Another “foundation” quilt block is the economy quilt block also known as a square in a square quilt block. These blocks can be used alone or in a multitude of other quilt blocks and there are a few ways to make them. You’ll want to follow the method in the pattern you are using. If you opt for one of the other methods know you might need more fabric than the pattern calls for.
The economy quilt block is used in my pattern Down The Brick Road, the Kansas Star quilt block, Union Square, Storm at Sea, and a host of other quilts by numerous quilt designers. There are three methods of sewing an economy quilt block that I recommend and one method that I highly discourage you from using.
This quilt block is perfect for fussy cutting the center block and showcasing that special fabric that you have. One round of triangles is usually called a square in a square quilt block and blocks with more rounds are called an economy quilt block. So let’s get to sewing!
Stacking Square Method for Economy Quilt Block – Not Recommended
A month or so ago every time I got on social media there was this video on making the economy quilt block and every time I saw it I cringed. You placed two squares right sides together and sewed around the outside edge. Then you cut the top square, carefully, across both diagonals. You could add as many rounds onto your economy quilt block as you wanted.
It looks so easy to make but the video failed to mention the downside of this method and that is the outside edges are bias edges. When we make a quilt block we want the bias edges in the seams so things don’t get stretched out. While we can’t avoid bias edges on fabric those edges should be caught in a seam.
Snowball Method for Economy Quilt Block
Making an economy quilt block with the snowball method is like snowballing corners. Your corner squares would be bigger because you are taking up more than just the corner. You’ll actually be covering 1/4″ inch more than half the base square.
The downfall of this method is it leads to a lot of bonus triangles or wasted fabric. If you have a use for the bonus triangles this is a great method to use. Otherwise, you are going to be making a lot of scraps.
Paper Pieced Method for Economy Quilt Block
Paper piecing is an almost foolproof method for sewing quilt blocks. You can buy a pack of foundation papers already printed or print these at home yourself. Paper piecing is fairly simple, like paint by number. You start at one and keep adding pieces of fabric in order.
The downfall of this method is you are beholden to the size of paper foundations you can purchase or print at home. They usually have two rounds, a square in the center and then two rounds of triangles so if you need more rounds of triangles or just a single round of triangles you probably won’t find paper foundations.
Adding Triangle Method for Economy Quilt Block
This is my preferred method for making economy quilt blocks or square in a square quilt blocks. It gives you the most flexibility for sizes and the number of rounds you do, it creates the least amount of scraps, and it is still fairly easy to do if you take your time.
You will have your center square and two squares for each round of the economy block that you cut in half on the diagonal. Now the cut edge will be bias but the edge will be caught in the seam. You can add on as many rounds as you need or want.
Here’s a video of how to do this method.
Sewing Economy Quilt Block or Square in a Square Quilt Block Together
Unless the pattern calls for floating seams you’ll need to sew them similarly to how you sew flying geese. You know where the fabric above the point is in the seam and all you see is the tip. The best way to do this is pin matching.