Economy blocks (also known as a square in a square block) are ideal for fussy cut fabrics. Perfect for those cute pictorial prints that you weren’t too sure what to do with. There are several tutorials online for small economy blocks around the 5-6 inch mark. However, economy blocks can be time consuming to make so I prefer to make mine large – less blocks means quicker quilts.
So this tutorial is for a 10 inch economy block (10.5 inches unfinished). This size means you only need 4 blocks to make a 20 inch mini quilt, cushion cover or tote bag panel, 15 blocks (3 rows of 5) to make a cot quilt or 40-64 for a full size quilt – depending on if you are making a single or double.
This size also works brilliantly for large scale prints, I made a great mini economy block quilt using Tula Pink prints (see pic above). Her animal designs tend to be quite large. In this tutorial I have used fabrics designed by me and printed by Prinfab on their cotton poplin fabric. Prinfab is a British fabric printing company which offers 18 different types of fabric for you to print your designs on.
Centre square – 5.5 inches
Interior triangles – 2 x 5 inch squares
Exterior triangles – 2 x 6.5 inch squares
TIP – Economy blocks really pop if you use complementary colours as I’ve done with the purple and yellow. Take a look at a colour wheel, the colours opposite each other are complementary.
Seam allowance – 1/4 an inch throughout.
Cut your fabrics as per the list above. Ideally you want a pictorial print in the centre – fussy cut to highlight the detail of the print is best. It cut my fabric to ensure the tree, and the man under it were the focus of my square. Solids or blenders for the triangles around the centre mean the eye won’t be drawn away from the middle of the block.
Cut the 2 squares of fabric for your interior triangles in half along the diagonal.
Centre one of the triangles on one edge of your centre square with raw edges aligned and fabrics right side together. I used the markings on my cutting mat to help ensure my triangle was centred. Flip it so the triangle is on top of the centre square, edges aligned.
I also use a wonderclip to hold the fabric in place until I have sewn it to avoid any shifting. Sew it into place using a quarter of an inch seam and then repeat for the opposite side of the square.
Press both triangles away from the centre square. Trim off the edges of the triangle which go beyond the edge of the square.
Add the other 2 triangles to the remaining 2 edges of the square as before. Press away from the centre square, trim any excess and square it up.
Cut your 2 remaining squares of fabric in half diagonally. Attached to the sides of your new square as per the previous steps.
Press your finished block. You should find it’s a little larger than 10.5 inches sqaure, trim it down to the correct size but remember to take an equal amount from each opposite edge so your centre square remains centered.
Admire your finished block and start choosing fabrics for your next one.