Grandmother's Cross Quilt Block

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

The Grandmother's Cross quilt block tutorial begins here...

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!

General Instructions

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.

Step 1: Cut the patches

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)

Grandmother's Cross quilt block designGrandmother's Cross

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.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Grandmother's Cross Quilt Block

~Traditional Piecing~

PatchFabricQtyFinished Block SizeSub
1 Bac 2 1⅞" 2⅜" 2⅞" 3⅜" Symbol for a half square triangle
2 Bac 1 3¼" 4¼" 5¼" 6¼" Symbol for a quarter square triangle
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" ---
Grid Size 1" 1½" 2" 2½" ---

**REMEMBER, these 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.

Template Cutting

Grandmother's Cross

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.

for Grandmother's Cross
Finished Block Size

 There's a small square on each page that measures 1" when it's correct.

Click here to see where this is on the Print Menu page.

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.

Step 2: Make the four patches

Four patch unit for Grandmothers' CrossFour patch unit

The patches for these units were cut with either the OPRuler or a template. Follow the instructions for the appropriate method.

On-Point Ruler

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.

Measuring the same strip with an On-Point ruler vs a standard quilting rulerMeasuring the same strip with the two different quilting rulers.

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.

Block Size
Width of StripSet after stitching Subcut
4" 2” 1”
6" 3” 1 1/2”
8" 4” 2”
10" 5” 2 1/2”

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).

Subcutting the stripsetDon't forget—we're still using the OPRuler for our subcutting. Here I'm subcutting 2" units for my 8" finished Grandmother's Cross.

Cut 10.


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.

Twirl the seam allowances to minimize bulk.Twirled seam allowances reduce bulk

Step 3: Stitch the Grandmother's Cross units into rows

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.

Arrange the patches into the block's designThe twirled SAs nest to make matching seams easier

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 a #2 triangle to the side of a four-patch unitIf that triangle point wants to move, use a stilleto to hold it in place. If you don't have a stiletto, use the point of your seam ripper.

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)

The ends of the #2 triangles extend past the edge of the four patchYou can just make out the fingerpressed crease in the #1 HST.

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.

Stitch the #1 to the #2/#3/#4 unitThe seam begins in the valley created by the two units

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.

Step 4: Assembling the Grandmother's Cross quilt block

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.

Lay out the rows of the Grandmother's Cross

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.

Stitching the rows togetherYes, I use pins--especially because of the triangle points that stick out at the beginning and end of the seam. I'll use my seam ripper as a stiletto to guide those points thru the machine.

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.

A finished Grandmother's Cross quilt blockOur Grandmother's Cross is ready to be pieced into a quilt!

For more quilt block patterns to try...

Link to Free Quilt Block Patterns Library 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.


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!

  1. Home
  2.  ›
  3. Quilt Block Pattern Library
  4.  ›
  5. Grandmother's Cross Block

If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, please let me know by clicking this button - thank you!

Share Your Comments, Tips and Ideas

Quilt Blocks... chosen by our readers.

Log Cabin

Autumn Leaf

Broken Sugar Bowl

Card Trick

Rail Fence

Ohio Star

Bears Paw


Friendship Star

Churn Dash

Quilt patterns, books and kits to tempt you...

Click any image or link for more info

"Quilt As-You-Go Made Vintage"
by Jera Brandvig

"Christmas Figs"
by It's So Emma

Subscribe to our StashTalk Newsletter