Nothing is Wasted with our Economy Quilt Block Pattern

From our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library

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In this Economy quilt block tutorial you'll find step-by-step paperpiecing instructions with free pattern downloads in four sizes.

I prefer paperpiecing in this instance for its accuracy.

Since half the seams are on the diagonal, any deviation from a quarter inch seam is multiplied by 40%. 

With a paper pattern all you need to concern yourself with is stitching on the line.

Economy quilt block pattern tutorial

The Economy quilt block is used as a unit in the construction of other patchwork designs including:

Around the Corner quilt blockAround the Corner
South Carolina Star quilt blockSouth Carolina Star
Tea Party quilt blockTea Party

General Instructions

Reduce your stitch length to 15-18 stitches per inch for paperpiecing. This reduced stitch length perforates the paper more making its removal at the end easier.

Install an open toe appliqué foot if you have one. It makes it easier to see the line you're sewing on.

When you are instructed to press, first press the pieced unit flat to set the seam. Then open the patch, pressing from the front. 

Check out our Best Technique for Pressing Quilt Blocks. It works for paperpiecing, too!

Step 1: Download and print Economy patterns

Print the paper piecing patterns you need

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 from the list below:

Read my review of 6 paper piecing papers available on the market

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?

2021 Showcase Fabrics ~ Get ready to drool!

Click any of the images below to see the full collection, individual fabrics and find pricing/ordering information.

Check out ALL the current Fabric lines showcased on this site in one place.

Step 2: Cut patches for an Economy block

Economy patchwork designEconomy design

Sample Size: 6" finished / 6½" unfinished

Grid: 4x4

Attribution: Carrie Hall and Rose Kretsinger

AKA: Hour Glass (Ladies Art Company), This and That (KC Star), Thrift Block (Nancy Cabot)

Design Type: Square in a Square

The first patch is cut to its exact size. The rest of the patches are over-sized to make their placement virtually foolproof. This minimizes ripping and saves time.

I suggest that you make a couple of blocks to test whether these sizes work for you, then make any necessary adjustments and note those changes. Store this customized cutting chart for future reference.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Propeller Quilt Block

~ Paperpiecing ~

PatchFabricQtyFinished Block SizeSub
2" 3" 4" 6"
1 A 1 1½" x 1½" 2" x 2" 2½" x 2½" 3½" x 3½" none
2 B 2 1⅝" x 1⅝" 2" x 2" 2⅜" x 2⅜" 3½" x 3½" Symbol for a half square triangle
3 C 2 2⅜" x 2⅜" 2⅞" x 2⅞" 3⅜" x 3⅜" 4⅜" x 4⅜" Symbol for a half square triangle
Unfinished Block Size 2½" 3½" 4½" 6½" na

After cutting, the pieces look like this:

Cut your patches for the Economy quilt block

Step 3: Assemble the Economy quilt block

General Sewing Machine Setup for Paperpiecing

  • Reduce your stitch length to 16-20 stitches per inch (1.3-1.6mm). This perforates the paper. It also stabilizes the seam when you remove the pattern. [Learn more about stitch length here.]
  • Reduce your machine's speed or just plain slow down when you stitch. Sew only as fast as you can stay on the stitching lines.
  • Install an open toe applique foot (sometimes called an 'embroidery' or 'satin stitch' foot) if you have one (it's easier to see where you're stitching with one installed). 
  • As you stitch each seam, start and stop a generous 1/4" before and after the solid stitching lines. ALWAYS. Future lines of stitching secure the ends.

After adding each patch, press the unit as it was sewn to set the seam. Then press it open. The SA is automatically pressed towards the last patch added.

Steam is optional and usually curls the pattern. 

If that bothers you, don't use steam. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't.

It really just depends on my mood.

Remember as you follow this paper piecing tutorial, the printed and the fabric sides of this block are mirror-images of each other.

At last!

Let's sew!

Cut the Economy unit from the page you downloaded. A rough cut will do, just cut outside the dotted line that marks the unfinished edge. You will trim to size in the last step.

With a just a dab of Elmer's Glue Stick—the one that goes on purple and dries clear—position #1 on the unprinted side of the page. Use the dashed lines to help position it perfectly.

Center the first patch between the dashed placement lines

Now align the long bias edge of #2 triangle with one side of patch #1. Stitch from the printed side, starting before and ending after the solid stitching line. These extra stitches are secured with subsequent lines of stitching.

Stitch the seamThe dashed lines you see are the placement lines for Patch #1. The red arrows indicate approximately where to start and stop stitching.

Repeat for the opposite side of #1.

Construction Note:

For smaller block sizes, sometimes there isn't enough room to add a patch to a PAIR of opposite sides in the same sitting. In that case, add the patches one at a time, pressing in between each.


Trim the dog ears with a scissor.

Dog ears trimmed on the right side

Repeat for the remaining two sides.

And press.

At this point, I like to clean up my edges—remember the patches were cut over-sized.

Simply line up the edge of your ruler with the solid stitching line, creasing the paper with your fingers to help fold it back on the seam line.

Now align the 1/4" mark with the folded edge and cut. This establishes your seam allowance and perfect placement for the next patch.

Measure the seam allowance

And trim with your rotary cutter...

Trim the seam allowance to 1/4 inch

...and repeat for all four sides. You're halfway there!

After trimming

With RST, line up the long bias edge of a #3 triangle with one side of the pieced unit. Stitch the seam from the printed side, again starting and stopping a quarter inch off the solid line.

Repeat for the opposite side.

Trim the dog ears and press.

Add the next pair of patches

Add the final set of triangles in the same manner and press.

Before the stitched block is trimmed

Step 4: Trim your Economy quilt block

Line up the quarter inch mark of your ruler with the solid finished edge of your block.

Trim with a rotary cutter.

I find this much easier to do than trying to line up the edge of my ruler with the dashed-line that marks the unfinished size of the block. Cutting is more accurate.

Trim the block to size

After all four sides are trimmed and the paper removed, this is your finished Economy quilt block!

The finished Economy quilt blockOur Economy block is ready for a quilt

Same name, different block...

Several others go by the name 'Economy' but their look is totally different.

Economy Quilt Block - Variation 1

The center square is split one more time in this one.

Economy Quilt Block - Variation 2

This is reminiscent of the Whirlwind quilt block, except this one has y-seams and just 'half' quarter square triangles.

Economy Quilt Block - Variation 3

This version of the Economy quilt block is drafted as an uneven nine patch. Square in a square blocks are used a dozen times in its construction.

Click here to learn how to paperpiece square in a square units and/or download paperpiecing patterns for them.

Ready for More Blocks?

There's no need to save up for more quilt block patterns! We've got plenty of free ones to keep you busy!

Click here and go to our Quilt Block Pattern Library to find one 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 designs like potato chips... can't have just one?!!

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

To see if they're worthy of a spot in YOUR quilting library, CLICK HERE.

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