I’m sure I’m not the only one with overambitious idea about what they can get done and when, and I had added to my Cotton + Steel Tinsel collection with the 2016 Garland collection in November with the idea that I would get a quilt done for Christmas. Well it’s a good thing that Christmas rolls around each year because I finally got to it on the 3rd of January ;o) Anyway, I’m determined that I will get it done and out of the way so that I have a bed sized Christmas quilt all ready to go for this year, so I asked on Instagram if anyone wanted to join me in making the super-sized economy blocks that I had planned and I promised to write up a tutorial with dimensions on here, so here we are.
Economy blocks are a traditional quilt block usually made around 6″ finished, and with fussy cut centres. The only problem I had was that the fabric I was using had much bigger feature elements on it, plus I wanted to make this quilt fairly quickly, so I’ve blown mine up to 12″ finished. At the bottom I’ll include a table of measurements for 12″, 9″ and 6″ finished blocks, so that you can choose which you want to do, but I’ll concentrate on the 12″ ones here in the tips.
How To Cut Your Fabric:
1. My first tip, since we’re going to be doing a lot of sewing on the bias, is to starch everything! I use a liquid starch with a trigger pump from Earth Friendly Products (I tried making my own, life was too short, so I buy this by the case) I soak each FQ and press before I cut anything, since it can cause fabric to shrink a little.
2. Each FQ can yield 2 sets of outer triangles (blue) and 2 sets of centres (pink) for a 12″ block. This is how it gets laid out – note that the selvedge will be on the right of this, you should have 1 1/2″ to cover this, and some wiggle room in fussy cutting the centre pieces. It’s really important if you’re using directional fabric to make sure that you cut your diagonals for the outer pieces as shown below, otherwise you will end up with sideways bits!
3. I chose to buy the fabric for my middle triangles by the metre and cut in bulk as it was easier for the number I needed, but you should you want to use FQs for this as well, then you can get 12 per FQ, 4 across by 3 high. If using yardage, then strips are cut at the width of the squares, then subdivided down – you should just be able to squeeze in 8 squares per WOF on 44″ wide fabric. When it comes to cutting the strips I fold my fabric in half and match the selvedges to make the cutting easier with my 24″ ruler. Avoid using directional fabric on this round otherwise it will be on a 45 degree angle…
How To Make The Blocks:
1. We’re going to start with a bit of origami on the centre square so that we can line up the outer pieces.
Fold in half widthways, wrong sides together, and make a crease in the centre about 3″ long:
Next fold in half lengthways, wrong sides together, and make a crease in the centre about 3″ long:
Then fold in half on each diagonal, wrong sides together, and make a crease in the centre about 3″ long:
2. Now we can start sewing. Take one of your middle triangles and place it right sides together with the top side of the centre square, aligning raw edges and the point of the triangle with the crease you made lengthways on your square. This last bit is really important as that it what centres it.
Open out and press your seams:
Now add the opposite triangle. I’ve found that it works best to avoid warping of the block to add the triangles in pairs opposite each other. Plus you only really need to go to the iron every 2 seams if you do it this way ;o)
Add the other set of triangles for this round, aligning the points with the widthways crease you made earlier:
Trim to 9″ square – I match the points on the centre square with the 4 1/2″ marks on my ruler. It’s really important that you trim otherwise you will lose your points in the next round, and it’s a complete PITA to unpick when you find out you forgot. I only did it once!
3. Now we’ll add the outer round – make extra sure that you check directional fabrics on this round to make sure they point in the same direction as the centre square! For this round you will be aligning the points of the triangle with the diagonal creases that you made earlier:
As per the previous round, you add the triangles in opposing pairs and trim to 12 1/2″:
4. Repeat until you have an entire quilt’s worth of blocks – I’m making a 7 x 8 layout which finishes at 84″ x 96″
Economy Block Size Variations:
In the table below I’ve listed the cutting measurements for the pieces you’ll need, as well as the size you need to trim that section to. Obviously as the inner square is the final size, it doesn’t need to be trimmed.
|12” Block Cut||12” Block Trim Complete Section To||9” Block Cut||9” Block Trim Complete Section To||6” Block Cut||6” Block Trim Complete Section To|
5 ¼” x 5 ¼” cut on diagonal x 2
|9” x 9”||4 ¼” x 4 ¼” cut on diagonal x 2||7” x 7”||3 ¼” x 3 ¼” cut on diagonal x 2||
4 ¾” x 4 ¾”
|Outer Triangles||7” x 7” cut on diagonal x 2||12 ½” x 12 ½”||5 ½” x 5 ½” cut on diagonal x 2||9 ½” x 9 ½”||4” x 4” cut on diagonal x 2||
6 ½” x 6 ½”
I hope this all makes sense, but if you have any questions, please let me know.
As one who quickly lost interest in the 6 1/2″ blocks when they were the rage a couple of years back, the 12 1/2″ sounds much more doable! Thanks for sharing!
I can totally get behind the 12 1/2″ block. There is plenty of Christmas fabrics in my stash so if I get started soon I might have a quilt ready for next Christmas, but first I’ve got to finish the 24″ blocks for my stained glass quilt. Thanks for the tutorial.
Could you please explain more about cutting the inner and outer triangles? Cutting 5 1/4 by 5 – I’m confused. I just finished making 16 square in a square blocks, but I’m not sure how to follow these directions.
Hi Barbara, they’re 5 1/4 x 5 1/4, possibly your device wrapped the text and you didn’t see it on the next line?
Let me know if you have any more issues ?
Thanks – now it makes sense!
Wonderful! Thanks for the chart, Katy! I think the 9″ blocks are calling my name…