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Quilt Blocks

Quilt blocks are square or rectangular fabric pieces which are assembled and joined together to create blocked designs.  They can be pieced, appliqued or just good'ol squares/rectangles of fabric.  Quilt Blocks can be used on their own or they can be parts of Quilt Block patterns, such as Log Cabin and 9-Patch blocks.  Blocks can then be pieced together to create quilts, table runners, pillows, clothing, etc.  Most pieced blocks have amazing geometrical shapes that when put together just pop! These geometrical shapes can be used to create simple or very complex projects.

Blocks can all be the same, creating a pattern of repeating blocks, or they can all be different. Making the same block repeatedly really helps the sewist reinforce learning.  Making different blocks for one project allows the sewist to learn many different blocks and/or techniques.  When sewists use different blocks to create a project its typically called a Sampler. 

There are hundreds of ways to make a quilt block, ranging from simple squares to complex patterns.  Your creativity is truly the limit.  

Quilt Block Patterns

The most common of quilt block patterns are:

- These blocks are the most basic of quilt blocks.  For the beginning quilter, they are simply 9 square patches stitched together to form a pattern. For the more experienced quilter, substituting different designs for those simple square patches reveals a myriad of options to play with.

9-Patch quilt block image
-These blocks are made with a central shape, such as a square or a diamond, in the middle. This focal point provides a hearth or fireplace, which represents a place of warmth and activity in a log cabin.

Log Cabin quilt block photo
-The four patch block is one of the simplest pieced quilt blocks. It is made by sewing 4 squares the same size together to make a larger square. Four patch blocks can be made using 2, 3 or 4 different fabrics depending on the effect you are after.

4-patch quilt block photo
-These block patterns are part of the four patch family and are made with simple half-square triangle quilt patterns. The darker shade fabric is used to represent windmill blades rotating around the block.

Pin wheel quilt block photo

Quilt Block Sizes

When planning for a finished project, quilt block sizes are very important.  Typically blocks will be squares and of the same size.  Whether they are 15 inches by 15 inches or 4.75 inches by 4.75 inches it is totally up to you.  Some more standard sizes usually seen are 6 inches by 6 inches, 9 inches by 9 inches, or 10 inches by 10 inches with the most popular probably being 12 inches by 12 inches. 

Quilt Block Size Chart


Wondering where to start your quilt blocking journey? Make sure you have all the basic quilting tools and notions.

- Needles
Depending on your project you may be using hand, machine sewing needles or both.  Either way, it's important to change you needle after every 6-8 hours of sewing.  You can also use the bobbin as a point of reference, change the needle after every 2-3 full bobbin changes.

-Rotary Blade Cutter or Scissors.
With all block projects you will need a good and consistent way to slice your fabric pieces.  Scissors always work great, but if you'll be doing a lot of cutting you can get better accuracy and control with a rotary cutter.  The standard size quilters use is a 45 mm and we recommend some sort of a cutting mat as well.

-Sewing Machine & Bobbins.
Yes, quilts can be sewn completely by hand, but in addition to being faster you will have better consistency and stitch quality with a home sewing machine by your side.  Beginners don’t have to make a huge investment in a machine until they are sure this is something they plan to do more of but nicer machines do make things easier with various features and benefits.  

You will need at least one bobbin to sew, but 2 or 3 is even better because there is nothing worse than an empty bobbin in the middle of sewing. The bobbin is the small device that is placed within the sewing machine, under the throat plate and provides the lower thread caught by the needle’s top thread. You will save yourself a lot of frustration if you have two bobbins wound with the right thread and ready to sew while you’re working.

-Quilt Pins
Pins are one of the most basic tools, regardless of what you’re sewing.  You will need 1½-inch to 2-inch long pins to ensure they are long enough to account for thicker fabrics and sandwiched pieces. Consider choosing pins with multi-colored heads so they are easy to see regardless of the fabric you use.  

-Good Quality Fabric

Poor quality will lower the lifespan of your quilt block, so it’s best to invest in good fabric that will be loved for years. 100% cotton is a safe bet but watching thread count is a good idea too.  It can be hard to find thread count on bolts, so you may need to compare designer samples with the look and feel of the bolt to estimate thread count and quality.  Don’t be afraid to carry a sample of fabric you trust for this.  You can also hold it up to the light. The more light showing through, the lower the thread count.

-Good Quality Iron
You don’t iron in quilting; you press. The iron helps with just about every step of the way. You should be able to guarantee that just about any time you’re working on your block, you should have your iron hot and ready. The iron is used to get those wrinkles and lines out of fresh fabrics, but more importantly, it presses your seams so that they lay flat.

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