2018 BOM – July

Wing to Body Join and Laser Trackers

Okay everyone, this month is SUPER SPECIAL (to me) because it involves two of my favorite things about working at Boeing.

The first is Wing to Body Join. This is a process during the major assembly of an airplane, when the wings are fit and fastened to the fuselage of the airplane. It is seriously impressive to see the wings fly across the factory and slowly get joined to the fuselage. We actually just joined the first set of wings to the 777X airplane last week! Hooray! Here is a pretty sweet video on British Airway’s first 787-9, and it starts at the Wing to Body Join (but feel free to watch the whole awesome thing too) The three blue stands are a piece of automated tooling that helps to get the wing is just the right location for assembly.



  • 16” x 16” (ish) piece of batting
  • 16” x 16” (ish) backing fabric
  • From fuselage accent fabric, cut:
    • (1) 12.5″ x 3.5″ (piece E)
  • From wing accent fabric, cut:
    • (1) 5.5″ x 5.5″ square (pieces F)
  • From background fabric, cut:
    • (1) 5.5″ x 5.5″ square (pieces F)
    • (2) 1.5″ x 4.5″ (pieces C)
    • (2) 1.75″ x 4.5″ (pieces B)
    • (4) 6.25″ x 6.75″ (pieces A)
    • (2) 3.5″ x 2.25″ (pieces D)


First we’re going to make 2 half-square triangles for the wings using the 5.5″ x 5.5″ background piece F and the 5.5″ x 5.5″ wing accent fabric piece. Draw a line down the center of the background piece (on the wrong side) from one corner to the opposite.

center of square

Place this piece on top of the accent fabric piece, wrong sides together. Sew 1/4″ away from the line you drew on both sides. This is going to give us (2) half-square triangles using one square!

sew lines

Once you’ve sewn the two lines down the block, cut it in half along the drawn line. Press the seams open, and trim each block to 4.5″ x 4.5″. These are both now piece F.

Lay out your pieces like the following picture. This will make it easier to sew everything together.


Sew both pieces D to the skinny ends of piece E and press the seams (however you want, no seam police here).

Sew piece C and B onto the top and bottom of piece F. Make sure your accent piece is oriented the right way so it looks like wings on an airplane! Press the seams towards piece C and piece B.

Sew pieces A onto either side of piece CFB.

Sew pieces A-CFB-A onto DED.

Now you’ve got a wing to body join block! Quilt in a way that makes your heart sing. Thanks to Kathleen for quilting this block for me.

WBJ final block

Laser Trackers

Laser trackers are instruments that can measure large objects accurately by determining the position of optical targets held against the object (Wikipedia). I use this all the time to measure airplane parts. The instrument sends out a laser, and when the laser beam is reflected back at the instrument (using a mirrored surface), the instrument can calculate where the point is relative to the instrument. Once you’ve collected thousands of measured points, it can be compared to a nominal engineering model to determine the as-built condition of the object.

I work with laser trackers daily, and it is really exciting technology. This block is loosely based on laser trackers; the colored block represents the instrument, and the red dots in my quilting are points that the instrument has measured. I choose to quilt this block with heavy weight thread, so I could get it to look like it was actively taking measurements; I can’t wait to see how you choose to quilt this block. I also made another one with LEDs so it LIGHTS UP and gave it to a very special friend and it is one the best thing I’ve ever made. I’m going to be sewing with LEDs so often now!

This block is STUPID easy to piece, so spend some extra time quilting it; it’ll pay off in the end.

laser tracker final blcok


  • 16” x 16” (ish) piece of batting
  • 16” x 16” (ish) backing fabric
  • From accent fabric, cut:
    • 3.5” x 5.75” (C)
  • From background fabric, cut:
    • 6.75” x 5.75” (B & D)
    • 10.75” x 16” (A)


Arrange your pieces onto your table to help facilitate sewing like so:

laser tracker layout

Sew pieces B & D onto your accent fabric piece C on the 5.75” side. Press.

Sew piece A onto the top of BCD. Press.

Done. See?? Stupid easy? Now spend an hour quilting it like crazy! I made some French knots using red pearl cotton on the front and batting ONLY. The batting helped to hide all of the long connections between each knot (ain’t nobody got time to do each one individually). Then I basted the backing to the front/batting, and quilted lines connecting the French knots to the top center of the accent fabric piece.

Here’s a picture of my light-up laser tracker block, BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME.

light up laser tracker

Next month we’re going to do a block based on a fuselage! Let me know if you have any questions, and use the hasthtags #SeaMQGBOM2018 and #ASaMQuilt to show off your progress.

Also, I finally finished this quilt at the retreat in April, but I just realized I never posted a picture on the blog. So here is the finished quilt 🙂


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