Pennsylvania Quilt Block

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.


The Pennsylvania quilt block tutorial begins here

Skill Level: Beginner

Type: 9 patch

Grid: 6x6

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.

Let's begin!




General Instructions


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.


Step 1: Cutting

The Pennsylvania patchwork design'Pennsylvania'

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.


Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Pennsylvania Quilt Block

~ Traditional Piecing ~

Patch Fabric Qty Finished Block Size
3” 6” 9” 12”
1 D 1 1-1/2”x1-1/2” 2-1/2”x2-1/2” 3-1/2”x3-1/2” 4-1/2”x4-1/2”
2 L 4 1-1/2”x1-1/2” 2-1/2”x2-1/2” 3-1/2”x3-1/2” 4-1/2”x4-1/2”
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
Grid Size 1/2” 1” 1-1/2” 2”

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 four patch units

With right sides together, align the long edge of #3 and #4 strip. Stitch.


I prefer to use my quarter inch foot with the guide on the right for sewing strips together


Press.

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".


The patches are paired matching light to dark


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.

Stitch the subunits into four patches


Press. If you choose to 'twirl' the seam allowance to reduce bulk, you need to unsew a couple of stitches in the seam allowance.

The twirled seam allowance create a little four patch on the back side


Step 3: Assemble your Pennsylvania block

Lay out the 4-patches and cut squares into the Pennsylvania patchwork design.


Double check that the dark squares form an 'X' through the block


With RST, sew the units of each row together. Press the SAs in all the rows toward the light, large #2 squares.


Stitch the patches into rows


Sew the rows together, pinning if needed. Again, the SAs nest for easy matching.


Yep, even for simple blocks, I pin...much faster than ripping misaligned seams!


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!


The Pennsylvania quilt block is finished!Pennsylvania is finished!


Use 'Pennsylvania' as an alternate block


Using the blocks set edge-to-edge in a straight set creates this quilt.

Pennsylvania quilt blocks set edge-to-edge in a straight set


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.


With the added sashing this quilt looks more like a typical single Irish chain


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!


For more free quilt block patterns...


Link to Free Quilt Block Patterns Library


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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