Dec 14: Dala Horse

Hello lovely Moda Bakers, I hope you’re enjoying the smorgasbord of gorgeous advent blocks this month. I’m Nicola Dodd from CakeStand Quilts and I have Scandinavian themed recipe to share with you today: a Swedish Dala Horse. Traditional Dalahast are beautifully hand painted, usually on a red background, which makes this quilt block ideal for fussy cutting or embellishing with embroidery.

This block finishes at 6″ or 12″ square.

{list pieces to cut from fat quarters}

6″ Block 12″ Block
From white fabric, cut (1) 2½” x 5″ piece, (1) 2½” x 3″ piece, (1) 2″ x 4½” piece, (1) 2″ square, (1) 1½” square, (1) 1″ x 3″ piece, (1) 1″ x 1½” piece and (1) 1″ square From white fabric, cut (1) 4½” x 9½” piece, 4½” x 5½” piece, (1) 3½” x 8½” piece, (1) 3½” square, (1) 2½” square, (1) 1½” x 5½” piece, (1) 1½” x 2½” piece and (1) 1½” square
From solid red fabric, cut (1) 2½” x 5″ piece, (1) 2″ x 4″ piece, (2) 2″ x 3″ pieces and (1) 1″ square From red print fabric, cut (1) 4½” x 9½” piece, (1) 3½” x 7½” piece, (2) 3″ x 5″ pieces and (1) 1½” square

  • White embroidery floss
  • Embroidery/chenille needle
  • Water soluble pen to mark your design

Sizes are given for the 12” block, with the sizes for the 6” block in brackets {}. Directions are given to make a red horse on a white background, but feel free to reverse the colours.

1. To create the horse’s body, mark a diagonal line on the back of the 1½” {1”} background square and pin, right sides together, on the top right-hand corner of the 4½” x 9½” {2½” x 5”} red piece. Stitch on the line, flip ‘open’ and press, trimming away the back layers ¼” away from the seam, to make an Easy Corner Triangle (ECT).

2a. To create the horse’s legs, first prepare the (2) 3” x 5” {2” x 3”} red pieces by placing them right sides together and marking a point 1¼” {¾”} along the short side (marked in blue). Trim diagonally, discarding the smaller portions. You should have two mirror image pieces.

2b. Prepare the 4½” x 9½” {2½” x 5”} background piece by marking points 2” {1”} from both corners of the long side and 1” {½”} from both corners of the opposite side. Using those points, mark placement lines, shown in blue.

2c. Position a trimmed red piece right sides down on the placement line and stitch a ¼” away from the edge before flipping ‘open’ and pressing (the stitching line is marked in blue). Turn your unit to the wrong side and trim, using the background piece as a guide. Repeat to create the other leg.

3. To create the horse’s head form an ECT (as described in step 1) with the 3½” {2”} white square at one end of the 3½” x 7½” {2” x 4”} red piece, taking care with the placement, as shown. Then form an ECT with the 2½” {1½”} white square at the other end, again as shown.

4. To create the horse’s ear form an ECT with the 1½” {1”} red square at one end of the 1½” x 5½” {1” x 3”} white piece, taking care with the placement as shown. Then join a 1½” x 2½” {1” x 1½”} piece, pressing away from the ear.

5a. To assemble the block, join the legs to the body, pressing away from the leg, then join a 3½” x 8½” {2” x 4½”} white piece to the side, pressing away from the front leg.

5b. Join the ears to the head, pressing away from the ear, then join a 4½” x 5½” {2½” x 3”} white piece to the side, pressing away from the mane. Finally, join both sections together, pressing towards the head.

6. If you’d like to, add the reins and saddle with white embroidery floss. I used simple back-stitch and running-stitch to embroider the 6″ block and you can download the template I used here.

This block finishes at 6″ or 12″ square.

I thought it would be fun to use my blocks to make Christmas gift bags and I’ve  shared a tutorial on my blog if you’d like to do the same. Small gift bags would be perfect to use as an advent calendar, using all of the gorgeous blocks posted this month! But however you use yours, do come and say hello on Instagram and share your blocks with the #mbscountdowntochristmas hashtag.

Wishing you all very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

Nicola xx

{blog: Nicola’s Sketchbook}
{instagram: nicolajdodd}
{shop: CakeStand Quilts}

27 comments on “Dec 14: Dala Horse

  1. cruisefan says:

    How lovely!!
    I will be using this block outside a Christmas/Holidays pattern.
    LOVE Sweden!!

    Thank you very much for this wonderful tutorial,
    have a Merry Christmas!

  2. Gisela Buitendag says:

    Mega beautiful block! Thank you Nicola

  3. Little Quiltsong says:

    Very cute pattern! I need to incorporate this in a future quilt!

  4. Jay says:

    Perfect for my Swedish husband!

  5. Carol Sheffer says:

    Love this! So different and unusual. Thank you for sharing your talents.

  6. Sara says:

    This is adorable! thank you so much Nicola

  7. Laurie says:

    I love this block! Mine didn’t turn out very well, despite redoing the head and ear. Keeping it, tho, and will try it again sometime because your version is adoadorable!

  8. Cindy says:

    I love the Dala Horse block – can’t wait to try this. It’s perfect among my Scandinavian Christmas traditions – can’t wait to try this one!

  9. Nicola Dodd says:

    Thank you, Cindy, have a wonderful Christmas xx

  10. Kathee says:

    “GodJul”. Thank you for sharing this. My mother in law is 100% Swedish. I will make a pillow for sure, hopefully a table runner sometime. Wish our Swedish born Grandma were still around so I could make her something too; she would have loved 6″pocket horses on an apron.
    We’ll be having meatballs and spritz and pepparkarka on 24th. But no Lutefisk!

  11. Karen Schultz says:

    I’m half Swedish and am very excited about this block. I can’t wait to make it!

  12. Carmen Maletta says:

    Enjoyed making this block very much. Thought it was very well written. It would look great in a full sized quilt for the horse lover in your life.

  13. Laura Barnett says:

    Looking forward to making this quilt block to celebrate my Swedish heritage!

  14. Anne Wiens says:

    I did a quick bit of reading on the history of the Dalahast, and it occurs to me that this could be a fun sampler quilt, with dalahasts in different colors and saddle designs.

    • Nicola Dodd says:

      They are so fascinating, Anne, and it’s funny I had a comment on Instagram a couple of days ago along the same lines. Dala Horses are not just for Christmas 😉 so I’m hoping to make a few as I go with the scraps from my projects this year xx

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