From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
The Grandmother's Cross quilt block belongs to a family of blocks whose inner units are on-point. (One of the simplest blocks from this family is the Square in a Square. Another similarly constructed block is Mosaic #3.)
In this tutorial, you'll find both a some-cost and a no-cost alternative to make it using either a specialty ruler or templates. Choose the method that most appeals to you.
Grandmother's not cross, but she'd sure like you to get started with her block!
All seam allowances are 1/4" and pressed towards the darker fabric unless otherwise indicated.
Because we'll be sewing a number of bias edges, starching your quilt fabric before you cut helps to minimize stretching during the stitching, pinning and pressing of the block.
As promised, two cutting options are presented for the Grandmother's Cross quilt block. The first uses the On-Point Ruler. The second uses templates.
On-Point Ruler (OPRuler)
If you'll be using the On-Point ruler, use this first cutting chart. Use the OPRuler for Patches #3 and #4. Use your everyday quilting ruler for #1 and #2.
To make the chart easier to read (and so that I could include 4 different sizes) I've abbreviated 'Background' to 'Bac'.
When there's a single number, i.e. 1 7/8" for Patch #1 in a 4" finished block, that means to cut a 1 7/8" by 1 7/8" square.
Cutting Chart for a~Traditional Piecing~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size||Sub|
|3**||Light||1||1” x 19”||1½" x 24”||2” x 30”||3” x 36”||na|
|4**||Dark||1||1” x 19”||1½" x 24”||2” x 30”||3” x 36”||na|
|Unfinished Block Size||4½"||6½"||8½"||10½"||---|
measurements for the #3/#4 patches are for an OPRuler. They are
not the same as with your everyday quilting rulers. If you don't have
this ruler, use the templates furnished below.
Download the template page that corresponds to the finished size you need from the table. Use Adobe to download them.
I've included grainlines in the patches and they seem to only seem to show up or show up correctly when they're printed with Adobe.
If you don't have this program, you can freely download it here.
In the 'Page Size and Handling' section of Adobe's print menu, you MUST set 'Custom Scale' to 100% so that the they print at the correct size.
|PRINT the TEMPLATES|
for Grandmother's Cross
|Finished Block Size|
There's a small square on each page that measures 1" when it's correct.
For more detailed instructions about downloading and printing go to How to Use Quilting Templates.
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.
The patches for these units were cut with either the OPRuler or a template. Follow the instructions for the appropriate method.
Cut the #3 and #4 strips using the OPRuler.
Below you can see the difference in the rulers when they're placed side by side on the same cut strips.
The On-Point is the perfect tool for cutting squares, rectangles or half square triangles that are 'on-point' in a block. The orange and yellow squares in our Grandmother's Cross are just such units.
If you look closely at our cut strip when it's measured with a regular rotary ruler, the strip width is just shy of 2" wide.
Now that might not look like much, but if I'm going to go to the bother of perfecting my quarter inch seam allowance, it seems silly to me to then be willing to 'fudge' the measurement of these strips.
That's why I don't rotary cut these units with my standard rulers.
With right sides together (RST), stitch #3 and #4 strips together along the long edge with a 1/4" seam allowance.
Press unopened to set the seam and then open with the SA towards the darker fabric.
Again using the OPRuler, subcut the strip-set into units using the chart below.
|Width of StripSet after stitching|| Subcut|
Align the subcut measurement (in this case 2" for this 8" finished sample block) with the straightened edge of the strip set (white arrow). Cut along the clear opposite edge (black arrow).
If you've used a template to cut your patches, sew 10 pairs of #3 and #4 patches, pressing to the darker fabric.
For either method of cutting, now arrange them into pairs alternating lights and darks.
From this point forward, the instructions are the same for either cutting method.
With RST, stitch the pairs together.
In the center, pick out a few stitches to release the SA and twirl the seams as shown below. Press.
Arrange the #1 and #2 triangles and the sewn four patches as shown below. The darker fabric is at the top and bottom of the four patches. The SA 'twirl around in a counterclockwise direction.
Starting with the upper right four-patch, with RST align a shorter edge of a #2 triangle with the edge of the four-patch. Since the tail on the triangle is so long, I prefer to pin to hold things in place.
Stitch, starting from the even side.
Stitch the second #2 to the opposite side of the four-patch.
Press with SA toward the #2s.
If you stitched with an accurate 1/4" SA, the triangle will extend a smidge past the bottom of the 4-patch. (white arrows below)
To find the center of the #1 triangle, fold it in half and fingerpress a crease. You can just make it out above.
With RST, match this crease with the seam in the 4-patch. Pin.
This time, your 1/4" seam should begin and end in the valley created by the patches. (white arrow below).
Use a stiletto (the point of your seam ripper or a bamboo skewer will do in a pinch) to hold the long points of the #1 in place during sewing.
Press with the SA toward #1. Create another unit like this starting with the lower right 4-patch.
To make the center row, with RST stitch the three 4-patches together paying careful attention to the direction of the SAs. Stitch a #1 to each short end, folding and fingerpressing the #1's in half to find their centers.
With RST, add the #1s to each end of this center unit in the same way as the corners.
Arrange the units into diagonal rows. Trim the dog ears away either now or later, it doesn't make any difference unless they are in your way now.
With RST, match and pin a corner to one side of the center. Again, your 1/4" SA starts and ends in the valley created by the two units.
Add the second corner unit to the opposite side.
Press with the SA away from the center.
This is the finished Grandmother's Cross quilt block.
...click the image to go to our Quilt Block Patterns Library.
You'll find over 130 blocks to make in multiple sizes.
As always, if there's a template or paper piecing pattern needed to complete the block, just like here in the Grandmother's Cross, you'll find it as a no-cost download.
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.
BlockBase is the computerized version of the Encyclopedia.
It can be used with Electric Quilt and is a Windows based program.
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.
It does make a fabulous coffee table book though.