Clay's Choice quilt block and variations

Clay's Choice quilt block or not

Tags: clay's choice, free pattern

I was looking through the lesson of an old class I used to teach trying to decide which patchwork block I could use to make a new Christmas Tree Skirt. (I'm currently updating my online Christmas Tree Skirts workshop which has 4 applique designs but no patchwork block so needed to make one as an example) when I came across Clay's Choice block. It turns out, I learned a lot more than I expected.

The block looks more difficult than it really is and can be made several different ways. Originally it was made using all half square triangle units, but it is actually easier to make it using the flying geese unit (or snowball corner) technique.

You all know what a snowball corner is right? That is when you sew a square in the corner of a larger piece, sewing through the diagonal and then folding that square in half along the seam to make a triangle. If you need more details see my signature block.

So in Clay's Choice block, instead of making the flying geese units as shown here...

clay's choice flying geese unit

flying geese unit

... you sew the squares to the opposite corners to form a parallelogram.

clay's choice parallelogram unit


That's easy, the rest of the sections are just squares. It goes together quickly, however I decided to make a change. 

When I looked at my original Clay's Choice, it used four fabrics, however, two of those fabrics looked very similar and almost appeared the same, especially in the photo. So I decided to make it using three fabrics instead of four - using one fabric in place of the two that looked similar. This is how the original block looked...

Clay's choice quilt block - my original

Clay's Choice in class

... and this is how my new version looked.

my Clay's Choice quilt block

My Clay's Choice block which I made 6"

I figured I should check EQ8 to see if it was listed as a variation, only to find the Clay's Choice there was different again, but it did have two variations, one with 3 fabrics and one with 4 fabrics. It looked like this...

EQ8 four fabrics for Clay's Choice block     EQ8 Clay's Choice with three fabrics

Clay's Choice in EQ: four fabrics left, three fabrics right

... so I did a search on the internet and found, yet another variation.

Another varieation of Clay's Choice quilt block

Another variation of Clay's Choice

So which one is the original Clay's Choice? Apparently according to "Quilting in America" the lovely quilt block known by many names, Clays Choice originally honored Henry Clay (1777-1852) using three colors like this...

Clay's Choice variation from Quilting in America

It have various names and can also be known as any of the following:

  • Clay’s Favorite
  • Clay’s Star
  • Henry of the West
  • Harry’s Star
  • Star of the West

So which is your favorite? I decided I should include a blank outline of the block so you could download and color it for yourself.

Clay's Choice block outline to download

I'm going to use Christmas colors for mine so it will work for the update in my  Christmas Tree Skirts workshop. What colors will you use?

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