Creative articles about quilting

Old Block Quilt-Along, Part 3: Bird’s Nest

Andrea from Quiltmanufaktur and author for the German BERNINA blog is your guide for this fantastic quilt-along over the next 12 months. Together, you will sew classic patchwork blocks and combine them into a sampler. The completed quilt will be traditional, yet modern! The next part has been written and we are delighted that you join this quilt project.

Today, I am showing you the “Bird’s Nest” patchwork block, the third block in our joint project, the Old Block Quilt-Along.

It’s only been two weeks since the last block, the “Quilter’s Delight” patchwork block. Are we going too fast for you? Don’t worry, you can take your time. The different blocks will remain available on the BERNINA blog. You can make the blocks at your leisure.

Before we get to work on the new block, first here is some information about the quilt-along:

Useful information and questions about the Old Block Quilt-Along

I could see from some of the comments and emails that there have been some misunderstandings regarding the dates, the number and size of the blocks and the layout. I would therefore like to give a summary of the main points again for you:

  1. As I wrote in the first blog post, I will show you different blocks here at various time intervals. At least one block per month and usually at the beginning of the month. However, this also means that there may be more than one block in a month and that the date will not be exactly the first of the month. To make sure you do not miss any of the blocks shown, it is recommended that you register for the BERNINA newsletter.
  2. There are still many blocks to come that you can make – but you don’t have to! Definitely more than the 12 blocks that some people have mentioned. The number of 12 blocks refers explicitly to the number of blocks that – if you want to take part in the competition here on the blog at the end – you will be required to sew from the repertoire of blocks presented here and join together to form a quilt top. You can decide for yourself whether you end up sewing 12, 20, or all the blocks. 
  3. Different blocks, different sizes: In the first blog post I pointed out that the blocks come in different sizes.  You can see the size of each block on the PDF below the block name.
  4. During the course of the project, I will show you different layouts for quilts that you can make with only 12 blocks or with more. Of course, you can also use your own layout!

Where can I find all the information about the Old Block Quilt-Along?

All the blocks will remain on the blog and you can always go back to the instructions. The following pages give you a quick overview of the blocks I will post throughout the year:

Old Block Quilt-Along – overview of all the posts

You can also find this page at any time by clicking on the first link in the text in the “Old Block Quilt-Along” section on the blog home page.

Are you new to the Old Block Quilt-Along? If so, first of all, I recommend that you read the first blog post, which contains lots of useful tips that will help you get started. Here’s the post:

Launch of the Old Block Quilt-Along! Who’s in?

Any questions that might come up will probably already have been answered in this post and in the links. It’s always worth reading through the comments as well, because they often help to clarify things!

I hope this information gives you everything you need to start on the next block with confidence.

We are sewing the “Bird’s Nest” patchwork block

The “Bird’s Nest” patchwork block is mentioned for the first time in December 1894 in the Ohio Farmer. The Ohio Farmer was an agricultural newspaper founded in the mid-18th century. It was a weekly publication focusing on farm and family life and provided sections for farming, housekeeping, and for children. As stated in its header, The Ohio Farmer was “devoted to the improvement and betterment of the farmer, his family, and farm.” (Source:

I didn’t find anything about the name “Bird’s Nest”. A fairly similar pattern of the four corner pieces is also mentioned in some sources as “Goose in the Air” or “Flying Goose” (not to be confused with “Flying Geese”). 

Nancy Cabot, who I wrote about in the blog post for the “Quilter’s Delight” design, issued this patchwork pattern again in 1934 in the Chicago Tribune. 

Download the patchwork templates

Before you start cutting out and sewing, please read through the instructions carefully!

For cutting out, I have created two PDF documents to download:

  • The first is a coloring sheet. This allows you to try out colors and designs for this block first to see what they look like.
  • The second PDF contains the cutting templates.

I have included a test square with a side length of 1 inch on the PDF with the templates. This allows you to check if your printout of the templates is the right size. If you set your print options to “Actual size”, this should happen automatically.

