2 Ways To Do The Same Thing

This past week I worked on a pattern that I had designed over the summer. It is a complicated block that I will share with you in more depth at a later date. The center of the quilt square is a basic square in a square that can be worked two different ways. I didn’t know which would be easier, faster and produce less waste, so I worked them both up and timed how long it took to make both. Here is what I found out.

Finished Blocks

I cut out all my pieces, for both blocks, before I set the timer and as you can see Method “A” already looks like there is less waste.

Precut Block Pieces

Method “A”: “AKA” The old fashioned way. (without the scissors)


I took my 2 corner squares and cut them diagonally across the center.

(A) Marking the Center Square

For the center square, I used an air soluble marking pen to mark the center lines.

(A) Matching Point and Line

I lined up the center point of the triangle with the marked line on the center square…

(A) Stitching triangle to square

…then stitched 1/4″ away from the edge.

Once I had two triangles sewn, one on each side, I pressed the piece open with the seam allowances toward the black outer triangles. Then I sewed the outer two triangles in place, matching the tips of them with the marked center line.

(A) Four sides stitched

(A) Stitched Block

I pressed the last two triangles outward.

(A) Completed block

The final step was to trim off the excess from the seam allowance. I could have cut the black pieces a little smaller, then I would not have had to trim, but I prefer to cut my pieces in whole, half or quarter inch sizes, not 1/8th inches.

OK, block “A” is complete and it took me 8 minutes, including the time it took me to snap photo’s. Now onto block “B”.

Method “B”: ‘AKA’ the Eleanor Burns way.

(B) Marking Corner Blocks

First, all 4 outer pieces had to be marked down the middle.

(B) Aligning Inside and Outside Blocks

Then the small black squares were placed, right sides together, onto of the center square.

(B) Stitching Inside and Outside Blocks

I stitched one square on opposite sides of the center square, making sure to stitch on the line.

(B) Stitched Pieces 1

(B) Trimming 1

I trimmed off the excess fabric, 1/4″ away from the stitching line.

(B) All pieces stitched

Then I added the last 2 corner squares and stitched them in place.


(B) Trimming 2

Once that was complete, I cut away the excess fabric and pressed the block open.

(B) Completed Block

I was lucky on this block, in that I didn’t have to trim the sides again to make it all even, usually I have to. This time however, it came out pretty true to the 4″x4″ size that was intended.

(B) Completed block with waste

But look at the waste. 

Both blocks took exactly 8 minutes. Like I said above, most of that time was snapping photo’s. I can’t see how the Eleanor Burns method (B) was any faster and it certainly used more fabric. Not a big deal on one block, but if I was making a queen or king size quilt, that would be a significant amount of money being thrown into the trash bin. I love the work that Eleanor has done and the way she inspires quilters but, for me, this is clearly not a better method.


Since they both took the same amount of time and method “A” used less fabric, that is the one I am going to be using for my future projects.

Do you have a favorite way to make the square in a square block? Feel free to share, add some links too, if you would like. I would love to hear about your experiences.

Happy Sewing!!


11 thoughts on “2 Ways To Do The Same Thing

  1. I prefer Method A when making SnS’s. Now when it comes to Flying Geese, Eleanor has most beat, even if there is waste. I can have problems with doing the FG like Method A but if I oversize the cuts then I can square down. This also works for me. Have a great Sunday!

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    • I love the way Eleanor does flying geese! I’ll do a post soon on a painted quilt I made several years ago. It’s flying geese, with the accompanying flying geese pattern. I worked the pattern 3 or 4 different ways, I can’t completely recall, but Eleanors was the easiest and the most enjoyable method by far. I love her flying geese template too: Perfection every time!


  2. I think a slight oversizing on A is generally the way to go, but the last time I did a square in a square large quilt, I sewed all those little triangles together and had a wonderful matching border that really added to the quilt. I hadn’t planned it, just thought that I shouldn’t let them go to waste, and truth is, I don’t think I would have been willing to cut them separately at the end!

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  3. I love this sort of comparison–kind of scientific but mostly about checking one’s perceptions. I would definitely opt for Option A–I couldn’t live with all the waste of method B.

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