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Card Trick Quilt Block Pattern
From our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library

Card Trick quilt block pattern tutorial

Skill Level: Confident Beginner

Grid:  3x3

AKA: Winning Hand

A Card Trick quilt block is made completely of half and quarter square triangles. (It's a perfect choice if you've just gone through our Beginning Quilt Block Patterns series!)

With traditional color placements, you'll need 4 fabrics plus a background to achieve the look of layered 'cards'.

Choose four different colors based on a focus fabric, or use the 'cards' to showcase fabric collections, i.e. fruit, flowers or even bugs!

On this page are rotary cutting and assembly instructions for a 12" block, a downloadable Color/Fabric Placement page and an additional cutting chart for 4-1/2", 6" and 9" finished blocks.

Construction Instructions

Block Size: 12" finished (12-1/2" unfinished)

Grid Size: 4"

Due to the construction methods, you'll frequently be stitching a bias edge. To tame the bias and minimize it's stretch, consider starching your fabrics—either before you start or as you piece. Just remember that the starch must be washed out when your quilt is complete.

Click here for more information on starching.

Card Trick coloring page
Click here to download the Color/
Fabric Placement page

All seam allowances are 1/4". If you are having trouble stitching an accurate 1/4" seam, take the Sewing Test to help correct it.

I strongly urge you to print a line drawing of a Card Trick quilt block and note your fabric placements. It's very easy to get the patches mixed up if you don't.

Just click the drawing to print your own Color/Fabric Placement page. You need Adobe installed on your computer.

If you don't have Adobe, click here and follow the download instructions for the program. (Adobe allows you to access PDF files and it's free! This link opens in a new window.)

We're ready. Let's get started.

Step 1:  Cut the fabric patches

Cutting instructions for a Card Trick quilt block

For quarter and half square triangles, I like to start with over-sized patches. After the units are stitched they are trimmed down to size. Here I used patches cut 1/4" larger. That is the number that is in ().


Two 4-7/8"(5-1/8") square, sub-cut once diagonally
One 5-1/4"(5-1/2") square, sub-cut twice diagonally

Fabrics #1-#4:

One 4-7/8"(5-1/8"), sub-cut once diagonally
One 5-1/4"(5-1/2") square each, sub-cut twice diagonally

After the squares are cut you have this:

Cut the squares for the Card Trick block

...and after sub-cutting the squares as instructed, you have this:

After sub-cutting the squares

Keep the two different sizes of triangles separate. After cutting it's VERY EASY to get them mixed up. They look different here, but at the machine, I had to re-measure to make sure I was stitching the correct sides together.

Step 2:  Assemble the 3-fabric quarter square triangle units

To make these units you'll need triangles sub-cut from both sizes of squares.

From the triangles cut from the 5-1/2" squares, with right sides together (RST) match one background patch with one Fabric #1 triangle. Repeat for Fabrics B, C and D.

With the background fabric on top and the flat edge feeding into your sewing machine first, stitch along the short side with a 1/4" seam as shown in the photo below. These edges are both bias. Do not pull on the patches as you stitch. Just guide them and let the sewing machine do the work.

Stitch together the first two patches for your quarter square triangle units
The arrow points to the anchor cloth that I stitch on first
to insure that my sewing machine doesn't eat my patches

Press each unit flat to set the seam...

Press the unit flat

...and then open with the seam allowance towards the A, B, C or D fabric.

Press the seam towards the background fabric
Press with the fabric on top that you want to press your seam allowance
towards. Then you won't have to flip your patch over for this step.

Now align the long edge of this pressed unit with the long edge of it's corresponding triangle cut from the 5-1/8" square. (Again, refer to your fabric placement chart.)

Stitch this seam. The pieced unit is on top with its seam allowance towards you. (There's less chance for it to flip in the wrong direction this way.)

Stitch the second seam of your quarter square triangle unit

Follow your fabric placement chart to assemble the remaining three unique 3-fabric QSTs.

