Old Maid's Puzzle Quilt Block

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.


Old Maid's Puzzle quilt block tutorial

Skill Level: Beginner

Grid: 3x3

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:

  • Double X
  • Jacks on Six
  • Three and Six
  • Kindergarten Block

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.




General Instructions


Sample Block: 6"(6-1/2" unfinished)

Grid: 2"

These abbreviations are used on this page:

  • SA - seam allowance
  • RST - right sides together
  • HST - half square triangle

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.


Step 1: Cut patches for an Old Maid's Puzzle

Old Maid's Puzzle patchwork designOld Maid's Puzzle design

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".


Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for an
Old Maid's Puzzle Quilt Block

~Traditional Piecing ~

PatchFabricQtyFinished Block Size
3" 4½" 6" 7½" 9" 12"
1** BAC 3 1⅞" 2⅜" 2⅞" 3⅜" 3⅞" 4⅞"
2** A 3 1⅞" 2⅜" 2⅞" 3⅜" 3⅞" 4⅞"
3 BAC 3 1½" 2" 2½" 3" 3½" 4½"
Unfinished Block Size 3½" 5" 6½" 8" 9½" 12½"
Grid Size 1" 1½" 2" 2½" 3" 4"
**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.


Cut patches for your Old Maid's Puzzle quilt block



Step 2: Assemble the units

Half square triangle unit

HST

Make 6

We use the Quick Pieced method for making our HSTs.

If you plan to make many blocks, you may want to use another HST method like 8-at-a-time or triangle paper.

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.


Stitch on both sides of the drawn line

These units can be chain pieced

Cut the sewn units in two along the drawn line for a total of 6.


Cut units apart on the drawn line

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.

HST Dimensions

Finished
Block Size
Trim HST to…
3" 1-1/2"
4½" 2"
6" 2-1/2"
7½" 3"
9" 3-1/2"
12" 4-1/2"

For our 6" sample Old Maid's Puzzle, trim the HST to 2-1/2" x 2-1/2".

HST ready to trimThese HSTs are ready to be trimmed to perfection

Click here for more detailed instructions on the Quick Pieced Method for making these.


Step 3: Assemble your Old Maid's Puzzle

Lay out your HSTs and cut patches.


Lay out the patches for the block

Stitch the units in each row together, pressing the SA as indicated by the arrows.


Stitch the patches into rows

Your seam allowances will nest making it easier to match your seams. Stitch the rows together, pinning if needed.


Nest your seam allowances

Your finished Old Maid's Puzzle quilt block looks like this.

Old Maid's puzzle quilt blockOur Old Maid's Puzzle is ready to be sewn into a quilt.


Variations on an Old Maid's Puzzle

Cat's Cradle

In this version of the Old Maid's Puzzle quilt block, the light and dark fabrics are simply switched.



Tennessee

We've kept the light patches from Cat's Cradle, and substituted scrappy squares for the dark fabrics. A nice way to play with value and use up scraps at the same time!

This block is also called 'Jack and Six'.



There's More Where this Came From!


Celebrate! The quilt block is finished!

You've finished your blocks...

...now what?

We have quilt blocks galore in multiple sizes in our Free Quilt Block Patterns library just waiting to inspire you for your next quilt.



For even more blocks to make...


These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas. 

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.

However...

BlockBase is the computerized version of the Encyclopedia.

It can be used with Electric Quilt and is a Windows based program.

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.

Why?

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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