Economy Block 17 Free Designs

The economy block has quilters excited! As I wrote in January, quilters have found the fun in this square-in-a-square, or diamond-in-a-square block. It’s a great way to showcase novelty prints with fussy cutting, or just enjoy the color play between patches.

Once you’ve made a few of these great blocks, what should you do with them? For some ideas, take a moment to google Images for economy block quilts. I’ll wait…

Yeah. Not much variety there in design, huh? Almost every picture has an array of economy blocks side by side. The only difference is coloring.

As terrific as they look, there is more you can do with them than that. Here are SEVENTEEN ideas. They all use the same coloring, so you can focus on the secondary designs instead of color differences.

And remember, you can make the economy block ANY SIZE with my tutorial and cheat sheet.

The first one uses an unpieced alternate block. They get more complex — and more interesting — after that!

Unpieced alternate blocks

Hourglasses, turned in alternate rows

Square in a square, or diamond in a square…

Four patches

Pinwheels

Electric fans

Turnstiles

Double 4-patches on point, turned in alternate rows

Four X variation

Jewel box, turned in alternate rows

Economy blocks doubled down?

Checkerboards, turned in alternate rows

Broken dishes

Old maid’s puzzle, turned in alternate rows

Four patch art square, turned in alternate rows

Straight set with sashing, no alternate blocks

On point set with sashing, no alternate blocks

Feeling inspired to play with these great blocks? Which is your favorite?

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30 thoughts on “Economy Block 17 Free Designs

  1. Debbi

    I really enjoyed this post and seeing the different design possibilities. I like the square in a square alternate block or the jewel box in alternating directions. Think I’ll have to make one of these!

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    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      They are fun, aren’t they? Not sure I could pick a favorite. Some of the simplest ones are really cool, and some of the complex ones are kind of fascinating!

      Thanks for taking a look today.

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    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      I like that one, too. Problem with the economy block — it’s easy, but it’s rather time consuming. You either must be PRECISE and ACCURATE, or take the extra time to trim. I love the idea of it, but haven’t made many of my own. πŸ™‚

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  2. denmck

    Going crazy on the Economy blocks, LOL. I love them all! I’ve finally finished the back for mine and got it pinned and ready to quilt. Sometimes the most fun is the experimenting. Great job!

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  3. Joanna

    I vote for the jewel box and the electric fan as they have lots of movement and you could really get into color changes with them. As another commenter said though, I wouldn’t relish the precision needed to make these blocks look good. I once made a quilt in flannel with this block and I paper pieced it to get the points to behave. Thanks for showing how fun it is to play around with block settings.

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  4. Nann

    I took a Square in a Square workshop earlier this year. I need to make use of the specialty ruler. Your design ideas will help me do that.

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  5. Doni Boyd

    Thanks for all the ideas! I bought the ‘square in a square’ ruler oh-so-many-years-ago; I used it once – but I’ll have to study up on it again and start some fun!! doni @Oregon coast

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    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Hi Doni! It was fun playing with it. Get that ruler out or use my tutorial and do it the “hard” way. πŸ™‚ And then look at these ideas again, or ANY other 4-patch/grid blocks for something completely different.

      Have fun!

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    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Yes I do. It’s taken me a while to balance the enjoyment of designing as I go with visualizing ahead with the software, if that makes sense. But I feel like now I can do both.

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  6. Thread crazy

    The square in a square is a neat design that has endless possibilities. I started to purchase one of those rulers but decided I could do the figuring a bit quicker so decided to spend the $ on fabric instead…!! Good post.

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  7. Quilting is in my Blood

    Hi Melanie, I took a look at your blog after you liked my quilty bucket list post. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I’ve done a lot of economy blocks in my mosaic work but have not yet tried them in my quilting. I actually will soon as it is this month’s assignment in Meadow Mist Design’s Midnight Mystery Quilt-along. I saved this post and will definitely refer back to it. Take care, Mary.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Hi Mary, Thanks for stopping by. It’s a fun block for layout, very versatile. Yesterday I looked at another quilt design that colored/valued the patches differently and gave it a completely different look. It’s easy but fiddly no matter how you do it. Paper piecing will give you a lot of control but has its own steps to deal with. My way gives a great block, but there is a lot of trimming. (I try not to do trimming on other blocks!) Or you can cut the patches exactly to size and hope for the best. I never had much luck with that.

      Good luck with the block and let me know if you have questions.

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