Squaring Up of Quilt Blocks

Squaring Up of Quilt Blocks

Hello Dear Friends and Readers,

Today I thought I would raise an issue that seems to be commonplace.  It’s only my personal opinion, and of course we all have our own way of doing things …. but it does no harm to discuss it.

Recently, I was following  a post in Scrap Quilt Enthusiasts regarding Squaring Up of Quilt  Blocks.  It certainly raised a lot – I mean really a lot of interest and opinions. It appears that most of the opinions were totally in favor of squaring up blocks.  Squaring up blocks meaning, taking the block back too the cutting board and using a ruler and rotary cutter to recut all the edges of the quilt block.

My question is Why???

It bothered me in the sense that as patchworkers we often adapt ourselves to “rules” of how we should do things.  For example following  a 1/4” seam allowance, which mostly is very sensible. Of course there will be exceptions and adaptations which are necessary.

Many people remarked that blocks should “Always” be squared up no matter what.   My question doesn’t change… Why?  Isn’t some of that unnecessary?

I thought, let’s back up a little bit here.  Doesn’t a lot happen before that?

Why would we pedantically, accurately cut  block components?  Why would we follow a strict seam allowance?  And if we did that…shouldn’t’ the block turn out the right size?

Please, don’t get me wrong, there are times I have had to do it.  Generally because my seam allowance wasn’t quilte right.  I certainly encountered that when I first started making these.

36 Patch Postage Stamp Blocks Tutorial

I definitely made some mistakes there in terms of seam allowance.

One exception in particular I find is making Half Square Triangle Blocks.  These mostly do need some squaring up.  But it needs some care to make sure that the block is not only the correct size, but also that the diagonal is still centred.

It’s noteworthy that the more seams there are in a block, the greater the propensity for the block size to need squaring up depending on the seam allowances.

And there are some other obvious exceptions as always, like making string blocks.  Or making quilts from group contributions, where each block will probably be different and need to be made to fit.  I’m sure there are many more.  But, I’m just talking about our personal regular quilt block making.
Crazy Little Strings – Diamond Charms

Another exception would be in this example where components of a block are made from another block and then they do need to be squared up.

Antique Tile Block Made Easy Tutorial
Antique Tile Block – Made Easy

However,  generally speaking, if the block needs squaring up, doesn’t that distort the internal dimensions of the quilt block and its seams?  That in itself creates a new problem.

That means that each block wouldn’t necessarily line up with the next adjacent block.  There would be exceptions of course, where it would not matter.   For example, a four patch, where the dynamic would not change, or if the blocks are to be sashed, so that may not  be noticeable.  Again I ask why?

Well let’s back up a bit more.

If you know this already then please excuse me but, I believe a big part of the problem is the pressing in regards to unwashed fabric.  But not any pressing.  Pressing which involves steam or humidity.  I know I have mentioned somewhat repetitively before about prewashing fabrics but I still believe it to be important.

To Wash or Not to Wash This is the Question

I understand the common mantra is that pre washing fabrics is not necessary, but….
To Wash or Not To Wash

If fabric is unwashed and steam or humidity is applied when pressing  quilt blocks this can immediately distort the block.  Obviously it can then become necessary to “square up the block” which personally I find a bit frustrating.

So just a little thought for the day.  I think its much more efficient and way less frustrating just to wash the fabric before beginning.  It saves a lot of trouble.  I even wash precuts.

Wash your Pre-Cuts?

On the odd occasion that I might use fabrics that were not prewashed like I have done on this occasion.

Lessons in Log Cabin Blocks

Then it might be advisable just to finger press until all the blocks are put together to avoid the problem.

Then there is more time for sewing with much less Squaring up Of Quilt Blocks.

By the way, I don’t include clipping of doggy ears because that is so easy and it can be done with scissors whilst still at the machine.  Or at the end as a TV job.

It’s all part of the fun of learning don’t you think?  If you have any thoughts let me know.

If you enjoyed this post you may also like

Quilting Seams – Seams Pressed Open or Closed Debate


Nesting Quilt Block Seams

Happy Sewing,


© Susan Stuklis 2021

2 thoughts on “Squaring Up of Quilt Blocks”

  1. Hi Susie! I so enjoy reading your posts. Because I just loved seeing you quilt on an antique treadle machine from the first time I saw your post I bought one about a 18 months ago. It was rusty and dusty and did work at all. My great goal was to get it going and make a simple quilt from antique reproduction fabrics using an antique pattern. Well, for Christmas this year my husband promised to get my machine going and he was able to do that. We watched so many youtube videos to see what to do with it, how to thread, etc. Now I need to figure out how to adjust the tension so the upper and lower threads work together better. Meanwhile I have a lovely Bernina with a nice wide throat to sew on, but my little Singer is waiting on me! Thanks for your informative and entertaining posts!

  2. I have learned to actually press my blocks rather than iron. I quilt on a long arm and I see all sorts of velouminous shapes joined together!
    Some folk expect a lot of their quilter😂😂😂
    I measure more often these days when I’m making my own quilts.

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