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Quilting Terms: What is a Quilt Block?

Updated on November 29, 2011
Millionaire Tips profile image

A lover of arts and crafts, Shasta Matova enjoys making artistic, applique, pieced, traditional, miniature, modern, and crazy quilts.

One of the quilting terms that is frequently used is quilt blocks. Quilt blocks are parts of a quilt.
One of the quilting terms that is frequently used is quilt blocks. Quilt blocks are parts of a quilt.

In the olden days, before sewing machines, quilters had to make their quilts by hand sewing. Since a large piece of fabric can be cumbersome, quilters tended to make their quilts with quilt blocks. Once all the blocks were made, they would then be sewn together to make the whole quilt. Sometimes a quilter chose to repeat the same block throughout the whole quilt. Other times, she decided to make a variety of blocks and put them together.

What is a Quilt Block?

A quilt block is a small part of a quilt top. A number of quilt blocks together make a quilt. The blocks can be the same, or different from each other.

Quilt blocks can be pieced or appliquéd. Some quilt blocks even form parts of a bigger quilt block.

In the olden days, a quilter would create a pattern for a quilt block and make a quilt. Sometimes she would share their ideas with her friends and family, who in turn would share it with her friends and family. As a result, many people living in the same areas would make the same types of quilts.

Eventually, quilt blocks were advertised in newspapers and sold by mail order. This meant that the quilt patterns were more widespread and the same quilt could be made in many different parts of the world.

Quilt blocks are generally placed in traditional quilts, but contemporary quilts also include them. Some contemporary quilters will use new fabrics, or liberate a block, or combine the blocks in unusual combinations, or place them in unusual settings.

Nowadays there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, different quilt blocks, and new ones are being invented every day.

How to Choose a Quilt Blocks Book

A book that has quilt blocks in it makes a great gift for a quilter. The quilter can choose which blocks she wants to make, and the setting that she prefers.

If you are looking for a book that has quilt blocks in it, here are some things to look for:

Instructions: While most block books have instructions on how to make each block, some, like Dear Jane, do not. If you are buying a book for a beginning quilter, be sure to find a book that has instructions.

Method: Some quilt block patterns are all paper pieced, while others include a variety of blocks that are made using different methods. If your quilter does not like paper piecing, or curved piecing, or appliqué, , then it is better to find a book that has more of the method she likes.

Sizes: Some books will provide patterns for blocks of a particular size. In Sylvia's Bridal Quilt, for example, all of the blocks are the same size. Other books will provide patterns in a variety of sizes. Choose what will work better for your quilter.

Style: While most quilt block books provide patterns for traditional blocks, newer books are available, such as Modern Blocks, which provide patterns for modern quilts.

Day Twenty-Two: Hub #53 of 100 Hubs in 30 Days
Day Twenty-Two: Hub #53 of 100 Hubs in 30 Days

Quilt Blocks

Breaking up the process of making a quilt into manageable pieces is very helpful. By making quilt blocks, you can make quilts, even queen and king sized quilts, more manageable. You can make a block or two a day, or whenever you find time, and soon, you realize you have made enough blocks for the whole quilt.

Comments About Quilt Blocks

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    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you BrightMeadow. Quilting is not for everyone, but it certainly is beautiful to look at. It's great that your sister designs her own quilts. That makes it cheaper than buying patterns, and she winds up with unique quilts that really represents her personality and her talents.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Yes Stephanie, the benefits of sashing are many. I really like the stained glass look on quilts. You can do that with sashing, but some people prefer to not work with such skinny sashing. You can also do that with leading. That's skinny bias tape you buy or make yourself that you can applique onto the quilt. You can buy leading that has fusible web on it, so you can iron it on your quilt so it stays while you applique it on by machine or by hand.

    • BrightMeadow profile image


      8 years ago from a room of one's own

      Really nice hub. I have always wanted to make a quilt but never have the time or patience to sit down and do it. My sister does though. She always sketches out her design on paper and colors it in before hand.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      8 years ago from New Jersey

      I never thought of sashes being useful in extending the quilt or helping to hide the mistakes I make when the corners are just slightly off. I am just going to aim for getting a stained glass look on one of my quilts. I am currently working on three (soon to be four) right now--simple squares and triangles for me right now!

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you Stephanie. We get so used to using the jargon of our industry that we forget that people outside the industry do not understand the jargon. Good luck with the baby quilt. I recommend sashing - it makes the quilt bigger, and makes it easier to join blocks that might not be made perfectly. Plus, it looks pretty. I hope you show your quilt to us when you are done with it.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      8 years ago from New Jersey

      Millionaire Tips, this is a great hub for beginning quilters or people who are just interested about quilting. There are so many terms I am still learning. For example, I was in a quilt shop a few weeks ago picking fabric for a baby's quilt. The woman cutting the fabric asked if I was going to sash it. I said, "what?" So, I left with a new term and technique to try.

      Good luck with making your 100 hubs!


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