From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
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.
You may know this design by one of several alternate names:
The Economy quilt block is used as a unit in the construction of other patchwork designs including:
Sample Block: 6"(6-1/2" unfinished")
Grid size: 3"
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.
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!
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?
Choose your finished block size from the list below:
My favorite paperpiecing papers are:
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.
Cutting Chart for a~ Paperpiecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size||Sub|
|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"|
|3||C||2||2⅜" x 2⅜"||2⅞" x 2⅞"||3⅜" x 3⅜"||4⅜" x 4⅜"|
|Unfinished Block Size||2½"||3½"||4½"||6½"||na|
After cutting, the pieces look like this:
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.
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.
Repeat for the opposite side of #1.
Trim the dog ears with a scissor.
Repeat for the remaining two sides.
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.
And trim with your rotary cutter...
...and repeat for all four sides. You're halfway there!
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 final set of triangles in the same manner and press.
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.
After all four sides are trimmed and the paper removed, this is your finished Economy quilt block!
Several others go by the name 'Economy' but their look is totally different.
The center square is split one more time in this one.
This is reminiscent of the Whirlwind quilt block, except this one has y-seams and just 'half' quarter square triangles.
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.
There's no need to economize! We've got plenty of blocks to keep you busy!
Just check out our Quilt Block Pattern Library to find one for your next quilting creation!
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!