Cutting Chart for Disappearing Blocks

a series of disappearing hourglass quilts

Disappearing 4-Patch, Disappearing Hourglass, and Disappearing Pinwheel Blocks are similar in that they start with either 4 squares of fabric or 4 Half Square Triangles (HSTs). The 4 Pieces are sewn together then cut into 9 sub-blocks. The charts below tell you what starting size fabric squares, or HST’s, to use and how to cut them. All of these blocks will work when cut into exact thirds. This results in all of the sub-blocks being perfectly square. The second chart is for the blocks that I will label as “Charm Pack Friendly”

I have had several questions about yardage requirements so I have included the calculations that I use below the last chart.

I also have a series of newsletters with free disappearing block designs and their associated quilts. 

Disappearing Block Sizes
Initial Square
for a 4-Patch or
Half Square Triangle for
Pinwheel or Hourglass
4Patch, Hourglass,
or Pinwheel
Before Cutting
How far to cut
from center seam
Finished Block
2 1/2″4 1/2″3/4″3″
2 7/8″5 1/4″7/8″3 3/4″
3 1/4″61″4 1/2″
3 5/8″6 3/4″1 1/8″5 1/4″
4″7 1/2″1 1/4″6″
4 3/8″8 1/4″1 3/8″6 3/4″
4 3/4″9″1 1/2″7 1/2″
5 1/8″9 3/4″1 5/8″8 1/4″
5 1/2″10 1/2″1 3/4″9″
5 7/8″11 1/4″1 7/8″9 3/4″
6 1/4″12″2″10 1/2″
6 5/8″12 3/4″2 1/8″11 1/4″
7″13 1/2″2 1/4″12″
7 3/8″14 1/4″2 3/8″12 3/4″
7 3/4″15″2 1/2″13 1/2″
8 1/8″15 3/4″2 5/8″14 1/4″
8 1/2″16 1/2″2 3/4″15″
8 7/8″7 1/4″2 7/8″15 3/4″
9 1/4″18″3″16 1/2″
9 5/8″18 3/4″3 1/8″17 1/4″
10″19 1/2″3 1/4″18″

The sizes below are for the initial squares or the sewn HST’s. The squares of fabric for the Half Square Triangles will need to be cut 1/2″ larger. For example for 5 1/2″ HST, you would cut the squares 6″, sew them into triangles and then trim to 5 1/2″


A few of the Disappearing Block designs do not need to be cut into perfect squares, either of the cutting sizes will work. I am calling these blocks “Charm Pack Friendly” and that will be noted on all the appropriate patterns. I have two sizes, 5″ for using charm pack squares and 4 1/2″ for when charm pack squares are used to create Half Square Triangles.

Charm Pack Friendly Blocks
Initial Square or
Half Square Triangle
4Patch, Hourglass,
or Pinwheel
Before Cutting
How far to cut
from center seam
Finished Block
4 1/2″8 1/2″1 1/4″7″
5″9 1/2″ 1 1/2″8″

Here is the Fabric calculation I use.

Remember that we are using the size of the square, not the size of the HST. Add 1/2″ to the size of the HST to get to the size of the starting square.

1. Width Of Fabric / size of the square (round down to a whole number) = # of squares per WOF
2. Determine how many blocks you need. Each block requires 2 light and 2 dark squares
3. How many blocks in the quilt X 2 (for the number of squares in a block) = # of squares required for the quilt.
4. # of squares / # of squares per WOF, round that up to the nearest whole number = # of strips of fabric.
5. # of strips X size of square = number of inches of fabric you need.
6. inches of fabric / 36 (inches/yard) = yards of fabric.

You will need the same number of yards of light and dark fabric.

