From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
The Missouri Puzzle quilt block is a veritable playground for the beginner quilter!
Half square triangles, 9-patches and Rail Fence units. Enough to practice on, but not enough to gag a maggot!
Cutting instructions for three sizes are included. The 30" block size offered is large enough to be a table-topper on its own.
Quick pieced half square triangles and a bit of strip piecing. What could be simpler than that?
Seams are all 1/4" and pressed toward the darker fabric unless otherwise noted.
Several common abbreviations are used in this tutorial:
Starching your quilt fabric before cutting helps, in my humble opinion, with more accurate cutting, piecing and pressing.
For this block, it's so much easier to fingerpress open seams when the fabric is starched. [Learn more about it here.]
When instructed to 'press', first press the patches in the closed position—just as they were sewn. Then open the patches and give them another good pressing.
For even flatter blocks, try my favorite pressing technique. It's ridiculously simple, but worth the extra step.
Patches #1 and #2 in the Cutting Chart are used for HST. If you have a reliably accurate 1/4" seam allowance use the measurement in the chart.
Personally, I like to cut my HST a 1/4"-3/8" larger, sew the unit and trim it down to perfection. I've noted those patches with an asterisk (*) in the chart.
Choose the size that works best for you.
Patches #3-#6 are used in stripsets. They are a bit longer than needed so that you have enough to straighten the edges before subcutting.
My go-to thread for all my piecing is...
Half Square Triangles
For the sample Missouri Puzzle, I've used a Quick Quarter ruler to draw both the center line (dashed) and stitching lines (solid), once on the diagonal of all the light #1 patches.
If you don't have a Quick Quarter, you can use your everyday ruler to draw a single diagonal line.
Stitch on all the drawn solid lines. (If you drew only one line on each, install your quarter inch foot and stitch a quarter inch away from both sides of the line.)
Cut all six #1/#2 pairs apart between the stitching on the dashed line.
Use the chart below. If you cut generous patches (like I do), you'll need to trim to the size indicated for your finished block size. (For the 15" finished sample, the HSTs are trimmed to 3-1/2" square.)
If you cut the exact dimensions in the Cutting Chart, use this same measurement to check that your units are accurate. Trim away any dog ears.
|Trim HST to…|
To create a nine patch, we sew two different stripsets (SS).
One is made from two #3 strips and one #4. The other is made from two #5 strips and one #6.
I prefer to sew a pair together, then press to set the seam and then press the unit open. Finally, add the third strip. I find there's less chance of creating a tuck at the seam allowance.
If you starched your quilt fabric before cutting, you can fingerpress open this seam before the second pressing. That virtually eliminates any chance of a tuck.
In the photo below, I'm adding the second #3 to the #3/#4/#3 SS.
Give your units a good press.
Find your finished block size in the chart below and it's corresponding 'Strip Width'. Measure your SSs to confirm they are, indeed, the correct width.
Make any adjustments you need before subcutting.
Strip Set Dimensions
| Width after|
|7½"||2"||Eight - 1"|| Four - 1"|
Four - 2"
|15"||3½"||Eight - 1½"||Four - 1½"Four - 3½"|
|30"||6½"||Eight - 2½"|| Four - 2½"|
Four - 6½"
It's time to straighten one short end on each.
The photo below is a bit deceptive.
Line up a straight line on your ruler with ONE of the seamlines in ONE of the SSs.
Then trim off a complete slice.
Repeat for the second SS.
Referring to the chart above, now find the widths to subcut your units. There are TWO different widths for the #5/#6/#5 SS.
After cutting you have the units below.
With RST sew a #3/#4/#3 to a #5/#6/#5.
Add another #3/#4/#3 to the other side of the #5/#6/#5.
Repeat for a total of four nine-patch units.
I do pin to hold everything together as I stitch.
There is no additional sewing needed to make the the RF units. They were already cut from the #5/#6/#5 SS—Ahhhh! The magic of strip-piecing!
With RST, sew a RF to a #7 square.
Press with SA toward the #7.
Repeat for a total of 4.
With RST, stitch two HSTs together (below, upper left). The seams nest together to make it simple to get a pointy-point.
With RST together, stitch a HST to a 9 patch (see below, lower left for positioning).
With RST, join these two pairs. The SAs nest together. Use this to help you match everything up.
Pin, if needed to help you hold things together in place.
This last seam that joins the two pairs together is pressed toward the nine patch.
Repeat for a total of four.
Arrange the cut and pieced sections as shown below. Pay special attention to the HSTs. They form both the 'points' of the star and the corners of the block.
Stitch the rows together, pinning as needed. If you followed the pressing directions, the seams in the Rail Fence units will nest to make matching them a snap.
Press SA in the direction of the arrows, towards the RF units in each row.
The Missouri Puzzle after all the stitching is complete.
There is a whole family of blocks with similar layouts to our Missouri Puzzle block.
If the title is underlined you can click the image for instructions to make that particular patchwork design.
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!
Don't forget to Pin for later!