What the Beak!


I occasionally get questions on Etsy about putting the beak and head area together in this block. "The pieces look like they will never line up correctly and must be the wrong sizes!" Let me see if I can help you. I've saved photos of the process and I'll go through it in detail here. All these demensions are for the 12" square block but will apply equally for the 9" block except for the cutting sizes.


The first task to cover is cutting all the pieces accurately. I've added snapshots here of all the pieces this block needs and by referring back to your cutting charts you will see the beak needs:

  • 2 pieces of 1-1/4" square pieces of the beak 
  • 1 piece of 2-1/2" x 1-3/4" of background fabric
  • 1 piece of 2-1/2" x  1-1/4" of background fabric

Then the head needs:

  • 1 piece of 2-1/2" square of body fabric
  • 1 piece of 1" square background

Background Fabric

Beak and Wing fabric


Bird head and body fabric

head and body

Arranging and Sewing

The next thing I like to do is pair up the pieces I want to sew together. This is like a double check that I have everything I need, and I usually reconfirm the cutting measurements at this time also. Here below, I've circled the six pieces we're focusing on.

cuts pieces

Following the instructions in the pattern, sew pieces 6 and D together as well as 7 and E. Also sew 5 and C together. 

 - - TIP - -  These are all stitch and flips, so sewing a scant 1/4" will help keep these pieces square when you trim, flip, and iron. 

Once you've done this your pieces should look like the ones here. SCARY right!?!

beak zoom

I know, I know, the pieces are weirdly sized at this point and they don't look like they'll ever line up correctly. But bear with me. It's all in the 1/4" seam allowance that gets lost as you continue to piece them together.

Your next step is to put the 2 beak pieces together as shown here:


Starting to look better, right? But the beak still looks very large compared to the head.

beak and head

Now I want you to put these 2 pieces right sides together and using a pin, find the spot where the head and beak lines intersect. I'm going to switch to a pic of the 9" block I pinned and sent to someone here just to illustrate. (Don't worry about the measurements being weird; the theory is the same.)



You can see when I open up the pinned beak the pieces are aligning just right. This is what you are looking for. It will be AROUND the 1/4" seam allowance but you may have to adjust slightly, just like when sewing multiple half-square-triangles together. So use the pin and go for it!

Here are the pieces we've been working with after aligning and sewing. You can see they align beautifully and the bottom 1/4" seam allowance is waiting there to be sewn into the rest of the block.


The lesson here is the HAVE FAITH in the 1/4" seam allowance disappearing as you go! And voila (minus the top and bottom still needing to be added)!

entire bird

If you are still frustrated after reading this, reach out and I'll see what we can do to help get you on the right path.