Picture Your Very Own Frame Quilt Block

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

The Frame quilt block tutorial starts here.

Skill Level: Beginner

Grid: 6x6

A Frame quilt block is a cinch to make using our foolproof instructions.

Quick pieced half square triangles and paper pieced sides give you perfect points every time with very little effort.

The center square is large enough to showcase your favorite redwork designs or a machine embroidery collection or even photo transfers.

Need a label for the back of your latest quilt? With three sizes to choose from (6", 9" and 12"), this block would work perfectly. 

General Instructions

Seam allowances (SA) for our Frame quilt block are 1/4".

Use our Best Pressing Technique for flatter blocks—it works even with paperpieced units.

I prefer to prewash and starch my fabric. I find it easier to work with, and in this block, it allows me to fingerpress the seams in the paper-pieced unit, minimizing the back and forth to the iron.

Step 1: Download and print the pattern

Paperpiecing the sides is the easiest way for me to accurately piece the triangles together.

You'll need Adobe Reader installed on your computer in order to open and print any of these patterns.  Click here to get it (a new window will open so you can download it without leaving this page).

To print blocks at the correct size, under 'Page Sizing and Handling' in the Adobe print menu, set 'Custom Scale' to 100%. Click here to see what it looks like on the Print Menu page.

If you use something other than Adobe, you'll need to set 'Page Scaling' to 'None' to print at '100%'. Selecting at 'Actual Size' tends to print blocks at weird sizes. ( I don't know why, it just does. )

After printing one block, measure it to see that it printed correctly, then print any remaining copies.

Click your finished block size below to go to the corresponding pattern for the side units:

You'll need a total of four units per block.

Step 2: Cutting

The Frame quilt block design

Frame design

If you'll be using the Frame quilt block for either a quilt label or a photo transfer, try to find a fabric with a higher thread count. The higher the thread count, the clearer or better the image or writing will be on the fabric.

Double check the package instructions so you are sure of how to set the inkjet printer inks.

First do a printout on paper. Make any adjustments to the color and/or proofread one last time before trying it on the more expensive, packaged printable fabric sheets for inkjet printers.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Frame Quilt Block

~ Paper Piecing ~

Patch Fabric Qty Finished Block Size Sub
6” 9” 12”
1 Dark 1 3⅝” x 3⅝” 4⅝” x 4⅝” 5⅝” x 5⅝” Symbol for a quarter square triangle
2 Light 2 3⅝" x 3⅝" 4⅝" x 4⅝" 5⅝" x 5⅝" Symbol for a quarter square triangle
3 Dark 4 2⅜" x 2⅜" 2⅞" x 2⅞" 3⅜" x 3⅜" Symbol for a half square triangle
4** Light 2 1⅞" x 1⅞" 2⅜" x 2⅜" 2⅞" x 2⅞" --
5** Dark 2 1⅞" x 1⅞" 2⅜" x 2⅜" 2⅞" x 2⅞" --
6 Light 1 4½" x 4½" 6½" x 6½" 8½" x 8½" --
Unfinished Block Size 6½" 9½" 12½" na
Grid Size 1” 1½" 2” na
**I prefer to cut my patches extra large for HST, stitch, and then trim them to size. If you prefer to do the same, add a bit extra to the measurements for Patches #4 and #5 above.

There is a chart further down in these instructions where you need it for trimming them to size.

Learn more about my favorite, new quilting tool, the Magic Pressing Mat. A valuable addition to your quilting tools—regardless of the piecing technique you use.

Step 3: Assemble the units for a Frame block


Make 4

The Frame quilt block - paperpieced side units

Cut out four patterns. Don't spend anytime being neat. Just cut a bit outside the dotted line since we'll trim everything at the end.

Subcut the #1, #2, and #3 patches as instructed in the cutting chart.

Use a itty-bit of Elmer's Washable Glue Stick (goes on purple, dries clear) to glue the wrong side of a #1 to the unprinted side of the pattern. Use the dashed placement lines to position it.

Position Patch #1 using the guidelinesThe bottom of the patch should extend past the dashed outside edge of the pattern.

With right sides together (RST), position a #2. To position the patch perfectly, the point of the triangle should touch the solid outside edge of the block at the dashed placement line (black arrow), its edge even with #1, like this...

Position #2 right sides together with #1.There are two #2 patches. You can start with either one.

Stitch, starting outside the dashes, continuing on the solid line and past the outside dashes again. I don't bother to trim these thread tails because they'll be trimmed when the block is cut to size.

Stitch the first #2 to #1Start and stop your stitching at the arrows.

Press. If you starched your fabrics, you may be able to just fingerpress these seams.

Add the second #2 in the same manner.

With RST, position a #3 with a #2. For easy positioning, align the corner of the pattern with the point of the triangle (red arrow).

Position Patch #3 with a #2

Stitch, starting and stop past the dashed outside edge of the unit.

Press. Repeat for the second #3. Press.

To trim the sides to size, lay the 1/4" line of your ruler on a solid black line surrounding the edge of your block. Trim with your rotary cutter. Repeat for the three remaining sides.

Below is a side 'before' (top) and 'after' (bottom) trimming. All those thread tails have disappeared, too!

Example of an untrimmed and a trimmed side unitThat top one looks pretty messy, eh?! Nothing a good trim can't cure!

Half Square Triangles (HST)

Make 4

The Frame quilt block - half square triangle units

Mark the backs of both #4 squares with a diagonal line.

If you have a Quick Quarter Ruler you may want to use that instead for this step. Click here for a quick refresher on how to use it.

With RST, layer a #4 with a #5.

Sew a quarter inch from both sides of the line.

Stitch a quarter inch from both sides of the lineI like to use my standard quarter inch for for this.


Cut the sewn squares apart on the drawn line.

Press again, with the seam allowances toward the #4 patch. This makes matching easier in Step 4.

If your dark #5 shadows through the light #4 when the SA is pressed, grade the SA by trimming away a bit of the #5 SA. (see below)

Grade the #5 seam allowance to prevent shadowingHere, I've trimmed away a bit of the darker #5 to prevent shadowing.

Trim the HST to the size indicated in the chart below.

Block Size
Trim HST to...
6” 1-1/2”x1-1/2”
9” 2”x2”
12” 2-1/2”x2-1/2”

Your four HST are ready, too!

Step 4: Assemble your Frame quilt block

Arrange your HST, paper-pieced sides and center square into rows to create the Frame design.

Arrange the patches into rows

Stitch the units in each row together. Press, with SA in the direction of the arrows. The SA of the HST and paper-pieced sides nest to make matching the point very easy. Pin if needed.

Press the SA in the direction of the arrows

Stitch the rows together, pinning as necessary.

The finished Frame quilt block

Your Frame quilt block is finished!

Behind every quilter...

...is a HUGE pile of fabric. The only way to whittle it down is to make more blocks. And have we got blocks for you! Click the image to find them.

Link to Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

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 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!

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