From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
Skill Level: Beginner
The Souvenir quilt block is a simple block, perfect for framing a favorite focus fabric.
Better yet, use it to showcase your hand-stitched redwork or a special machine embroidery collection.
With nothing more than squares and half square triangles, it's quick to piece with little matching to worry about.
My instructions include center squares that measure 3", 4-1/2", 6" and 9" finished for blocks that finish 5", 7-1/2", 10" and 15".
Let's get started!
These abbreviations are used on this page:
SA are 1/4" and are pressed to the dark fabric unless otherwise noted.
Press the unit, first flat to set the seam, and then open with the SA in the direction indicated.
I've used a polka-dot in the sample Souvenir block to jazz it up a bit, but seriously, this block would be terrific to frame embroidery—hand or machine.
Just enough piecing to enhance your handiwork; not enough to distract from the focus of the quilt.
The embroidered square would be swapped in for Patch #1 in the chart below.
Cutting Chart for an~ Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|1||A||1||3½" x 3½"||5” x 5”||6½" x 6½"||9½" x 9½"|
|2||A||4||1½" x 1½"||2” x 2”||2½" x 2½"||3½" x 3½"|
|3||B||4||1½" x 1½"||2” x 2”||2½" x 2½"||3½" x 3½"|
|4||B||4||4¼" x 4¼"||5¼" x 5¼"||6¼" x 6¼"||8¼" x 8¼"|
|5||A||4||4¼" x 4¼"||5¼" x 5¼"||6¼" x 6¼"||8¼" x 8¼"|
|Unfinished Block Size||5½"||8”||10½"||15½"|
First we create the units contained in the block.
To simplify the sewing, we'll use the 8 at a time method for making half square triangles. (Click here for complete instructions on this method.)
With a Quick Quarter Ruler mark pairs of diagonal lines (each a 1/4" from the center diagonal) across each pair of corners.
Stitch on the line. I prefer an open toe applique foot for this because it's easier to see the marking.
No Quick Quarter Ruler? No problem.
With your everyday rotary ruler, mark a single diagonal in each direction with a mechanical pencil following the directions included on our Techniques Page—Make 8 Triangle Squares in a Jiffy. (Steps 1 & 2)
Press the sewn patches flat.
Now find the 'Center or Midpoint' measurement in the Cutting Chart below.
| Center or Midpoint|
|Trim HST to…|
For this 7-1/2" sample block, this measurement is 2-5/8".
Cut the sewn #1/#2 into four squares equal to this midpoint measurement. Then cut these squares apart between the stitching lines to create 8 HST units. (See Steps 4-6 on the Technique Page for a quick review.)
We started with slightly oversized patches, so we need to cut these HSTs down to the 'Trim HSTs to' measurement in the chart.
After trimming, these HST are ready for the next step.
With RST, add a HST to each side of a #3 square.
SA are pressed toward the center, #3 patch.
Set two aside for the left and right sides.
Top and Bottom Units
With RST, add a #2 square to each end of two of the Side Units made in the previous step.
Press with SA to the outside.
Arrange the sides and top and bottom units and center square into rows.
With RST, stitch the side units to the center square. Press SA in the direction of the white arrows.
Stitch the rows together, pinning if it helps you make good matches at the seams. (There's no shame in being a pinner...I know...I am one!) The SA nest to make matching easier.
Give your block a good press. Check out our best pressing technique. It can tame the lumpiest of patchwork.
And your finished Souvenir quilt block looks like this.
The block or the embroidery?
If you choose 'Souvenir' to showcase a machine embroidery collection or your own redwork stitches, you'll need to decide when to do the fancy stitching.
My personal preference has always been to stitch out the embroidery design first on a piece of fabric larger than needed. Then trim to the exact size needed. The risk is that you accidentally cut the block too small.
The alternative is to piece the block first and then embroider it. The risk, then, is that the embroidery distorts the block. Or perhaps the stitchout somehow goes awry.
Now you've got no wiggle room. The block is un-salvageable and you must start over.
Choose the order that works best for your needs.
...and you're sure to end up at the Quilt Shop.
Save yourself the shoe-leather!
Find the inspiration you need for your next project in our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library or...
...our Quilt Design 101 pages.
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!