Hello there! Who doesn't love economy /square in square blocks? We have seen lots of them lately on the blogosphere and on the internet in general that man, it's impossible to resist the temptation of making tones of them!
My last baby quilt was made in part of economy blocks, but I didn't have enough! So, this week I've been making lots of them, in many different sizes and using different techniques or approaches. It's been so useful to me that I've thought I would share a little bit of of it here.
The first method I used was the one I've always seen my mom using, so the the first I learned too. It consists in cutting your fabric pieces the exact size needed. I did the math behind economy blocks (again because I always forget the sizes I need!) and this time I decided to make a table with the ones I was more likely to use. Definitely that was a great choice as I've looked back to that table so many times already that I've printed it and it's now hanging on my desk wall!
Here it goes:
The table shows the exact fabric cuts (rounded to the nearest 1/4'') that we need for each finished block size on the list. We need a central fabric square A, 4 B triangles and 4 C triangles. There's 2 ways of cutting out B triangles, from a bigger square B1(cutting it along both diagonals) or from 2 smaller squares B2 (cutting each one in half diagonally). Choose what works best for you depending on your fabric. To get the 4 C triangles, simply cut both C squares in half diagonally.
All the fabric cuts must be sewn using a scant 1/4'' seam allowance, which is a little bit less than a 1/4''. It's very important to cut and sew as much accurate as possible because any little mistake affects the finished size, trust me I know! But the good news is that it just requires practice. Don't be frustrated if they don't look as squared they should be or if they are a little bit smaller at first. You will see your blocks improve every time you make a new one, I promise you!
Now let's take a look to the process:
If cutting out your fabric pieces almost the exact size isn't for you, no worries, you can find a great tutorial over at Red Pepper Quilts made by Rita (her blocks are so perfect!). She prefers to over-size the fabric triangles and have more fabric to trim later. You can still use the table above and just increase a little bit the sizes on the three last columns. The A square needs to be the same size as above.
Another method for making economy blocks is paper piecing. I guess lots of you have already tried! I have to confess that most of the times I forget about it and I just start cutting out my fabric and I end up using the traditional method! Lately I am trying to push myself to get better at it though!
Paper piecing seems overwhelming at first, but once you see the trick, it's a lot of fun and the resulting blocks are just so PERFECT! This method allows you to make really complicated blocks with maximum accuracy.
So, what we need?
1. First we need a paper piecing template. I've prepared templates in 5 different sizes (3'', 4'', 5'', 6'' & 7'') in case you want to give it a try!
DOWNLOAD FOUNDATION PAPER PIECING TEMPLATES:
3Inch Foundation paper piecing template
4Inch Foundation paper piecing template
5Inch Foundation paper piecing template
6Inch Foundation paper piecing template
7Inch Foundation paper piecing template
Choose one of them and print as many templates as blocks you want to make. Trim the template(s) and go pick some beautiful fabrics!
This method is perfect for using fabric scraps. You don't even need to have them perfectly squared, the only thing you must assure is that your fabric cuts are a little bit larger than their corresponding space on the template plus 1/4'' of seam allowance. Having this in mind, you can pick whatever scraps you have on hand!
If it's the first time you do this, it will be easier to use bigger fabric cuts. I still use them bigger than necessary sometimes, wasting more fabric than I would like, but hey...I am learning too!
2. You will soon notice that each space on the pattern has a number. It's very important to follow this order when sewing.
3. Take fabric cut num. 1 and place it RIGHT SIDE OUT on the back of your template.
4. Make sure you are covering all template space 1 plus 1/4'' seam allowance at least. Pin in place.
5. Take fabric cut num. 2 and place it on the fabric cut num. 1 with right sides together.
6. Use a light to check if both fabric cuts overlap at least 1/4'' into template space 2.
7. Before sewing anything, reduce stitching length on your sewing machine to easily perforate and remove the paper later. Stitch along the line between template spaces 1 and 2. Start sewing a little bit before the line and stop a little bit after it ends. Backstitch at the beginning and at the end.
8. Remove the template from the sewing machine and flip it over.
9. Trim the seam allowance to 1/4''.
10. Press your fabric open.
12. Check if both fabric cuts overlap at least 1/4'' into template space 3 and stitch along the line between 1 and 3. Trim seam allowance to 1/4''.
13. Press the fabric open.
14-18. Repeat the steps described above for fabric cuts num. 4 and 5. Notice that I used fabric triangles for 2/3 and rectangles for 4/5. These were the fabric scraps I had on hand, but as I said above, they could be any shape always that fit the size requirements.
23-24. Repeat steps described above for fabric cuts num. 7, 8 & 9.
28. Remove carefully the paper, flip it over and that's it! Your block is done!
It looks perfect, isn't it? I love this method!
My conclusion after all this exercise is that I will use paper piecing always for small blocks and for the bigger ones I will just cut the exact fabric cuts and sew them as usual.
I just want to end with the latest addition to my economy block family...how cute is that 3'' baby economy block :)! You can find the paper piecing pattern above.