After stitching, press each flat to set the seam and then open with the seam allowance towards the larger triangle. Trim to size, remembering to measure out from the center.

After trimming the units look like this:

Trimmed quarter square triangle units

If you need a refresher on trimming quarter square triangle units to size, click here to review this technique in Quarter Square Triangle, Technique #1, Steps 6-7.  The center measurement of this unit is 2-1/4".

Step 3:  Assemble the 4-fabric quarter square triangle unit

Use one triangle from Fabrics #1-4 cut from the 5-1/2" square.

With RST, sew a Fabric #4 triangle to a #1 with #4 on top. Feed the blunt edge into your machine first, just like you did with the QSTs above.

With RST, sew a Fabric #2 triangle to a #3 with #2 on top, again feeding the blunt edge first.

Press the units flat to set the seam and then open with the seam allowances toward the #1 or #3  fabric.

With RST, sew these two units together. The seams nest to help you match them.

Press flat to set the seam.

Then 'twirl' or 'pinwheel' the seam allowance by giving a little tug on the seams at the center. A few of the stitches will give way and you will be able to press this last seam in two directions as pictured below. Note that they are all pressed counterclockwise.

Twirl the seam allowance to reduce bulk
By twirling this seam allowance, all the seams will nest during
assembly which makes matching seams much easier.

After trimming, it looks like this:

Finished center quarter square triangle

Again, if you need it click here for a review this trimming technique (Steps 6-7).  The center measurement this unit is 2-1/4".

Step 4:  Assemble the half square triangle units

With RST align one background triangle cut from a 5-1/8" square with one Fabric #1 triangle cut from the same size square.

Stitch together along the long bias edge.

Repeat for Fabrics #2-4.

Press the units flat and then open with the seam allowance towards the background fabric.

Trim to size.

The four HST units look like this:

Finished half square triangles

Step 5:  Assemble the Blocks

Layout your Card Trick quilt block units according to your fabric placement chart.

Layout the units for your Card Trick quilt block

Stitch the units in each row together. Press the seam allowances as indicated by the arrows below. Use pins as needed to help you match the seams.

Stitch the rows together

Stitch the rows together, using pins as needed.

One final press and your Card Trick quilt block is finished! (For a super flat block check out our Best Pressing Technique.)

The finished Card Trick quilt block

Common Variations

A Card Trick quilt block can also be designed with two fabrics instead of the four that we used in our example. Such a block would look like the one to the left.

Just be sure there is enough difference in the 'card' fabrics so that they don't blend together into a lump.

While it doesn't look it at first glance, the color placement in this variation shows that the roots of the Card Trick quilt block are deep within the Ohio Star.

The star appears more clearly with this placement blue fabrics. Use your Color/Fabric Placement page to create your own star formations.

Cutting Chart for Other Block Sizes

You may want to cut the squares for the quarter and half square triangles slightly larger than the exact measurements given below. Then trim the units to size before stitching them together into your Card Trick quilt block.

In the tutorial, all the patches were cut a 1/4" larger.

Finished Block Size
Fabric Qty Shape 4-1/2” 6” 9” Sub Cut
Background 2 Symbol for a square 2-3/8” 2-7/8” 3-7/8” Symbol for a half square triangle
Background 1 Symbol for a square 2-3/4” 3-1/4” 4-1/4” Symbol for a quarter square triangle
Fabrics #1-#4 1 ea Symbol for a square 2-3/8” 2-7/8” 3-7/8” Symbol for a half square triangle
Fabrics #1-#4 1 ea Symbol for a square 2-3/4” 3-1/4” 4-1/4” Symbol for a quarter square triangle
QST midpoint for trimming 1” 1-1/4” 1-3/4” n/a
Grid Size 1-1/2” 2” 3” n/a

Ready for More?

Celebrate! The quilt block is finished!

Visit our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library for more block instructions like this.

To get your creative juices flowing, visit Quilt Design 101.

If you've made a bunch of Card Trick quilt blocks and need ideas how to set them, visit Quilt Layouts 101.

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