Economy Block tutorial

Recently I shared my Vintage Halloween Economy Blocks on the blog, and I promised you there would be a tutorial. So today I’ll be sharing some information on how I made my blocks, including tools, tips, measurements and basic assembly instructions. This post is not a pattern for a full quilt, so there will not be fabric requirements. But the great thing about the Economy Block is that it fun, easy and a great way to use up your scraps and stash. Let’s get started!



Vintage Halloween Economy Block
4 1/2” (unfinished);  4” (finished / when sewn with other blocks)

You don’t need any special rulers to make Economy Blocks, but these were handy for me:

A square 2 1/2” Creative Grids ruler (for fussy cutting the centers).

A ruler with clear 1/4” markings. (I used my 4 1/2” x 8 1/2” Creative Grids ruler that has the best 1/4” markings.  I used gingham Lori Holt washi tape to mark off a 3 1/4” square on the ruler, which will be used for one of the trimming steps. You could use painter’s tape also.)

The Cute Cuts 4 1/2” Trim It Ruler by Lori Holt. (Again, I could have used another ruler and some washi tape. But this Trim It Ruler has fantastic markings for finding the right trimming spot to complete the 4 1/2” block.)


For each Economy Block, you will need to begin with three squares:

2 1/2” center square
3 1/2” square
4 1/2” square

Begin by fussy cutting the 2 1/2” center square. (Note, you do not have to fussy cut. You could use a mini charm pack or cut 2 1/2” squares from any pretty fabric. The end result will still be lovely.)


Then cut a 3 1/2” square and a 4 1/2” square from coordinating fabrics.


I cut several squares and laid them together in groupings to see which combinations I liked.


Next, cut both the 3 1/2” square and the 4 1/2” square on the diagonal twice, so that you have (4) triangles each.



Begin with the triangles yielded from the 3 1/2” square. Sew triangles to the left and right of a fussy cut square. I used my Bernina’s quarter inch foot for exact piecing.

Press toward the triangles and trim off the dog ears.


Next, sew triangles to the top and bottom. Press toward the triangles.

Using your tape-marked ruler, trim the block to 3 1/4” square.  Do not skip this trimming step. Look closely at the photo below. The key is to have 1/4” of seam allowance on all four sides. Position the ruler so that the corners of the fussy cut square do not extend into the 1/4\” seam allowance. Trim two sides. Rotate the block and trim the remaining two sides.




Now repeat those same steps using the triangles yielded from the 4 1/2” square.

Here’s a creative tip.  Flip your units over and sew from the other side.  This will allow you to see the seam intersection that you want to meet precisely.



Again, press toward the triangles.


Using a 4 1/2” trimming tool or ruler, square up your block to 4 1/2”.

Look closely at this photo. There is shading around the perimeter that indicates the seam allowance area. Make sure none of the points are in that shaded area. The ruler also has guidelines for the center square, helping you position the ruler correctly.



Place your finished blocks under a ruler and weight. This will keep them nice and flat while you sew. I do this often with small blocks. Sometimes I even weight press them overnight.


I hope this tutorial will inspire you to begin making Economy Blocks from your favorite fabrics. My goal is to make as many blocks as I can with the focal fabric at center. When I run out of little characters to fussy cut, I will continue to make Economy Blocks from just the coordinating fabrics until I have enough blocks to make a baby or lap sized quilt.

I plan to take my time with these blocks, sewing them when the mood strikes . . . sewing for fun.  I hope you’ll do the same!


 P.S. I have other free tutorials on my blog. Check them out when you have a chance.



24 thoughts on “Economy Block tutorial

  1. This is so cute!! I've got some scraps of Christmas fabric that would look cute also. I think I'll give it a try!! Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Wonderful tutorial, Taunja! I've always loved Economy blocks, but found the 'bias' sewing a little intimidating. I need to give this another try. Your blocks are just so super cute.

  3. Thank you Sigi! I know what you mean regarding the bias concern. On these little pieces, there wasn't much stress and worry. But if I am making larger blocks with larger bias pieces, I always pin, pin, pin! 😉

  4. Love your tutorials and patterns! I too use my grandmother’s “irons” to flatten my blocks. I have two of them. They also weigh down my ruler when I’m cutting strips. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Leeia! Isn’t it fun making use of things we saved from the past? Have a great week!

  5. So far your explanations are very very clear and also the only one who took the time to explained details. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Do you have instructions for a bigger block? I adjusted your block to a bigger size but didn’t work. I did something wrong. I dont have enough seam allowance on the ending block. I can’t do math. Thank you!!!!

      1. I’ll take a look most certainly. Let me tell you, you are very kind in answering me. Thank you, I really appreciate it!!
        Great site!!

      2. You are so welcome! Thanks for stopping by my blog! 🙂

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