Union Square Quilt Block

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

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Skill Level: Confident Beginner

The Union Square quilt block is all about the points!

Points in the Economy block that forms the center.

Points on the Half Square Triangles and Flying Geese that form the borders.

To insure the best result possible for you, we're paperpiecing this little beauty.

There's another benefit with this technique. If you make oversized HST and FG and then trim them down, there's 12 units to trim BEFORE you assemble the Union Square.

With paper piecing, there's only 5—which saves time and provides accurate results.

Union Square quilt block tutorial

On this page are:

  • Step-by-step illustrated instructions
  • Free downloads for the paper piecing pattern

Now let's get started!

General Instructions

When instructed to press, first press the unit in the closed position to set the seam and then open the patch, pressing again.

I prefer my open toe applique foot for paperpiecing and use a stitch length of 15-18 stitches per inch.

Open toe applique foot

When assembling the Union Square block, I switch back to my standard quarter inch foot with a guide.

Quarter inch seam allowances (SA) are used to sew the units together.

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Click the images below to see the full collection. We share any commercial and/or free patterns that showcase them, too. (For inspiration, of course!)

Step 1: Download the pattern

To download any of our free paperpiecing patterns, YOU NEED Adobe installed on your computer. Get it here.

To print blocks at the correct size, under 'Page Sizing and Handling' in the Adobe print menu, set 'Custom Scale' to 100%. Click here to see where it's at on that page.

Choose the finished size of your Union Square. Click the link below to print.

Cut out the patterns just beyond the dashed lines. There's no extra points for being neat—units are trimmed at the end.

Read my review of 6 paper piecing papers available on the market

Not sure which paper to use?

Take a look at my review of several of the most popular brands available to us quilters on the market.

You want a super-easy paper to tear away—less stress on the stitches. 

Step 2: Cut patches for the Union Square

Union Square patchwork designUnion Square design

Sample Size: 9" finished / 9½" unfinished

Grid: 6x6

Attributed to: Carry Hall, Rose Kretzinger

AKA: An Effective Square (Ladies Home Journal), Four Crowns (KC Star), Union (Ladies Art Company), and Union Block (Nancy Cabot)

Design type: Uneven 9-patch

Except for #1, all patches are oversized which makes positioning them virtually foolproof. (Ripping out stitches isn't my idea of a good time!)

And finally, don't forget to subcut #2-7 (far right column—#4 is cut twice on the diagonal; the rest are cut once diagonally to form the necessary triangles for the sides units).

Make a couple of blocks. Then tweak the patch-sizes if it makes piecing easier FOR YOU.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Union Square Quilt Block

~ Paper Piecing ~

Patch Fabric Qty Finished Block Size Sub
4-1/2” 6” 9”
1 A 1 2” x 2” 2-1/2” x 2-1/2” 3-1/2” x 3-1/2” none
2 B 2 2-3/8” x 2-3/8” 2.3/4” x 2-3/4” 3-1/2” x 3-1/2” Symbol for a half square triangle
3 C 2 2-7/8” x 2-7/8” 3-3/8” x 3-3/8” 4-3/8” x 4-3/8” Symbol for a half square triangle
4 B 1 3-1/8” x 3-1/8” 3-5/8” x 3-5/8” 4-5/8” x 4-5/8” Symbol for a quarter square triangle
5, 7 A 8 2-1/8” x 2-1/8” 2-3/8” x 2-3/8” 2-7/8” x 2-7/8” Symbol for a half square triangle
6 B 4 2-1/8” x 2-1/8” 2-3/8” x 2-3/8” 2-7/8” x 2-7/8” Symbol for a half square triangle
8 B 4 1-3/4” x 1-3/4” 2” x 2” 2-1/2” x 2-1/2” none
Unfinished Block Size 5” 6-1/2” 9-1/2” na
Grid Size 3/4” 1” 1-1/2” na

90% Faster Than Rotary Cutters

Step 3: Assemble the Union Square units

General Sewing Machine Setup for Paperpiecing

  • Reduce your stitch length to 16–20 stitches per inch (1.3-1.6 mm). This perforates the paper and stabilizes the seam when you remove the pattern. [Learn more about stitch length here.]
  • Reduce your machine's speed or just plain slow down. Sew only as fast as you can stay on the stitching lines.
  • Install an open toe appliqué foot (sometimes called an 'embroidery' or 'satin stitch' foot) if you have one (it's easier to see where you're stitching with one installed). 
  • If your machine has a needle stop up, use it. The stitching goes faster when you don't have to lift the presser foot with every seam.
  • As you stitch each seam, start and stop a generous 1/4” before and after the solid stitching lines. ALWAYS. Future lines of stitching secure the ends.

After adding each patch, press the unit as it was sewn to set the seam and then open. The SA is automatically pressed towards the last patch added.

Before adding the next patch, take a look to make sure the one you just added covers the space plus seam allowance that it is supposed to.

Steam is optional and usually curls the pattern. 

If that bothers you, don't use steam. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't.

It truly depends on my mood.

Remember, as you follow this paper piecing tutorial, the printed and the fabric sides of this block are mirror-images of each other.

At last!

Let's sew!

