From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
Skill Level: Beginner
The Old Maid's Puzzle quilt block is a two fabric block built on a 3x3 grid.
All it takes are half square triangles and cut squares, which makes it a good block for bee and guild block exchanges.
You may know it by one of it's other common names:
There are a couple of variations that involve changes to the fabric placement that are shown further down on this page, as are additional cutting instructions for a total of 6 different block sizes.
Sample Block: 6"(6-1/2" unfinished)
These abbreviations are used on this page:
SA are 1/4".
When you are instructed to press, first press the pieced unit flat to set the seam. Then open the patch, pressing from the front. Seam allowances are pressed to the dark fabric unless otherwise noted.
I like to cut larger patches for making half square triangles and then trim the units to the exact size after stitching. I have done just that in this example.
A chart is provided where you need it in the instructions to trim those HST to the perfect size.
All the number in the chart represent squares. For example, for our 6" finished sample, Patch #1 is cut 2-7/8" x 2-7/8".
Cutting Chart for an~Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|Unfinished Block Size||3½"||5"||6½"||8"||9½"||12½"|
| **I prefer to cut my patches extra large for HST, stitch, and then trim them to size. If you prefer to do the same, add a bit extra to the measurements for Patches #1 and #2 above. |
There is a chart further down in these instructions where you need it for trimming them to size.
These are some of the supplies I use to prepare and cut my fabric.
These are our cut patches.
We use the Quick Pieced method for making our HSTs.
On the back of each light #1 square, draw a diagonal line from corner to corner. I've used pen for this tutorial simply to make the lines easier to see. In 'real life' I prefer to my trusty Bohin mechanical chalk pencil, marking only as dark as needed to see the line.
With RST, align the edges of a #1 and a #2 patch. Stitch a quarter inch away from both sides of the line. Repeat for the remaining two pairs.
Cut the sewn units in two along the drawn line for a total of 6.
Press them flat and then open with the SA towards the dark fabric.
The six HS triangles are ready for trimming.
Use the chart below to check that your sewing was accurate. Trim as needed.
|Trim HST to…|
For our 6" sample Old Maid's Puzzle, trim the HST to 2-1/2" x 2-1/2".
Lay out your HSTs and cut patches.
Stitch the units in each row together, pressing the SA as indicated by the arrows.
Your seam allowances will nest making it easier to match your seams. Stitch the rows together, pinning if needed.
Your finished Old Maid's Puzzle quilt block looks like this.
This block is also called 'Jack and Six'.
You've finished your blocks...
We have quilt blocks galore in multiple sizes in our Free Quilt Block Patterns library just waiting to inspire you for your next quilt.
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!