Here are the downloads:

“Bird’s Nest” coloring sheet

“Bird’s Nest” templates

Cutting out the templates

You will need to cut out the following number of pieces for each template:

  • Piece A: 4 x patterned fabric / 12 x background fabric 
  • Piece B: 4 x patterned fabric / 20 x background fabric
  • Piece C: 4 x patterned fabric
  • Piece D: 4 x background fabric
  • Piece E: 9 x patterned fabric

Sewing the “Bird’s Nest” patchwork block

As always, the first picture shows the position of the pattern pieces. First, lay out all the pattern pieces as you want to sew them together afterwards:

We start with the 4 corner pieces of the patchwork block. You already have experience in joining triangles together, so I won’t go into detail of how to do the individual steps again, I’ll just show the pictures in the order the pieces are worked.

Now we turn to the middle pieces, which are admittedly slightly more complex. But if you follow the individual steps carefully and attentively, you should be able to make these strips successfully!

On the following picture, you can see that I arranged the squares diagonally with two triangles each in the background fabric. This is the first step for joining them together.

The resulting diagonal strips are then sewn together. Put the pieces together so that the panel seams line up!

When you have joined the ‘strips’ together, sew the other two triangles onto the left and right ends.

You can now hopefully see how the different pieces of the block fit together. Always join the block pieces in each row first …

… and then sew the rows together.

And that’s it! Your “Bird’s Nest” block is finished :-). That was a lot of work again, both for the cutting out and the patchworking, wasn’t it? But it was worth it for such a beautiful block!

Options for varying the “Bird’s Nest” patchwork block

In the last blog post I showed you how the look of a block changes, and how great it can look when you join together lots of the same block. Here once again are some examples of the effect of making a whole quilt out of this single “Bird’s Nest” patchwork block. 

I hope you liked the new “Bird’s Nest” block as much as I did. I can’t wait to see your posts and look forward to seeing them in the community section of the Old Block Quilt-Along, on Facebook or Instagram. Use the following hashtag on Facebook and Instagram: #BERNINAOldBlockSampler.

See you for the next block and in the meantime, have lots of fun sewing,


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  • grannyjan

    I’m finding most of the blocks so far quite challenging.  Sections of this one were unpicked numerous times – my fault as I failed to concentrate on precisely which side of the small triangles needed to be joined to their next piece.

    Also I really would like to know what the finished size of this quilt will be if all the blocks are completed.  I do find it intriguing that the blocks are different sizes but I suppose it will all work out at the end.

    • ramonawirth

      Dear grannyjan,

      Its interesting to read through your process, thank you for sharing!

      In regards to your question: Since Andrea shares a lot more then 12 blocks which are required for the raffle, the size of the quilt will be depending on how many and which blocks you make. As you say they all have different sizes, so I am also currious about how Andrea will suggest piecing the blocks together. But she did share a picture of one of her sampler quilts and I think it gives an idea of how everything could look at the end!

      Best regards, Ramona from BERNINA International

  • buntzburner

    Dear Andrea,I have a quick question about this block, I was doing some reading about the birds nest block and all of the layouts I came across are similar but slightly different to the one on the QAL, I am just wondering if there’s a reason for the difference, please don’t get me wrong I am just curious about the history of these blocks and the reasons for the difference, I have attached a picture of what I found when I searched the internet for the birds nest block, they all seem to have been created on a 5×5 grid where as yours is a touch difference.Regards Bunty

    • ramonawirth

      Dear buntzburner,

      I got a very quick answer from Andrea, and she said its probably because its an older block, that she found a variety of this block and used that one as a reference. You can of cause sew the Birds Nest according to your own research!

      Best regards, Ramona from BERNINA International

      • buntzburner

        oh hey Ramona, thanks for the reply, I may consider the 5×5 patch as it works with the fabric I’m using really well, but I still want to be able to get into the sewing machine draw….. ? I hope using a different layout won’t be an issue?

      • ramonawirth

        You are welcome, and no, we wont exclude you from the raffle just because you are taking your own spin with it. We love to see everyones creativity! The only thing I would have an eye on, is that the size of your version of the block matches the size here in order to make the assembly easier 🙂 Also, you dont have to sew every block which Andrea is showing, since there will be a lot more then the required 12 blocks! Of cause you can sew all of them if you feel like it.

        Happy sewing!

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