Here is an example: Lets say you want 12″ finished blocks for a quilt that is 6 blocks X 6 blocks
According to the chart you would need 7″ HST blocks. So each starting square would be 7.5″

1. 40″ WOF / 7.5 = 5.33333 round down to 5 (squares per WOF)
2. You will need 36 blocks (6 X 6)
3. You will need 36 X 2 = 72 squares of each color fabric.
4. 72 squares/ 5 squares per WOF = 14.4 rounded up to 15 strips of fabric
5. 15 strips X 7.5″ = 112.5″ of fabric needed.
6. 112.5 / 36 = 3.125 yards of fabric which is 3 1/8 yards.

30 Replies to “Cutting Chart for Disappearing Blocks”

  1. Hello Brita, I have just come across your videos while looking for ideas on what to do with a rail fence pattern, well, you have ideas in abundance, not necessarily for a rail fence but I am now eagerly opening some very colourful fat quarter packs which had been stuck under my table for ages as I wasnt sure what to do with them.
    Love the videos and instructions, very clear instructions.
    Thank you .

  2. Hi Brita,
    Like so many others, I have just come across your videos and I think they are great! Your information is straight forward and to the point, you don’t spend a lot of time talking about unimportant details. I love it! Any beginner can sew a four patch or half square triangle, but then the way you cut and rearrange them is amazing. I love the variety of the outcomes. Your methods turn a simple block into a stunning quilt. I also enjoy seeing the different colour options you provide at the end. So much good information! I’m really glad I found you. I have subscribed and signed up for your newsletter, I am looking forward to experimenting with your ideas. Thank you so much for sharing and keep the great videos coming.

  3. Hello Brita, I LOVE your U TUBE channel. PLEASE,PLEASE,PLEASE continue making them. You have penned my eyes to so many possibilities. You have taken a simple block and made it look like I’ve sewn for days to make one block… YOU are a gift of endless patterns, thank you so much….!!!
    Susan

    • I am so happy that you like the videos. The real appeal of the disappearing blocks is how easy it is to make such a complicated looking block.
      Take care and happy quilting.

  4. Hi Brita! I love your videos so much, I’ve been telling everyone about you. I have a quick question about the chalk pen you use. Can you please tell me the brand and where to get it? I have been trying to find one like that for ages, but I live in a very small community with no stores that cater to crafters. We have to travel quite a distance just to purchase fabric.

    • The pen that you see me use is a Frixion pen by Pilot. The line disappears when you apply heat (press the fabric). There is some controversy about these pens because they can sometimes leave a ghost image even after they are pressed. I use this on the back of the fabric as a sewing line or a cutting line, so it doesn’t really matter if there is a very faint ghost line.

      These are available in office supply stores as well as fabric stores and you can also buy them online.

      Brita

    • That, of course, depends on how large you cut the blocks and how big you are going to make the quilt.
      Here is the calculation I use.
      Remember that we are using the size of the square, not the size of the HST. Add 1/2″ to the size of the HST to get to the size of the starting square.

      1. Width Of Fabric / size of the square (round down to a whole number) = # of squares per WOF
      2. Determine how many blocks you need. Each block requires 2 light and 2 dark squares
      3. How many blocks in the quilt X 2 (for the number of squares in a block) = # of squares required for the quilt.
      4. # of squares / # of squares per WOF, round that up to the nearest whole number = # of strips of fabric.
      5. # of strips X size of square = number of inches of fabric you need.
      6. inches of fabric / 36 (inches/yard) = yards of fabric.

      You will need the same number of yards of light and dark fabric.

      Here is an example: Lets say you want 12″ finished blocks for a quilt that is 6 blocks X 6 blocks
      According to the chart you would need 7″ HST blocks. So each starting square would be 7.5″

      1. 40″ WOF / 7.5 = 5.33333 round down to 5 (squares per WOF)
      2. You will need 36 blocks (6 X 6)
      3. You will need 36 X 2 = 72 squares of each color fabric.
      4. 72 squares/ 5 squares per WOF = 14.4 rounded up to 15 strips of fabric
      5. 15 strips X 7.5″ = 112.5″ of fabric needed.
      6. 112.5 / 36 = 3.125 yards of fabric which is 3 1/8 yards.

