Joyce's Mystery Quilt Block

Perfect Points can be YOURS with Paper Piecing!

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

Joyce's Mystery quilt block tutorial

Skill Level: Confident Beginner

Grid: 6x6

A Joyce's Mystery quilt block looks like it might be a prickly little thing to make.

But don't let all those points fool you!

Paperpiecing is the great equalizer. If you can sew on a line, you CAN make this block. And staying on the line is even easier once you slow your machine speed.

Let's take the mystery out of Joyce's block!

General Instructions

For paperpiecing, reduce your stitch length to 15-18 stitches to the inch. This makes more holes in the pattern making the paper easier to remove at the end.

More stitches also reduces the amount of stress on each individual stitch as the paper is torn away.

Open toe applique footOpen Toe
Applique Foot

If you have one, install an open toe applique foot. It makes it so much easier to see the line as you're stitching.

Should you have a hard time removing the paper from your finished units, try using a larger, 90/14, needle. Personally, I regularly use a 80/12 without a problem.

What's important, though, is what works BEST for YOU!

All the seams in the units run from one outside edge to the other. Start and end all your seams a 1/4" from the beginning and ending of each solid stitching line.

And finally, sew slower. If you've got a speed control dial on your machine, dial it down. Staying on the line is crucial to a block that virtually puts itself together.

Step 1: Download and print the patterns

To download any of the Joyce's Mystery block patterns, you MUST HAVE ADOBE READER installed on your computer. Get it here if you don't already have it.

Next, open the downloaded file, and select the "Print" option.

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%'. Printing at 'Actual Size' tends to print blocks at weird sizes.

Once you've printed your pattern, use the information on the page to measure your block to confirm that it printed at the correct size. Most pages include a 1" square graphic to help you make this determination.

Choose the size you want and print from the links contained with the chart below.

PRINT the Joyce's Mystery Paper Piecing Patterns
Block Size
# of
copies to print
Link to
PDF Pattern

Step 2: Cutting

Joyce's Mystery quilt block designJoyce's Mystery

There should be a strong contrast between the A and B fabrics so that the points don't get lost.

For smaller blocks, choose fabrics that read as a solid—tone-on-tone, low contrast designs or actual solid fabrics.

The center of the 9" block is large enough (4-1/4" finished) for a 4" machine embroidery design as along as it looks good on-point.

All the measurements in the cutting chart are for squares, i.e. 2-5/8" means to cut a 2-5/8" x 2-5/8" square.

Remember to subcut units #2-#6.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Joyce's Mystery Quilt Block

~ Paper Piecing ~

Patch Fabric Qty Finished Block Size Sub
4 1/2" 6"9"
1Background1 2 5/8" 3 3/8" 4 3/4" na
2, 3 Dark 2 2 7/8" 3 3/8" 4 3/8" Symbol for a half square triangle
4 Dark 1 3 1/8" 3 5/8" 4 5/8" Symbol for a quarter square triangle
5 Background 2 3 1/8" 3 5/8" 4 5/8" Symbol for a quarter square triangle
6 Medium 4 2 1/8" 2 3/8" 2 7/8" Symbol for a half square triangle
7 Medium 4 1-1/4” 1-1/2” 2” na
Unfinished Block Size 5 " 6 1/2" 9 1/2" na
Grid Size 3/4" 1" 1 1/2" na

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: Stitch the Joyce's Mystery units


Joyce's Mystery quilt block - center units

Make 1

Use a dot of Elmer's Washable glue stick to position the wrong side of #1 to the unmarked side of the pattern. The dashed placement guides make this quick, easy and accurate.

Position #1Arrows point to the placement guides.

With right sides together (RST) align the long edge of a #2 with #1. The point of #2 should lineup directly with the corner of the #2 patch on the pattern. (arrow)

Layer #1 and #2, right sides together.


Stitch #2 to #1.Remember to start and stop a quarter inch beyond the solid stitching line.

Add the second #2. Press both seams.

Repeat the process for the #3s. Before pressing, trim away the dog ears with a scissor to reduce bulk.

Trim away the dog earsArrows point to where the dogears USED to be.


Trim the center to size. This is the finished center after removing the paper. As long as you stitched directly on the line, the points are a perfect 1/4" from the edges.

The finished center square in a square.


Make 4

Joyce's Mystery quilt block - side units

With a bit of Elmer's glue stick, position #4 on the unprinted side of the pattern using the dashed guidelines.

Glue the wrong side of #4 to the unprinted side of the pattern

With RST align the short edge of a #5 with either the left or right side of #4.

To minimize any trimming, position the #5 patch so that it extends a 1/4" past the printed line between #5 and #6 (right arrow below).

Position #5 with #4.


Stitch on the line between #4 and #5Again, start and stop a quarter inch beyond the solid stitching line (arows).

Repeat for the second #5 and press.

Trim the seam allowance to 1/4" if it needs it.

With RST, align the long edge of #6 with the trimmed edge of #5.

Position #6, right sides together with #6.Line up the corner of the #6 patch with the corner of the pattern (red arrow).

Stitch and repeat for the other #6. Cut away any dog ears with a scissor to reduce bulk.

A side unit after stitching the #6s and trimming a single dog ear.A dog ear has been trimmed away at the arrow...only one left!


At this point. the untrimmed side units look like a hot mess!

The untrimmed sidesPretty messy looking,!!

Cut the side units down to size with your rotary cutter and ruler and using the outlines of the block as guides. (I use my rotating Olfa mat for this.)

The 1/4" mark on my ruler (arrow) is laid directly on top of the solid black outline around the unit. The excess is cut away. This is repeated for every side of every unit.

Trim the side units to size.The arrow points to the 1/4" line.

Remove the paper from the units after they are all stitched.

Step 4: Assemble the Joyce's Mystery quilt block

The paperpiecing is finished.

Install your favorite 1/4" foot and return the stitch length to what you normally use for piecing.

Arrange the patches (including the cut squares for the corners) into the Joyce's Mystery design.

Arrange the Joyce's Mystery units into rows

Stitch the units in each row together, pressing the SA away from the side units to reduce bulk.

Stitch the patches into rows.

Stitch the rows together. I used pins to match the seams between the units, but didn't have to worry about the points in the valleys of the sides. Sewing directly on the lines makes for perfect quarter inch seams.

Stitching the rows togetherI've used pins to help match the seamlines and hold the beginning and ending edges even.

After the sewing is complete, the last step to complete this Joyce's Mystery quilt block is to press...using my favorite pressing technique!

This is the finished block.

The Joyce's Mystery quilt block is finishedA finished Joyce's Mystery quilt block.

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

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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The serrated edge on this short-bladed scissor make it easy to trim seam allowances—my all-time favorite scissor.

For other sizes, click here.

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