Must Try Trends: Pictorial Blocks – Simple Piecing


We’re celebrating our 35th anniversary here at American Quilter’s Society, and it has us looking back at the trends that have shaped the quilting world and the trends of the moment fueling the future of quilting.

Looking around this month, a strong trend jumped out at us. Pictorial blocks made with simple piecing. These are blocks (or whole quilts) that depict an object or picture using shapes with 90 degree or 45 degree angles like squares and half square triangles. They don’t require paper piecing because they use simple shapes and common units.

Making these blocks is fun, and so is designing them! You can design your own easily by following our tutorial.

Step 1

Draw the shape of the block and either sketch the image or fit a picture inside the block shape. This works best with a dark pen or heavy marker.

Step 2

Place the image over a light light box or a window. Lay grid paper over the image and align the block size line to the grid.

Step 3

Use a pencil to draw around the main shapes. Go all the way to the edge of the block for now with the big shapes to simulate seams. We can erase any lines we don’t need later.

Step 4

Draw boxes around smaller shapes instead of connecting them to the outer edges of the block.

Step 5

Define major shapes using 45 degree angles. These can be Half Square Triangles, Flying Geese, Quarter Square Triangles, and Snowballs and Corner Flips.

Step 6

Lift the grid paper off the image to get an impression of the block. Look for places that your eye finds lacking. Lay the grid back over the image and refine the shapes based on your observations until you are satisfied with the shapes.

Step 7

Erase unnecessary lines and add lines for sewing. Play with which direction to orient background pieces, vertical or horizontal.

Step 8

Once the pieces are set, use your grid to determine the sizes of the pieces. On my block, 4 grid squares equals 1″ finished. Count your squares to get the finished size of a piece and add 1/2″ for the seam allowances. Sometimes it’s helpful to letter all the pieces before this so you can keep track in list form. If you need help calculating the math for triangle units, check out uquilt with Emily for the type of unit you’re making.

From here you can color, pull fabrics, cut and make your block!

Or jump right in with these patterns! Some include paper piecing instructions, but they aren’t essential. Measure the pieces and add half an inch to convert it to a conventional pattern.


Free Pattern: Nolan’s Neighborhood Block


Modern & Vintage Sewing Machine Block Patterns


Free Pattern: Blane’s Plane Block


FREE Alphabet Patterns: A-Z


Free Block: Summer Sun


Free Pattern: Ellie’s Elephant Block


Free Pattern: Betsey’s Butterfly Block


Free Pattern: Miller’s Mariner Block


Free Pattern: Pi Day Pillow


Want more inspiration? Follow our Must Try Quilt Trends Pinterest board for more great ideas!

Show us your creations in our Facebook group, AQS Quilting Project Parade. After all, what’s a trend if no one tries it?

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Enjoying the Aqsblog ..looking forward to trying some blocks.