Borders (B)

Union Square quilt block - long border unit
Make 2

Union Square quilt block - short border unit
Make 2

Make 2 short, 2 long

The borders for our Union Square quilt block are exactly the same, except that two need a #8 patch.

Use a dab of your glue stick to adhere the wrong side of #4 to the unprinted side of all four of the border patterns.

Position #4 between the placement guidesArrows point to the placement guides

With right sides together (RST), position a #5. Line-up the point of the triangle with the corner of the pattern (see arrow).

Stitch, both starting and stopping past the outside dashed line of the pattern

Repeat for the second #5. (For the 4-1/2" block you may need to add one #5, pressing it out of the way, and then add the second one to each border unit.)

Now it's time to do a little trimming. You can see where the #5 patch extends more than 1/4" past the line between #5 and #6 on both sides.

You could trim the seam allowance down to 1/4" with a scissor by just eyeballing it. However, I prefer to trim with my rotary cutter for the accuracy.

To do so, put the edge of your ruler (arrow) right on the seamline between #5 and #6.

Crease the pattern with your fingernail along the ruler. Remove the ruler and fold the paper back. You will need to pull the paper away from some of the stitching to do this. (arrow)

Fold back the pattern on the seamline.Here you can see the folded pattern and where I've pulled the paper away from some of the stitches.

If you accidentally make a big mess out of the pattern (I've done it, everyone does at some point!), use a piece of Scotch Brand Magic Tape to fix up the paper side. Just don't iron directly on the tape. It'll melt.

Position the 1/4" line of the ruler on the folded edge of the paper and trim with your rotary cutter.

Trim away the excess from the borderThe arrow points to the folded edge of the paper.

When you unfold the pattern to it's original position, you'll be able to see that the seam allowance extends a 1/4" into the #6 space.

Use this technique every time you need to 'trim the seam allowance'.

Continue adding the #6, #7 and #8 patches (only on the longer border), trimming SAs and pressing after each is added.

The borders look something like this after the stitching is complete—pretty messy. Not to worry!

An untrimmed long and short borderA long and short untrimmed border, make 2 each

We'll just trim each Union Square border. With the pieced border paper-side up on your cutting mat, lay the 1/4" mark on the ruler on top of the solid black outline of the pattern. Trim with your rotary cutter.

Pointy, pieced perfection!

A trimmed long and short borderMake two of each for our Union Square quilt block


Make 1

Union Square quilt block - center unit

NOTE: For more detailed instructions to make this unit, click here and review Steps 3 and 4 for the Economy quilt block. (The link opens in a new window.)

With a dot of Elmer's Washable Glue Stick (goes on purple, dries clear), stick the back of a #1 to the unprinted side of the pattern. Use the placement guides for easy positioning.

Position #1 using the placement guidesArrows point to the dashed placement guides

With (RST) match the diagonal edge of a #2 to #1. It helps to align the point on #2 with the corner on the pattern (see arrow).

Stitch on the line between #1 and #2, starting before and ending after the outside dashed line. (see arrows).

Stitch on the line between #1 and #2Stitch, starting and stopping at the arrows.

Repeat for the opposite #2. Press both patches. (For the 4-1/2" block, you may need to press after the addition of each #2 to get it out of the way for the next one.)

Add the two remaining #2 patches in the same manner.

Trim the SA around the #2s to 1/4" using the same technique we used for the border units. You will need to pull the paper away from the stitching at the corners to fold it back.

Add the first #3, lining up the long diagonal with the trimmed edges of the #2s. The point of #3 lines up with the corner of #1 (see arrow)

Repeat for the opposite #3. Press.

Add the remaining #3s in the same manner.

Finally, trim off the excess fabric. Lay the 1/4" line of your ruler on the outside solid line and trim with your rotary cutter.

Trim the centerThe arrow points to the solid line that surrounds the block.

Trim away any stray threads from the back. The center unit for our Union Square looks like this. Everything is perfectly pointy here, too!

Step 4: Assemble your Union Square quilt block

Install a standard quarter inch foot. Reset your stitch length for normal piecing.

At this point, you have a choice to make—to remove the paper or not. It's no trouble to stitch through all the layers of the paper, but it's much easier to pin without the paper. (I have removed it before assembling this sample block.)

Arrange all the pieces as shown below.

The sewn units are arranged in rows

Stitch a short borders to both the left and right side of the center unit.

SA are pressed toward the center.

With RST, stitch the top and bottom borders to the middle row. Use pins to help match the SAs.

Union Square blockOur Union Square is finished!

The sewing is complete on our Union Square quilt block.  If you haven't removed the paper, now's the time to do it!

The only thing left is a good final press. Why not try our best pressing technique fort the flattest block you ever saw!

What about a different quilt block?

For a list of all the 220+ quilt block patterns on this site, start here.

If you know the name of the block, shorten your search by using these links:




Click here if you're looking for blocks with at least some paper piecing.

Click here if you're looking for the basic building blocks of quilting, i.e., Flying Geese, half square triangles, quarter square triangles, etc., along with several techniques to make each.

And finally, use these links to find blocks in these finished sizes:

For even more blocks to make...

Click here to learn about my favorite quilt book resources that inspire my patchwork designs.

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This article was printed from Generations-Quilt-Patterns.com

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