From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
Skill Level: Confident Beginner
Grid: 5x5, uneven 9-patch
The Handy Andy quilt block uses a total of 16 half square triangles (HST) which makes it the perfect place to practice a wickedly speedy method to make these basic units.
In this lesson we'll use the 8 at a time technique—perfect for when all the triangles are made from the same two fabrics.
If you'd prefer a different approach, check out our Basic Quilt Blocks page for alternative techniques.
There are a bunch of blocks that go by the same name. They are shared after the tutorial.
Let's get started!
Abbreviations used in this tutorial:
SAs are 1/4" and pressed to the darker fabric unless otherwise noted.
When you are instructed to press, first press the pieced unit flat to set the seam. This helps to meld the thread into the fabric. Then open the patch, pressing from the front to minimize the occurrence of tucks.
Patches #1 and #2 are cut oversized. The HST are then trimmed to size after stitching to create perfect units which make piecing them together more accurate.
Choose fabrics with enough contrast so that the points of your HSTs show.
Select a block size from the chart below and cut the patches for your Handy Andy quilt block.
Cutting Chart for a~ Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|Unfinished Block Size||5-1/2”||8”||10-1/2”|
**Cut oversized to be trimmed after stitching.
On the back side of the two light #2 squares, draw an 'X' on the back that connects the diagonal corners. I use a mechanical pencil because the line always stays fine.
With right sides together (RST) layer a marked #2 with a #1 and sew a quarter inch from both sides of each line for a total of four stitching lines.
Press the unit flat to set all the seams at once.
To create the HSTs we need to trim this sewn unit into 8 pieces. Refer back to the chart below and find the Center or Midpoint Measurement.
| Center or Midpoint|
|Trim HST to…|
For our 7-1/2" finished sample block that number is 2-5/8".
Find this mid-point line on your ruler and match it to one of the edges of the sewn squares (red arrow). The center edge of the ruler (black arrow) should touch the intersection of the lines you drew (or be very, very close).
Repeat for the adjacent side. The sewn square is now in four pieces (below, left). Cut each square in half along the drawn line (below, right).
Press each sewn pair of squares and trim to the 'Trim HSTs to...' size from the chart above.
For our 7-1/2" finished block, trim them to 2"x2".
Repeat for the second set of #1/#2 squares for a total of 16 HSTs.
Sew 8 pairs of HSTs together.
Press—4 pairs with the SA towards the dark and 4 pairs toward the light fabric.
Sew one of each of the differently pressed units together. The SAs nest to make matching easier.
Repeat for the three remaining pairs.
To reduce bulk in the center, twirl the seams (below, right).
Give the patches on final press. Since these units can be rather lumpy, I like to use our Best Pressing Technique to tame them.
Lay out the pieced and cut patches into rows. You can see that even though the design is drawn on a 5x5 grid, the Handy Andy block is assembled as an uneven 9 patch.
Stitch the units into rows. Press, with the SAs toward the #4 rectangles.
And our Handy Andy quilt block is finished...
There are four other blocks I've found that also sometimes go by the name 'Handy Andy'. All have lots of pointy points in common...
This 7 fabric block looks nothing like its original Handy Andy quilt block.
Full of half square triangles, but drawn on a 6x6 grid.
AKA: Crazy Ann, Ducks and Ducklings, Hen and Chickens, Hen and Chicks, Shoo Fly
AKA: Corn and Beans, Ducklings, Ducklings for Friendship, Fox and Geese, Hen and Chickens, Shoo-fly, Wild Goose Chase
Click here for instructions for both traditional and paper piecing this block in 5", 7-1/2" and 10" finished sizes
Closely based on this page's block, but includes a quartet of quarter square triangles (QST).
AKA: Mrs. Jones' Favorite
The QSTs of the previous Foot Stool are rotated a quarter turn to create an Ohio Star in the center.
There's plenty more to keep you busy! Just check out our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library to find blocks for your next quilting project!
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!