The Square in a Square Tutorial

FINALLY…Today is the day! I am doing the long-promised tutorial to make the 4″ square in a square block.

This all started some time ago when a blog reader sent me a bag of scraps with the word “smores” in the package.

There really wasn’t a lot there…a half dozen or so finished blocks…that many started blocks and some squares. Curiously I googled the words “Smores quilt” and this popped up.

Wow. I liked that. It was reproduction prints. It was right up my alley. I would make the quilt…

I found out the pattern can be purchased HERE. I found out there is a ruler that helps to make the block more accurate.  I bought the ruler for this HERE on Amazon.

Last week I finally unwrapped the ruler and gave it a go. I made about 20 more blocks and honestly…I love the ruler and love the process. They are so fun to make.

I’ve had several blog readers ask me to do a quilt along. I don’t plan on doing a formal quilt along. I hate deadlines and “in-stone” commitments. There are enough in life without adding more to my hobby life. You are completely and totally welcome to sew along with me. I’d love that…but it will be nothing formal.

Besides, I’m completely unsure how I will finish my quilt. For now, I’m just making some blocks. Last week I showed you this quilt…

I might frame my blocks and add sashing.

I might do alternate blocks with every other one being either white or dark corners.

I might set them squarely and I might set them on point. For now, I just want to sew so that’s what I’m going to do. There will be time to figure out what I want to do with them later. I want to encourage everyone to do whatever they want their blocks as well.

So now…time for the tutorial on using the ruler. This is the ruler…this is the block I’m making. It is a 4″ square in a square block.

The ruler allows you to make a 4″ block, an 8″ block, and a Snail’s Trial block. These can be changed up even more by varying the color placement. Sadly the ruler is kind of expensive at around $25-ish. So far, I vote totally worth it. There are instructions right on the label of the ruler so if you purchase one, you don’t just throw that part away.

If you do lose the instructions, the cutting directions are right on the ruler. We are only using the block A directions to make the 4″ block.

Below is a picture of what we need to make the block. We need:
1-dark 2 1/2″ square
2-light 3″ squares cut on the diagonal to make a total of 4 triangles
2-dark 3 1/2″ squares cut on the diagonal to make a total of 4 triangles

You can see my cut pieces in the photo above. That will make one block.

Now to make the block you are going to center the long diagonal side of one triangle on the side of the square and using a 1/4 seam allowance, sew the two together. Then sew another triangle to the opposite side. Flip the piece over and cut off the over hang of fabric even with the square. Then iron.

Now add the other two matching triangles, centering them along the side and sewing. Take that to the iron and iron.

As far as pressing goes, I’d press one set of seams towards the square and the other away from the square.

Now it’s time to trim the piece. The ruler makes this so easy. So easy. There is a square that has a white outline. In the picture below, I have my finger on the square and have it lined up with the red center of the block.

Next, trim the two sides. Rotate the ruler. Line up the square again and trim again. I trimmed two sides at once.

Now we have a prepared block and we’re ready to add the outer triangles. You can see in the photo below how to place them.

Basically, you will repeat what you previously did adding triangles to the opposite sides and trimming.

After ironing, add the other two sides.

Iron. Then head back to the cutting table. We are now going to line the BLACK outline square on the ruler with the next size larger square. If you look at the picture below, you can see my finger and thumb are pointing out the square.

Again, trim two sides, rotate the ruler, line up the square, and trim the other two sides. Easy peasy.

The first couple you do might feel awkward but after you make six blocks, it’s going to be something you don’t even have to think about. I LOVE the look of the blocks and I love how easy the ruler is to use.

I played with a few different fabrics and learned I LOVE using striped fabrics. I like using a variety of different colors. You can see all the colors I am using have more of a creamy base to them rather than stark white.

I’m having a lot of fun making these. I can easily see myself making several quilts using this ruler. I like them all together in a simple setting like this… So fun!!

Let me know if you’re planning on making some blocks too. Right now, I’m thinking I want to make a bed-sized quilt. Maybe one for my own bed…it’s been so long since I’ve had a new quilt from my bed. We’ll see. For now, I just know, I need to make MANY more blocks!!

18 thoughts on “The Square in a Square Tutorial”

  1. Judith Fairchild

    Thanks for the tutorial. I have a large triangle ruler that works a lot like your square. I also have a little square for trimming small blocks. They are fun to use.

  2. i also have this ruler and love it! I used mine recently to make blocks to frame a panel and found it quite addictive playing with different fabric combinations. Love your fabric palette and thank you for taking the time to demo the ruler for us!

  3. I just use my paper piece patterns! Much easier, I think. There are many free patterns out there and I can pick and choose. My problem is then, bringing all the finished squares together. I have a problem with the different colors coming together, so I was very excited to see the quilt finish with the sashing! Love it. Thank you.

  4. Thank you for this tutorial. I made a quilt many years ago with square in a square and now I’m wondering how bad it may have been since this ruler wasn’t around at that time. Thankfully the quilt was for my grandson and I’m sure he didn’t critique it. It sure would be fun to make some of those squares using that ruler.

  5. This looks like fun! I have a huge tub of shirts all cut up and waiting for a project. I do have several of Bonnie Hunter’s books, but now, I am tempted to use this square-in-a-square pattern for a shirt fabric quilt…

  6. Mary Jeanne Bruce

    Thanks for the tutorial. Looks like a good stash buster. I will need to get the ruler, thanks for that hook up at Amazon also.
    Please send me your mailing address, I wish to send you a package.

  7. This ruler makes these blocks so easy. I have the pattern and cut out a kit for a retreat I am going to in November. I am looking forward to playing with the fabric placement.

  8. I love Civil War reproduction fabrics, too, & this little block looks GREAT done up in them! Annnnnnd looks like I’m gonna have to get that ruler, too. Thank you for the tutorial & for sharing your fabulous blocks with us. I can’t wait to see your finished quilt!

  9. I’ve been wanting to make this quilt ever since that pattern was in a magazine years ago. I bought the ruler and I’m anxious to sew along with you.

  10. After you had previously posted the “S’mores” blocks, I discovered I had the original magazine and had even marked that as a quilt to make. Instead of making 4 inch squares, I decided to make 6 inch squares. Then I remembered I had purchased a similar ruler several years ago (who knows why!) and hadn’t even opened the package. The ruler has instructions for 1 inch through 6 inch finished blocks. So between having the magazine, the ruler and my huge stash of civil war/reproduction fabric, I started in and have made about 40 blocks already. It’s almost addictive making the blocks and not worrying about matching colors.
    Thanks for your original post and the inspiration to make these blocks.

  11. Hi Jo!
    I don’t have that ruler, but it is by Creative Grids. If you go to, you can find the instructions to use it, plus a video on how to use it, and often pattern ideas too. So if you do lose the instructions, you can always find them on the web site. Creative Grids are great rulers; I have several other ones. I do recommend buying them from a quilt shop. People find them for less online, but sometimes they are knockoffs from China and not good quality.
    I am tempted to add that Smores quilt to my want-to-do list!
    Thanks for all you share with us!

  12. Thank you for the tutorial! I ordered both the digital version and the ruler. The ruler will be here Tuesday. I can’t wait to start making some blocks. I’m going to use the reproduction fabrics. Hugs,

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