From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
Skill Level: Beginner
Type: 9 patch
The Pennsylvania quilt block with its simple nine patch construction and four patch units is easy enough for the beginning quilter to successfully stitch.
Used as the sole block design in a patchwork quilt, it creates a variation on the Single Irish Chain pattern.
It works equally well as an alternate block to showcase your latest applique or redwork creation or newest machine embroidery collection.
Tired of making all the blocks for a quilt? Substitute it for every other block to create a chain effect with a lot less piecing.
As is so often the case, the Pennsylvania quilt block goes by several other names, including: Criss Cross Quilt, Simple Cross and Single Irish Chain.
All seam allowances (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.
With its simple construction all you need to cut are strips and squares.
To emphasize the chain and diagonal movement, use two high contrasting fabrics.
A bit of extra fabric is added to the #3 and #4 strip dimensions so you can square up one of the short sides before cutting the strip set into units.
Cutting Chart for a~ Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|3||D||1||1”x9”||1-1/2”x13”||2”x17”||2-1/2” x 21”|
|4||L||1||1”x9”||1-1/2”x13”||2”x17”||2-1/2” x 21”|
|Unfinished Block Size||3-1/2”||6-1/2”||9-1/2”||12-1/2”|
|Cut units...||1” wide||1-1/2” wide||2” wide||2-1/2” wide|
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.
With right sides together, align the long edge of #3 and #4 strip. Stitch.
With the strip set right side up on your cutting mat, straighten one short edge with your rotary cutter and ruler.
Cut the strip into 8 units. To find the size, go to the Cutting Chart, find the intersection of the column, 'Finished Block Size', and the row, 'Cut units...'. For the 6" finished block in this example, that number is 1-1/2".
With RST, stitch four pairs of these units, matching light to dark. The seam allowances nest to making it easy to match the center SA of each four patch.
Press. If you choose to 'twirl' the seam allowance to reduce bulk, you need to unsew a couple of stitches in the seam allowance.
Lay out the 4-patches and cut squares into the Pennsylvania patchwork design.
With RST, sew the units of each row together. Press the SAs in all the rows toward the light, large #2 squares.
Sew the rows together, pinning if needed. Again, the SAs nest for easy matching.
Give your Pennsylvania quilt block a last press. It's finished and ready to use in your quilt.
For even better results, try our Best Technique for Pressing Quilt Blocks. You won't believe how flat they come out with one extra, simple step!
Using the blocks set edge-to-edge in a straight set creates this quilt.
It makes no difference if there are odd or even numbers of blocks in the rows and columns; the quilt is symmetrical.
To emphasize the 'Irish Chain' design, add a sashing strip and cornerstone around each block equal to the width of the smallest square.
This is the result.
Keep the sashing/cornerstones. Remove replace every other block with a solid square.
Maintain the symmetry of the design by using odd numbers of blocks in the rows and columns.
Each open block is the perfect place to add applique, embroidery or some spectacular machine quilting.
Or perhaps you're halfway through a quilt project and simply tired of making the block. Salvage your time and materials using this alternate blocks setting and move on to your next quilt.
The perfect solution!
And oh, sew easy!
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!