Patchwork-Rich Old Maid's Puzzle Quilt Block Pattern

  • 01 of 04

    How to Make 16" Old Maid's Puzzle Quilt Blocks

    Old Maid's Puzzle Quilt Block Pattern
    Old Maid's Puzzle Quilt Block Pattern. Janet Wickell

    This Old Maid's Puzzle quilt block pattern is sewn with much more patchwork than other blocks of the same name, Including an easy nine patch Old Maid's Puzzle. Several other quilt block designs are known by the same name.  

    This version of the design is a four patch quilt block that finishes at 16" square, a large size that's perfect when you create bed quilts, but can be used in many other ways, too.

    Choose Fabrics for the Quilt Block

    The two examples of the quilt block on this page illustrate how simple it is to change the design's appearance when you select different fabrics for the layout.

    Consider color and color value when you design your quilt blocks. A knowledge of those properties helps you understand which fabrics will dominate the design and which will be less noticeable.

    It's probably best to avoid directional fabrics when you make this quilt block since much of the patchwork is quick pieced and twisted around into position. If you do use directionals, read the pattern before you choose fabrics to see how each is used and cut patchwork so that stripes will flow in the direction desired.

    Directional prints can be a good choice when you make a scrap quilt where variety is key.

    How to Print My Patterns and Tutorials

    Fabrics in the cutting instructions are for the quilt block shown on the right. Your fabrics will differ. I recommend that you print the pattern, cross out the colors listed, and jot down your own choices. You might want to note your colors on illustrations, too.

    Alter cutting instructions to make triangle squares and flying geese using other methods. See page 2 for the methods used in this pattern.

    Cutting for One 16" Old Maid's Puzzle Block

    Yellow, used in block corners

    • (8) 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" squares

    Black, used in block corners

    • (4) 2-7/8" x 2-7/8" squares
    • Squares are used for quick pieced half square triangle units, also known as triangle squares. I would cut squares used for those units larger and then trim back completed units to exactly 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" before assembling the quilt block.

    White, used in multiple areas

    • (1) 4-1/2" x 4-1/2" square for the block's center
    • (2) 2-7/8" x 2-7/8" squares (for triangle squares, can cut larger if you plan to trim back units)
    • (1) 5-1/4" x 5-1/4" square for flying geese

    Dark Blue, used in multiple areas

    • (4) 2-7/8" x 2-7/8" squares (for triangle squares, cut larger if desired)
    • (4) 2-7/8" x 2-7/8" squares for flying geese (do not cut oversize)
    • (12) 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" squares

    Pink, used in multiple areas

    • (6) 2-7/8" x 2-7/8" squares (for triangle squares, cut larger if desired)
    • (1) 5-1/4" x 5-1/4" square (for flying geese)

    Brown, for flying geese

    • (4) 2-7/8" x 2-7/8" squares (do not cut oversize)

    Light Green, for trim around block center

    • (2) 2-7/8" x 2-7/8" squares (for triangle squares, cut larger if desired)
    • (4) 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" rectangles

    Learn How to Cut Patchwork Shapes

    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    Sew Patchwork for the Center of the Quilt Block

    Old Maid's Puzzle Quilt Block Pattern
    Make the Center Section of the Quilt Block. Janet Wickell

     Assemble the Central Patchwork

    1. Top row of illustration. Draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner on the reverse side of (4) 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" dark blue squares.
    2. Place a blue square in a corner of the 4-1/2" x 4-1/2" white square, right sides together and outer edges aligned. Note the position of the drawn line.
    3. Secure with a straight pin to keep fabrics from shifting.
    4. Sew a seam on the marked line.
    5. Trim through both layers about 1/4" beyond the seam.
    6. Press to set the seam and then press the seam allowance towards the dark triangle that forms in the corner.
    7. Sew another 2-1/2" dark blue square to the opposite corner and then sew a square in the remaining two corners.

