Economy Block Tutorial

So in August we had a paper piecing demo with the Economy Block, but with Summer, vacations, gorgeous days, I know there were a lot of people who missed out. So, I thought I’d put this together and post it so we can all participate in our Economy Block Swap in October.

The template comes from Red Pepper Quilts, and you can directly download it here. (It’s free).

Make sure you deselect “fit to page” when you print it. Also, make only 1 copy to begin with. Measure the dark solid black line around the block — it should measure 5″.

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Here’s what you need to get started:

  • (1) copy of the template (trim it roughly to size so it’s easier to work with)
  • (1) 3″ fussy cut square
  • (2) 3″ squares, cut along the diagonal
  • (2) 4″ squares cut along the diagonal
  • (1) glue stick
  • rotary cutter
  • ruler
  • mat
  • sewing machine with thread (a little obvious, I know, but I like to be complete)

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Start by applying a small amount of glue to the blank side of the template in the middle. Then stick the fabric on. This will hold the center fabric in place while we work on it, and the glue is weak enough to come off easily later.

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Hold the template with the fabric glued on up to a light. This way you can see if your fabric is centered or not. You want to make sure you have 1/4″ all the way around the center square for seam allowance.

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Take your first triangle from a 3″ square and align it on one edge.

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Make sure you drop your machine’s stitch length. This will make the paper much, much easier to tear off later.

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Sew along the line. Try to make sure your fabric stays in place.

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Finger press the triangle you just sewed in place, and hold the block up to the light. This will show you if the piece is correct, and you have enough seam allowance. You can see in the picture above, where the arrow is pointing, that it looks a little scant. I lucked out though, because it measured exactly 1/4″. This happened because I didn’t take care to center the triangle before sewing. Tsk tsk.

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Align another 3″ triangle opposite of the sewn one, taking extra care to center it! Sew along that line.

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And finger press in place, and hold up to the light. Much better this time!

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Now iron/press the pieces.  Don’t use steam! It will distort the paper.

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And repeat the process with the next two triangles. Align each one with the edge of the center square, sew, finger press open, hold to the light to check seam allowances.

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Iron the pieces. Again, don’t use steam!

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Now we need to trim the pieces we just added. I like to use a ruler to crease the paper along the next set of lines. (We’re setting ourselves up for a perfect 1/4″ seam on the next additions)

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Trim to a 1/4″ past the creased paper.  Do this for all four sides.

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And now we’re going to do it all over again with the 4″ triangles. Align each to the recently trimmed square, sew, finger press open.

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Hold up to the light.  This time you’re making sure the triangle extends past that faint line (it’s the 1/4″ seam for the final block).

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Press them open.

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And add the next two triangles.

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Give everything a really good pressing (no steam!).  See those perfect points? I promise it’s not skill or experience. That is just the brilliant benefit of paper piecing. Perfect points!

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Now time to trim up the whole block. I trust my ruler more than I trust my printer, so I align the 1/4″ line of my ruler onto the dark solid line. Trim everything (paper and fabric) all the way around the block.

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And Zap! you have a fully complete block. And possibly a new addiction.

The finished block will measure 5.5″ at this point. I would highly, highly suggest not taking off the paper until you’ve pieced the entire quilt top. Tearing the paper off can lead to distortions (all the edges are off-grain), and they won’t go together so easily for you.

Have fun with them! This block is a great way to use up scraps, or those cute irresistible prints. And if you have any questions, let me know!


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