From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
The New England quilt block is the definition of sweetness and simplicity.
A smattering of half square triangles (we'll use the 8-at-a-time method for efficiency) and solid squares and rectangles.
And seriously. I have no idea how the New England block got it's name. Maybe for Massachusetts' Mayflower? I dunno.
Regardless, it's a terrific little design to add to your quilt block garden.
Seams are all 1/4" and pressed toward the darker fabric unless otherwise noted.
Several common abbreviations are used in this tutorial:
You need to make the choice that works best for yourself and your own quilting situation.
In the New England sample, I've chosen a directional stripe for my light fabric—Patches 1, 3, 5 and 6.
Since the block is completely symmetrical, there is only one change to make to cutting the rectangles—cut two in each direction of the stripe. (More on that a bit below.)
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.
Here are all of the patches.
Notice the four #5 rectangles (lower left). To keep the stripe design running in the same direction all through the block, two were cut with the stripe running between the short edges. Two with it running between the long edges.
All the other patches will take care of themselves if you're using a directional fabric.
Half Square Triangles (HST)
My go-to technique for HST, when there are multiples of 8 in the block, is our 8-at-a-time method. Click here to learn more about it.
Start by marking the back of either your #1 or #2 square—whichever one is easier for you to see the lines on.
Here I've marked the #2 with pairs of diagonal lines with a Quick Quarter ruler.
If you don't have this ruler, just mark two single diagonals from each pair of corners with your every rotary ruler.
If you marked the pairs of lines, stitch directly on them. I love my open toe applique foot for this—it's easy to see the lines.
If you marked the single diagonals, then install your quarter inch foot and stitch 1/4" away from both sides of both lines.
Press the pair of squares as sewn to set the seams and flatten any distortion created during stitching.
Use the table below to find the MidPoint Measurement. We use this number to cut the unit into four equal sized squares.
|Trim HST to…|
For this 5" sample block, the MidPoint is 2⅝". Place that line of your ruler along the edge of your patches (black arrow).
The edge of your rule should run through the center. Cut the patches in half. (blue arrow)
Turn your mat a quarter turn (or your patches a quarter turn). Align the same 2⅝" line with the edge. Cut in half again.
You now have four squares with two pairs of diagonal stitching running through them.
Cut them apart between the sewing lines to create 8 HST.
Press, SA to the dark.
Refer back to the chart above. Find the 'Trim HSTs to...' measurement and trim yours to size.
If you did not use a directional print, make all four of the corners the same—you don't need to worry about the design of the fabric.
For directional fabrics, to keep the stripe running from top to bottom, we need to make two full corners with the patches oriented as shown below...
...and two full ones with the patches oriented this way.
Now join the subunits together, keeping the strip running in the same direction.
Press SA to the dark or twirl to reduce bulk.
Arrange the patches into the New England design. Here I've made the effort to keep the dotted stripes running all top to bottom. (Remember I cut the rectangles in two different directions.)
In all the rows press the SA toward the #5 rectangles to reduce bulk.
Stitch the units in each row together, pinning as necessary to keep things in place.
This is the finished New England block. Sweet, isn't it?!
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!
Or Pin It for later.