From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
The Twentieth Century Autograph quilt block.
Wow! That's a mouthful.
Thankfully it's harder to say than it is to stitch.
It's perfect for the beginning quilter.
A bit of strip piecing. A few cut squares and rectangles. That's all you need. Beginner friendly, fully illustrated instructions to help you if you're new to quilting.
On this page, you'll find:
It's to to cut up and sew!
These abbreviations are used on this page:
1/4" SA are used through this tutorial.
When instructed to press, first press the patches in the closed position just as they came off your sewing machine. This sets the seam, melding the fibers of the threads into the fibers of the fabric.
All the pressing instructions are highlighted in yellow.
Starched quilt fabric is my preference when piecing. If you've never starched your fabric before, click here to learn more about this technique.
Sample Block Size:
Grid: 7x7, uneven 9-patch construction
You'll need two fabrics to make the block. Choose ones with good contrast so that your piecing shows.
In the sample block, when I chose my fabrics, it looked like a good contrast as I laid them next to each other. (Click here to see them.)
In the finished block I'm not so sure if it's good enough.
Yes, the fabrics are pretty together, but is there enough distinction between the patches?
When we get there in this tutorial, I'll ask the question again. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes! (A very good thing. :D )
For the sample block the light background fabric is the floral; the dark is the solid peach.
If you'd like to print the block design and cutting chart below, click here.
Cutting Chart for a~Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|1||Light||1||1½" x 3½"||2" x 5"||2½" x 6½"|
|2||Light||2||1½" x 1½"||2" x 2"||2½" x 2½"|
|3||Dark||4||1½" x 1½"||2" x 2"||2½" x 2½"|
|4||Dark||4||1½" x 3½"||2" x 5"||2½" x 6½"|
|5||Dark||1||1½" x 7"||2" x 9"||2½" x 11"|
|6||Light||2||1½" x 7"||2" x 9"||2½" x 11"|
|7||Light||4||2½" x 2½"||3½" x 3½"||4½" x 4½"|
|Unfinished Block Size||7½"||11"||14 1/2"|
My go-to thread for all my piecing is...
With RST, stitch a #3 to a #2.
Since it doesn't matter which patch it's pressed towards—there are no seams to match—press to the darker one.
Add a #3 to the opposite side of #2, pressing as before.
With RST sew a #3/#2/#3 to each side of #1.
These SAs are pressed toward the center.
With RST, sew a #6 strip to both long sides of #5.
Press SA towards the darker fabric.
After sewing, use the chart below to check that this short strip set is the correct width—make any necessary adjustments.
|Stripset Width after stitching||SubCut Width|
|7"||3 1/2"||1 1/2"|
|14"||6 1/2"||2 1/2"|
At your cutting mat, straighten one the of the short edges with your rotary cutter and ruler. Then, find the SubCut Width that goes with your Finished Block Size.
Cut four units this width.
For our 10-1/2" sample block, the SubCut width is 2".
With RST, join a #4 rectangle with a #6/#5/#6 strip you just put together.
Press SA towards #4 to reduce bulk.
If the darker fabric shadows through the lighter one, trim away a tiny bit of the #6/#5/#6 seam allowance with your scissor.
Lay out your cut and sewn patches into the Twentieth Century Autograph design, the #4 rectangles are all in the center of the block.
With RST, sew the units into rows. Nothing to match here so pinning is optional.
SAs are pressed toward the solid #7 squares in the top and bottom rows and towards the center unit in the middle (white arrows).
With RST sew the rows together. Give it a final pressing.
I've pressed these last two seams toward the outside edges. If you were to set these blocks together edge-to-edge in a quilt, these last two seams should point inwards. That way the seams nest for easier matching.
The Twentieth Century Autograph block is complete.
I asked a question at the beginning of the tutorial, "Do you think there's enough contrast between the fabrics?"
Now that the this Twentieth Century Autograph is done, what do you think?
It's always good to plan on making a sample block before diving into your quilt projects to check that your fabric choices work as you expected them to. ;)
This is the view from the wrong side so that you can all the seams.
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!