Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Squaring Up the Square in a Square!

Since last night’s post and Quilt-Cam I have received email requests to PLEASE explain a bit further on how to handle Square in a Square units.

I’m happy to!

Square in a Square units are a main-stay of traditional patchwork, and I love them.  But they don’t always love ME – so I have my way to deal with them.

No special tools required, just a ruler with a good 1/4” marking all the way round the outside edge of the ruler.

Here I’m using my Easy Square Junior.  You don’t need a huge specialty ruler that is way bigger than your unit – that is unwieldy to work with.  This does me just fine.  Just make sure your 1/4” seam allowance line is visible on the outside edge of the ruler.

I’ve written about this before with a simple Square in a Square unit when we did our Double Delight Mystery.  That Mystery is still found under the free patterns tab! THIS is the tutorial written about Square in a Square units then.  This is now, and guess what? It's the same!


First and foremost!

When doing these units, I generally add 1/8” to 1/4"  to any cut measurement I am given.  These triangles bring quite a bit of bulk at the center of each side where seams will cross seams and that can give a bigger “press over” seam height, shrinking your unit.  SO if a pattern says “cut a square 2 3/8” once on the diagonal”  I will up that to 2 1/2” just to give me a bit of wiggle room.

ALSO:  YOUR SEAM MATTERS!  If your seam allowance is greater than the 1/4" you should be sewing, your center square will turn out too small.  So test your seam.  ALWAYS test your seam.  Click HERE for more info.

You can see that the point of the triangle I am adding is right at center on the unit.  This is easy to find on a 4 patch – you’ve got a seam there.  But let’s say you are doing a regular Square in a Square….it’s simple.  Crease that center square in both directions so you have guide lines to place that point keeping that triangle tip centered!


I trim dog ears even with the side of the center square!

Add your second triangle.  I tend to sew with the triangle on top – it helps me keep things centered.  Yes, I know – I am not a pinner at this point!


Dog ears trimmed, ready to add next two sides!

Trimming the dog ears even with the sides of the center square is important.  It gives me a straight edge to line up my next two triangles.  It also keeps the dog ears from jamming up against my seam guide, causing uneven seams.  Get those dog ears out of there!  You’ll be happy you did.



I start out by placing the 1/4” line against the top corner of the center square, and slide it side ways so the 1/4” line is also against the right side corner.  Lefties would do the opposite.  Make sure the unit is straight under your ruler, and trim the excess up the right side, and across the top.

Rotate your unit, repeating the process for the two remaining sides.  If you know what size you are trimming your unit up to, you can use that line on the ruler to make sure you are trimming where you need to after first trimming the right and top sides.

Here’s a little video I made LONG LONG ago for the Double Delight Square in a Square units.  Those units may be a different size, but the technique is still the same:


A little trimming and we've got this!

After Quilt-Cam last night I had this!

Yes, you can use the Easy Angle for cutting corner triangles!
The Rotary Cut Column is for squares you slice on the diagonal into triangles.


Chart for Finished Sizes, Center Squares, Corners!

((can you find the typo? I can't go back and make another chart without a lot of work!))

I hope you have a great time trying out some square in a square units whether you are joining us in the AP&Q Quilt Along or not!  For more info click HERE!

Today on the home front:  STUDIO TIME!

I’ve got one quilt in the machine, and I’ve got another ready to sew binding on.

I lecture tomorrow evening in Greensboro, NC ---and I get to spend the weekend in a two day Easy Street workshop with LOCAL QUILTERS!  I am so excited.  It’s like not working at all!  Getting to come home after class is done, eat in my own kitchen and sleep in my own bed.

How novel!

A sneak peak of what’s under my needle:


Christmas!  And Holly quilting!

Our next Quilt-Cam is scheduled for next Monday evening at 9pm EST.  I hope you’ll join me then –have a great Wednesday!

Click Here to like our Quiltville Friends Page on Facebook for more fun!

Click Here to join our sister group, Quiltville's Open Studio on Facebook, a place to Sew, Share & Grow!!


  1. I am so looking forward to the magazine issue when we get to see the whole gorgeous christmas quilt you are making!

  2. i always feel compelled to thank you. THANK YOU THANK YOU. you just do so much for the quilting world. when i come across problems in quilting my first search is in quiltville, more often then not, you have the solution.

  3. Great advice on the squaring up Bonnie. Love the sneak peak of a luscious Christmas quilt maybe :)

  4. I used your Square in a Square chart and instructions a few weeks ago and my units came out great! Thank you for all you share so generously!

  5. Thanks bonnie. I love how you explain things

  6. Thanks bonnie. I love how you explain things

  7. Love hearing your voice again!

  8. This is a great tutorial, Bonnie.

  9. Thank you for showing us by a video. Now I understand. I do have a question though....Is there anyway to start the Quiltcam earlier? Like 8 or 830 pm?

  10. Anonymous9:25 PM EST

    Wow! Another Quiltcam so soon. Looking forward to it.

    Susan L.

  11. Anonymous10:25 AM EST

    Just bought the magazine last night and love both Rainbow Rows and Scraptacular. Just have to decide which one to start with!

    Carole D
    Altoona, PA

  12. I really like the blocks you are making. I'm going to check today to see if I can get the magazine with the patterns. Can't wait to see your quilt finished in the way only you can do.

  13. I am going to be using this helpful post when I get to making the square in a square units for APQquiltalong. Still working on my four patches at this point! :) THANKS!


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