From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
Skill Level: Confident Beginner
The Art Square quilt block looks incredibly simple to make. Just 3 shapes to cut.
You'll learn two different methods (one no-cost, one some-cost) to cut the center, on-point square perfectly.
You'll also see a neat way to use this block to showcase a collection of existing blocks. Looks complicated, but isn't—one of my favorite things.
If the name isn't familiar, you may also know the Art Square as:
Let's get started!
All seam allowances (SA) are 1/4". It helps to take this simple Sewing Test to make sure your's are perfect.
Other quilters like the convenience of Best Press.
Either way I find that fabric that is starched before cutting is easier to cut and more accurate to sew on because it has less give in it.
Be sure that there is enough contrast between your fabrics.
While I'm happy with the sample block in person, the photos of it don't have enough contrast between my two fabric choices. (Another good reason to make a sample block before diving head first into a new quilt!)
The math for squares set on-point in blocks (like the #3 patch) can get a little wonky.
Many designers will have you cut the them 'just a bit bigger than' a standard rotary cut size or cut it '6-3/16 inch square'. I don't know about you, but my ruler is marked in 1/8" increments...not a 16th in sight.
Since we go to the trouble of fine-tuning our quarter inch seam, it seems kind of silly to me to then have you 'guesstimate' the size to cut the patch.
Therefore, I offer two alternative ways to accurately cut #3. The first is with the On-Point Ruler by Donna Lynn Thomas. The second is using a template which you can download below under the chart.
All the measurements in the chart below are for squares, i.e. 1-7/8" means cut a patch 1-7/8" x 1-7/8".
Cutting Chart for an~Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|Unfinished Block Size||4 1/2"||5 1/2"||6 1/2"||8 1/2"||--|
|Grid Size||1"||1 1/4"||1 1/2"||2"||--|
**Cut this patch with the On-Point Ruler. If you don't have this ruler, click here to print templates.
My go-to thread for all my piecing is...
To use the On-Point ruler, line up the measurement with the cut edge of the fabric as shown below.
With right sides together (RST) align the edges of a #2 triangle to the #1 patch.
Stitch starting from the even side of the pair of patches—that way your machine won't 'eat' the points.
For accurate seams, use a stiletto (or in my case my handy seam ripper) to guide the points of the triangle straight through the machine.
If left unguided, they tend to pull to one side or the other.
This first #2 is just a smidge longer than the side of the #1. Don't worry—that's how it's supposed to be.
Add the second #2 to the adjacent side.
Again, start your stitching from the even side of the group of patches. Your stitching line should fall exactly in the valley of where the patches meet as shown below.
In this closeup of the backside of this corner unit, you can see how the first #2 extends a bit past the edge of #1 (lower right side of the light square) and how the second line of stitching bisects the valley between the patches (red arrow).
After pressing, the diagonal edge of this unit should be straight.
Repeat for the three remaining #1 squares.
Arrange the patches as shown below.
To find the center of each side of the #3 square, fold the square in half and fingerpress a crease (red arrow).
With RST match this crease to the point of the #1 square (arrows). The points of the #2s are longer than #3. I prefer to pin them to help keep everything lined up.
Use your stiletto (or seam ripper) to help guide those triangle points through your machine.
Stitch. Press SA toward #3.
Add the two remaining corner units in the same manner.
This is your finished Art Square Quilt Block!
Part of my system as I write these tutorials is to plop the blocks into several standard settings to see if it doesn't get the old creative juices flowing.
One of my 'go-to' placements is to use the block as a cornerstone with sashing.
This one, I think, is a winner!
The lights and darks of the original Art Square are switched. The #1 and #3 patches are now two different fabrics/colors.
Now plop the block into a cornerstone and this is the result.
To complete the design, you'll need sashing like this where the blue strips are 1 grid unit wide plus 1/2" and the cream strip is 2 grid units wide plus 1/2".
How will you use YOUR Art Square quilt blocks?
These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas.
Can you tell?
It's in color.
It's got a ton of blocks.
What's not to love?
Next on my 'must-have' list is Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
Unlike the Maggie Malone book, the blocks in this volume are hand-drawn and in black and white—no color—personally, I prefer colored drawings to work with.
This book is no longer in print.
If you can come by a copy expect it to be wickedly expensive. Once in awhile you can find it here on Amazon.com.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt, in cooperation with Barbara Brackman has announced they plan to republish the Encyclopedia sometime in 2020.
However, all is not lost if you can't find a hard copy.
BlockBase is the computerized version of the Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
It contains designs for over 4300 blocks—pretty much every block published from the 1830's through the 1970's.
It can be used with Electric Quilt and is a Windows based program.
In fact, there are instructions included so that you can pull up the digital patterns within Electric Quilt (PC version for now) without having to open up BB program.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt has announced that they will be rereleasing the standalone BlockBase software for BOTH PC and MAC in 2020.
This is terrific news.
Finally there's The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer.
Lots of detail and in color, it is a beautiful volume. That said, I check it out of my local library on a regular basis instead of purchasing it—can you see the library sticker on it's spine. Yep, it's from the Plainfield Public Library.
Simply because I own the previous three references and find this the least user-friendly of the group.
And it does make a fabulous coffee table book!