From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
Skill Level: Confident Beginner
Grid: 6x6 (nine patch)
The Aunt Dinah quilt block looks complex, but when you break it down into its individual parts, you see it's nothing more than 3-patch quarter square triangles and Brave World units.
Paperpiecing is the technique we'll use to keep those points pointy and intersections matching perfectly.
You'll find free pattern downloads below for 6", 9" and 12" blocks.
Let's meet Aunt Dinah!
To press, first do it with the unit closed to set the seam. Then open the patches and press from the front to minimize the creation of a tuck in the seam allowance (SA).
If you choose to starch your fabrics (and I do!), you'll find that you can fingerpress most of your seams.
Try my favorite pressing technique, for the flattest blocks you'll ever see. It even works for paperpiecing!
Several abbreviations are used throughout this tutorial:
Choose a 'finished size' for your Aunt Dinah block.
Then cut the patches and print the paper piecing patterns listed in the column below it in the chart. We'll be using both the 'Brave World' and 3-Patch Quarter Square Triangle paper piecing patterns to make this block.
Unless otherwise noted, print one copy of each pattern. The links to download the patterns are in the cutting chart below.
You'll need the most current version of Adobe installed on your computer to download the pattern.
On the Adobe Print Menu page, under 'Page Size and Handling' set 'Custom Scale' to 100% before printing for accurate results. Click here to see what it looks like on the Print Menu page.
After printing, use the 1" square graphic on the printed pages to confirm they are printed accurately.
Not sure which paper to use?
Check out my review of several of the most popular brands available to us quilters on the market.
Which one will you choose?
Look for good contrast between your two fabrics so that the points don't get lost.
Some of the cut patches look very much like one another. To keep them separated, label a sheet of copy paper with 'Brave World' and the other with 'QST' and then put the associated patches on them.
Or just print an extra copy of the pattern itself to use in the same way and keep your notes on.
Cutting Chart for an~ Paper Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size||Sub|
|PRINT Brave World units||2”||3”||4”, print 2||--|
|PRINT 3-patch QST units||2"||3"||4", print 2||--|
|Trim pieced units to...||2½”x2½"||3½”x3½"||4½”x4½"||--|
|Unfinished block size||6½” sq||9½” sq||12½” sq||--|
Cut four units from each pattern you downloaded/printed. A rough cut will do, nothing fancy because you'll trim everything once the unit is pieced.
Brave World Units
Reduce your stitch length to 15-18 stitches/inch for paper piecing. This helps make removing the paper easier.
Install an open toe applique foot (if you have one) for an unobstructed view of the stitching lines.
With a teeny dab of Elmer's Washable Glue Stick adhere the wrong side of a BW-1 patch in position on the unprinted side of the pattern. Use the dashed lines to accurately and quickly position it.
The outside edges of the fabric will extend past the dashed lines around the outside of the block on purpose.
With right sides together (RST), align a short edge of a BW-2 patch with BW-1.
Stitch on the line between them, starting before the line begins and ending after it stops and outside of the outer dashed line. This helps secure the seams. There's no need to backstitch.
Add the background BW-3 triangle in the same manner and press.
At the cutting mat, pattern side up, align the edge of your ruler with the stitching line between BW-4 and the rest of the block. Crease the paper back along this line. (You'll need to pull a few of the stitches away from the pattern—that's just fine.)
Reposition your ruler with the 1/4" mark along the fold and cut with your rotary cutter. This establishes your next placement line.
With RST align the long bias edge of BW-4 with the sewn patches. Stitch starting before and ending after the line.
Trim to size. (This is found in the chart at the intersection of the 'Finished Block Size' column and the 'Trim to Size' row in the Aunt Dinah block cutting chart above.
3-Patch Quarter Square Triangles (QST)
Use a dab of Elmer's glue stick to adhere the wrong side of QST.1 to the unprinted side of the pattern.
The outside edge of the fabric is supposed to extend past the outside dashed line. The excess is trimmed later.
With RST, align the edges of a QST.2 with QST.1.
From the printed side, stitch on the line between them, starting and stopping about a 1/4" past the ends of the solid line.
Align the long bias edge of QST3 with the sewn edges (black arrow).
Stitch this seam from the printed side, starting and stopping past the dashed outline of the block. Press.
Trim to the same size as the Brave World unit.
For more detailed directions, visit Technique #4: 3-Patch Quarter Square Triangle.
This is what the two finished blocks look like. Trim any errant thread tails. Remove the paper.
Return your machine to a normal stitch length. Install your preferred quarter inch foot.
All SA for the remainder of this tutorial are 1/4".
Lay out the pieced and cut unit(s) in rows. The 3-patch quarter square triangle creates the illusion of a square-in-a-square block in the center.
Notice, too, how the diagonal seam of the quarter square triangle automatically rotates a 1/4 turn as it moves around your Aunt Dinah quilt block.
Stitch the units into rows. Press the SAs in these rows away from all the QSTs.
Our finished Aunt Dinah block looks like this. Pointy, crisp and ready for a quilt!
...cookin' up more blocks for you to make.
Find them in our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library which lists all the free blocks, instructions and downloads available to you on this website.
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!