New Mexico Quilt Block

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

The New Mexico quilt block tutorial begins here...

Skill Level: Confident Beginner

Grid: 5x5

The beginner friendly New Mexico quilt block is truly a cinch to make!

Easy connector corners. Quick pieced half square triangles. A little basic strip piecing.

Child's play!

The pattern is offered in three sizes: 7-1/2", 15" and 30" finished.

At 15", the New Mexico quilt block makes for a cute table topper. Stitch a giant 30" block to whip up a darling baby quilt. Add a border or two to customize the size and you've got a terrific gift!

It's time to get busy!

General Instructions

A 1/4" seam allowance (SA) is used throughout our New Mexico quilt block. Keep your eyes peeled on the specialty presser feet that are used for the different units—a standard 1/4", and open toe applique, and a 1/4" with a guide.

Must you have them?


Yet, they do make the job easier...and I'm all for making quilting easier! ;)

My fabrics are all prewashed and starched prior to cutting. I believe this makes for more accurate results. Ultimately, though, that choice is up to you.

When pressing your SA, press first with the unit closed to set the seam and then open with the SA is the direction as indicated.

Step 1: Cut New Mexico patches

New Mexico patchwork designNew Mexico pattern

While larger prints will work for the 15" and 30" blocks, at 7-1/2" finished you'll want to choose fabrics with small scale designs or ones that are tone-on-tone or solids.

The SAs are nested throughout to make matching your seams a breeze. Just follow the pressing directions.

I prefer to cut the patches for the half square triangles bigger than listed in the chart below and trim those units to the perfect size after stitching.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
New Mexico Quilt Block

~ Traditional Piecing ~

Patch Fabric Qty Finished Block Size
7-1/2” 15” 30”
1 BAC 1 2” x 2” 3-1/2” x 3-1/2” 6-1/2” x 6-1/2”
2 BAC 4 2” x 5” 3-1/2” x 9-1/2” 6-1/2” x 18-1/2”
3 A 8 2” x 2” 3-1/2” x 3-1/2” 6-1/2” x 6-1/2”
4** BAC 2 2-3/8” x 2-3/8” 3-7/8” x 3-7/8” 6-7/8” x 6-7/8”
5** A 2 2-3/8” x 2-3/8” 3-7/8” x 3-7/8” 6-7/8” x 6-7/8”
6 A 2 1” x 13” 1-1/2” x 21” 2-1/2” x 37”
7 BAC 1 1” x 13” 1-1/2” x 21” 2-1/2” x 37”
8 BAC 2 1” x 9” 1-1/2” x 13” 2-1/2” x 21”
9 A 1 1” x 9” 1-1/2” x 13” 2-1/2” x 21”
Unfinished Block Size 8” 15-1/2” 30-1/2”
Trim HSTs to... 2” x 2” 3-1/2” x 3-1/2” 6-1/2” x 6-1/2”
Grid Size 1-1/2” 3” 6”

**I added an extra 1/4” to these squares and then cut them, i.e. for the sample 15" block the 3-7/8”x3-7/8” squares were cut at 4-1/8”x4-1/8”. After stitching, the HSTs are trimmed to 3-1/2"x3-1/2", the measurement in the 'Trim HSTs to...' row.

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: Assemble the units for the New Mexico quilt block

Half Square Triangles (HST)

Make 4

Half square triange unit

Draw a diagonal line on the back of the two #4.

With a standard 1/4" foot installed on your machine and right sides together (RST), stitch a 1/4" away from both sides of it.

You can see that I wasn't too picky about the size of the dark #5 square.

Stitch a quarter inch away from both sides of the drawn line

I'd planned to cut these squares 1/4" larger than listed in the cutting chart—I prefer to cut them to size after stitching.

I must have had a brain-fart (heavy sigh). The darker squares are even bigger than planned.

That happens sometimes!

Since the HSTs are trimmed to size anyway, there was no reason to re-cut the squares...might as well save a step.

After stitching and trimming (see the chart for the 'Trim HSTs to...' row, they are the perfect for piecing!

Four perfectly pressed and trimmed half square triangles

Connector Corner Units (CC)

Make 4

Connector corners unit

The Connector Corners technique (CC) makes piecing the sides easy as pie!