      Let me know if this makes sense.

  5. Hello Brita ~ I join the chorus of new subscribers that have said what a wonderful concise online teacher you are. I’m off to choose the fabrics from my stash to make the Top of the Stairs quilt.

    I have printed the pattern thank you for the free pattern! I’ve gone to your cutting chart page and would like to print out the charts to attach to the pattern, however I don’t see a PDF for it. Do you offer a PDF?
    With Warm Smiles

    • I have not made the chart into a .pdf, but that is a good idea. Some people cut and paste the chart into another document, then print it. Others just print the web page and use the part with the chart.

  6. Hello Brita,

    Thank you for the lessons. I saw a ‘disappearing bloke sampler’ on one of your tutorials and thought that it looked great. Do you have a pattern and video which shows what to do.

    Jeanette from Lincoln UK

    • Hi Jeanette,
      I have a pattern for the the sampler for sale. It is called: Making Magic, A Disappearing Block Sampler Quilt and you can buy it here: https://questioningquilter.com/shop

      I don’t have a video for this quilt because I am offering it as a Zoom workshop for Quilt Guilds to offer to their members. But if you watched the videos, you shouldn’t have any problem with the pattern.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Brita

  7. Hi , Brita ,
    Just found your interesting ” Disappearing ” patterns . I would just love to make the Stairstep disappearing pinwheel pattern . However , the ( chart ) pattern calls for an ” initial half-square triangle ” of various sizes .
    My question is : what size do you have to cut the squares , before you sew them together , to create “the specific size of half-square triangle “, that I might wish to use for my quilt ? Is there an easy way to figure out how big to cut the squares, so that you get the size of half-square triangles, listed in your chart ?
    I know I can cut bigger squares & cut them to the correct size, after I’ve sewn the pieces together, but it would be nice to not waste too much fabric , by cutting all the squares larger.
    Thank you in advance , if you can enlighten me .
    Tena D.

    • Hi Tena,
      I am glad that you like the patterns.
      If you don’t want to have to do any trimming, the calculation is to add 3/8″ to the size of the Half Square Triangle (HST) Block. So, to make a 4 3/4″ HST you would need to start with a square of fabric that is at least 5 1/8″.

      HOWEVER, my HST blocks never come out exactly straight or even, that is why I suggest adding 1/2″ to the size. For example for the 4 3/4″ HST I recommend cutting the squares 5 1/4″ and trimming the HST down to size. You are only trimming off 1/8″ total so there isn’t very much wasted. It does take more time, so it is totally your decision. If your HST’s come out consistently even and straight, then go for it, just add 3/8″. I’m not that good.

      I hope this helps.
      Brita

    • How very fun! I hope that you will share a picture of the quilt when you have finished making it. (brita@questioningquilter.com)
      Thanks so much for watching.

  8. This is so interesting. I just found your You Tube video of Top of the Stairs and I’m hooked on your website. Can’t wait to make it. Thank you!!

    • Thank you so much, i am so happy that you like it! I would love to see your Top of the Stairs quilt when you make it. (brita@questioningquilter.com)

  9. Hi Brita, Your informative lecture to Metro Detroit Guild, was so enjoyable. Thanks for the cutting chart. I can’t wait to get started. First I’ll watch some of your You Tube videos!

  10. Dear Brita,
    I so enjoyed your program last night with the Quilt Guild of Metro Detroit. Thank you so much. I love the ways you can take a simple pattern, and by cutting and rearranging get a whole look…er…looks. I have to finish two charity quilts, but I can’t wait to see my new twists on the 4 and 9 patch blocks.

    Sincerely,
    Nancy

    • Hi Jackie,

      That is a very good question. I hadn’t thought about “Disappearing Jelly Roll” patterns, but the idea is very intriguing. I don’t have anything right now, but it is definitely going on my To-Explore list.

      Thanks for the inspiration,
      Brita

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