Skill Level: Confident Beginner
The Broken Wheel quilt block (also known as Mrs. Miller's Favorite) is made from basic Square in a Square units with a bit of strip piecing thrown in for good measure.
Choose your favorite technique.
Cutting charts and instructions are included for both paper pieced and Connector Corner patches.
If you're a machine embroidery enthusiast, check out the 12" version. The center patch is 4" finished—the perfect spot to try out a new embroidery collection.
For inspiration, several kissin' cousins of the Broken Wheel are shared at the bottom of the page.
Or try your hand at coloring your own blocks with the coloring page for the design.
Let's get started!
We use several abbreviations on this page:
Seam allowances (SA) are all 1/4".
Cutting directions and instructions are included for both paperpiecing or using Connecting Corners to complete the corner units. You'll need to choose one method.
Starched quilt fabrics are easier to work with in my humble opinion. Yours cuts are more accurate. Your seams easier to fingerpress. Try it to see if you agree.
Skip this Step if you choose Connector Corners.
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.
In our example, the 'Geese' are dark, but that doesn't mean you can't change the color values around. To make sure that the points show, choose fabrics with enough contrast.
Choose your finished block size below, note the number of copies you'll need and click the corresponding unit size.
|PRINT the Paper Piecing Patterns|
| # of|
copies to print
| Link to|
Sample Size: 6" finished / 6½" unfinished
Attributed to: Clara Stone
AKA: Mrs. Miller's Favorite (Needlecraft Supply), Peek-a-Boo (Joseph Doyle)
Design Type: Even 9-patch
Choose fabrics with good contrast. That way all your piecing shows.
In the cutting charts below, the yellow one includes some paperpiecing; the blue one uses Connector Corners instead.
To make the tables below easier to read, when you see a single number for a patch it means cut a square that size.
For example, the Center.1 patch for a 6" block reads 1 7/8". That means cut a 1 7/8"x1 7/8" square.
Cutting Chart for a~ Paper Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size||Sub|
|Center.1||L||4||1 7/8”||2 5/8”||3 3/8”||na|
|Corner.2-.5*||D||8||2 3/8”||2 7/8”||3 3/8”**|
|6||L||1||1 1/2” x 11”||2” x 15”||2 1/2” x 19”||na|
|7||D||1||1 1/2” x 11”||2” x 15”||2 1/2” x 19”||na|
|8||L||1||2 1/2”||3 1/2”||4 1/2”||na|
|Unfinished Block Size||6 1/2"||9 1/2"||12 1/2"||---|
|Grid Size||1"||1 1/2"||2"||---|
*Remember to subcut these patches
**No, this is not a typo.
There is no subcutting in this second cutting chart.
Cutting Chart for a~ Traditional Piecing w/Connector Corners ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|1||L||4||2 1/2”||3 1/2”||4 1/2”|
|2 – 5||D||16||1 1/2”||2”sq||2 1/2”|
|6||L||1||1 1/2” x 11”||2” x 15”||2 1/2” x 19”|
|7||D||1||1 1/2” x 11”||2” x 15”||2 1/2” x 19”|
|8||L||1||2 1/2”||3 1/2”||4 1/2”|
|Unfinished Block Size||6 1/2”||9 1/2”||12 1/2”|
|Grid Size||1”||1 1/2”||2”|
For each technique:
For both techniques, I prefer an open toe applique foot for stitching on the printed or drawn lines.
If you used the yellow chart, click here for instructions.
If you used the blue chart, click here for instructions.
Install your favorite quarter inch foot.
If you paperpieced, return to your normal stitch length for piecing.
With RST, stitch the #6 and #7 strips together on the long edge.
Press toward the darker #7 strip.
At your cutting mat, straighten a short edge by aligning a straight line on your ruler with the seam line (red arrow) and trim.
Subcut this strip set into four equal-sized units. Choose the subcut width from the table below.
| Width of strip set|
|6"||2 1/2”||2 1/2”|
|9"||3 1/2”||3 1/2”|
|12"||4 1/2”||4 1/2”|
After cutting, you have this.
Arrange the units into rows. Remember that light #6 patches are on the outside edges.
Sew the units in each row together. To get good match points between the corner and side patches, I insert a pin from the backside through the point of the square on the front (red arrow).
Insert the pin at the seam, a 1/4" away from the edge in a side patch. Stitch.
Complete two sets of patches like this.
Stitch the patches in the center row together. Press.
Pin and stitch the rows together. Press these SA toward the outside edges of the block.
Your Broken Wheel quilt block is finished.
Here's our Broken Wheel from the backside so you can see the pressing.
There's a whole gaggle of blocks that use the same basic Broken Wheel design.
Yep! Same name, even though all the lights/darks are swapped.
AKA: Block Circle, Johnnie Round the Corner, Single Wedding Ring, Squirrel in a Cage and Wheel
Darks/lights are again reversed.
AKA: Letter O, Wedding Ring
Fabrics are swapped in the side and center units.
A third fabric is added to the design
A fifth Square in a Square is added to the center along with fabric placement changes.
In these last two blocks, the grid the block is drawn on is modified.
Fabric placement exactly like the Squirrel in a Cage. However, this block is drawn on a 5x5 grid.
This version by The Kansas City Star is drawn on a 8x8 grid.
The word 'The' is actually part of its name.
Click here to download and print a coloring page for this block to try your hand at.
Print as many as you'd like for your own personal use!
If you use our tutorials to make your blocks and quilts, there are some easy ways to share your creations so other quilters (including me!) can enjoy the fruits of your labor:
I love seeing your work!
Our readers do, too!