# Economy Block ANY Size! (With Cheat Sheet)

There’s a new craze out there promoted by Red Pepper Quilts, crazy mom quilts, and others, and it’s called the economy block. That’s a new term to me, as I know this block as “square-in-a-square” or “diamond-in-a-square.” Maybe the economy comes just in its name!

[See my post of seventeen free designs using this great block.]

This is the square-in-a-square made with TWO squares in the interior.

If you’d like to make the version with only ONE square inside, it’s the same as setting a block on point. You might do a large one for a medallion quilt center, or a small one as part of a block quilt or pieced border. See my tutorial here.

I’ve looked at a number of tutorials for the economy block. And none of them explain how to make it any size. That’s okay if you want to make the block their size, but what if their size isn’t right for your quilt? You don’t need to resort to trial and error. This tutorial will show you how to make the right block for your needs.

This trick is key: the whole block will finish at TWICE the size of the center. That’s right. So if the block’s center is 3″, the block will finish at 6″, assuming you use accurate cutting and seam allowances.

That also means that if you know how big the block needs to be, the center is HALF that. For example, if you want a 7.5″ block, your center will finish at 3.75″.

Simple, huh?

How does this work? Math. But nothing scary. Bookmark my blog and you’ll be able to find this any time under the Tutorials tab.

finished block size/2 = finished center
example: 7″/2 = 3.5″

finished center + 0.5″ = cut size of center
ex: 3.5″ + 0.5″ = 4″
CUT one center 4″
See note below about fussy-cutting the center.

(finished center/1.414) + 0.875 = size of square to make TWO corners
This assumes PERFECTION. I do NOT assume perfection! Round up at least a half inch.
ex: 3.5/1.414 + .0875 = 2.475 + 0.875 = 3.350, or about 3 3/8″.
Now round up to 4″.
CUT two squares 4″. [Note: this is a coincidence! You won’t always cut them the same size as the center patch.] Cut two because you need four corners.
CUT each square in half on the diagonal.

Here is the center patch surrounded by its first (interior) triangles. Note they extend well past the edges of the center. (Isn’t she sweet?)

CENTER the long edge of a triangle on the square’s edge.
SEW using a 1/4″ seam allowance.
REPEAT with the opposite side.
PRESS toward the triangles.
TRIM the overhang even with the square’s edge.
REPEAT with the other two triangles.

All 4 triangles sewn on, but before trimming.

LINE UP your ruler so the center corners point straight north, south, east, and west.
TRIM
the edges to new 1/4″ seam allowances.

Trimmed. The distance from the center patch corner to the edge is 1/4″.

Now, REPEAT the process for the next set of triangles. It’s slightly different, though. Pay attention.

finished center + 0.875 = size of square to make TWO corners
Round up at least a half inch.
ex: 3.5 + .0875  = 4.375″.
Now round up to 5″.
CUT two squares 5″. Cut two because you need four corners.
CUT each square in half on the diagonal.

CENTER the long edge of a triangle on the square’s edge.
SEW using a 1/4″ seam allowance.
REPEAT with the opposite side.
PRESS toward the triangles.
TRIM the overhang even with the square’s edge.
REPEAT with the other two triangles.

LINE UP your ruler so the center corners point straight north, south, east, and west.
TRIM the edges to new 1/4″ seam allowances. If your cuts and seams are accurate, you should have a block that finishes the size you want. How’d you do?

This block measures 7″ finished! Just as I wanted.

The math above will allow you to make your block any size. If you want a cheat sheet, this shows the finished block size, with cutting sizes for the center patch and the two sets of setting triangles.

A. size of your finished block
B. size to cut your center patch
C. size to cut two interior squares; sub-cut each square on the diagonal
D. size to cut two exterior squares; sub-cut each square on the diagonal

The dimensions for C and D are oversized to allow for imperfection. You will still need to trim after these steps.

Fussy cutting note: if you fussy cut your block center, cut it “square” to the design, not on the diagonal. You may have bias edges with this. If so, consider starching before cutting to stabilize the fabric for both cutting and sewing.

One more note: while in most of my piecing I prefer to use exact measures and accurate seam allowances, in this I prefer to oversize and then trim down. My results are better, and for me that’s the bottom line.

## 46 thoughts on “Economy Block ANY Size! (With Cheat Sheet)”

1. lorene holbrook

oh my gosh!!!! thank you!!!! some of my friends are really into the square in a square ruler method. too much waste for me! you are a sweetie for sharing!!! whew! so super simple…..

Like

1. Melanie in IA Post author

Hi Lorene. YES! It is simple! It is a lot of steps with trimming and pressing, but all of the steps are easy. And it makes an impressive looking block. You’re very welcome!

Like

2. lisetskiezels

Great tutorial! It looks all very simple now :-). The inner two blocks remind me of the dear jane block, i think it is D 13, that is used in a Siggy Swap, i am partcipating in. This will help certainly! Thank you!
Liset

Like

3. Penny

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful tutorial with us. It’s simple, easy to follow and it works! I was struggling with this very same block and this solves my sizing problems. I so appreciate your time and expertise.

Like

1. Melanie in IA Post author

I like perfection, and frankly, I’m pretty good. But I’ve tried this too many times that way and had bad results. It’s just easier to go BIG, and then trim!

Like

1. TextileRanger

I just meant that I think teachers are more effective when they accept that their students may have a wide range of standards for their own work, to put it nicely. By thinking of how to get the lesson through to people at all different levels, you make it easier to follow. Whereas if you were saying “nothing less than perfection will do here”, it might intimidate people rather than make them want to try it.

Like

4. allisonreidnem

Hi! Melanie
First thank you for reading and liking a post on my blog! Much appreciated. I love the medallion quilt on the bench at the top of the page – no doubt you can do math if you can create a quilt like that. And this tutorial is just great ‘cos I have a real block with math – I can follow a formula but could never devise one. I’m going to share this method on Facebook.
With best wishes
Allison, UK

Like

1. Melanie McNeil Post author

I’m so glad it can help, Allison. The math is easy for me. And yes, if you look around my site, I’ve designed and made a lot of medallion quilts, almost all of them in a mathy way!

Thanks for sharing the tutorial. It is my MOST viewed post, by far.

Like

5. Quiltmouse

I’ve never heard it called an ‘economy block’. Thanks for the tutorial/chart. I will be sharing a link back to this post on my Tuesday Tips post next week!

Like

6. Pam Cope

Thank you so much for explaining this! I have been trying to make a square in square block with six layers, but the pattern doesn’t say how big my piece should be after each layer, only the finished size! so no matter how carefully I would piece it, it came out wrong. I have to square up after each round of triangles, now I know how it should work.

Like

1. Melanie McNeil Post author

I hope this works for you. Let me know if you have questions. The main thing is, the inside square has to be half the finished size of the ending square. So if you’re doubling up on that, the very innermost square will be a quarter the finished size…

Like

7. Pingback: Tuesday Tips–6/30/2015 | QuiltMouse

8. Marywallis Soetebier

Thank you. For the cheat sheet and patterns. We just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary and our children had our family and guests decorate a 6inch square, for me to incorporate into a pattern. I was thinking of a coffee table type book, or wall hanging. I have 39 squares and want to center each square, but have a few different designs.. I was Google ing and found your site. This seems perfect. Thank you so much for sharing marywallis

Like

9. Pingback: Stars on Point | PieceMakerQuilts