Are you interested in making square in a square quilt blocks? This block, unlike so many others, has a name that describes exactly what it is and how it looks. It is a square, set on a point within another square. The trick in constructing it is that the larger outside square is actually made up of triangles! It is also known as the diamond in a square block, and if you enlarge it to make a square in a square in another square, you have what is called an Economy Block.
Square in a Square Quilt Blocks
There are a number of ways to put this block together. Some say as many as ten ways, but they are all variations on three basic ways, which I will break down and explain here.
- FABRIC - Closely woven cotton is best.
- SEWING SUPPLIES - Thread, pins, sewing machine.
- CUTTING TOOLS - Scissors, rotary cutter, self healing mat, quilting ruler.
- PRESSING TOOLS - Iron and ironing board.
How To Make A Square In A Square Quilt Blocks
Method 1: Triangles on the Square
Although this block is easy to piece, working out the measurements can be a bit tricky! Here is a table to use, to spare you having to do the complicated math.
|Finished Block Size|
|2 ½ “ (6.4cm)||3”(7.6cm)||3 ½” ( 8.9cm)||4” (10cm)|
|3” (7.6cm)||3 ¼” (8.3cm)||4” (10cm)||5” (12.7 cm)|
|3 ½” (8.9cm)||3 ¾ ” (9.5cm)||4 ½” (11.4cm)||6” (15cm)|
|4 “ (10cm)||4” (10cm)||5” (12.7cm)||7” (17.8cm)|
|4 ½” (11.4 cm)||4 ½” (11.4 cm)||5 ½” (14cm)||8” (20cm)|
|5 “ (12.7cm)||4 ¾” (12cm)||6” (15cm)||9” (23cm)|
|5 ½” (14cm)||5” (12.7cm)||6 ½” (16.5 cm)||10” (25 cm)|
- Cut 3 squares with the measurements for A, B and C from the table above.
- Cut your (B) and (C) diagonally.
- Press or pin each of your pieces in half to have a center alignment spot.
- Pin the first triangles (A) to opposite sides of the center square. Match the center of the sides of the square with the center of the triangles.
- Sew them in place, using a ¼” (6mm)seam.
- Open out and press.
- Now pin the second pair of triangles to the remaining sides of the square, matching the centers again. Sew into place.
- Open out and press.
- Now trim and square up your block. It should be the size of your final finished block, plus ¼” (6mm) all around for seam allowance.
There must be some overlap of the triangles, the corners should not be right at the edge of your block. You need that overlap to enclose inside your seam when sewing the blocks together. The corners of your triangles must be sharp and not chopped off!
Method 2: Squares on a Square
With this method, you will be sewing squares onto the corners of your central square and then trimming afterward.
Your center square must be the same size as your unfinished block, and your 4 corner squares must be half the size of the finished block, plus seam allowance. For example, if you want a finished block of 4” (10cm), you would cut the center square 4" and 4 smaller squares 4 ½".
- Draw a diagonal line with a fine pencil or a removable marker on each of the 4 small squares.
- Place the small squares on opposite sides of the large square. Your diagonal lines must touch the edges (not corners) of the square.
- Sew along the diagonal lines.
- Trim the seam and press open.
- Now sew the other 2 squares onto the remaining corners of the block.
- Unfold and trim the squares again as before, with ¼” (6mm) seam allowance.
- Check your measurements and square up your block to the correct size.
Method 3: Foundation Paper Piecing
To use this method, you need a printed or drawn ‘pattern’ on paper.
These are easily and freely available online, or you can draw up your own, using your desired measurements. They are marked with numbers to show you the order of placement of the pieces. Pre-cut your fabric into patches to make it easier to work with. Just be sure your patches are larger than the final shapes on your pattern.
- You will be sewing through the paper as well as the fabric, so have a fresh, sharp needle on your machine. Stitch slowly and stay precisely on the marked lines.
- Turn your pattern over so that the blank side of the page is showing. Hold it up to the light to see where the lines are! The edges of your square must extend at least ¼” (6mm) beyond the marked lines.
- Pin the fabric into place over the pattern, fabric must be right side up. Pattern must be wrong side up.
- Now align one edge of a triangle with one edge of the square. Pattern still wrong side up, fabric also wrong side up. So the fabric of the triangle and the square have right sides facing. Pin into place.
- Turn the paper pattern over, and stitch along the line.
- Pin and stitch the triangle in the opposite corner in the same way. Press the triangles open. Be careful not to press tucks into the seam allowance.
- Leave these triangles opened out, then add the remaining triangle patches in the same way.
- Press again, then trim the block to size, removing crooked edges and dog ears.
- Remove the paper pattern. It should just pull off easily, as the paper is now perforated from the stitching.
More Quilt Blocks
There are variations on these three methods, but they are simply variations on a theme. These are the simplest and the most successful ways to create a square in a square block.
Different Version Of Square In A Square Quilt Blocks
There are also blocks called squares in a square, where the central square is not on point, it simply looks like a straight square inside another square. This is, as so often in patchwork, an illusion. It is made up of a central square, surrounded by strips. The strips are added as shown above, in the same way as quilt borders are added to blocks.
The ‘Economy Block’ is actually a square in a square, inside another square. It is made in exactly the same way as the simple square in a square block, but with an extra layer of triangles added on afterward.
This block is perfect for fussy cutting, placing your specific fabric motif in the central square. This makes it a lot of fun to make and is perfect for children’s or baby quilts. Fussy cut squares with a floral central square would make a beautiful ‘shabby chic’ style quilt.
It is also a block that lends itself to solids, rather than prints. You could combine squares in a square block alternating with plain blocks, or arrange these blocks in a number of different ways to give a different overall effect. If your outer triangles are all the same fabric, you will get a completely different look to the quilt which is made with different background triangles. This block is often used as a center for constructing various star block quilts.
Square in a Square Quilt Block - In Conclusion
Do give these blocks a try. They are simple and effective and can be made in endless color combinations. Whether you are planning to make a large king-sized quilt, or just a quick weekend project, a square in a square quilt is a bright and cheerful design to add to your bedroom décor!