No funky shapes to cut. No bizarre measurements to worry about. Just a bit of extra fabric.

For this technique we sew on the drawn line. I've switched to an open toe applique foot so it's easier to see it.

Mark the diagonal on the back of each of the eight #3 squares...just dark enough to see. I prefer a mechanical pencil because the line stays nice and fine. If you use an ink pen, double check that it doesn't bleed through to the front. If it does, it can noticeably darken the seam line. Not good.

With RST, align a marked #3 with a #2 rectangle . Sew on the line.

Add another marked square, RST, to the other end of the #2 . Both squares are positioned so that the marking goes from the lower corner to the upper center. Stitch on the line.

Now you have a choice to make.

You can add another line of stitching a 1/2" past the first stitching and closest to the corner to create a bonus HST from each corner as shown below. (The 7-1/2" finished New Mexico quilt block is too small to make a salvageable HST.)

Make a bonus HST from what would have been waste.To make a bonus HST, draw a line 1/2" away from the first line of sewing. Then stitch it. (Note the open toe applique foot.)

Or you can simply trim the seam allowance to 1/4" from the sewing as shown in the photo below, bottom unit.

You can either make a bonus HST from each corner or simply trim the seam allowance from the small square.You can either make bonus HSTs from the excess fabric in the corners (top), or simply trim away the excess from the small square leaving a 1/4" seam allowance (bottom).

After you've stitched, press the units flat to set the seam and then open the patch, pressing from the front, SA toward the outside corner.

Repeat for the three remaining sides.

Strip Sets

Make 1 of each

These are used for both the Rail Fence and the nine patches.

The New Mexico quilt block design

Rail Fence Unit
Subcut 4

Sew the #6/#7 strips together and the #8/#9 strips together, alternating lights and darks to make two stripsets (show below).

I prefer to sew a pair of strips together and press with the SA to the dark. Then add the final strip. It's simply easier for me to give each SA a good press without tucks.

Square up one short edge of each strip set by aligning a line on your ruler with one of the seams.

The strip sets are longer than you'll need, remove only as much as you need to straightened the ends.

Straighten the short edge of each strip set with your rotary cutter and rulerI trimmed each one separately for more accuracy

Refer to the chart below to find the subcuts to make for your finished block size. The first number refers to the width of the cut, the second to the width of the strip set.

The Subcutting Chart for the Strip Sets

After cutting you have this...

The patches after subcutting the two strip sets

Set aside the four Rail Fence squares (left above).

Nine patch unit

Nine Patches

Make 4

For this unit and the rest of the New Mexico quilt block construction, I use a 1/4" foot with a guide.

Arrange the patches for the nine patches, the outside corners are the lighter fabric (below, left).

Lay out and order of sewing for the nine patches

With RST, sew a #8/#9/#8 to a #6/#7/#6 (above, center). Press, SA towards the unit with the two darker patches.

With RST, stitch the final #8/#9/#8 to the opposite side. Again, pressing towards the center (above, right).

Repeat for the three remaining groups of patches.

Step 3: Assemble the units for our New Mexico block

Though this is a 5x5 grid block, it's much easier to assemble it as an uneven nine patch, but first we'll need to construct the large center unit.

Lay out the nine patches and Rail Fence and solid center squares to form the New Mexico design.

Lay out the 9-patches, Rail Fence units and cut square into three rows

Stitch the units in each row together. Use pins if it helps you match the seams. Since all the SAs are pressed to the dark, they nest together.

All the SAs are pressed towards the Rail Fence units.

Stitch the rows together and give it one more press.

Lay out this center combo-unit and the remaining patches into rows.

With RST, stitch the units in each row together, pinning if needed to help you match the seams. The seams of the side CCs and the corner HSTs nest together (top and bottom rows).

Press the SA toward the CC units.

Sew the units in each row together

Voila! Your New Mexico quilt block is finished!

The finished New Mexico quilt blockOur finished New Mexico block. Ole!

A bed without a quilt is like the sky without stars!

You're sure to find the perfect blocks for your next quilt in our Free Quilt Block Patterns library.

Just click the image to the left and go there now.

Strapped for time?

Then Pin It without delay and come back when you have time to indulge your creativity!

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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