The Parallelogram - A Quilter's Enigma
by Debby Kratovil

A parallelogram differs from a diamond shape in that diamonds have four equal sides and parallelograms have two short sides and two long sides, with their opposite sides equal. Parallelograms act like two isosceles triangles back to back (see Illustration 1). Diamonds and parallelograms appear to be the same but drawing each on graph paper creates different results. The true shape of a diamond can't be drawn following a standard square graph grid and we won't cover that in this lesson. A parallelogram falls nicely along the graph lines and can fit the invisible diagonal grid (Illustration 2). The parallelogram we feature here is a wonderful shape as a basis for many blocks, the first being the Enigma. It is combined with a half-square triangle and a quarter-square triangle (Illustration 3). Illustration 4 shows the unit which composes 1/4 of the entire block.

The Brown Goose block uses the very same patches as the Enigma Block yet its look is very different. Taking just one half of the block, a border sequence can be formed and then repeated to the length of your quilt. The Ribbons Block uses just the parallelogram and the half-square triangle. It also makes a nice border sequence using, again, a half block unit. Slanted Diamonds also uses just the parallelogram and the half-square triangle. The single unit shown can be combined in many different ways for a border repeat. Try reversing the diamonds at the center or just keep them oriented in the same direction.

The Windmill Star is one of my favorite blocks because it looks difficult but there are no set in seams! It also is created using the parallelogram and the half-square triangle. As you can see in the exploded units on the left, the block is composed of eight units. Each unit has one parallelogram and two half-square triangles. But note how the placement of the triangles is different for each. One triangle is joined to the parallelogram using the triangle's long side and the other triangle is joined using its short end. The beauty of this is that none of the outside edges of the Windmill Star are on the bias.

We have included a template (Template A) for the parallelogram shape so you can create your own 12" blocks. Each of the border sequences also uses the parallelogram and triangles, making for either 3" or 6" units. The half-square triangle in each of these blocks and borders is cut from a 3-7/8" square which is then cut along one diagonal to yield two half-square triangles. The quarter-square triangle is cut from a 4-1/4" square which is then cut along both diagonals to yield four quarter-square triangles (which appear in both the Enigma block and the Brown Goose block).

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Page 1 - (Illustrated Piecing)

Page 2 - (Block Samples & Borders)

Page 3 - (Template A)

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