Economy Blocks?

Ok, I've got to put it out there... why the heck are these called Economy Blocks?

A pretty example from

When I first looked at the pattern, it almost seemed as if all the triangles were cut from the same size pieces as the center squares, which totally made sense to me in an "economical" fashion- like you could create a whole bunch of these blocks out of a single charm pack or something.

That's easy... right?

Looks promising...

Err. I guess not? Seam allowance is important...

Maybe if we trim a bit off...

That's better. It's super tight on those 1/4" edges though!

Ok, so it sort of works.

But when I dug in further, it's recommended to cut three different size squares to piece these together; the center square (let's say 5" for simplicity's sake), two squares that are a half inch smaller than the center square (4.5", cut in half into triangles), and two squares that are a half inch larger than the center square (5.5", also cut into two triangles). I have no idea where the idea that this is "economical" came from... but whatever.

Perhaps that's why the traditional name for this block is the "square in a square". I like that- it's so much more descriptive! Let's go with that from now on.

Anyways... you may have seen mention of the latest new project I started the other weekend. It was inspired by the cute little Cotton Cuts Color Challenge card I received with my February Mystery Puzzle pieces. I colored the Economy Block Square in a Square card with neon colored pencils, but the glossy paper of the card made the colors appear more pastel, which kind of matched perfectly with this little fat quarter mini bundle I've had on my shelf for a while (bought it on clearance for no reason other than it was cute and a good deal). The fabrics aren't the nicest quality, but the colors are fun and they have little metallic gold dots all over them.

After playing with the layout a little bit, it became obvious that five little fat quarters aren't enough to make an entire quilt of any significant size, so off to JoAnn I went to match up a few complimentary fabrics.

I had done all my math ahead of time so I knew exactly how much of each color I needed, but of course I forgot to bring the fat quarters with me to the store to match them up. Luckily, the little pre-cuts section still had some jelly rolls that incorporated the same fabrics (among others), and I was able to match them as closely as I could to some Kona solids. I chose a white cotton sateen for the background color (gasp!! I NEVER use white!), and decided to use the teal for the backing.

I brought all my cuts home to start making squares and triangles... and then I realized I only bought enough teal for the backing, and not for the blocks. Duh. Back to JoAnn again!

When I finally had all my fabric ducks in a row, I began cutting my squares (4.5", 5" and 5.5"). Because I only had a small amount of the sparkly dot fabric to play with, I wanted to use it to highlight a certain section of the quilt. I taped some tracing paper over my coloring card and traced out a section of blocks on the diagonal, opposite of the diagonal of the color gradient. I'm hoping it makes the quilt look like it's got a ripple of shiny washing over it... but we'll see!

I started sewing my blocks together at the Quilt-A-Thon I attended with my mom-in-law. The block got another hit against the name "economy" when I realized how much trimming had to be done after every step! I guess the half-inch difference theory is more of a guesstimate as opposed to a fact.


Overall, I'm enjoying my Square in a Square quilt experience. :) The piecing is challenging my point-matching skills, and I love the idea of taking a traditional block and designing a fresh, modern quilt around it. Even if my color scheme is starting to remind me of the nineties...

1990's "Dream House"


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