Stitch up a Dewey Quilt Block

Showcase your large scale prints or machine embroidery collections...

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Skill Level: Beginner

The Dewey quilt block came to my attention as the result of a reader asking for ideas for a block exchange where the finished blocks would read 'red'. (Thanks for asking, Thomasean! This was fun!)

Though a simple block to piece—it's all squares and rectangles—The Dewey block offers several design possibilities depending on the placement of your fabrics.

The Dewey quilt block tutorial starts here.Pin It for later!

The three sizes supplied in this tutorial are sized to either showcase 4" machine embroidery designs (the 8" blocks) or large scale prints (the 12" and 16" versions).

The 16" is also 'pre-cut' (Jelly Rolls, Charm Squares and Layer Cakes) friendly.

Let's get started!

General Instructions

All seam allowances (SA) are 1/4".

When pressing, first press the pieced unit flat to set the seam. Then open the patch, pressing from the front. All seam allowances are pressed toward the 'frame' fabric.

Take a minute to review our favorite 'secret' technique to getting the flattest quilt blocks you'll ever see.

Now THAT'S sweet!

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Step 1: Cut the patches for the Dewey block

Dewey quilt block designDewey design

Sample Size: 12" finished / 12½" unfinished

Grid: 16x16

Attributed to: Clara Stone

You may find it helpful to starch your quilt fabric before cutting, especially for the 8" block.

The darker frame patches for that size finish at 1/2" wide. The starch just makes it easier to keep a good 1/4" seam as you sew.

In the chart below, Fabric A is the large floral; B is the brown 'frame' fabric.

The 16" version is pre-cut friendly. One 40" Jelly Roll Strip or one Layer Cake square will yield 16 Patch #3s. A single 5" Charm Square will yield 4 of the patches.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Dewey Quilt Block

~Traditional Piecing ~

PatchFabricQtyFinished Block Size
8" 12" 16"
1 A 1 4½" x 4½" 6½" x 6½" 8½" x 8½"
2 B 2 1" x 4½" 1¼" x 6½" 1½" x 8½"
3 A 16 1½" x 1½" 2" x 2" 2½" x 2½"
4 B 12 1" x 1½" 1¼" x 2" 1½" x 2½"
5 B 2 1" x 7½" 1¼" x 11" 1½" x 14½"
6 B 2 1" x 7½" 1¼" x 11" 1½" x 14½"
7 B 2 1" x 8½" 1¼" 12½" 1½" x 16½"
Unfinished Block Size 8½" 12½" 16½"
Grid Size 1" 1½" 2"

Step 2: Assemble your Dewey quilt block

Install a quarter inch foot on your sewing machine. (I like the one with the flange or guide on the right side.)

With right sides together (RST), align the edge of a #2 frame patch with the center square. Stitch. Repeat for the opposite side.

Press toward the #2 frame patches (brown).

Stitch a #2 patch to the left and right sides of the center square

With RST, stitch a #4 (frame) patch to a #3 square. Make 12 of these. (Photo below, top)


With RST, stitch a pair of these units together. Make 6. (Photo above, bottom)

With RST, stitch a #3 square to two of these pairs. Make 2 (see below).  Press. Set aside.

With RST, sew a #3 to a pair. Make 2 (see below). Press.

At this point, you've used up all the #3 and #4 patches.

Layout the center, top and side sewn units and #5 frame patches.

With RST sew the #5 to the strip made from five #3s. Make 2. Press.

In the photo below, I've pinned to keep the edges together evenly. I also like to sew from the side with all the seam allowances to ensure none are flipped and sewn down during stitching.


With RST, stitch a strip made of three #3s to the left and right sides of the center unit.


With RST, stitch the top and bottom pieced units to the center. If you have trouble with the frame patches (brown) lining up nicely, go ahead and mark the match point with chalk as shown below.

All that's left is to add the outside framing strips (Patches #6 and #7). First, the side patches (#6) are added. Press.

Stitch a #7 to the top and bottom with RST.

One final pressing, the Dewey quilt block is finished!

The finished Dewey quilt block

From the back you can see that all the seam allowances have been pressed towards the frame (brown) fabrics.

The Dewey quilt block from the back side.

Design Options for the Dewey Quilt Block

In the tutorial we used just two fabrics for our Dewey block. A quilt made from these blocks with a simple sashing looks like this.

The Dewey block used in a two fabric quilt

Sashing and borders are cut from the same scrumptious large floral. The cornerstones and binding are cut from the frame fabric.

The two thin borders between the center field and large border help to contain the blocks.

For a more modern looking Dewey quilt block, choose a red and white fabric. Now the frames are the focal point.

Use the Open spaces in the blocks for a machine quilting samplers.

And finally, this Piet Mondrian-inspired take on the design substitutes the white fabric into the frames. Use a white sash and the squares appear to float on the quilt top.

Did you notice?

The white sashing is cut a bit wider to provide some breathing room for this colorful quilt. (I also removed the piecing lines from the blocks so they don't distract from the overall design.)

How will you set your Dewey quilt blocks?

Ready for more?

There's plenty more to keep you busy!

Just check out our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library to find blocks for your next quilting creation!

Share your work to inspire other Quilters!

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:

  • On Instagram please tag your blocks and quilts with the hashtag #GenerationsQuiltPatterns.
  • Visit our Show n'Tell page on the website. Click here to share photos and tell your own story, just start typing at 'The name of your quilt is...'. If you'd prefer to submit more photos than the form allows, simply email them to me at

I love seeing your work!

Our readers do, too!

For even more blocks to make...

Click here to learn about my favorite quilt book resources that inspire my patchwork designs.

For you, are quilt block patterns like potato chips... can't have just one?!!

Check the amazing resources I rely on for the majority of the quilt block designs you see on this website. 

To see if they're worthy of spot in YOUR quilting library, read about them HERE.

NOTE: All the attribution and alternate names shared in the Free Quilt Block Patterns Library came from these four resources.

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