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 Free Pattern : An Old Maid's Puzzle Block

Old Maid's Puzzle is a colorful, old-time block constructed of squares and right triangles. Since four different colors are used, this block is a great choice for making use of scrap fabrics.

It also works well in projects designed to bring color and a bit of flair to a room.

Old Maid's Puzzle block

How big is it?

This is a 9-inch block.

Construction instructions

An Old Maid's Puzzle block is really just a four-patch layout. After cutting your fabric, triangles are joined to piece four sub-blocks which, joined together, form the complete block. Although Old Maid's Puzzle pieces fairly quickly, it is important to double check the positioning of your pieces before stitching.

Four fabrics are typically used for this block, white and three colors. Look for complimentary colors and prints.

Cutting - Old Maid's Puzzle works up very quickly with rotary cutting.

  • Cut four squares from a strip of 2 3/4-inch strip of fabric A.
  • Cut ten right triangles from a strip of 3 1/8-inch strip of fabric A.
  • Cut four right triangles from a strip of 3 1/8-inch strip of fabric B.
  • Cut two right triangles from a strip of 3 1/8-inch strip of fabric C.
  • Cut two right triangles from a strip of 5 1/8-inch strip of fabric D.
  • Cutting diagram

Assembling components - An Old Maid's Puzzle block includes squares formed by combining right triangles. These triangle-square pairs should be stitched with a quarter-inch seam allowance.

  • Gather six fabric A, and all fabric B and C right triangles.
  • Place one fabric B triangle over a fabric A triangle, and stitch to form a triangle-pair square. Repeat with remaining fabric B triangles.
  • Place one fabric C triangle over a fabric A triangle, and stitch. Repeat with remaining fabric C triangle.
  • Triangle-pair squares

Assembling the four-patch units - While many blocks assemble row-by-row, Old Maid's Puzzle assembles like a four-patch instead. There are two unique patches used in this block. The key to good results is paying attention to the orientation of your triangles. Compare your layout with the pattern before sewing.

  • Gather all fabric A/fabric B triangle-pair squares and the fabric A squares.
  • Place one triangle-pair square over a the fabric A square with right sides together and stitch in place.
  • Repeat with all pieces to form four oblongs.
  • Place one oblong over another so that the top mirrors positioning of shapes in the bottom oblong. Match seams and stitch to form a small four-patch.
  • Repeat.
  • Gather one fabric C triangle-pair square, two fabric A triangles and one fabric D triangle.
  • Place one fabric A triangle over the fabric C triangle-pair square and stitch.
  • Place a second fabric A triangle over the fabric C triangle-pair square and stitch to form a triangular-shaped unit from these three pieces (refer to graphic).
  • Place the triangle unit over the fabric D right triangle, right sides together, stitch.
  • Repeat the above with the remaining fabric C triangle-pair square, two fabric A triangles and fabric D triangle.
  • Press all seams.
  • Old Maid's Puzzle small four-patch unit

    Small square assembly unit

Assembling the block - Block assembly involves piecing the four components made in the last step. It is a straight-forward process, but once again, positioning is important.

  • Place one fabric A/fabric B four-patch unit over a fabric D/fabric C/fabric A unit and stitch in place to form the top row.
  • Repeat with the remaining pieces to form the bottom row.
  • Place the top row over the bottom row, matching the seams.
  • Stitch in place to complete the block.
  • Block assembly

Great - now that I've got it, what do I do with it?

Old Maid's Puzzle blocks create a very interesting geometric pattern when placed together. In this example layout, blocks are placed next to each other to create an attractive frame for a few solid white blocks. Because a number of colors are used in a single block, it is important that your border echo fabrics used in the block to give the design a more polished look.

Old Maids Puzzle and solid white blocks quilt

Old Maid's Puzzle blocks may also be alternated with solid blocks for a clean, colorful layout. In this sample, solid blocks of the green fabric from the design are used. In addition to creating an uncluttered feel, these solid blocks provide a wonderful opportunity to showcase intricate stitching.

With solid blocks

More ideas to consider

These blocks can even be used to create a frame around a center of solid fabric. The complex movement of triangles creates a wonderful border to present larger quilting motifs.

Old Maid's Puzzle blocks as a frame

Related : More Free Block Patterns

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