Sunday, February 12, 2012

Square in a Square Block

Here is a tutorial for the Square in a Square block for our row quilt. This block finishes at 6”. You will make 8 blocks, but only use 7 in the row. The blocks are cut in pairs and pieces switched to make positive and negative blocks. Filler pieces may be required to make the finished row 45 ½”.

This block can be cut either by making copies of the cutting template or by marking your cutting mat as we did with the Old Italian block. The instructions below are for using the paper cutting template. To make a paper cutting template, draw an accurate 6 3/4" square on a piece of paper. Then draw a seam allowance of 1/4" around the 6 3/4" square so now you have a 7 1/4" square outside the 6 3/4" square. Divide each side exactly in half and draw a horizontal and a vertical line dividing the square into quarters. Draw diagonal lines from the center of one side of the 6 3/4" square to the center of the adjacent side of the 6 3/4" square. Repeat for the other 3 quarters of the square. You cannot reuse the paper template once it has been cut, so you will need either 2 or 4 copies depending on how many squares you cut at one time.

If you are using a paper template as your cutting guide, rough cut two 7 ¾” squares of contrasting fabrics. (You will need 4 squares of each fabric total.) Starch and press them together right sides up or down, it doesn’t matter. The rough cut stacks in the photo below left each have two contrasting fabrics. The two squares will make 2 blocks. Trim the paper cutting template about ¼” outside the outermost lines. Place the template on top of your stack of 2 or 4 fabric squares. You can either lightly glue the paper down to the top square using a glue stick, so the paper doesn’t shift, or you can use flathead pins (like the flower head pins by Clover) to pin the paper to the fabric. If you use pins, I would suggest you only cut two squares at a time so the pinning does not distort how the paper lays against the fabric. Pin in all four corners. Do not use round-head pins as they will interfere with your ruler. Trim around the outside of the template so you have a 7 ¼” square.

Then, using your ruler, cut on the four solid diagonal lines across the corners. You will end up with some tiny triangles at the middle of each side. Discard them. Remove the paper pieces and switch the outer triangles and center squares so you have a positive block and a negative block. See the photos.

To sew this block, flip one corner triangle over on top of one side of the square and sew a scant ¼” seam. Be careful not to stretch the fabric as these are bias edges. The starch should help stabilize the fabric. Pick up the corner triangle on the opposite side of the one you just sewed and sew that one to the center square. Press the seams toward the corners. Repeat for the other two corner triangles and again press toward the corners.

Square up the block to 6 ½”. Be sure you have ¼” beyond the points of the center square. If your block is smaller than 6 ½”, wait until you have all your blocks done, so you can try to square them up to approximately the same size. You will cut and sew 4 sets of 2 squares which will make 8 blocks, 7 of which you will use in your row. When you sew the blocks together, you will have a little bulkiness where the seams meet at the edges of the block. Pinning will keep the blocks from shifting. You could also insert a narrow sashing (1” cut, ½” finished) between the blocks and avoid the bulky seams issue. This would also eliminate the need for filler pieces at the ends of the row, if your blocks are 6 ½” unfinished.