkeys dilemma 10

Step 21:

Press the seam allowances away from the center of the block. You're done! If you are planning to sew several of these blocks together in a quilt without sashing, you could press the seam allowance toward the center of the block. That way you will have seams that nest together nicely just by rotating every other block.

In Conclusion:

Wow! That's a lot of steps! This Turkey's Dilemma block actually was fun to put together. Most of my points came out good and the others aren't that noticeable. It was a little more challenging getting all those seams to match up but I love how it turned out!

I hope you've enjoyed this traditional Turkey's Dilemma block. If you make it, I'd love to see a picture!

Happy Quilting!

Elaine

P.S. I used Kim Diehl fabrics in this sample and have some of her fabrics in the shop at: https://fabric406.com/collections/all/designer_kim-diehl

 


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  • Love this block and the name. Those points look pretty darn good to me. Thanks for your time in doing this tutorial. As always very clear to understand :)

    Sandra Massey on

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