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Square in a Square Block

Two Ways to Make a "Square in a Square" Block

The simple square-in-a-square quilt block is often used alone, but also as a building block for many, many quilt patterns. I get email asking for easy methods to make this block (a way to avoid sewing all those diagonal bias edges). I don't use any special tools - so here are two methods: the 'corner triangle' method and a easy paper foundation piecing pattern.

multiple squares
in a square block

Note that some quilters refer to multiple squares in squares as "square in a square" block. These are most easily made with a paper piecing method. The multiple squares block is shown at the right here. Let me know if you want me to add a paper foundation pattern for this multiple squares block in the future. [I've added a Multiple Squares in Square Block PFP pattern HERE. ]

The Corner Triangle method

First, decide what final size sewn block is that you want to make. Add, 1/2 inch for seam allowance to the block for the base square you will cut. Thus a 6 inch sewn block is cut with a base square of 6.5" and a 4 inch block is cut at 4.5". We will call this the Base of the block. It is the part that will be the center square in the finished square-in-a-square block

Now you will cut squares of fabric to make the 4 corner triangles of the square-in-a-square block. The size of these squares is one half of the sewn block size + 1/2 inch. Thus for a 6" finished block your corner squares will be cut 3.5 inches. For a 4" finished block, your corner squares will be 2.5 inches. You will cut 4 for each base block.  They do not have to all be the same fabric. We call these Corner Squares. There should be contrast (in color, depth or texture between the base and the corners.

How to sew them: I'm linking to a page where I illustrate sewing a block with 2 corner triangles made from squares. You will do the same as this, but when one pair of corners is done, you will turn the base block around and add the other two corners. Go to this page to see the technique, then come back to this page with your browser's Back Button. (That illustrated page is part of a set of instructions for a Mystery Quilt, but it's clear and I thought it would be better than re-doing the page again.)

The Paper Foundation Piecing Method

If you aren't familiar with how to do paper foundation piecing, the Square in a Square block is a good beginning in paper foundation piecing as it is easy to do.

The paper foundation for this block has only 4 seams to sew. You begin with the larger square (1) and add each of the corners as you go around the block. A full-size version of the block is HERE. With the use of a copy machine (or just draw your own, it's easy on graph paper) you can control the size of the block. I suggest if you draw your own that you stay with blocks that are even numbers of inches: 4, 5, 6, 8, etc. Don't forget to leave a 1/4 seam all around for sewing the blocks together.

It's fun to make a quilt that has two sizes that sew together (using, for instance, 4" and 8" blocks.

I made some sample quilt tops in Electric Quilt 5.0 
See some Quilt Top Layouts using this Square in a Square block - Click HERE.


Susan Druding

2003-2005 Susan C. Druding - www.equilters.com

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