From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
Skill Level: Beginner
Grid: 9x9 (9-patch)
The Valley Square quilt block puts the 'connector corners' technique to good use. It's used to make the half square triangles patches in this beginner friendly design.
The only shapes you'll need to cut are squares and rectangles.
Not a bias edge in sight!
On this page, you'll find instructions to make this block in three different sizes.
At the end of this tutorial, there are links to ideas on how to set YOUR own blocks, as well as to some of my favorite design tools and books.
Let's get started!
I use a couple of common abbreviations throughout this tutorial:
All your seam allowances (SA) are 1/4" unless otherwise stated.
Check out this simple pressing trick (no special tools needed) to create the flattest quilt blocks...EVER.
You'll be amazed at how such a simple thing can so greatly improve the quality of your blocks!
Finally, I use two different presser feet in the construction of this sample—my favorite quarter inch foot, the one with the guide on the side.
For stitching the connector corners, I prefer an open toe applique foot.
There's nothing to block my view of the stitching line.
Choose quilt fabrics with good contrast.
In this sample Valley Square, the turquoise fabric is my 'dark'; the print is my light.
Patch #1 and #2 are a little bit longer than needed so that you can square up the ends before subcutting.
Cutting Chart for a~Traditional Piecing with Connector Corners*~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|1||D||1||1½" x 13"||2" x 17"||2½" x 21"|
|2||L||1||1½" x 13"||2" x 17"||2½" x 21"|
|3*||L||4||2½" x 5½"||3½" x 8"||4½" x 10½"|
|4*||D||8||2½" x 2½"||3½" x 3½"||4½" x 4½"|
|5||D||4||1½" x 3½"||2" x 5"||2½" x 6½"|
|6||L||4||1½" x 1½"||2" x 2"||2½" x 2½"|
|7||L||1||3½" x 3½"||5" x 5"||6½" x 6½"|
|Unfinished Block Size||9½"||14"||18½"|
|*Units used for the connector corners method.|
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.
Uses Strips #1, #2
With right sides together (RST) align the long edges of #1 and #2. Stitch.
Press with the SA to the dark.
Use the chart below the check that your strip set is the correct width.
|Stripset Width|| Subcut|
Make any necessary adjustments now. Units that are the correct size make putting the block together much easier. The final result more accurate, too.
Straighten one short end of your strip set with your rotary cutter and ruler.
Then find the corresponding Subcut Width. Cut this strata into eight equal units.
After subcutting your strip set, arrange the patches into pairs, alternating lights and darks.
With RST, stitch them together into four-patches.
To finish off these units, twirl the seam allowance in the center. This helps to reduce bulk.
It also makes setting blocks edge-to-edge in a quilt easier—the seams will nest automatically!
Make 1 using Patches #5, #6, #7
Arrange the #5, #6, and #7 patches into rows. Sew the units in each row together.
SA are pressed toward the turquoise (#5) patches. If your lights and darks are reversed, press towards the dark. These SA are not matched to any other SA.
Stitch the rows together to form the center unit. SA can be pressed in either direction.
Connector Corner Rectangles
Uses Patches #3, #4
Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the backs of each #4 square—marking the line only as dark as you need to see it.
I've used pen here (very bad girl!) so that you can see the lines.
Usually, I'd use my Bohin mechanical chalk pencil for a much lighter, removable marking.
Align three edges of a #4 with the end of a #3 rectangle. Use pins if you find them helpful (I do!).
Stitch on the drawn line. (This is where I use my open toe applique foot.)
Repeat for both ends of the #3 rectangle. Your stitching lines must bisect the corners of the same side of the rectangle.
Trim away the excess #4 (turquoise) squares, leaving behind a quarter inch SA (below, top patch)
Press #4 patches out toward the corners (above, bottom patch).
Repeat for a total of four units.
After switching back to your favorite quarter inch foot, lay out all the units into rows. The dark fabric is in each corner of this design.
It's much too easy to get things flipped as you can see in my Oops! photo. (Click here to see it.) Somehow I forgot this WASN'T a star block.
Stitch the patches into rows, pressing in the direction of the arrows.
If you've left the #3 rectangle intact, the rows may be a bit lumpy. This is the perfect time to try my favorite (wickedly simple) pressing technique for the flattest blocks you'll ever see. It works wonders!
Stitch the rows together. Pin if needed. (I never met a block I didn't want to pin!)
Give the block one final press.
This is your finished Valley Square quilt block.
And now from the back.
If you look closely, you can see that all the seams will nest when the blocks are set edge-to-edge. If they don't nest on the first placement, give one a quarter turn. Voila!
You like this block.
And want to make more.
But what to do with them?
Check out the different ways to set these Valley Square quilt blocks and see if one appeals to you!
Or if you'd like to make more, different blocks, check out the links below.
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!