Economy Quilt Block Pattern

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

Economy quilt block pattern tutorial

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:

  • Economy Patch
  • This and That
  • Hour Glass
  • Thrift Block

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

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!

Step 1: Download and print Economy patterns

Economy patchwork designEconomy design
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.

Click here for my review of 6 different paper piecing papers

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:

Step 2: Cut patches for an Economy block

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 patches for the Economy quilt block

Step 3: Assemble the Economy quilt block

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 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 seam

The 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

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 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.

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

Economy quilt block variation 2

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 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!

For even more blocks to make...

These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas. 

Can you see the library sticker on the spine of Jinny Beyer's book? Yep. I check this copy out of our local library every few months for research.

Maggie Malone's 5500 Quilt Block Designs is my all-time favorite quilt block resource!

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

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!

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