How to Make a Simple Square in a Square Quilt Block


Subtitle: The Life-Changing Magic of Beautiful Fabric

One aspect of sewing that all quilters deeply experience is the power of beautiful fabric. Beautiful fabric will make us quilters do crazy, irrational...partially erratic things – like convert a guest room into more fabric storage, even though you have lots of company and they would REALLY appreciate not having to spend the first hour of their visit pushing fabric off all of the furniture; like labeling boxes of fabric “MORE TAMPONS” so your husband never fully knows how much you actually have; like buying yardage from your favorite designer knowing full well that you love it waaaay too much to ever cut into it – thus perpetuating the cycle of having stacks and stack of too much fabric.

Yes. The power of beautiful fabric has brought out Gollum-like characteristics I never knew I had. “We wants it. We needs it. We must have the precious!”

Although I cannot say that I have found a solution to this somewhat troublesome situation, I have found...well, I’ll call it a compromise. This Square in a Square quilt block pattern allows beautiful fabric to shine. Sadly, yes, you do have to cut that mouth-wateringly GORGEOUS print you’ve been saving for your magnum opus. However, you can cut such large chunks, that the patterns will still be central and apparent.​


I had a MAJOR eye-popping, dance party moment the first time I saw Amy Butler’s Lark collection.

Dancing Chihuahua
Spice Girls

Too many gifs? Not enough gifs?

Well, it was one of my first major fabric crushes and I NEEDED to hoard it all. I mean...just look at it.​


So, I did what any sane and normal quilter would do...I bought a yard of everything, stacked it up in a prominent corner of my sewing room and stared at it for 3 months.

But then someone approached me about making a twin sized quilt for a little girl. This person wanted simple squares and bright BRIGHT fabrics. hmmm...I thought. I think I know what to do.​


My square in a square quilt uses fabrics from a couple different Amy Butler collections as well as various solids, shot cottons and Kaffe Fassett prints. The beauty of the simple square design is that you can make the squares as small or large as you like, based on the fabric you want to highlight.

I went with 6” finished inner squares, each with 1 ½” strip finished borders. Another fun solution for the strip borders would be to use a jelly roll.* That would cut down on some of the cutting time.​

Each finished block is 9”. To make your own you will need:​

  • 1 – 6 ½” square
  • 2 – 2” x 6 ½” strips
  • 2 – 2” x 9 ½” strips
  1. Sew both 2” x 6 ½” strips to either end of the 6 ½” square. Press seam. Fig.1
  2. Sew both 2” x 9 ½” strips to the opposite ends and press seam. Fig.2
  3. Press all seams. The unfinished block will be 9 ½” Fig.3

To some degree, I tried to maintain an every other light/dark pattern with the fabric selection. It’s pretty loose, but I think that helps the bright colors pop more than if every fabric was the same color volume. Also, if you have a printed fabric that you LOVE, be sure to accent it with solids and opposite volume fabrics.

For example, these two prints are some of my favorite from the collection. Look at them butted up next to each other.​


Pretty, but they both lose some pizzazz because they are roughly the same size in scale and high in saturation and brightness. This causes them to blend together. 

Now look at this example. By breaking up the loud, exciting prints, you actually end up noticing them more individually.


That last fabric is part of the Emmy Grace collection by Bari J. Isn’t it divine??

When sewing these blocks together, rotate them 90° so the seams don’t butt into each other and cause bulk. Also this means you won’t have to match any seams until it’s time to sew the rows together.


The twin square in square quilt that I made quickly outgrew my design board and went onto the dining room floor. Look at that monster! Phew, glad it’s finished 😉


With that beautiful fabric being the main focus of this quilt, I chose a simple all-over rose pattern for the quilting. This nicely complimented the floral motifs, without getting too dense and cluttered.


When picking out the perfect backing fabric, I needed to make sure that it was complimenting and not competing with the high-volume, busy prints in the front. I decided to go with a low-volume, subtle, geometric fabric. Doesn’t that look nice? Can't beat pink. 🙂


Oh, and also in all of my fabric-love’n cutting excitement, I might have intermittently dance-partied it up...quite a bit. This snapshot of my very judgmental dog proves how out of hand my sewing frenzies can get.


* A jelly roll is a bundle of pre-cut fabric strips measuring 2 ½” x width of fabric (usually 42"). For more quilting terms and definitions, visit my Quilting Terms, Tools & Supplies blog post.

19 thoughts on “How to Make a Simple Square in a Square Quilt Block

  1. Amanda says:

    I read this yesterday and am still giggling about labeling the fabric boxes “more tampons”. Hahahaha… we just moved and it’s always embarrassing how big and heavy (and never-ending) those fabric boxes are compared to what we have in the rest of the house!! 😛 Your blog posts always make me so happy. 🙂

  2. Karla S says:

    This might be just the ticket for my “large flower prints I had to have” collection! I tried another large print pattern but they seemed to get lost in it. Thanks for the idea!

  3. iriswilli21 says:

    This quilt pattern made my heart do a happy dance! Beautiful & easy? I feel like I just hit the lottery!

  4. Sandi Harvey says:

    Love this pattern – found it last night and wanted a ”stash buster’ and have been surrounded by lots of left over fabrics and its on its way. Just love the way its working – thank you Suzy
    Sandi from Downunder

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