    Make Framing for the Central Patchwork

    1. Middle row of illustration. Draw a diagonal line from one corner to the opposite corner on the reverse of (2) 2-7/8" green squares.
    2. Pair the square with a pink square of the same size, right sides together and all edges matched. Sew a seam a scant 1/4" away from each side of the drawn line as explained in my triangle squares tutorial.
    3. Press to set the seams. Cut the squares apart on the drawn line.
    4. Press seam allowance to either side when pressing the unit open. The triangle square should measure 2-1/2" x 2-1/2". Trim back to that size if you worked with larger squares.
    5. Bottom row of illustration. Use a quarter inch seam allowance to sew a pink/green triangle square to opposite ends of a 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" green rectangle, orienting the triangle squares as shown, left. Press seam allowances towards the rectangle.
    6. Repeat to make another vertical row.
    7. Sew one of the remaining rectangles to one side of the patchwork center and press the seam towards the rectangle. Repeat to sew a rectangle to the opposite side of the block's center.
    8. Sew a Step 5 vertical row to one side of the unit you just created. Sew the remaining row to the opposite side. Check the orientation of the triangles in each row before you sew.
    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    Make More Patchwork for the Quilt Block

    Old Maid's Puzzle Quilt Block Pattern
    Sew More Patchwork for the Quilt Block. Janet Wickell

    Make the Corners of the Quilt Block

    I don't always say 'press to set seams' within instructions but that step is always a good way to improve your patchwork.

    1. Top row of illustration. Draw a diagonal line of the 2-7/8" white and 2-7/8" green squares, just as you did before.
    2. Pair each white square and green square with a black square of the same size.
    3. Use the quick pieced triangle squares method to create four triangle squares of each combination -- green/black and white/black. Each should measure 2-1/2" square.
    4. Grab one of each triangle square type and two 2-1/2" yellow squares. Arrange the four pieces into tow rows as shown. 
    5. Join the pieces in each row and press seams towards the yellow squares.
    6. Sew the rows together and press. The patchwork should measure 4-1/2" x 4-1/2".
    7. Make three more corner units.

    Sew the Block's Outer Midpoint Patchwork

    This part of the quilt block can be assembled in more than one way. We'll use a combination of flying geese and triangle square units.

    1. Middle row of illustration. Grab a 5-1/4" x 5-1/4" white square and four 2-7/8" blue squares (these squares were not cut oversize).
    2. Draw a diagonal line (as before) on the reverse side of each blue square.
    3. Use the no waste flying geese method to create four 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" flying geese from the squares. If you haven't tried the technique -- do. It's easy and produces accurate patchwork.
    4. Use the same method to pair a 5-1/4" pink square with four 2-7/8" brown squares.
    5. Find the remaining four 2-7/8" pink squares and four 2-7/8" blue squares of the same size. Use the quick pieced triangle method again to make eight pink/blue units from each contrasting pair.
    6. Bottom illustration. Sew a pink/blue triangle square unit to each end of a pink/brown flying geese, taking care to position all angles as shown. Press seam allowances towards the geese.
    7. Repeat to make three more identical units.
    8. Sew a 2-1/2" blue square to each end of the blue/white flying geese. Press seams towards the squares. Make three more.
    9. Sew the two vertical units together, orienting all angles as illustrated. Press seam allowance the direction that produces less bulk.
    10. Make three more units. Each should measure 4-1/2" x 8-1/2".
    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    Finish Sewing the Old Maid's Puzzle Quilt Block

    Old Maid's Puzzle Quilt Block Assembly
    Assemble the Old Maid's Puzzle Quilt Block. Janet Wickell

    Assemble the Quilt Block 

    1. Arrange all patchwork into three rows as shown in the left illustration.
    2. Sew the components of each row together, checking first to make sure patchwork is correctly aligned. Use pins to secure matched seam intersections where necessary.
    3. Press seam allowances away from block corners in outer two rows and towards the block center in the central row.
    4. Join the rows and press the quilt block. It should measure 16-1/2" x 16-1/2".